I started this blog as a creative way to express my passions of cookies, family, friends, contemporary folk music, farmhouses gardening and cottage living. I am a Registered nurse and having worked at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh ICU for 18 years I wanted a break from that stress and so began my quest to start a "cookie business" Beginning from our home, my husband, my sister & I began the company with chocolate chip cookies baked from scratch on a small Hobart 20 qt mixer. My husband & I raised 2 wonderful daughters who both worked in the business as children. Today we operate from a 2000 sq ft commercial location outside of PIttsburgh PA in Plum Boro. The company, Country Cupboard Cookies is growing and I have been finding myself busier and busier with the daily running a business issues. I found I needed to get back to my creative roots somehow. So here I am. Though I hope to also let people know about my cookie company through this blog, mainly I will write about life surrounding the business...family, friends, my roots from a farmhouse in Scottdale, Pa where I learned to bake, my love of cottages, gardens and COOKIES!!
It's getting busy for the holidays, hopefully the poor economy won't keep people from sending Christmas Cookie Gifts this year! But so far, interest is high and orders are starting to come in. This is one of my favorite gifts this year that we're offering at Country Cupboard Cookies. The White Pine Sampler includes brownies, cookies, gourmet coffee, peanuts, popcorn and buttery shortbread. I really like the packaging, the gift box is a woodsy look with pinecones and greenery tied off with green and natural raffias. Visit our website if you're interested! http://countrycupboardcookies.com
Oh, we are getting busy at the cookie shop! My daughter Lori designed these creative new cookies that we will offer as "Cookie Art" Favors. The edible images are printed from her original artwork with food dye! We then attach them to our baked from scratch sugar cookies with royal icing. Something new this year to add to the Holiday chaos at a cookie company. But yet we look forward to the season all year!
I love baking in the fall, the cooler weather is one factor, but also the flavors, Cranberry Oatmeal pecan cookies, Dark Chocolate Chunk cookies. Yum! And the holiday season is coming with all the baking I can stand!
We're working on a line of gingerbread this year at Country Cupboard Cookies. It took awhile to get the recipe right, spicy but not too spicy, soft but not too soft to travel, just the right size, etc. We're going to decorate them individually so they will all have a different look.
My friend Toby will be offering these beautiful grocery and wine totes this fall and holiday season. Watch for them on our website at http://www.countrycupboardcookies.com/. I plan to offer them as a great gift with one dozen cookies. Go Green and purchase a cookie & tote gift for a good cause. More on this later. Below is her story and a link to her website.
When I couldn’t find an eco-friendly, durable, eye-pleasing shopping tote, I decided to create my own oil-cloth wine carriers and recyclable grocery bags. Reusable bags are an easy way to reduce waste and go green. Profits from your CtC purchase will be used to enhance the lives of individuals across the world.
Proceeds benefit these non-profit organizations:
Heifer International is an organization seeking to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance and utilizing resources. HI gives animals and their offspring to communities around the world. From this, skills and knowledge are spread to teach families how to care for the earth and how to create and encourage a long-term solution to sustainable living.
Darfur Peace and Development Org. seeks to support peace and development in Darfur, Sudan. DPDO provides development assistance to victims, and promotes awareness of the genocide worldwide. DPDO works to foster the reconciliation process through facilitating just governance in order to find a peaceful resolution to the devastating conflict.
Enjoying sweet tea in Asheville in September, an awesome lunch of grits, roasted red peppers and grilled shrimp, and me trying on a new look.
Tupelo Honey CAfe in Asheville: I've had Shari's shrimp and grits twice now and just love the meal. First of all, one of my favorite foods is grits, and I only can find a decent serving when we travel south, so I try to have them as many ways as I can while I'm there. Served with shrimp and these hot roasted red peppers and a glass of sweet tea is the best way yet. I also enjoyed them for breakfast with pancakes the day before. Oh, my the carbs! I live in the north, but my culinary tastes are really in the south! Don't even get me started on the subject of pralines.
Tupelo Honey Cafe's wonderful shrimp and grits with red peppers.
I didn't buy but should have bought the fedora. I tried it on for a joke, but looking at it now, I think it's a good look for me!.
On the way back from our daughters graduation in Atlanta last month, we stopped for 2 days in wonderful, quirky and beautiful Asheville, NC. We just love it there, hopefully we can spend time there every year. We listened to great bluegrass music at Jack of the wood, visited the NC gardens located just outside of Asheville, ate at the Tupelo Honey Cafe ( worth the wait) and stayed for 2 nights at a fantastic bed and breakfast inn , Cumberland Falls Inn.
Oh, we are so proud of our daughter, Lori who just graduated from the Creative Circus in Atlanta. (Lori is the blonde to the right, her wonderful friend, Karen also graduated with her! ) We just got back a couple of weeks ago from the graduation , meeting Lori's very creative and great friends and families from around the country. Creative Circus is a school taught by advertising pros that helps creatives develop a portfolio of work so that they can build a career in advertising. It seems like an amazing place from what we saw and heard during our short visit. We had just a great time while we were visiting, from fantastic pancakes and grits for breakfast , a fabulous dinner out at One Midtown Kitchen, and a great brunch hosted by the grads and their friends at Lori's and Karen's apt. It's exciting to see your kids grow up!! What a great group of young adults, makes me feel so optimistic about the future of our country and world when I meet people like I did on this trip!
No matter how many cookie recipes I try, no matter how many people tell me that oh, these are the best cookies I've ever tasted, I honestly have never been satisfied with my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Until now. I tried the simple idea of chilling the dough prior to baking for not just the usual hour, but for 1 1/2 days! A couple of tweaks to the recipe i.e. using dark bittersweet chocolate mixed in with the semi-sweet and a slight increase in sugar worked to make this my favorite chocolate chip cookie! They are crisp are the outside, soft almost gooey in the middle and the layers of chocolate are divine.
Dar Williams, a new favorite of mine, I've seen her in concert both at Falconridge , a huge 4 day concert, and Pittsburgh, a small venue in South Park, Dan & I have been fans since. This is posted for my friend Toby, who's always been there for me and helped me accept and face life with courage in so many ways. Love you!
Go ahead, push your luck Find out how much love the world can hold Once upon a time I had control And reigned my soul in tight Well the whole truth It's like the story of a wave unfurled But I held the evil of the world So I stopped the tide Froze it up from inside And it felt like a winter machine That you go through and then You catch your breath and winter starts again And everyone else is spring bound
And when I chose to live There was no joy It's just a line I crossed It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost So I was not lost or found
And if I was to sleep I knew my family had more truth to tell And so I traveled down a whispering well To know myself through them
Growing up, my mom had a room full of books and hid away in there Her father raging down a spiral stair 'Til he found someone Most days his son And sometimes I think My father, too, was a refugee I know they tried to keep their pain from me They could not see what it was for
But now I'm sleeping fine Sometimes the truth is like a second chance I am the daughter of a great romance And they are the children of the war
Well the sun rose With so many colors, it nearly broke my heart It worked me over like a work of art And I was a part of all that
So go ahead, push your luck Say what it is you gotta say to me We will push on into that mystery And it'll push right back And there are worse things than that Cause for every price And every penance that I could think of It's better to have fallen in love Than never to have fallen at all
'Cause when you live in a world Well it gets into who you thought you'd be And now I laugh at how the world changed me I think life chose me after all
I have to admit that Richard will always be my favorite songwriter/musician, a concert that my husband convinced me to attend with Tracy Grammer, Dave Carter, Joan Baez and Richard actually started our shared folk music craze.
Kim ( my youngest daughter) has been working with us this summer in our cookie bakery and came up with these scrumptious cream cheese cookie sandwiches. Peanut butter filling, vanilla filling and mint chocolate chip! They are the best of the summer, I think for us. I love the stack, photographed by my husband Dan.
Our family cookie business will have a new website by mid-June if all goes well. We hope to begin a blog related to the site this summer. We'll write mostly about cookie gift ideas , but also hope to offer our ideas about cookie baking in general for those who enjoy the art of baking from scratch. Also, recipes, comments from our customers, etc. etc. Come visit us this summer! http://www.countrycupboardcookies.com
Wish I could have been there! I missed my niece's HS graduation party this past Sunday due to illness but my husband Dan & daughter Kim were able to go. Congratulations to Lindsay! Everyone tells you that your kids will grow up fast, you don't really believe them until it happens!
Deep Dish Brownies are a favorite of mine. I baked these in cornbread pans so that each brownie has both a moist interior and also the brownie crust that completes the brownie. These are Belgian Dutch cocoa brownies, topped with a buttercream frosting and mini chips. I will post the recipe later.
Tomorrow is Sunday and I plan on making lasagna and working on our new photo and logo cookies coming soon at the cookie shop, but my husband and I will take the afternoon off to watch the Pittsburgh Penquins play game 5 in the semi-finals with the Philadelphia Flyers! They are home again for this game and we're hoping for a win to move on to the Stanley cup finals! Somehow, we managed to get tickets online for one of the home playoff games with the New York Rangers and well, there is nothing like playoff hockey. I would give up 10 regular season games for one playoff game. GO PENS!!!
My daughter Kim and I decided to try some new ideas we have for the summer...cookie sandwiches! This one was by far the best, homemade peanut butter cookies, some with chocolate chips and some just rolled in sugar, filled with creamy peanut butter frosting. If you like peanut butter, these are worth trying. To make the frosting, just mix confectioner's sugar with cream cheese and peanut butter, mix in a teaspoon of pure vanilla and beat, adding a few tablespoons of water if too thick.
We plan to also try chocolate cookies later with a mint frosting and chocolate chip cookies with vanilla frosting .
This is my favorite cut out sugar cookie recipe.It's so easy to roll and very forgiving. You can use extra flour without the cookies drying out. I don't bother chilling the dough, but it can be refrigerated if wrapped tightly first. We bake the cut out heart cookies at our bakery, Country Cupboard Cookies and also cute scalloped cookies frosted with pastel shades of buttercream frosting. Try them with pink, blue or mint green frosting.
Country Cut-out Cookies
1 pound softened Butter
2 cups sugar
2 whole eggs
1 TBL pure vanilla
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
4 to 4 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs & vanilla & mix well. Add dry ingredients gradually and mix until soft dough forms. May use more or less flour depending on humidity of day, etc. Roll out and cut out with desired cookie cutter. Use only enough flour to avoid sticking to table or to rolling pin.
Bake 8-10 minutes in 325- 350 degree oven.
Bake only until very light browned around edges. Frost and decorate with your favorite icing. Top if desired with sifted confectioners sugar.
Butter, pure vanilla, unbleached flour, Callebaut chocolate chunks. I'm always searching to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, sometimes I come close, then the next time I bake them, well, they are flat, or too buttery or too chunky. These were perfect. Thick and chunky, great color and just the right amount of chocolate. Crispy on the edges and soft and moist in the midde. Dressed up with a gingham bow makes them even better.
First of all, I grew up in a farmhouse, complete with a large covered front porch, side porch and backporch. The side porch was covered with grapevines and made of stone. ( This is the porch show in the old photo from 1963 of my Mom and 6 kids. The youngest to be born in about 6 weeks from when the picture was taken. ) We picked the grapes to eat, large purple sweet and juicy grapes and also I remember making grape jam with my parents. I'm the oldest of the family, shown in the photo to the far right with my hand in front of my face, probably hiding a cookie. I grew up loving to bake, we baked from scratch cookies, pies, bread and rolls. Christmas was a bake-a-thon, every year my sister, mom and I would try to see how many flavors we could bake before the males in our family ate them right out of the freezer.