Monday, December 14, 2015

Cookie Marketing

I am generally not too swayed by marketing. Cynical by nature, I see through the bull easily....and yet...

Pinterest is of the devil. It is brain-washing at its finest. I see pictures of families doing "fun" things and I think

"OH MY GOSH!! What a great idea! My kids would love to make hand-prints/use sensory bins/make Christmas cookies!"

I forget, that in reality, nothing actually looks like Pinterest. This is truth, sisters. I know. I have been sucked in to the deep, dark marketing hole that is that stupid site which I love. And I do it again and again and again. My innate cynicism about all things seems to fail when it comes to ideas from Pinterest.

My most recent stumble? Decorating Christmas cookies with small children. This is what I was promised:

Mom is so happy! The mess is neatly contained! The kids are enjoying themselves! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!! And don't even get me started on all the adorable cookie pictures of snowmen, Santa, gingerbread people, the delish frosted tress and wreaths. I relive wonderful cookie decorating memories of my childhood, what a delight to pass on such a fun tradition!

I tell the kids "we are making cookies!!" they are thrilled. "See, Pinterest TOTALLY comes through", I think to myself while dodging 4 short people in an attempt to organize ingredients. Kid #3 asks to crack the eggs and only drops half of one shell in the dough. Kid #4 decides to add just a touch more flour while mixer is going and dusts everything within a 10 foot radius in fine, white powder.

No problem! We are making memories!!

Flour swept up, egg shell retrieved, dough is ready to roll out. Each kid insists they will "help" with the rolling, taking turns, counting rolls, while I hold back my desire to edit. I mean, no biggie that half the dough is still 2 inches thick and the other has been smooshed into a transparent, sticky film. We can adjust it later.

Now the dough just needs to chill...for 2 hours.

Want to know the LONGEST way to spend 2 hours? Waiting for dough to chill with 4 children asking every 30 seconds if it is ready yet. Understandable, they are just so excited! "This is a good thing", I tell myself, as I set the oven timer for kids to watch. Cue 4 small children watching a timer count down...

Dough is ready and each child is given a bit to make there own cookies while I adjust the thickness to cookie level. Kid #1 meticulously rolls out dough. No one on the face of this planet has EVER taken more time to roll dough flat. Kid #2 promptly sticks her elbow in the middle of her sisters dough, causing eldest child to approach unhinged. Dough fixed, relationship repaired as kid 4 has massaged, flattened and abused his dough into a sticky paste that is now covering his hands. And face. And counter where he was working, despite the waxed paper. And the dough has taken on a suspicious gray color...I don't even want to know why. Pinterest must have left out the picture of the man-handled gray cookie dough rolled by 3 year olds.

Cookies are cut and baked (except the odd gray was tossed while #4 wasn't looking) And now the cookies must cool before we decorate. We prepare the stations: waxed paper, bowls of frosting, shakers of sprinkles! Yay! We could TOTALLY be a Pinterest family.

Each child chooses 5 cookies to decorate. But sister #1 took the cookie sister #3 wanted, so negotiation ensues. I might be raising at least one lawyer...and not the good kind...the kind you see on day time TV ads. Everyone is set...let the frosting begin!

Sister #1 is the worlds SLOWEST cookie decorator and would still be at it but she ran out of frosting. After perfecting a tree, she shows sister #2 who excitedly gestures with a frosting covered knife, promptly knocking the tree-cookie-masterpiece to the wall where it smears green frosting. Knife flinging sister also manages to get frosting in her hair.

Kid #4 alternates between smudging cookies with frosting, licking off the dripping cookies, and seeing how much colored sugar he can manage to stick to said saliva covered cookie. I make a mental note to NOT share these with friends...or anyone but him. Do you know what color green and red frosting make when mixed? A kind of poop brown. I now have 5 poop colored cookies that have been pre-licked.

Sister #3 knocks the colored sugar to the floor, and, when bending to retrieve it, manages to pull the keep-things-neat place-mat of waxed paper to the floor too. 5 cookies have now spent time on the floor among copious amount of sugar, chocolate chips, frosting drips, and various decorations.

I pour a glass of wine...for Christmas cheer of course. Are there really NO clumsy children on Pinterest?! Apparently not, because they all live at my house.

Sister #2 thinks sister #3 is using all the white, while sister #3 declares loudly that she is not the boss, kid #4 eats spoonfuls of white frosting. Sister #1 comments that my cookies are prettier than hers and proceeds to start pouting. Kids #4 has moved from frosting consumption to eating straight colored sugar.

I start wondering if it is too early to drink some festive whisky laced know...for Christmas Cheer.

Discuss with eldest that I have a few more years of cookie decorating under my belt than she has. Remove kid #4 from table as he shoves a handful of Chocolate chips into his mouth. He vibrates with sugar-high energy.

Daughters #1-3 finish the holiday cookie decorating. Green frosting is chiseled off the wall. Hair is washed free from rouge red frosting attack. All clothing worn is tossed in the laundry. I mutter curses to Pinterest pictures who have set crazy standards I will never hit.

That evening before bed, while enjoying freshly decorated cookies and hot coco we discuss our favorite parts of the day. Without fail, every kid remembers the cookie decorating fondly. HOW THE HELL IS THAT POSSIBLE? Were we not decorating cookies at the same house? Or maybe it is just me who missed the "Christmas Magic", after all, we listened to Christmas music, hung out with family, ate copious amounts of sugar, and...maybe made some Pinterest worthy memories after all.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

I have made some really crappy cookies in my life. Though this sounds a bit like it might be a metaphor (might have to explore that angle later...) in this case I am TRULY talking about cookies. For real.

I have been on a quest to make a good loaf of GF Sourdough and a good batch of sugar cut-out cookies. While the sourdough experiments have most recently ended with me uttering obscenities and tossing out very sketchy looking starter after making a multiple batches of rolls that could double as weapons, my cookie quest is now at an end for different reasons.

Friends, loved ones, blog followers....I HAVE NAILED IT. I made cookies that not only have a dough that is easy to work with, but stay soft baked, hold their shape when made into cut-outs, and taste delish. Also, this is a respectable size batch of cookies, so you won't spend 18 hours frosting the little friggin' snow men that your children insisted on cutting out. This batch makes about 2 dozen, give or take.

HA! Suck that, stupid celiac disease!!

Because I am a sharing person (and I don't want to have to share the ACTUAL cookies...I'm not that sharing) I will bless you all with the recipe. Your welcome. Now go and make copious amount of cookies to decorate.

Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 t. vanilla flavor
1 t. almond flavor (not required, but tasty, trust me on this)
2 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/3 c. rice/GF oat flour
1 1/3 c. starch (tapioca is best, but potato or corn will work)
1/3 c. coconut flour
1 1/2 t. xanthan gum

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add flavorings. With mixer on low add the dry ingredients. When all incorporated, scoop out onto a piece of waxed paper sprinkled with starch. Dough will be thick, heavy and a bit sticky. With slightly damp hands, pat flat, or roll out if it doesn't stick to badly to your rolling pin. Cool in fridge, on waxed paper (or, in my case, in the garage) until dough is very stiff. At least an hour, maybe a bit more. After dough is stiff and cold, use the rolling pin to get it to 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies should look dry on top, but not hardly any brown if you want them soft. Cool on sheets for 10 minutes until moving them to cooling rack. Cool all the way before decorating.