Where to Find Cutters

UPDATE: This post was originally published in January 2014. Since that time, I’ve discovered new sites for cutters and added those below.

While posting images of my holiday baking for 2013, I started thinking about cookie cutters.

It probably comes as no surprise that I have a pretty big collection of cookie cutters. The makers include WiltonFredCopper Gifts, R & M, Nordic Ware, and Fox Run.

Gingerbread men with “bites” in the head, or intentionally missing limbs are cute and funny surprise to find in a cookie gift box. Fred has taken gingerbread men to a whole ‘nother level–they have Ninjabread, Undead (zombie) men, and ABC (Already Been Chewed) men. Every year, they come out with new ideas; their catalog is really funny to peruse. They do not just make humorous kitchen gear.

Are you a collector, an avid baker, or both? Do you know a cutter collector or baker?

Then check these sources out:

  • Stores You Already Go To For Groceries, School Supplies, and Household Basics: Walmart and arts and crafts stores like MichaelsJoAnnAC Moore, and Hobby Lobby, are good places to pick up Wilton cutters and big jar sets of plastic cutters. World MarketDollar General, Publix, and Target also carry some plastic sets, especially in November and December. Target carries some Fred products too, especially in July and August for the college crowd. All of the above also allow you to do some shopping online, or if you must find a store they say so. Sandwich cutters can also double as cookie cutters; they typically are hanging in the aisles of grocery stores near the nut butters, jellies, and sliced breads.
  • Discount stores means serendipitous shopping encounters: You never know what you will find at Ross, Marshalls, Marshalls Home Goods, TJMaxx, Tuesday Morning, and Big Lots.  They have websites, but the websites don’t feature e-commerce functionality. They want to motivate shoppers to visit a local store. These sites typically don’t compete with stores by offering online shopping.
  • If you buy traditional printed paper Birthday and Anniversary Cards: Occasionally, Hallmark has an individual steel cutter in a gift box. I picked up a high heel a few years back. I have had my eye on a martini glass they have carried in the last year. [UPDATE 3/30/14: Got it!]
  • If all else fails: Amazon or Etsy. Etsy has a lot of 3D cutters of pop culture characters from the 1980s­–present. So if you are buying for a gamer, or someone born after 1960, check there. Also, Thinkgeek carries a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, and gamer-themed cutters.
  • Do you have a 3D printer? You can make your own cutters that way. Check out Etsy to see what other people have done.

If I make new discoveries in this area I will make followup posts to this one. In the meantime, Happy Baking and Happy Shopping!

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Dining in French..a fun alphabet

Do you eat something if you can’t pronounce it?

When I am out with friends or family, I am the one explaining terms.

When I write stories about exotic foods, I assume my readers would like to know more what they could be eating–delicious delicacies that aren’t apparent due to the language barrier. I describe the food and its preparation in English, followed by the foreign word in parentheses (just so it’s a little more familiar.)

For Bastille Day, I thought I would make a translated alphabet of French food-words diners may encounter. For extra fun, I thought I’d rhyme the end of each sentence with the French word.

A is for aubergine: but if I say eggplant you’ll know what I mean.

B is for bouillabaisse: a brothy, herbed seafood soup will bring a smile to your face.

C is for croquette: a potato dumpling you can’t forget.

D is for du jour: it means of the day with much allure.

E is for eau: it means water, just so you know.

F is for fraise: it means strawberry, a summery craze

G is for gâteau: it means cake, add glacé for ice cream also. 

H is for haricot: means beans, and now you know.

I is for ignames, but that’s yams where I’m from.

J is for jambon: it means hamI won’t go on and on.

K is for kumquat: a small citrus fruit–you know what? Nous Americains also say Kumquat.

L is for Lyonnaise, a hearty, meat-n-potatoes dish that’s sure to amaze.

M is for macaron, meringue, and madeleines, different cookies worth trying when you get the time.

N is for neufchâtel: a soft cream cheese that puts you under its spell.

O is for oeuf: it means egg, do you need proof?

P is for poulet: means chicken, cooked in many delicious ways.

Q is for quiche: It’s an egg-based, veggie and/or meat pie that never contains peach.

R is for roux: a flour and fat base for sauce? ‘Now that’ll do.

S is for serviette: it means napkin, now don’t forget!

T is for tartare: raw chopped beef, herbs and raw egg not for the faint of heart.

U is for ustensiles, as in utensils: when cooking for friends, you find they’re indispensable.

V is for vichysoisse: a classic potato-leek soup that hits the spot.

W is for Wallons*: their must-try Liége waffles are powdered sugar-festooned.

X is for xeres: a vinegar made from sherry.

Y is for yaort: is yogurt, so tasty with chopped fruit.

Z is for Z de la Arjolle: the only Zinfandel made in the whole (of France, that is. This once thought all-American grape is actually related to one grown in Italy and Croatia.) 

Have a great Bastille Day 2013. Hopefully I didn’t drive anyone ‘mad’ with this post.

*okay, this was a stretch. “Wallon” is the word for a person from Wallonia, or the French part of Belgium. It’s a rare “W-word” in the French language (if you’re ever playing French Scrabble). If you’re ever in Wallonia, no waffling, just try the waffles. Chocolate syrup probably ‘festoons’ better than powdered sugar, but I digress.

NOTE: In 2015, I recalled this food rhyme and how much fun I had writing it. I fine-tuned some the rhymes that weren’t that great. There will be a French in the Americas poem.

Pies


I took a little departure from kookys to bake some pies this past Thanksgiving.

‘Enthralled by the lovely leaf-topped pie on BHG’s November cover, I wanted to make a pear cranberry, flower topped pie for the big dinner, and a green apple stuffed, yoda topped pie for my sci-fi geek spouse.

The images in this post are the results.

The flower shape is the largest in a daisy cutter set I found at AC Moore.The yoda shape is a cookie cutter in a Star Wars cookbook and cutter set I found at B&N.

New House Kookys, part 2….

And here they are…

An igloo, a key, a red windows, an Southwest style adobe house, the kitchen sink, and a pink siding house. This isn’t my last attempt. I think cardstock patterns (key, igloo) are not bad alternatives if you can’t locate metal cutters in a pinch, or just don’t have the budget.

House_cookies--all
Igloo
Red_window
Key
Pink_house--roof_detail
Overhead_3qtr_view_of_pink_house
Pink_house_closeup
Overhead_pink_house_view_2

Use any rollout recipe you like, but I think old-fashioned simple, sweet or spiced is best. Not just the look, the nostalgic smell to them…

Honey Butter Kookys

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 cup honey

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp soda

Cookie cutters: doghouse cutters, fondant cutters in oval and square shapes, square biscuit cutters, cardstock, scissors. I also picked up some candy, gel writing tubes, raw sugar, and colored sugar crystals, and cupcake icing.

Chill 35 minutes. Take out, roll out onto wax paper, top with another piece of wax paper. Chill again for 30 minutes or longer if needed. Colder dough is easier to work with, especially in steamy weather climes. Put out more wax paper and tape it down for a work surface. Sprinkle with all purp flour. Roll to at least 1/4″ thickness. Peel off with wax paper on it and re-chill if needed.

Cut out shapes in dough, using the utmost dough “sheet” for cookies before re-rolling. Next take each shape and add unique details–lines spaced about 1/2 inch apart for to imitate wood siding.

If you have the budget, plastic fondant molds can be purchased that allow you to imitate brick. I think I will play with that next time I try this.

This go round, I am tried cardstock technique after sketching all the housing details I could think of in a sketchbook; I am also seeing how greased rickrack will work for roofing detail on a mini-house.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 350. Bake for 11 minutes. Allow cookies to thoroughly cool before trying to decorate them. Refrigerate

New House Kookys

“The Kooky things I’ve been up to, Spring always means change…”

In this previous blogpost about 3 months ago, I hinted you could celebrate things that aren’t typically celebrated with cookies. ‘Where was I going with that? A new house.

For some reason, you see Christmas ornaments that commemorate a new house purchase, but not baking supplies. ‘Come October, the gingerbread house kits at art and kitchen and art stores will abound. The rest of the year, they are hard to find. And they all look the same anyway.

And yet, every year thousands of people move. According to census bureau stats from 2010, there are 131,791,065 occupied housing units in the USA, and 51,277,394 people moved into one between 2005-2010. While it’s convenient to move during summer when the kids are out of school, not everyone has kids, and it’s possible to move any time of year. Movers and realtors wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ironically, one selling tactic used by real estate agents is providing freshly baked cookies. The smell of fresh-baked cookies, and serving those cookies, makes a house smell inviting more like home. If they don’t bake, the agent can get a “fresh baked cookies” scented room spray and go to town all over the house before their next walk-through starts. But I do think actual cookies are a better choice.

I set out to change this omission. Here are some photos of my new construction so far…

Batch_2_cut_out
Batch_2_after_baking

What is….colcannon?

Colcannon (pronounced “kawl-can-ohn”) is an Irish specialty that mixes 2 food staples together: mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. Other ingredients can include leeks, onions, spring onions (aka green onions, scallions, and once they’re chopped–chives), milk, cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Colcannon is a side dish in Irish style pubs in the USA. In its native territories, it is served with Irish bacon or boiled ham.

Colcannon even has its own song, also called “Colcannon”. Irish folk artist Mary Black has a version on her 1999 “Song for Ireland” album.

Irish bacon, like Canadian bacon, is from the back rather than the belly of a pig. I will have to feature in a future post.

We Americans probably don’t think how close we get to colcannon when we order “smashed potatoes” at a restaurant with our steak or burgers. For those that don’t know, American restaurant style “smashed” potatoes are baked potatoes all mashed together with their typical toppings like cheddar cheese, yellow onions or chives, butter, bacon, salt, pepper, and sour cream. Mmm, delectable. The Pioneer Woman Cooks! blog did a demo here. Her cookbook arrives March 13, BTW.

What do vegans put on their potatoes? It’s another question, for another time.

St. David’s Day: Red dragons, Daffodils and Welsh Rarebit

Would you know what today’s (3/1/12) UK Google doodle was about, without looking up the answer? Most Americans probably wouldn’t, even though quite a few of us have Welsh ancestry over here. Today is St. David’s Day, it is the National Day for Wales and Welsh people.

This blogpost aims to give St. David’s Day its due by discussing its history, food and festivities.

March 1st is the anniversary of David’s death. In his lifetime, this humble monk provided a crucial tip to Welsh soldiers fighting off the Saxons. During battle, it was hard to tell who was the enemy and who was not; both sides were dressed in the same clothes. David advised his fellow Welsh to put a leek on their hat or uniform for differentiation. His suggestion changed the course of the battle, and the Welsh won. This is why the leek is a symbol of Wales.

Running a close second for national symbols is the yellow daffodil flower. “Daffodil” and “leek” are very close words in the Welsh language–leek is “Cenhinen”, while daffodil is Peter’s leek, or “Cenhinen Pedr”. Just looking at the two plants, they both grow from bulbs and have veiny stiff stalks for greenery. They also flourish in colder Northern climates. In the daffodil’s defense, though, it is more attractive, better-smelling, easier to find, and easier to make a corsage/boutonniere out of than a leek!

In addition to daffodils, food, costumes, concerts and parades are a big part of St. David’s Day celebrations in Wales. If you search Youtube for “St. David’s Day”, parades in Cardiff show children and women in red and black plaid, a multitude of Welsh flags featuring the red dragon, people dressed as red dragons, and women and children wearing the native costume.

Some of the foods eaten all week, which was February 25th through March 1 this year, include:

  • Cawl ( pronounced “cowl”, rhymes with “howl”) is a red meat-based broth soup featuring leeks, rutabagas (aka “swedes”), parsnips, carrots, cabbage, celery, and parsley.
  • Laver Cake is a seaweed and oatmeal cake cooked with bacon lard; it is served at breakfast.
  •  Welsh Rarebit is a fondue-like cheese topping poured over crispy toast. It consists of melted Welsh cheddar, dry mustard, worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne, eggs, butter, flour and beer.
  •  Welsh Cake is a pan-cooked spice cookie with currants or raisins in it.

I am eager to try making Welsh Rarebit myself this year.

Whatever you end up doing today, have a Happy St. David’s Day (**and all that jazz**)!

TRIVIA: ‘*It’s not unusual* to have Welsh ancestry in the US. As of 2008, the US Census Community Survey reported an estimated 3.8 million Americans had a Welsh surname, and .6% had some Welsh ancestry. ‘Even if you didn’t have recent stats to reference, I think we can all agree that names like Jones and Davis are pretty common.                                                  ‘Being part Welsh myself, I have a dream of visiting Wales in the near future. To quote a film about a famous daredevil, **if you don’t follow your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable**.

PS-You might be wondering what all the asterisks were for in this post. Each one is a riddle about a famous Welsh actor or singer. Can you guess who it is? If not, the link takes you to something they’re famous for–a song, a movie performance, or both.