This past weekend I decided to make some pretty Valentine's Day cookies for friends and family. Having acquired Dorothy's secret family sugar cookie recipe over Christmas (thanks Val!) and since my mom had given me the bulk of our family's cookie cutters recently, and since probably the last time I made sugar cookies was here, I thought I would give it a go. I had visions of cleverly decorated, colorful cookies that were perfectly cooked and expertly designed. I daydreamed about all the colors that I could concoct with just a single box of simple food coloring, making little works of art that no one would want to eat they were so beautiful. Basically, I wanted to give Martha Stewart the business.
So, I got up early Sunday, made the dough. The Haldiman Family recipe is not much different than your basic sugar cookie recipe but it has a little extra vanilla in it and calls for 'sweet milk'. After some poking around, I found out that 'sweet milk' refers to the milk that is straight from the cow (not yet pasteurized, de-fatted or separated) which is easier to come by if, say, you grew up on a farm in Missouri (as Dorothy did). The closest thing I could get was organic full fat milk (whole) from the market. It seems a small distinction, but I am convinced that it makes these cookies more delicious.
I called my friend L.C. over to join the 'fun' and she brought food coloring and a few cookie cutters, including such Valentine's Day classics as the hammer and cactus. Obviously.
I made up some basic royal icing and began mixing my palette.
After the cookies had cooled some, we assembled our tools and prepared to impress ourselves with our cleverness and artistry. I had such big plans!!! It did not take long to realize why most people who make professional looking sugar cookies use fondant (even though it tastes gross). Before I knew it, all of my creative genius was going to keeping the dang icing ON the cookie! Instead of putting Martha to shame, they ended up looking like this:
Yes, that is the “cactus of love” on the right…incase you were unable to decipher it.
I was so frustrated at this point, that I just wanted to scrap the whole thing and never tell a soul. But then I tried one. (I mean, destroy the evidence right?) Delicious! Really fantastic. Ugly, but really really tasty. I realized in my delight, that I was trying so hard to be perfect at this that I had missed the whole point of making delicious treats for my friends. I was not “living imperfectly with great delight” as I suggest everyone else do. I wanted to punch “imperfectly” square in the nose.
After that moment, the whole project became more fun. We went nuts…making the ugliest and most tacky looking cookies we could out of the bigger ones and I quietly practiced my icing skills on the little ones. I decided that like any thing worth doing, even if it is only made out of sugar and milk, one must practice and learn to enjoy the doing.
So I kept it simple, and practiced and had a great time with a good friend. Once we let go of them being perfect we got to have a lot more fun with all of the goofy tools (including Q-tips!) sugars and sprinkles we had brought to play with. We let go of perfect, and focused on the sprinkles. Sometimes that's all it takes.
Hope your day is full of the good stuff! xoxo