Monday, June 27, 2011

Black Sheep Gathering and Cookies

Black Sheep Gathering: where crazy people go to play with wool. Try it, you'll like it.

For various reasons discussed by sociologists, anthropologists, and other people who are concerned with such things, fiber artists (particularly in the US, quite possibly in many other cultures these days) are usually female. I am not a sociologist, anthropologist, or a person who is particularly concerned with such things, except when it comes to planning for bringing food to a fiber event.

I just came back from a lovely weekend at the Black Sheep Gathering, and before I left, I committed myself to baking cookies. This was a Big Deal 'cause, think about it: we're talking an event with hundreds of (mostly female) fiber artists, a dozen or more I know personally, all high on the wool fumes from the fleeces and spinning fibers and yarns around us, totally having a day or weekend away from the world. This translates in to potentially massive cookie consumption, especially for the ones with chocolate in them. I know how to make three kinds of cookies particularly well, two of which handle the rigors of travel with grace, style, and minimal structural integrity issues.

I ended up with close to 90 cookies when I finished baking the Friday we left for BSG. I had about 80 by the time we got to the highway. I felt this was a good sign that the cookies would be considered an acceptable offering to the fiber goddesses. And I was right.

By the end of the weekend, there were four cookies left. I think there were four left because I hid some in my bag to have on the drive back up to Seattle, and we were too tired to finish them off (but they made a great breakfast this morning). Enough folks had their eyes roll back in to their heads over the nom-iness of the cookies that this whole blog post is mostly to get the interested parties the recipes.

For those of you who favored the chocolate chip cookies, that recipe is available on-line over at Gluten-Free Girl's blog. I used goat butter in place of cow butter (no cow dairy for me) and some other minor modifications to the flours used, but that recipe as it stands won't do you wrong.

For those of you who not only want but NEED the almond cookie recipe, that's so simple!

Oven = 375F

1 lb of almond meal (you can either buy almond meal or buy a pound of raw almonds and grind them down as fine as you can. If it's not as fine as commercial almond meal, don't worry about it. Cookies still turn out great.)
1/2 lb fine sugar (bakers sugar or confectioner's sugar, whichever is easier for you to acquire)
2/3 c bitter orange blossom water OR rose water
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t almond extract

mix all that up in a bowl. You can use a blender or just a fork, it's up to you. Have a beaten egg and sesame seeds on hand. Scoop up about a tablespoon of the mixture, roll it in to a fat tube, dip one side in the egg, then the sesame seeds, then put it on the cookie sheet (parchment paper - you really want parchment paper to line the cookie sheet), stretch it out a bit and try to make sure it's fairly uniform in thickness as you do.

Here's the closet thing to an "interesting" part to this recipe. I've cooked this in a couple of different ovens, and the time for cookie varies widely. At home, in my cheap electric oven, we're looking at 20 minutes or so. At a friends house in their nice gas oven, we were looking more at 30 minutes. Your mileage will vary so pay attention! When they get lightly brown like light toast, they are done.

So of course there was more to BSG than just the food. There was fleece and sheep and goats and yarn and very cool people. We had show and tell, many folks admiring my handwoven scarves, the gorgeous handknits all around, and some great discussion on the fine art of batt making. Many of the folks I got to talk to will also be attending Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon next month. More crazy fiber fun, and yes, I will bake cookies.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Some of you had a chance to follow along my Icelandic photo journal and so know everything I'm about to say, but for the rest of you...

I just got back from a fantastic 10-day trip to Iceland! The first 7 days were all about me, and the last bit was the conference that paid my airfare to the country. I took well over 100 pictures a day for much of the vacation, and I've posted them, photo journal style, on Google's Picasa.

In the album, you'll see a sheep or two (or three. Possibly fifty.), some spinning wheels, mules, and possibly jennies, waterfalls, a geysir, a continental rift, and all sorts of other things.

I've got a bit to do to catch up at home, like get something new on the loom, post more items to my Artfire shop, finish some lace I'm knitting, and do quite a bit of spinning to eat in to this backlog of fiber around my house. But while I'm doing that, you can enjoy the photos!