PW Weekend: a lesson in cookie decorating

During the food fest that was two Saturdays ago at the Pioneer Woman’s Lodge, there was a beautiful cookie decorating demonstration by Bridget, a cookie maker and food blogger extraordinaire with the sweetest personality you ever saw.

And the most adorable red ringlets.

Cookies had been prebaked and brought in for us, and you can get the recipe for those fantastic Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies here. Loads of supplies were standing by, just waiting for us to get our grubby little hands on them.

Sprinkles, glittering colored sugar, edible gold dust . . .

Squeeze bottles for the icing, and little bottles of food coloring.

Women were starting to trickle in–local women, friends of Ree’s, friends of the Drummond family. This is Ree’s godmother!

An amazing woman.

I should probably also introduce you to the other guests. I’ve been so caught up in talking about Charlie the basset hound that I’ve barely talked about the wonderful, wonderful people! Sorry, ladies. There were 4 winners, and each of us brought someone with us. Molly brought her mother Susie:

Christy brought her (adorably pregnant) best friend Kathryn:

Jennifer brought her friend Ann . . .

. . . and finally, I brought my Mom.

I’m trying not to make apologies, but I have to be true to myself. Why is the color balance off in every single one of those pictures? What was I doing?? Was I on Photoshop drugs or something? In fact, did I even process these pictures myself, or did the Photoshop gnome villains hack into my system . . . again?

Definitely the Photoshop gnome villains. Those little squirts with their little red caps and hairy little toes.

Or we can just pretend I did it on purpose to give each picture individuality–a pink/red tone for Molly and Susie, a yellow tone for Christy and Kathryn, and a bluish hue for Jennifer and Ann. And my color balance problems don’t end here, but I’ll try to shut up about it. For the most part.

We enjoyed Ree’s coffee–big time.

As all the women gathered, Christy and I ran around snappity snapping with our cameras. We were still slightly freaking out.

Hi Christy! I’m sorry I made you so yellow earlier, and now so pink. Your skin is actually a beautiful, normal color.

I met the lovely Hyacinth, who I’ve been reading about for over a year.

Her haircut is seriously the cutest thing. “Hyacinth, will you tattoo your name and the name of your hair stylist on my left arm?” I asked.

“Um, you’re a very weird girl, but I’ll pose for a picture with you if you promise to stay at least 10 feet away from me the rest of the day,” she responded graciously.

I jumped at the chance.

We actually had a lovely conversation, and since she didn’t get a restraining order against me afterwards, I assume she thought it was lovely too.

Once we were all gathered, Bridget passed out recipes and instructions.

I studied them carefully in case there was a pop quiz at the end.

Ree was looking slightly impish.

Bridget demonstrated how to make Royal Icing–the stiff kind that you use to pipe your outlines on the cookie, and the ‘flooding’ kind that is a little more liquidy, and fills in the piped area with the color of your choice.

It was so delicious that I grabbed the mixer attachment and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth, to the horror of all the guests. Then Ree screamed “get this crazed woman out of my house!” and the icing and I fled across the open prairie in shame, where I hoped the wild mustangs would take me in as one of their own.

I kid! But you probably knew that already.

Ree would never send me from her house in a fit or rage. She’s just not the ‘fit of rage’ kinda lady. She’s the kind who would join me in licking every ounce of frosting off that mixer. The picture above is my proof.

The demonstration was so much fun.

All the ladies were so warm, so friendly, and so conversational.

Once the icing was mixed, it was time to start decorating 5 tons of cookies.

These all-important pictures show Bridget piping the outline with the royal icing that she will later fill in with flood icing.

Well this should be easy, I thought to myself. You kind of draw on a cookie, type of thing.

Hah! I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my own sorry hide.

Everyone suddenly got very, very focused.

Ree’s girls were so into it.

What if the PW sees my wonky lines of icing and rejects me forever? I thought. Maybe I should just destroy the evidence and slip this mangled cookie into my mouth.

But I didn’t. I proceeded as planned, and tried to erase the error of my ways with the glossy, gorgeous flood icing. Use a toothpick to get it to the edges–if it goes on its own, it’s too liquidy and the cookies will never dry. Let’s take a look at Bridget’s progress:

It’s so easy to make beautiful designs with the flood icing, simply by making swirls with a toothpick.

Unfortunately my little beauties got a little bashed up on the plane ride the next morning.

I’m not a baker by nature, but I could have decorated these cookies all day long.

My Mom’s cookies turned out beautifully.

She’s such an artist.

You can read Ree’s blog post about the experience here.

It was so much fun to see the Pioneer Woman in action, snapping the step by step photographs that you can click on over and see on her blog. Wild stuff, I’m telling you.

Simply wild. And her camera has a wicked fast shutter speed.

Christmas is approaching, and how much fun would it be to get together with a bunch of girls and have a massive cookie decorating party?

Lotsa fun, I’m telling you. Especially if you send me a little care package with the results . . . see, I’m an FDA-approved, um, cookie analyst.

And especially if two amazing chefs, Lia and Tiffany, come in and make you a killer salad for lunch. Here’s Lia, the toffee-making, truffle-creating Chef of wonders.

The toffee and truffles deserve their own post.

Here’s Tiffany, another lovely redhead. Seriously–Ree, Tiffany, Bridget–all redheads. All amazing cooks. I’m thinking something funky is going on here.

This was the best salad I’ve ever had. The components alone were already spectacular, especially the roasted fennel bulbs. I snuck a couple off the baking sheet.

Shrimp, scallops, fresh greens = I love everything and everyone in the world.

Add to that a glass of berry lemonade . . . oh yeah.

There’s more to come in this series. I make no promises on how fast they will appear since Christmas is practically at our door, but fudge, toffee, wild horses, and more kitty cats are in our future.

So don’t be goin’ anywhere!

That was figurative. You should totally get up to pee if you have to.

22 thoughts on “PW Weekend: a lesson in cookie decorating

  1. Circe

    First those cookies look amazing, good for you guys for being so dedicated to see them through. Also, a cookie decorating party would be a ton of fun. My mum used to plan them all the time when I was little. When I was a teenager we had pizza making parties. My mother was very creative about finding ways to keep a pack of girls busy

    Reply
    1. Twinky

      Yes!! I plan to bake cookies this week and do some major decorating!! having to supply Christmas cookies for the Christmas eve services is a great “excuse” to employ what we learned with you there at the Lodge. Maybe I’ll even remember to take some pictures and post them somewhere… although i don’t yet have a blog… Thanks for your blog site… hope to check it out momentarily =)

      Reply
  2. Joanne

    You are a riot. I love you. If you weren’t already taken, I would offer my hand in marriage. Don’t order a restraining order against me. Think Hyacinth.

    This sounds so awesome babe! I still can’t quite believe that you went. And I was/am/always will be so excited that you would think I had gone.

    Reply
  3. hyacynth

    Those cookies are AMAZING! Going to have to try that this year.

    Also, thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself at my blog last week. :) Nice to know another fellow Chicago area blogger.

    Reply
  4. Amy @ Serve At Once

    bwahahaha Jenna, you are too hilarious. That last picture…it should be your Christmas card picture.

    Or give it to your kids when they misbehave so they’ll remember that “you-better-not-do-anything-or-I’ll-shank-you” face.

    You document your time beautifully–through picture AND text. Plus, I must confess: I am also that person who can NEVER pipe in a straight line. EVER. Not even if my life depended on it. You’re not alone!

    Reply
  5. Mads

    Another adorable post from the weekend at The Lodge.
    It’s so great to read a post from another perspective. I love PW, but sometimes I wonder if she’s even real! haha

    Reply
  6. comfortablydomestic

    How fun that you spent a great weekend baking at the Lodge. Are you sure that you didn’t superimpose yourself in all of those photos? 😉 I kid, too! I plan to spend an entire afternoon this week making decorating gingerbread cookies with royal icing and flood icing. With about 8 elementary school kids. At my house. I fully expect giggles, and icing, and sprinkles to explode all over the place.

    Reply
  7. SoupAddict

    I am falling out of my freakin’ chair – that was you! I didn’t put two-and-two together when I read Ree’s write-up of the weekend. Wow! Thanks for posting all those photos – it looks like everyone had a blast (and your cookies were awesome)!

    Reply
  8. Jen W.

    Your cookies are beautiful! I really like the candy cane with the swirly orange flooding icing. My lines are never straight when I outline cookies either. They still look great though!

    Reply

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