Recently my friend Charlene was traveling through Arkansas with girlfriends. I didn’t realize this, but the home of P. Allen Smith is located just 30 minutes outside of Little Rock. The Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm sits on top of a ridge overlooking the Arkansas River Valley. Paul Allen Smith is a television host, designer, gardening and lifestyle expert. He is the host of two public television programs. Charlene and friends visited the home to have lunch in the tea room and tour the house. While they were there P. Allen Smith came into the tea room spending time talking with guests! It must have been a thrill for my friend Charlene because she is an avid gardener and accomplished cook!
Yesterday I wrote about these lovely sugar cookie flowers. For those of you who have signed up to receive notice of a new blog post via email you may or may not have seen a picture of the cookies.
But for some reason Feedburner sent out this picture of a momma and her baby! I took the picture a few weeks ago just down the road from where I live. But since it doesn’t have much to do with sugar cookies I’m not sure how it ended up in some of your emails.
My sous chef dish-washing mom and I belong to a garden club. By the very nature of “garden” club one might think we are gardeners. That would be wrong. We like plants, we have both toyed with growing a flowering plant or two, but gardeners we are not.
We do have this little garden close by the house but the “real” gardening (and weeding) is done by the love of my life, our Chief Gardener!
Once a year it is “our turn” for mom and I to host the garden club members for a brunch/lunch meeting. Typically members will decorate the center of each table with a floral arrangement. Mom and I were talking about what we should do for our floral arrangements and we got to thinking about doing what we know best — something from the kitchen!
We decided on making sugar cookies in the shape of flowers (great idea) and then making them into a table arrangement (another great idea!)
Our first practice round looked like these. Cute, very tasty but not much like flowers. That was when we knew we needed to call in reinforcements!
We wanted our flowers to be free-form and so we made the dough into a ball, squished it with the bottom of a glass and then carefully inserted baking dowels gently into the middle of the dough.
When our very-talented and darling neighbor Abby arrived, we had 80-some cookies frosted with a glossy colorful frosting, ready to be transformed into flowers.
Abby is a culinary arts major and decorating cookies is child’s play for her. I suggested I could “help” since we had so many cookies to decorate. After one attempt we both agreed that I would be the cookie foreman, keeping the frosting made, mom would do the dishes and Abby – well, she would create!
I am including three recipes with this post. My Gram’s sugar cookie recipe which you can see HERE as Christmas cookies. Then there is the colorful glossy icing that dries hard and shiny and is perfect for frosting the cookies.
And finally, the butter cream frosting Abby made to use as decorator icing. All-in-all I wouldn’t do anything different.
My neighbor Kathy can’t eat chocolate and so whenever we bake something that is “non-chocolate” she gets some! I am told she shared these with her granddaughter.
After making this sugar cookie recipe you won't want to use any other one. Crispy on the outside and moist and yummy on the inside. Just perfect every time.
Author: Adapted by Catherine Daugherty
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 dozen
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Butter or Margarine,* softened
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 Cups and 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
Sugar, frosting, or sprinkles as desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream sugars and butter; add oil and beat on high until light and fluffy.
Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
Mix flour, salt, soda, cream of tartar. Stir into the wet ingredients.
Use medium cookie scoop, roll dough into balls. Using the bottom of a glass, press into sugar and then press cookie ball down on cookie sheet to flatten slightly. If you are making into flowers then gently insert a cookie stick into the middle of the dough, making sure it does not poke through the dough.
Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be light colored but done at 10 minutes. If you want them crisp and brown add another minute or two. They will spread slightly when baking so be sure and allow plenty of space around the dough.
Frost and decorate as desired.
* I use butter, not margarine, but the original recipe says either one works.
To place cookie flowers into floral arrangement, add floral oasis into a flower pot, making it as tight as possible. Gently stick each cookie into the oasis forming a bouquet. Cover top with decorator grass.
When our granddaughter Abbey arrived for a visit last fall one of the first things she asked of her Grandpa Lee is, “Do you have any black walnuts?” Earlier this summer Abbey had been the recipient of fresh black walnuts from Grandpa Lee’s walnut trees. She told us that she used them in a recipe for Coconut Walnut Chews given to her from her best friend’s grandmother.
She wanted to make them for us but declared, “they are the very best with black walnuts instead of English walnuts.” Grandpa went to the freezer and dug around awhile reappearing with a pint jar packed with black walnut pieces.
Abbey is right, these walnut coconut treats are outstanding when made with black walnuts. However, if your pantry doesn’t include any of these pricey little nuts, English walnuts run a very close second when mixed up to make these oooey, gooey, chewy bars.
The top of the bars bake up into a thin crispy layer while the middle stays chewy sitting on a buttery crust. I’ve made this recipe several times. With black walnuts, with English walnuts, doubled in a 9″ x 13″ pan and single recipe in an 8″x8″ pan, and even in a round pan! Every time they receive rave reviews. This is a keeper! Thank you Abbey! Here’s wishing you a Happy May Day and a lovely spring weekend ahead!
Song of Solomon 2:11-12
“for behold, the winter is past;the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth,the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”