Thursday, July 19, 2012

Picture time

I can't believe I had to do this.  I took senior pictures . . . of my own kid.  Not that I wasn't always planning to do it, but, seriously, she shouldn't be this old yet.  I tell her she's much too young and she's not allowed to call herself a "senior" until August.  I still did senior pictures for her on the beach while we were on vacation last week.  We won't get another chance.

 This is the stair access to the beach.  We were at Lincoln City in Oregon.  Which totally explains the fact that she is not in a swim suit.  The suits came out once the whole time we were there.  They have a joke on the Oregon Coast:  What do you call someone swimming in the ocean?  A tourist.

 I know these two are not traditional for senior pictures but I love them anyway.  My husband suggested that she walk away and I get a picture of her with the foot prints leading away.  It was supposed to be symbolic and stuff.  
 Now that I look at these again, I totally wish I had gotten down low and taken them from that angle.  So if you have your senior on the beach and you want the sappy, symbolic picture, brave the wet sand and get the shot right.  It would look much cooler.

 She hates this one, thinks it makes her cheeks look fat.  I think she's adorable.  She doesn't believe me.  We're a classic mother daughter pair.
But this one is my favorite.  Look at her laugh.  That's my Sarah.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Flag Cookies

 Are you ready for the Fourth of July?   I know, I know.  I'm late to the party and everyone is blogland has already planned out their menu.   However, if you're a procrastinator like I am, you might want to try these.  The trick is all in the shaping of the dough.  It's perfect for those hot summer picnics when frosting melts and gets messy.   It's a lot easier than it looks and it's impressive to your friends.

The recipe starts with a basic refrigerator sugar cookie:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
3 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

cream the butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined.

Divide the dough into quarters.  Set one quarter aside.   Divide the remaining dough into two pieces.
 Take the quarter knob of dough and knead blue food coloring into it.  I use a gel based color made for frosting.  It gives me a nice bright color and some pretty colored finger tips.  I have a cute helper though, don't I?  This way she gets the brightly colored fingers and mine stay clean.  I'm a such a giving mom.
 Take one half of the remaining dough and knead red food coloring into it.  You might want to use the "no taste" version because it takes a lot of red coloring to actually make something red.

Leave the last piece of dough undyed.  Roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper (or plastic wrap if you're low on parchment, although it's a bit trickier to work with) into a 10.5"x10.5" square.  Normally, I wouldn't be very exact about this sort of thing.  I usually am pretty loose about measurements with rolled out dough, except with this recipe the size of the square needs to be pretty exact.

Now do the same thing with the red dough.   Remember a 10.5"x10.5" square is important.

Lay the white dough on top of the red dough.  Get it to line up as closely as possible.   Then cut the dough stack into three 3.5"x10.5" strips.   Layer two strips on top of each other.
 (Ok, so here the pictures aren't quite accurate because I decided I didn't like how I did this version.  If you follow my instructions the stripes will be thinner and there will be four layers of dough in the wide stack. I should have taken pictures when I redid the cookies, but then we've already discussed my laziness, haven't we?)

Cut the last strip in half.  Layer the halves on top of each other and then place on top of the wide strips.  You should end up with something like this:
 Shape the blue dough into a long rectangle approximately 1.75"x10.5"  Place the blue section in the corner where it belongs and then shape it so it fits nicely together.    Wrap it tightly in parchment paper or plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for at least an hour.  You can shape this ahead of time and slice and bake the day of the party if you need to.
 Cut the dough into 1/4" slices across the log. If you slice it right you'll get a flag shape. Place the slices on the pan so the blue rectangle is in upper left corner (can't have backward flags!)  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the pan for a few minutes then place on cooling racks.  Makes about 30 cookies.

Enjoy your patriotic treats.

If you are one of those people who plans way ahead, this cookie would also be great for any Olympics viewing parties you may be planning.   You could use the same technique to make French, Italian, or Spanish flags or if you're really clever you could probably get the Japanese flag done with this technique as well.   Have fun with it.