The picnic was hosted by David Ansel of The Soup Peddler, and the food was incredible. We’re still talking about that smoked, stuffed chicken, and we’re sure it was the best chicken we’ve ever had. And, those pea shoot and strawberry sandwiches were a fresh and delicious flavor combination. Kurt loved the fried pork ribs, and I couldn’t stop eating the spicy potato salad. Then, there was dessert. We filled dessert plates three times and were still looking longingly at things we hadn’t tried. Next time, we’ll need to prepare for a day like this. Maybe a few days of fasting prior to future potlucks will help.
So, I brought along a box of these sugar cookies and a strawberry raspberry tart. The cookies are from my Mom’s 1960 version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook which she received as a wedding gift. In the book, they are called Ethel’s sugar cookies, and we have no idea who Ethel was. She made a fine sugar cookie though. Mom and I used to make these for Christmas or Easter, and I think we even made them for Thanksgiving one year. Mom used to show me how thick to roll out the dough and how to tap the cookie out of the cutter if it got suck. She has a thing about sugar cookies being baked until just done. If they brown on the bottoms or on any corners at all, they won’t make the cut. I still watch the oven and timer like a hawk and stand ready to pull the sheet out at just the right moment. It takes a little patience to mix the dough, let it chill overnight, roll it out, cut out cookies, bake them, let them cool, and then decorate them. But, these cookies always make me happy. I just checked my Betty Crocker 40th Anniversary Cookbook, and the sugar cookie recipe in that version of the book is completely different, and I’m sure it’s no good at all. Ethel’s recipe is the best, and this is it:
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 c butter
1 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
-sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium mixing bowl
-cream together butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy
-add dry ingredients a little at a time and mix until combined
-wrap dough in plastic or place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight
-pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F
-roll out dough to 1/8" thickness and cut cookies
-bake for 6 minutes for medium-sized cookies
Note: I always double this recipe and make a lot of cookies at once. A doubled recipe yielded about five dozen three and a half inch wide Texas cookies.
I was asked about the royal icing used on the cookies, and I always follow a recipe found in The Martha Stewart Cookbook.
1 c confectioners' sugar
1 egg white (I use meringue powder when serving the cookies to a crowd.)
3 or 4 drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
-mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. add more sugar if the consistency is not thick enough to hold its shape on a cookie.