Art, Edible and Otherwise!

Let’s strike a bargain, team!

Indulge me while I talk about something non-food-related and then I’ll indulge you with a recipe for one of my favourite cookies of all time

Sound OK? Here we go!  

Upload from August 16, 2011

Over the past few months, I’ve had the great fortune of helping a team of incredible people and super-cool Edmonton organizations create an event designed to bring to life an incredible space, the Alley of Light. And this past Saturday, it all came together; Arts 4 the Alley was born!  

Under the beautiful summer sun, friends, family and strangers of all ages came together to create paintings for an alley art gallery, to construct lanterns to illuminate its walls, to listen to fantastic local musicians rock out on a loading dock, and to reinvent the drive-in by watching a movie projected onto the side of a building.

It was, in a word, incredible! 

Upload from August 16, 2011

But what’s more incredible in my mind is that the event even happened. 

The original concept - simply the alley art gallery - was dreamed up by three friends with little experience in major event planning. The idea was pitched and, unbelievably, this group of amazing individuals, most of them strangers at the time, came together to dedicate time, money, and creative thinking to not only bring the event to life, but to make it so much more than it otherwise would have been. They brought together cool local businesses, incredible musical and artistic talent, and an army of dedicated volunteers willing to iron out wrinkles and make things tick. 

All in the interest of getting people to experience their city in a new way, to create art together, to simply have fun! And, like I said, they succeeded big time!

Upload from August 16, 2011

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working to say a huge thank you to all of the great people who created and participated in Arts 4 the Alley. And - here’s where the tasty bit comes in! - I’m kicking it off in the best way I know how, which is to bake. 

In the spirit of art, and the interest of deliciousness, I’ve rolled out dozens of those beautifully simple, buttery treats that lend themselves so well to being painted (with icing, that is!) - sugar cookies. 

Upload from August 16, 2011

The recipe contains just a few basic baking ingredients that come together and roll out with ease to produce smooth cookies perfect for eating as-is or decorating to your heart’s content. And, unlike some desserts designed with beauty in mind (fondant, anyone?), these guys look and taste great; butter, sugar, vanilla - what more do you need? 

Oh, and the unbaked dough and baked cookies both freeze super-well, which is a big bonus when you’re not quite sure when you’ll be seeing your cookie recipients next. 

So stay tuned for Stage 2 of cookie construction, when I’ll pass along a simple recipe for sugar cookie icing and reveal my plans for those mysterious Pacman-shaped cookies you see in the photos below!
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Mad-Tasty Sugar Cookies
Adapted from allrecipes.com
Makes ~60 smallish cookies

Ingredients
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
¾ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer (or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease) until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs* and vanilla to butter-sugar mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Dump dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until everything is fully combined. Divide dough in two, form into discs and wrap each disc in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.** 

Upload from August 16, 20112. Preheat oven to 400°F. On a piece of wax paper or parchment lightly dusted with flour, roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter or whatever you’ve got on hand.*** Transfer shapes to a baking sheet lined with parchment (I used a Silpat) and bake for 6-10 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature (or the freezer, if you want them to last for a good long while).  

Upload from August 16, 2011

*Always crack raw eggs one-by-one into a separate bowl before adding them to other ingredients. This will save you from having to trash otherwise good ingredients if ever you end up with a literally bad egg. The proverbial bad egg, well, that’s another story!
**Unless I’m baking for a crowd, I leave one batch of dough in the freezer and use it another time. 
***I used a shot glass and a straw, both dipped in flour regularly, to make the round cookies and a sharp knife to make the hearts. Be creative! 
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An extra-special shout-out to my wonderful friends, Chris and Jordan, who were there from the start, saw it through to the end, and did so much heavy lifting along the way; my supply of high fives for the two of you is endless. A special thanks too to all the familiar faces who showed up to participate; Katie, Ash, Tegan, Danny, Graham and Blaise - you guys are great!

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