The Advent of Advent

Checking the calendar yesterday, I noticed it was the second Sunday of Advent.  Was Thanksgiving early or late this year?  How is it the second Sunday of Advent and there are no wreathes, trees, or lights at my house?

20 days until Christmas.

The good news, despite a few occasional dustings of snow, is that milder temperatures have prevented any accumulation of the white stuff and I’ve made slow and sustained progress cleaning up the yard.  And I got the garlic planted before Thanksgiving, so I’m going to take a cue from the Winter Warlock and just keep putting one foot in front of the other with all the seasonal tasks and events.

On Saturday, I interviewed a cookie artist.  Say what?  Yes, a cookie artist.  I’d seen some perfectly coiffed cookies in my day, but I just assumed they were made in far away factories by mechanized die cutters and frosting injection molds.

The truth is stranger than fiction.

While doing my pre-interview research, I learned there was a whole sweet world of confectionary crafting more appropriately called “sugar art” and its offspring, “cookie art.”  But the exact genesis of cookie art eluded me.  Was it the Wilton Cake Decorating craze of the 1970’s passed down from mother to daughter, interrupted by Martha Stewart and her fondant, then transposed onto cookies with a rebellious shaken fist of independence from the shackles of Miss “It’s a Good Thing?”

Oh no, my Martha-envy is showing.

Cookie art is growing in popularity and part of this hobby’s appeal is how easy it is to learn the basic techniques and create simple yet professional-looking cookies to bring to your next cookie swap.  The internet is full of blogs, YouTube videos, and forums, plus pictures and information across all social media.  Free.  Some of the most creative and popular cookie artists, or cookiers (as they call themselves) are only too happy to share their skills, tips, and sometimes even their secrets with novices.  There’s camaraderie and an esprit de cookie corps among these talented individuals.  Who wouldn’t want to drag out the old stand mixer and mix up a batch of dough?

But the best part of my research was realizing I would be interviewing a real mover and shaker in the sugar world and she was practically in my own back yard.  Dany Lind, of Dany’s Cakes, is a nationally recognized sugar artist.  Her work has been featured in many of cookie-dom’s most popular websites, like Cookie Connection.  She’s also one of the instructors for the 2017 Cookie Con, the largest gathering of cookie artists in the world, being held in March in Salt Lake City.

It was a fascinating 90 minutes and I learned a lot.  Research done, questions answered, and now I’m on to breaking a few eggs, sifting all my notes, and putting the final cohesive icing on the story.  That’s the tricky part…

You’ll have to pick up the Lewiston Sun Journal next Sunday, December 11, for the big Fig Newton.

One foot in front of the other.

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