Last night as I was getting ready to shut down (my laptop), I clicked over to check FB and my email, just because I’m an old techie obsessed with being wired. In my inbox was a note from my mommy friend Adel; her son Matthew and Ken have been best friends since first grade. Ken even stayed with them when Kurt and I had the transplant surgeries; they were in a special math camp, so there was no disruption to his routine, plus a sleepover with his best friend! We are lucky to have such good friends!
Adel hadn’t been able to attend Saturday’s Mommy dinner since she had a round of relatives coming to visit, specifically to see Matthew play football at his big game Saturday afternoon. (I love when extended family come to root for your kid)! Matthew’s current goal is to be an NFL football player, but he’s still going to focus on doing well academically as a “back-up.” For Matthew, academics are a breeze; this is a child who is in all-Honors classes, including Algebra I, does his homework in front of the TV and gets straight A’s. I always tell Adel and her husband that I wish some of Matthew’s goal-setting would rub off on my child!
Unfortunately, after the second play of the game, Matthew landed under a crush of kids and clearly injured his right arm. Of course, it’s the writing hand. The kid was a champ, managing to remain composed from the sidelines, even though Adel could tell he was obviously hurting. Badly. She ended up taking him to urgent care where they initially took x-rays and diagnosed multiple fractures. Fortunately, the clinicians there told Adel to take Matthew to the pediatric ER where there was a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who could better diagnose the situation.
After many more hours at the ER (and I think the poor child didn’t get anything to eat or drink since there was the possibility of surgery), the docs determined it may be just a bad sprain; they subsequently splinted Matthew from his finger tips to his elbow. He’s going to see the surgeon on Friday. I told Ken last night that Matthew had hurt his arm and that it would be a good idea if Ken would look out for him in any of the classes they shared. (I also told Adel she needed to have a glass of wine last night after the weekend she’s had)!
A few weeks ago, I purchased some new cookie cutters from Wegman’s; a football, a folded ribbon (the kind for causes), and a horse. Ken found them on the counter and told me “The horse is for me, the ribbon is for Sara (his cousin who is fighting leukemia) and the football is for Matthew.” The child and I are just so simpatico sometimes!
I told him I was going to make sugar cookies soon. I think now is a good time to bake a batch of footballs for Matthew. I’ll have to ask Adel what are his team’s colors; I know already he’s a big Eagles fan. By the way, did I mention that I LOVE cooking and baking when Matthew’s around? He’s a future foodie!
I use one of two recipes, one from Alton Brown and the other from a slim paperback cookbook called Christmas 101. Since the AB recipe is online and I can just link to it versus typing out the other, I’ll use that one today. You can get it here.
Pretty basic– whisk together dry ingredients.
Cream fat and sugar.
Add liquids. I added a teaspoon of vanilla, too.
Add flour and mix gently. This is where you need to pay attention to how wet or dry the dough is…
Divide dough into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.
With the dough chilling out in the fridge, I headed to Michaels to search for the paste coloring since the only full-scale baking supply shop in the area is closed on Mondays; Adel emailed me that Matthew’s team colors were teal and black (which would be much easier than finding the Eagles Midnight Green). Then I made up the royal icing– icing made with egg whites and powdered sugar that dries hard which means the sugar cookie won’t go soft. However, with the ongoing rain, I bet the icing won’t fully dry– but that’s my goal. I decided NOT to try to transform Moss Green into Midnight Green and worked solely with teal and black. I planned to cheat on the black by initially using an icing pen from a Williams-Sonoma cookie decorating kit, if it still works.
By the way, I don’t use a recipe for royal icing– I mix a few tablespoons of egg whites, some lemon juice if I have any, and sifted powdered sugar til I get the consistency I need. You will need a small batch that is thicker for outlining and a thin one to color flow within the outline. I haven’t flowed icing or even decorated with royal icing in literally a quarter century, but I went ahead and bought disposable icing bags, a set of couplers and a size 5 tip. If all this is too overwhelming, just buy some colored sugar and sprinkle it on the cookies before you bake them. MUCH easier, but not as pretty.
Time to roll out the dough, using powdered sugar instead of flour; this prevents the cookie from being too tough. Move the dough around periodically to make sure it’s not sticking to your surface– use that powdered sugar liberally, and don’t forget the rolling pin! Note: If you use powdered sugar this way, you must use parchment or thin silicone sheets to line your cookie sheets or the excess sugar on the cookies will cement them to the baking sheet. Trust me. I have had my share of bowls of “cookie crumbles” that became ice cream topping. I now line my sheets re-usable thin silicone sheets. I love them!
Place cut-outs on cookie sheets. Re-roll dough and repeat; if the dough is too soft, return it, wrapped, to the fridge for 15 minutes or until chilled.
Baking. Use the center rack.
Cooling. I think I let them go a minute too long; I usually like them just brown on the edges with almost no coloring elsewhere. These will be a bit more nutty tasting, I think.
Decorating. Clearly, the finished products substantiate the fact that I have not done any color flow or royal icing work in 25 years. Thank goodness Matthew is a kid and will likely not notice the multiple defects… Ken (“I need to make sure they taste good!”) said they were “wonderful,” and that “Matthew will LOVE them.” When I said there were a lot of decorating defects, he looked at me like I had two heads.
Ahhh! That’s what I LOVE about baking for kids– they DON’T CARE if you don’t ice between the lines!
Enjoy, Matthew, and hope you heal quickly!