01 November 2007

A Good Place

Ah, party prep. I'd forgotten how much it eats my life. But it's all good. It's good to have a goal, to have a grand, tenuous idea that exists only in my head become a witnessed reality. It's good to try more than one new thing at a time, because it magnifies the feeling of accomplishment in the end result. Not only did I do this, I also did that and that and I made them all work together.

But even at this early stage, I'm wrestling with the success of my ideas in the details. (Remember how I said there would be tears and disasters?) Last night I started with the spider cookies and they look vastly different from my mental image of them. Granted I wasn't be able to frost them until today – frosting is one of those delicate processes best not attempted in the wee hours of the morning and they were entirely different beasts then, much less like that image – and that is affecting my view of the final result.

What I have are flatish sugar cookies with spoke-like pretzel protrusions that only look like spiders if I'm looking at them all squinty in the half-light. It doesn't help that I started by chopping each two inch pretzel stick in half – some of the spiders are so stumpy that I wonder how they would propel their fat bodies around. Eventually I cottoned on and left the pretzels full length, but there's nothing I can do for the poor dachshund spiders.

My suitemate accurately compared the dough-ball form to the soot-spirit things from Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, which of course, made me love them more. Those soot-spirit things are adorable! But my store-bought dough flattened on baking. My suitemate suggested adding baking powder. I perversely continued to make flattened soot-spirit dachshund spiders. Now they look like this one after he was smooshed under his piece of coal. Which I find somehow even more adorable. I think I found that place where I've succeeded in my own failures. It's a good place.

Tomorrow morning I'll craft my rice krispie treat witches, find (and carve??) a pumpkin, and prep the pizza ingredients, at which point I've run out of things I can do until immediately before people arrive on Friday.

Spider Sugar Cookies

Things you can procure at the dining hall:

thin pretzels

red hots

chocolate sprinkles

Things from the store:

sugar cookie dough

melting chocolate

  1. Preheat toaster oven to 350O on Bake.
  2. Mould dough into ½ inch thick spider bodies. Poke eight pretzel legs into the bodies, at least ¼ inch from the edge of the dough.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes for each batch. (I know, it takes a loooong time, but it makes the room smell delicious while you can work on other tasks.)
  4. Melt chocolate in the microwave (one 5 oz. bar takes 2-3 minutes).
  5. On a sheet of wax paper or other protected surface, coat each baked spider body with the melted chocolate. Generously sprinkle. Affix as many eyes as suit your fancy to the body, about ¼ - ½ inch from the edge. If they keep falling off, use a dab of the melted chocolate frosting.



Bess said...

That was the best pizza I've had in ages! And the cookies were delicious (the punch redefined my life, in fact) Thanks!

Aubrey said...

I loved Totoro when I was a little kid, but I don't think I can think of food as cute little dust bunny creatures. I'd rather just think of them as cookies with pretzels stuck in them.

Joshua Wolf Shenk said...

Maybe the greatest thing I've ever done in my life was make hamburger cupcakes, from a plan laid out in maybe the greatest book I've ever read, "Hey There, Cupcake," by Clare Crespo. If you're into animated food, you've got to check her out. Her website is fantastic: http://www.yummyfun.com.

The hamburger cupcakes take the tops of vanilla cupcakes for the bun, a slice of chocolate cupcake for meat, and a red-colored slice of cupcake for tomato. A circle of green icing on the outside creates the effect of dangling lettuce. It looks stupendous in the end and, when you bite into it, you get that very distinct biting-into-a-hamburger sensation of your teeth going through many different layers of deliciousness.