Lemon Sugar Crisp Cookies, Vintage Mitttens and a Stalwart Sparrow

IMG_2270Browsing through my cookbook collection, which is pretty big, is one of my favorite ways of relaxing. A pile of cookbooks, a cat on my lap, a cup of coffee, and I am a happy women. This is by way of explaining how I came across Lemon Sugar Crisp Cookies in the Hay Day Country Market Cookbook. (This is a wonderful cookbook, and can be purchased at Amazon for one penny plus shipping.) I made up a batch and was instantly smitten. They are buttery, crispy and lemony. Or lemony, crispy and buttery. Or–well you get the picture. Any way you phrase it, these are keepers–modest in appearance, but with a fabulous lemony crispness. These could become your favorite cookie recipe, so be forwarned!

Here is the recipe, which makes about 32 cookies:

Lemon Sugar Crisp Cookies

IMG_22678 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon extract
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet, or line with parchment.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, lemon zest and lemon extract. Mix well. Add the flour and salt, and blend until mixture is moistened. Roll the dough into little balls–about a heaping measuring teaspoon in quantity or about one inch across. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating the sheet once until cookies are golden brown around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Baking notes: Superfine sugar can be purchased at the grocery store, or you can make it yourself in a blender. Just add the sugar to the blender, whizz for a few seconds, stop to stir it a bit with a spoon, and then whizz and stir two more times. The sugar will become powdery. Why use the fresh lemon zest and the extract? Both are just a little bit different, and together deliver a fresh lemony punch. You can use a larger amount of dough for each cookie, but the cookie will be soft and chewy. Also, the first time I made these, I was watching a special on TV about the space probe landing on the comet. I was so interested that I forgot about the cookies. They came out a deep golden brown, and were incredibly delicious, with a lemon toffee flavor. It’s hard to go wrong with these!

Here are the cookies on a flow blue platter I purchased at an antique store this weekend–it was a steal! I love flow blue, and it looks nice with the cookies.

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I probably don’t have to explain to the knitters among you why I have picked up my needles and am working on a pair of mittens. With the brisk weather, I can hardly wait to wear them! I found the pattern in an old booklet I have from Bucilla–it has some really nice old-fashioned mitten patterns. To my joy, I found a wonderful website called Free Vintage Knitting, which has the pattern for these mittens. They are called Classic Mittens. I am knitting the mittens in a decidedly un-vintage color called Boysenberry, which is a luscious purple-red. The yarn is from Red Heart. This mitten is knitted in a circle on four needles, and I urge you to give it a try. Once you see your beautiful, seamless mittens forming, I think you’ll be delighted. However, they offer a two-needle version, which is also very nice and will keep you just as warm.

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Here is the little antique hat box I use to store knitting paraphernalia. It’s covered with wallpaper, and lined with the pages of an old dictionary.

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There is a bank of forsythia bushes across the alley, and birds congregate there and make quite a racket. I know if I stand quietly, hiding near a juniper tree, that I can catch a few photos. This time there were sparrows of all kinds, and I particularly enjoyed seeing this stalwart sparrow. I usually try to avoid anthropomorphizing birds, but it has occurred to me that perhaps all of us living creatures share qualities of bravery and fortitude, and that these impulses are not confined to human beings. At any rate, here is the stalwart sparrow.

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It was a windy, feather-ruffling sort of day.
Perhaps he ttys to defend the younger, more clueless sparrows.
Perhaps the stalwart sparrow tries to defend the younger, more clueless sparrows.
A trio on watch.
A trio on watch.

But here, a cardinal shows us why he is the king!

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Peace to you! Fran

 

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