Sugar Cookies

This started as a recipe that my mother cut from a home magazine when I was a child.  The original was lost long ago, and the hand copied 3x5 card had a habit of disappearing just before Christmas, leading to frantic phone calls looking for the recipe.  Thankfully I  have had a copy stored away electronically since 1978.

I have tweaked it a bit over the years and it makes nice moist  cookies that remain soft for several weeks on a Christmas tree.  Of course that  is only if your family has more  willpower than mine...

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the following:

       3 1/2 cups flour

       2 1/2 tsp baking powder

       1 1/2 tsp salt (1 tsp if salted butter)

Cream the following:

       1 1/2 cups sugar

       1 cup butter

       2 eggs

       3 tsp  vanilla 

Mix the dry ingredients in with the creamed until stiff.

Spread on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cut to shape. Remove excess dough.

Cook for 6 min at 400 degrees F, for small cookies around 1".

Cook for 13 min at 400 degrees F, for large gingerbread men, etc..


Grandma Ople Apple Pie

This is perhaps the best apple pie recipe that I have ever found.  I  recommend it highly to anyone who asks.  The crust in particular comes  out like  a flaky pastry.  I prefer to add some  cinnamon and nutmeg to the apples, and occasionally make it with half  apples and half pears.   I have also found dusting the top with turbano sugar after pouring in the caramel sauce is a lovely addition.

Pecan Pie

I have tweaked this recipe very slightly from the standard recipe  I copied off the back of an envelope of pecans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare a 9: pie crust

Mix the following:

       3/4 cup sugar

       2 tbsp flour

       1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp if salted butter)

Then stir in:

       1 cup sugar syrup.   I tend to use Lyle’s Golden Syrup, look near where most supermarkets have Karo Syrup.

       2 tsp vanilla

       2 eggs

       1/2 cup of eggnog

       8 oz of pecan halves

Pour into the prepared pie crust.

Cook until firm, about 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Pumpkin Pie

I have tweaked this recipe very slightly from the standard recipe.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Prepare a 9: pie crust

Mix the following:

       One 15 oz can of pumpkin

       1 tbsp cornstarch

       1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves

       1/2 tsp salt

Then add in the following:

       1 cup sugar

       1 1/2 tsp melted butter

       1 1/2 cups of eggnog

        2 eggs

        2 tsp vanilla

        2 tbsp molasses

Sprinkle a bit more cinnamon on top

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 F and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for another 40-50 minutes..

The Swan

This is not a recipe, but more an example of a small cooking project that I  undertook.  At a local SCA event the visiting Queen made a request that there be a champagne fountain.  Needless to say,  for a task as unusual as this they turned to me asking if I could do it. After a bit of thought I said yes.

Step 1.  I prepared a French bread dough into the shape of a swan neck and head and wrapped it around a PVC tube and baked it.  I then let sit and go stale for several days to give it stiffness.

Step 2.  Cooking with duct tap: I duct taped the base of the neck to the  bottom of a very large platter and covered the duct tape in several  layers of  saran wrap.   I broke off the back end  and mated it with a smaller and longer piece of PVC tubing

Step 3: I started building up the body of the swan with a lemon cake recipe from The Cake Bible.

Step 4.  Icing the body, I used a lemon buttercream recipe again from The Cake Bible.  This was in preparation for next putting the wings on.

Step 5. Frankenswan  -  I iced up one side of the wing and  gently picked it up and turned to place it on the side of the swan, when from behind me I heard a Plop.  Putting down the fragile wing, I  turned and saw that the neck had snapped about 1/5th of the way up and  was now resting on the counter.  The beak had popped clean off and was  teetering on the edge of the counter. Obviously the bread was not stale enough...  Out came the meat skewers and I tried to determine how to  recover in time for the event the next day

Step 6.  The meat skewers were working and using five of them, four holding  the neck to the body of the swan with only the rings showing and one  around  the nose of the swan and stabbing into  the neck.  The beak was held in place by two toothpicks shoved up on  either side of the PVC tubing in a friction fit.

The wings were placed on either side and the final decorative touches were  added.  But I still had the Frankenswan look going and needed to solve  that.  A quick visit to the local Wild Harvest and when they didn’t have any edible flowers, I talked them into  selling me some of their decorative plastic ivy instead.  After a quick  boil to sterilize them, they were lovely on the swan, and hid all but the  skewer holding the nose in position.

Step 7.  I carefully brought the swan to the site and set it up.  I had a lovely cut crystal bowl that  was filled with white grape juice, and I rigged up my pumping mechanism.  I had been unable to find a food grade pump locally in the time I had  available, however I had found an induction pump used for fish tanks that was air grade, so I figured that would more than do the job.  It was  unused and sealed in the box, but I still ran it with a solution of food grade bleach, just to be certain that it had been sterilized.  While  the pump worked well, it was a little less powerful than I would like  and I would use the next size up on the next one. 

So I dropped the feed tube into the punch bowl primed the pump, hid it with a little more fake ivy and plugged it in.  It ran like a charm, and if you can  forget the fact that I am pumping grape juice so hard up the swan’s butt that it is spurting out its beak, it was really rather pretty in  action