Sunday, 24 April 2016

Disappearing Ice Box Cookies

Make these and watch them disappear.
I grew up calling these ice box cookies because it was what my mother always said.  She probably was referring to the days when they had an ice box and not a fridge.  I love the term.  The old-fashioned image fits these cookies perfectly.  I also love the fact that they remind me of being in the kitchen with my mother. I think, growing up, that I was more or less attached to her side. I have so many memories of standing beside her 'helping her cook'. We always made these for Christmas, along with half a dozen other recipes, to serve to guests and to give as gifts.

Nowadays they are called refrigerator cookies because they need to chill before they can be sliced and baked. The dough keeps well in the freezer and can be sliced straight from there as well and then thawed a little and baked. They can also be frozen after they are baked. My sister-in-law assures me that her youngest daughter still likes them best frozen and that solved the mystery of why they disappeared from the freezer.

I call them disappearing because when I made them recently, any that were put out disappeared in minutes.  No one can eat just one.  Because they are small, people generally eat four or five at a time.

The recipe is simple and can be made with many variations.  The ones above are made with chopped almonds (which I had in the cupboard).  I have made them with ground hazelnuts (delicious!) and with chopped pecans or walnuts (my favourites).  I have also divided the dough into two parts and mixed melted chocolate in one half, then rolled them out into two rectangles, laid one on the other and then rolled them up and cut out 'pinwheels'.  The book suggests a variation with orange zest and 1/2 cup coconut, but I have not tried these. The recipe comes from 'Modern Approach to Everyday Cooking' published by the American Dairy Association sometime in the 1960s. There must be many similar recipes online.

Slicing the chilled dough.

Here's how to make them:

1/2 cup (4 oz) softened butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar.
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts


Cream the butter and gradually add the sugars.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Add  nuts and stir.
On parchment paper, form dough into rolls about 1" in diameter, then roll up the dough inside the parchment to keep the shape.
Chill several hours or overnight.
Cut rolls into 1/8" slices and place on greased baking sheets or parchment paper.
Bake 8 0 10 minutes at 400 F or 200 C.
Place on wire rack and hide if you don't want them all eaten immediately.

See what I mean?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Making a Wearable Toile (Muslin)

My wearable toile,
made from a Batik cotton,
Aa long time ago, when I was sewing for other people, I learned the hard way that when I want to cut out something from really good fabric, it is important to make a toile. It allows me to asses the style and shape and, most importantly, the fit. This also applies to things I make for myself. Normally I would make a toile out of muslin or plain white fabric. This is important if you are making something complicated as you are not distracted by the fabric, but by making a simple, wearable toile, I can do all those things and have something useful at the end of the process. This pretty fabric has been in my stash for several years.  I had always intended to make it into a top and now I have done just that.

What I learned from this toile is that the neckline is too wide and the sleeves are a little too short.  I was also not happy with the narrow hems and the finish of the neckline, for which I used bias binding. (Just call me Mrs Fussy.) So I intend to make another wearable toile (start to finish it only takes about two hours, and I am slow) and get the finish absolutely correct before I make the final garment.  The joy of this is that I will have TWO new tops for summer and who wouldn't be happy about that.

For the my next toile, I will add one inch to the sleeves (otherwise, I might distort the fit) and cut a proper facing for the neck.  Watch this space to see my progress.

The fabric I want to use eventually is a beautiful ivory polyester crepe from Minerva Crafts.  I want something classic and packable that will look good under a jacket for my trip to Russia in May so I better get cracking on the second toile today!

This is the original pattern.  Simple, but effective.