Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inspired through Inspiring Others... An Easter Cookie Story!

Although I've been busy creating cookies the past few weeks, I did
not cut, roll, bake or decorate one Easter cookie of my own this year!
Which, if you've been reading for a while and remember this post and
this post, you know is quite unusual for me... Especially since I own the
most perfect Easter cookie cutter set ever made and love to use it!
Nevertheless, although I didn't create Easter cookies of my own this year, I'm
delighted for the privilege of introducing you to a few people who are very special
to me that did! First, we have long-time reader and my dear friend, Leah... Who
surprised me with photos of this lovely vintage Easter egg cookie collection she
created using the same vintage Marth by Mail Egg Cookie Cutters I have!
Now, Leah and I are both fans of Julia Usher and follow Julia's blog too. So,
when Julia wrote this post about rubber-stamping cookies I was intrigued...
Meaning, I was too intimidated to try! But not Leah! Leah jumped right in...
Putting together the supplies she needed to get right to work! Just
look at all of these beautifully stamp-decorated cookies Leah created!
I especially love the soft colors she chose and the style of the bead decoration Leah
used to outline her cookies. The elegant cream-tone color combination makes for
a delicate vintage Victorian look! I think Leah's cookies are stunning, don't you?
Of course, Leah being her sweet self, she was quick to point out what
she said were flaws in her stamping... She called this trio her sweet misfits!
Of course, I reminded Leah there are no misfits, only cookies voted most likely to be
eaten first... ha! Besides, the beauty of stamping cookies is that missing outlines can
easily be sketched in with edible markers or covered embellished with icing! So
what about you? Are you as inspired by Leah to rubber-stamp cookies as I am? Ever
since I saw Leah's cookies, I've been looking at rubber stamps in a whole new way!
Honestly, I don't know how Leah's able to create cookies at all... Because
if her sweet Oscar-kitty were mine, I'd have difficultly leaving his side!
Inspiring each other... That's what this cookie thing is all about! Which brings
me to the next introduction I feel honored to make to you... You see, a few days
ago, I received the following e-mail from one of my readers and Oui, Sugar!
customers, Teri from Happy Valley, Oregon: Hi, Janet! Well cookie decorating
party #2 is in the books with my some of my adult cousins (after hosting at
Christmas they begged for an Easter session as well). What fun we have
decorating cookies inspired by your beauties! Your royal icing recipe is the
best -- fresh lemon juice makes all the difference as you say! Here are a couple
photos of our fun - both orders of your fabulous icing bottles were put to
great use! Our cookies pale in greatness to yours but we know you will be proud
of our efforts! Thanks for inspiring so many people across this beautiful nation,
Janet! Have a very Blessed Easter! Teri  - Wow! I have to tell you, there are days
when I think no one reads... So why bother writing? Then, I hear from readers like
Leah and Teri and not only do I find myself inspired by what they're doing with
their cookies, I begin to believe this blog is contributing and worth continuing
after all! I must also admit that seeing my Oui, Sugar! Decorating Kit and
those decorating squeeze bottles I love so much in action on Teri's table
makes me feel quite proud of the work I put into my Oui, Sugar! store too. So,
without further delay, please join me in sending some big cookie-decorating
love to three out of the seven members of Teri's family that made up this
Easter cookie party! Clockwise from top we have: Teri's cousin Joanne, her
sister Traci and cousin Mary. Hello, ladies - We all love your cookies!
I see perfectly baked cookies by Teri's sister, Toni! And Sanding Sugar,
sprinkles and royal icing decorating techniques that were executed perfectly
to create darling Easter cookies I know Teri's whole family will be delighted
to discover tucked into their Easter baskets this Easter Sunday weekend!
In Teri's e-mail she said she knew I would be proud of their cookies
and I am... More than they know! I say, Bravo! and, Well Done!
to sisters, Teri, Toni, Traci and their sweet cousins, Joanne and Mary!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Indian Motorcycle Classic Leather Jacket Auction to benefit Wounded Warrior Project!

As promised in this post about Indian Motorcycle's Two Wheel Salute
for a Hometown Hero, I'm delighted to share that the e-Bay auction of
the Classic Leather Jacket I was offered is now active! I hope you'll take a
look here and bid high and often to benefit Wounded Warrior Project!
So, I know you must be wondering, what the heck does auctioning off a jacket
to benefit Wounded Warrior have to do with cookies, Janet? Well, I'm glad
you asked because I have been dying to tell you about the wonderful people at
Edible Printing! You see, after my friend David used them for cookies he
created, I decided to use them for the logo cookies to announce my move
to etsy for my Oui, Sugar! on-line marketplace... And, I'm so glad I did!
The process of ordering images couldn't be easier and every question
is always answered quickly and courteously. The people at Edible
Printing are definitely in the problem solving business and I love that!
Also, I've priced out printing my own edible images and even figuring in
the cost of shipping, ordering edible images from Edible Printing is much
less expensive! I'm making them my go-to for edible images going forward
and I suggest that you do too! Which brings me to the point of talking about
cookies related to the leather jacket! You see, I wanted to thank the sweet
team at Indian Motorcycle that reached out to me to help them promote
their Hometown Hero campaign... So I thought, what better way than to
send them some of my decorated sugar cookies sporting their logos!
And, when I told my friends at Edible Printing what I was up to,
and why... They offered to donate the edible image logos I needed!
By the way, I'm so happy to tell you that as of this afternoon, the auction
for the jacket broke $300! Supporting Wounded Warrior Project is
really important to me so my wish is for bidding to exceed the retail
value of the jacket! While I have your attention, I would really appreciate
it if you would take a minute to visit the Wounded Warrior Project
website to read about some of our wounded warriors and they families
and all of the great work Wounded Warrior Project is doing to heal
the most deserving among us. Whatever you can donate matters!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring's Garden Songs and and one Flirty Cardinal!

This Palm Sunday found us outside in the garden!
Where the pink dogwood trees and bleeding hearts are
in full bloom and literally... Taking my breath away!
Everything is blooming. Everything is waking up!
Thanks to a little breeze, Spring's music is in the trees too!
I have been very busy today welcoming each
and every tree back from its long winter's nap!
During my exploration of the gardens I found this little egg... It
makes me sad to think of the little birdie that didn't make it!
Speaking of birds... This cardinal has been wooing his lady all day
long. We've watched them fly across the yard at least a hundred times!
She flies away first. He calls to her and, eventually, he follows...
Here he is stalking her from within the branches of
this Canadian Hemlock I affectionately call Cousin It!
I see you!
You handsome devil, you!
I don't know how she resists you...
Honestly, I don't!
Yes, I'm talking about you!
Speaking of stunners... My husband's tulips have been
smiling up at this gorgeous bright sunshine all day!
I love his Spring bloomers!
In case you wondered, this is what it looks like when Tulips take selfies!
By the way... If you haven't picked up the May issue of Martha Stewart Living,
you must. I've just spent the entire afternoon pouring over every page!
This pancake skillet is now high on my list of recipes to try!
I sooo want that table!
Oh, Yellowware... How I love thee!
I'm delighted you decided to join me for this peek into our Spring
gardens on this beautiful Palm Sunday. Before you go, I hope you'll
enjoy this video of today's Spring Song I recorded just for you!
I also hope this week leading up to Easter treats you especially sweet!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Create Perfect Eggs Benedict for Your Easter Brunch {with Concord Foods Hollandaise Sauce Mix!}

This is a sponsored post I've written on behalf of Concord Foods

Eggs Benedict is my favorite! And, the key to this brunch classic is delicious
simplicity... Poached fresh eggs, toasted English muffins, Canadian bacon,
and a creamy, authentic Hollandaise sauce. However, if you're like me, you
too believe the simplicity aspect of this recipe ends with the ingredient list!
Always horribly intimated by poaching eggs and never imagining I could actually make
my own Hollandaise sauce, the only way I've ever had eggs benedict, was to have it
served to me. Oh! Let me also confess that I'm a poached egg snob... Whenever I'm
asked how I'd like my poached eggs, my response is always to reply: Perfectly!
However, all this changed after my friends at Concord Foods asked me to
try their Hollandaise Sauce Mix. Now, if Concord Foods sounds familiar to
you, it might be because of this post I wrote last year for their delicious fresh
Cranberry bread mix and reconstituted juices. As many of you already know,
my Royal Icing Recipe can't sing without lemon juice! But what about the
Hollandaise? Everyone knows really great Hollandaise is earned... It may only
be achieved through years and years of practice and failed attempts. Double-
boilers and lots of whisking... Whisking that if not done exactly so, results in
scrambled eggs, not the creamy, lip-smacking Hollandaise we're all after!
So what about it? Can great Hollandaise, one of the five mother sauces
of French cuisine, really come from a packet and require only a cup of water
and just a few turns of my whisk? If so, what would my beloved Julia say?
Well, I'll tell you what she would say... Julia would say this Concord Foods
hollandaise sauce is perfection! She would also say that with my hollandaise
dilemma now solved, there's no excuse left not to try poaching my own
eggs! So here goes... And, whether I fail spectacularly or succeed
by just a smidgen, I promise, you're about to see it all!
I begin with a pan of water that's approximately an inch deep and add
a teaspoon of kosher salt. I use coarse sea salt, which is also kosher!
Next, add two teaspoons white vinegar to the water... I read where
the vinegar helps the whites firm up quicker and prevents them
from floating away. So... Since I can use all the help I can get...
I also read salt prevents whites from coming together and, I've read it
helps bring them together... See why it's taken me so long to poach eggs?
As the water heated I cracked two eggs into these small dishes because to
keep the yolks intact, eggs must be slipped into the water, not dropped!
As soon as the water in my pan began to simmer, I
immediately started stirring to create a whirlpool...
Then, I slipped the first egg into the center of the whirl...
Then I covered my eyes and hoped for the best! No, I didn't
really cover my eyes... But I did hope for the best! And, then it
happened! My little egg whirled together and began to take shape!
Believe me, I'm as shocked as you are!
But it's true! After removing the pan from the heat, I covered it, set my
timer for 4 minutes and... On my very first try, I poached an egg like this!
A poached egg completely worthy of this
silky, rich, Concord Foods Hollandaise Sauce!
A poached egg and hollandaise sauce worthy of Easter
brunch but simple enough to throw together on a Tuesday
morning too! Because I think you and your family deserve it!
I know, you want to see it run. And, you're not alone!
I want to see the egg yolk run too! After all, if the yolk doesn't
run then all I have to show for my effort is a hard-boiled egg!
But as you can plainly see, this... This is no hard-boiled egg!
This is in fact my Her's to my His-and-Her's Brunch today!
Which, we are now enjoying on our deck with the surest sign
of Spring we've yet to see... The return of our mallard pair!
Nothing says Spring better than the
return of our mallard pair and Easter!
I wish to thank the great people at Concord Foods for creating a
Hollandaise Sauce Mix that is not only effortless to make, but is also as
delicious as the finest Hollandaise this Eggs Benedict snob has ever tasted!
Don't forget! Hollandaise Sauce isn't just for those amazing poached
eggs I know you'll be making, now that you know the person least likely
to ever successfully poach an egg can do it... No! Hollandaise Sauce is
also amazing over asparagus and with fish, chicken and even turkey!

Please visit the Concord Foods website here where you'll find a whole catalog of amazing recipes using their entire line of exceptional products!