Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sugarplums and Cookie Crumbs

Merry Cookie Baking!
And Happy Decorating, too.

Using just some of the lovely cookie cutters Calamity Kim shared with us, we made sugar cookies. I love a splash of lemon extract in our sugar cookies, in the icing, too.

Anyone who knows us, or has followed Chicenkenblog Chickenblog for any time, knows two things: 1. I always mistype "chicken," and 2. we have food-dye allergies. In the past, I have jumped through some weird hoops, in search of alternatives, and mostly we have had to say 'pass' on colorful iced cookies. But this year I scored a great find with India Tree natural food dyes! No petroleum concoctions to make anyone sick, or uneasy. The colors were festive enough... I grant you, they are not the technicolor fantasy palette we've come to recognize, but we were happy to play with these safer varieties.

December 22 was warmer and dryer than most, so we took our cookie decorating outdoors.

I know. It might look like a luxury, from other parts of the wintery world, but we'd love to trade our short sleeves, and plein aire art for a nice deep, fluffy snowfall!

Okay, honestly, I was only going to share cookies and icing, and all things nicing... but did you know that artificial dyes, and food additives, exacerbate the symptoms and behavioral challenges of Autism, and can cause behavior problems in otherwise healthy children? The reactions children have to these unnatural ingredients can have devastating effects... we learned this through painful personal experience, and no support from our pediatrician. Fortunately, in recent years, there is published evidence that our findings, and suspicions, are founded. I like to mention this periodically, because I hope that other families will be spared heartache and unnecessary hardships. Get the dye out!

Back to cookie town and merryness...

This one, according to Alex, is the William Cookie.

You can see they are challenging themselves to make the most of their sweet skills in cookie arts.

Maria was thrilled to have this fun activity to enjoy.

India Tree makes sugar toppings, like nonpareils, sprinkles, snowflakes, too! Those cookies look crunchy!

James is focused, Alex and John look on.

And now... all the bros are represented! Alex, Wames aka James, John, and William.

A few days later, after guests shared loads of beautiful treats at our Solstice party, I found a napkin covered plate in the refrigerator...

Set aside, with a fair caution to all who sneak & snack, Alex saved some treats for the night of our annual visit to The Living Lights Project.

I only peeked. Honest!


Miriam said...

I would vote for natural, muted colours any day over chemical day-glo colours!

When I was growing up we used to have the Annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Olympics. Trust my family to turn something as heartwarming as sugar cookie decorating into a competitive sport... We did have lots of fun, though, and it's a testament to all those unnatural ingredients we used back then that the cookies would still be around (they were way too decorated to eat!) the next Christmas. I think by the time my mom did a major purge as she sold the family home we had about ten years worth of cookies saved for posterity. We took pictures and then they all went into the trash!

Kate said...

You're the second person I've heard mention these natural dyes this week! And thank you for doing so. I think most people think food coloring is harmless, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. (Plus, red velvet cake is really gross. Yum red food coloring...NOT!)

nikkipolani said...

What a coincidence! My mom was experimenting with some coloring, too. She has a friend who made a mint extract (from steeping a special variety of mint) that produces a purple dye. Mom used it to color our sticky rice for Christmas. I think the Chinese tradition is to dye it red, but we liked the purple just fine :-)

Jennifer said...

So much wonderfulness here, as always! I realize that for whatever unintentional but fortunate reason, we always go with straight white or straight chocolate decorations -- terrific that you now have a safe source for colors!!

Adaliza said...

Looks like huge fun - great cookies. I'm with you on the food dyes. We had to avoid all bright colours when our brood were young - in drinks, sweets & cakes. They had to drink milk or water or diluted juice - no coloured cordials and white icing or cocoa was all fine for cookies & cakes. I don't sleep now if I've had something with colours in (by accident), like a sweet treat at the end of a meal out.

warren said...

We had some "stuff" with my son when he was younger and that's when we discovered the Feingold diet. It's incredible the junk that goes into colorants...anyhow, good on you for blogging about it!