Bearly Read Mini-Bearclaws

I threw these together and brought them to a cookie swap, when the owners of my favorite book store were unable to attend in person.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Take a package of Pepperidge Farms Puff pastry dough and unfold it, cutting it along the fold lines.

Spread Nutella along each strip of puff pastry dough.

Fold over or roll along the long axis.

Cut into 1 ¼"  wide pieces and arrange on a baking sheet.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, till golden.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Warning: Peanut and hazelnut ingredients.

Sugar Cookies

This started as a recipe that my mother cut from a home magazine when I was a child. The original was lost long ago, and the hand copied 3x5 card had a habit of disappearing just before christmas, leading to frantic phone calls looking for the recipe.  Thankfully I have had a copy stored away electronically for twenty years.

I have tweeked it a bit over the years and it now makes nice moist cookies that remain soft for around three weeks on a Christmas tree.  Of course that is only if your family has more willpower than mine...

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the following:

     3 1/2 cups flour

     2 1/2 tsp   baking powder

     1 1/2 tsp   salt (1 tsp if salted butter)

Cream the following:

     1 1/2 cups sugar

     1 cup         butter

     2                 eggs

     3 tsp           vanilla    

Mix the dry ingredients in with the creamed until stiff.

Spread on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cut to shape. Remove excess dough.

Cook for 6 min at 400 degrees F, for small cookies around 1".

Cook for 13 min at 400 degrees F, for large gingerbread men, etc..

Grandma Ople’s Apple pie recipe

This is perhaps the best apple pie recipe that I have ever found.  I reccomend it highly to anyone who asks.  The crust in particular comes out like a flaky pastry.  I prefer to add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the apples, and occasionally make it with half apples and half pears.

The Swan

This is not a recipe, but more an example of a small cooking project that I undertook. At a local SCA event the visiting Queen made a request that there be a champagne fountain.  Needless to say, for a task as unusual as this they turned to me asking if I could do it. After a bit of thought I said “yes”.

Step 1.  I prepared a french bread dough into the shape of a swan neck and head and wrapped it around a pvc tube and baked it. I then let sit and go stale for several days to give it stiffness.

Step 2.  Cooking with duct tap: I duct taped the base of the neck to the bottom of a very large platter and covered the duct tape in several layers of saran wrap.   I broke off the back end and mated it with a smaller and longer piece of pvc tubing.

Step 3: I started building up the body of the swan with a lemon cake recipe from The Cake Bible.

Step 4.  Icing the body, I used a lemon buttercream recipe again from The Cake Bible.  This was in preparation for next putting the wings on.

Step 5. Frankenswan  - I iced up one side of the wing and gently picked it up and turned to place it on the side of the swan, when from behind me I heard a “Plop.”  Putting down the fragile wing, I turned and saw that the neck had snapped about 1/5th of the way up and was now resting on the counter.  The beak had popped clean off and was teetering on the edge of the counter. Obviously the bread was not stale enough...  Out came the meat skewers and I tried to determine how to recover in time for the event the next day..

Step 6.  The meat skewers were working and using five of them, four holding the neck to the body of the swan with only the rings showing and one around the nose of the swan and stabbibg into the neck.  The beak was held in place by two toothpicks shoved up on either side of the pvc tubing in a friction fit.

The wings were placed on either side and the final decorative touches were added.  But I still had the Frankenswan look going and needed to solve that. A quick visit to the local Wild Harvest and when they didn’t have any edible flowers, I talked them into selling me some of their decorative plastic ivy instead.  After a quick boil to sterize them, they were lovely on the swan, and hid all but the skewer holding the nose in position.

Step 7.  I carefully brought the swan to the site and set it up. I had a lovely cut crystal bowl that was filled with white grapejuice, and I rigged up my pumping mechanism.  I had been unable to find a food grade pump locally in the time I had available, however I had found an induction pump used for fishtanks that was air grade, so I figured that would more than do the job.  It was unused and sealed in the box, but I still ran it with a solution of food grade bleach, just to be certain that it had been sterilized.  While the pump worked well, it was a little less powerful than I would like and I would use the next size up on the next one. 

So I dropped the feed tube into the punchbowI primed the pump, hid it with a little more fake ivy and plugged it in. It ran like a charm, and if you can forget the fact that I am pumping grape juice so hard up the swan’s butt that it is spurting out it’s beak, it was really rather pretty in action.