Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti cookies will brighten anyone's day because of their cheerful colors. Chockfull of rainbow-colored sprinkles, these generously-proportioned sugar cookies can stand in for bake sales, family gatherings and for the cookie jar all year round.  Not only do the funfettis have a good texture and great flavor, they're also very easy to make.

While searching for funfetti cookie recipes, I realized that I already had a perfect one on the blog from several years ago.  Think of this as a reinterpretation of that recipe.  The only major difference is, of course, the sprinkles.  


Let's get started!


Once the cookie dough is done, I like to add the sprinkles by hand rather than letting the mixer do it.  Otherwise, you may find the jimmies breaking down too much and leaving rainbow dust in the dough, rather than whole sprinkles.


P.S.  The recipe is easily doubled if you want to make lots of them.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can drizzle a simple icing of confectioners sugar and water or confectioners sugar and milk.  Combine the two ingredients until you have a thick, yet pourable icing.  If you have icing bags or icing bottles, drizzling the cookies will go quickly.  This is totally optional though.


I just had to take out my jadeite and serve a few of these on them this past weekend.  

Funfetti cookies on Fire King jadeite and a glass of milk served
on a vintage Anchor Hocking green dot glass.  Delicious!



Remember this funfetti cookie recipe the next time you want an easy cookie for a birthday party or for a family gathering.  If you happen to have colorful plates, so much the better for serving funfetti cookies on them.  All white platters or cake stands also work wonderfully.  Kids won't be able to resist these cookies, but I also suspect that the adults will have a hard time refusing one.  One cookie is just enough to satisfy that midday sugar craving, but if you decide to have two of them, indulge.

Happy Baking!  


Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Shades of Drabware

The shades of drabware can vary in coloration from vessel to vessel depending on when each piece was made, and by which pottery works in England produced it.  For the past eighteen years or so, I have slowly but surely been assembling a very modest collection of drabware for my home.  It's a collection that I started because I fell in love with this type of china the moment I first laid eyes on it.  You've heard me say that this china isn't for everyone. Whether you find drabware appealing or appalling, I think it's worth taking a second look at a few examples.


What's nice about antique drabware is that it isn't confined exclusively to Wedgwood.  Other British pottery works, such as Spode and Ridgway, produced their very own versions of drabware beginning in the early part of the nineteenth century.  Some of the pitchers, jugs, mugs, cups, teapots, sugar bowls, among other pieces, were heavily molded with intricate detailing, while others were hand painted with pink or blue flowers, or were bat printed in black and given gilded rims.  

It is the earlier pieces that so many of us find desirable because of the quality of craftsmanship and because of the rarity of some examples.  As a result, the earlier the piece, the more expensive it will undoubtedly be for the collector.  It's not unheard of to pay hundreds of dollars for one dessert plate or over one thousand dollars for a teapot.


As I was cleaning and dusting some of my cherished pieces, I realized that I had never really talked about the varied tones of antique drabware.  The photo above was given a faded filter in order to accentuate the tones of my pieces.


Most of us assume that drabware is one shade and one shade only.  That is not entirely true.  Drabware can be described by many as being khaki, taupe, beige, tan or even brown.  The photo above demonstrates what I'm referring to.  The Spode footed teapot from ca. 1820 is a rich silt color with hints of gray, while the Wedgwood teapot from ca. 2000 and the Tiffany & Co Wedgwood dinner plate are more the color of a light cafe au lait.  The Spode ca. 1810 teacups and saucers remind me of the color mink, while the Wedgwood ca. 1820 dessert plate and serving dish are more of a sumptuous millet color with suggestions of honey.  Every one of these pieces is the exact color of the clay that was used to produce it at that particular time.  Only a clear glaze and/or gilding was applied before firing.   On some hollowware pieces (such as my Spode cups), however, a white or pale blue glaze was applied to the interiors.  Although mismatched in coloration, the neutrals pair well with one another.


This particular footed teapot is one of my prized antiques.  It is a fine piece of china that was produced in Stoke-on-Trent, England, by the Spode pottery works back in 1820.  What I love about the teapot is the unusually-shaped handle and lid, as well as the accented gilding found throughout the body of the vessel.  It's been such a pleasure to use this piece.



Whether it's Spode or Wedgwood drabware, I know that I'm in good company whenever I want to set a nice table for tea or dessert.  Sometimes I use the two hundred year old china, and sometimes I use the newer pieces.  Other times, I combine the two. 




If you like neutral colors in your home, starting a collection of drabware may very well suit your tastes.  Part of the fun of collecting this type of china is the thrill of the hunt.  By no means will you find everything through online auctions.

Antique dealers and designers in the business can be your best avenues for finding what you're looking for, especially when it comes to rare pieces.  If you have an existing collection of drabware, enjoy it for years to come and do take good care of it for future generations.    

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Antique Drabware Teacups

Over the course of my collecting drabware china these past eighteen years, I have greatly admired the clean lines, the fine proportions, the earthy variations in hue and gilding, of the earliest examples.  As hard to come by as some of the older pieces can be, they do come up for auction every once in a while.


Although I own dozens of pieces of millennium Wedgwood drabware which was made for the Martha by Mail catalog, and some of the Tiffany & Co. drabware from the early part of the 1970s, I had yet to add anything older than these pieces.


I finally have the pleasure of owning some antique drabware teacups that were made in the early part of the 19th century.  They are beautiful pieces of fine china that have managed to survive for over two hundred years, and yet, their provenance remains a mystery to me.  The ca. 1810 teacups and saucers came straight from England to be housed in my Philadelphia home.

The first thing I noticed about these pieces was the darker shade of drabware found on the saucers and the exteriors of the cups.  Its hue is deeper than my Tiffany & Co. and Martha by Mail examples.  It is said by experts that earlier pieces of drabware ranged in hue from light tan, greige, green and even brown. These variations in color resulted from variables such as kiln temperatures and minerals found in the Cornish clay.  The insides of my teacups were given a white interior and thick gilded accents.

That these antiques happen to be teacups makes them absolutely perfect for my house, because we do love a good cup in the afternoon.  Although I don't plan to use the cups on a daily basis (my other pieces are more appropriate for that), I will set a table with them when the mood strikes me.  What I won't do is let them collect dust and go unused.


For Easter, I made some special gilded-egg sugar cookies to serve for our afternoon tea.  They looked spectacular on the old drabware.  


You can see the difference in color between these sets of teacups and saucers (above).  On the left are fine examples of ca. 2000 drabware made exclusively for Martha by Mail.  To the right are the much older ca. 1810 cups.  Both are timeless specimens of English china.

If you want to read more about drabware, click here for a post I wrote several years ago.

Cheers!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hatching Bunny and Baby Chick Sugar Cookies

It isn't quite Easter at my house until I've iced a few sugar cookies and have brought out my vintage Fire King jadeite.  With spring in the air and the promises of sunny weather, it's the perfect time to initiate an Easter egg hunt, and to make a few Easter baskets for the kids this holiday.


I love Easter to no end.  The pastel colors, the dyed eggs and the endless sweets, bring back good memories from childhood.  Who doesn't remember getting those Paas dye kits from the local Kmart or F.W. Woolworth store? Mom would usually set out bowls to hold the dyes, and us kids would carefully dunk each egg into the smelly solution, turning them around with the little wire holder that came with each kit.  Good times!


As I said, Easter just wouldn't be the same without my sugar cookies.  For family and friends, near and far, I baked and iced some whimsical hatching chicks and some hatching bunnies.  A few small, blue-eyed bunnies decorated with colorful bows, rounded out the selection for this year's Easter baskets.

Take a look at how they were made!

Note:  the cookies shown here were cut out with an egg cookie cutter, a bunny cookie cutter and a hatching bunny cookie cutter.  Royal icings in white, orange, yellow, pink, green, black and sky blue were used to decorate them, along with large 6 mm French drageĆ©s.


For the bunnies, I outlined and flooded each body in white royal icing.  The bases were left to dry completely.  Pink icing and a very fine, #1 piping tip, were used to delineate an ear, and to outline a large bow.  I then filled in the areas of the bows, as shown, and while wet, I carefully placed a very large drageĆ© in the middle.  The cookie was then left to dry.


For the hatching chicks, outline and flood the cracked egg in white royal icing, as shown, using a #3 piping tip.  Immediately, outline and flood the chick's body in a bright-yellow royal icing, using a #3 piping tip.  Let the bases dry completely.  With a #1 piping tip, and the same yellow royal icing, add a whimsical curlicue at the top of the chick's head, and outline and flood two little wings, as shown.  Using a #1 piping tip and an orange royal icing, outline and flood a small beak as shown.  Let this dry completely.


Last, but not least, add two small black dots for eyes on the chicks.  For the bunnies, add a small sky-blue dot for an eye, and outline the details of the bows using a very fine, #1 piping tip and the same pink royal icing.

Done!

This hatching chick looks too adorable sitting on this Fire King, restaurant ware jadeite plate.  It's ready to be gobbled up during tea time.


For some special kids, I created these large bunnies hatching out of eggshells.  This particular cookie cutter comes from Copper Gifts.  Look for it because it will become a family heirloom cutter in your collection.

Outline and flood the cracked egg in either yellow or orange royal icing, and immediately pipe horizontal lines, in alternating colors, using a light blue and white royal icing and #2 piping tips.  Immediately drag a cake decorating pick or toothpick through the icing to create the design.  It's important to wipe the pick between each run so that you don't mar the icing.  Let the eggs dry.


Outline and flood the bunny's body in white royal icing, and while wet, add pink ears, a pink nose and blue eyes.  Let them dry completely before packaging the cookies.


I love the bows on my bunnies.  I think the little critters look extra-spiffy for Easter.  This cookie was set atop a Fire King restaurant ware cup ready for a pouring of tea.  Delicious!



If you've used my heirloom sugar cookie recipe and my perfect royal icing recipe, then I can guarantee that these treats are going to be good.  I like to test one or two just be sure, each and every time.


I hope many of you have baked and iced sugar cookies of your very own this Easter.  Package them in clear cellophane bags and tie each with a colorful ribbon.  You can then carefully place cookies in Easter baskets, or atop platters for the brunch or dinner at your home.  Make them tasty, make them colorful.

Happy Easter!