Buyer's Guide to a Cookier's Heart
It's that time of year again. Snow is on the ground, but love is in the air. We are but a mere couple of weeks away from Valentine’s Day, and gents, let’s not forget that special cookier in our lives. Think of how much she has enriched YOUR life with countless stops at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and A.C. Moore. Think of how much better a person you are for knowing every detail of every cookier she can find on the web. I know I am….
Valentine’s Day is a chance to pay her back. Get those credit cards warmed up, it’s time for some hard core gift buying. As per usual, I’m here to help you fellas out with this. Most of you don’t like to shop. Unless it’s at Lowe’s or Bass Pro Shops. And while there are no doubt things at both of these fine retail establishments that your confectionery mistress would enjoy, we need to think bigger picture. By the way, she really did find cookie cutters at Bass Pro Shop.
Ok, you there, looking on Amazon at the vacuum cleaners, stop right now. I need for you to pay special attention, and quite frankly, YOU need YOU to pay special attention. Gentlemen, for this upcoming gift giving foray, we need to be thinking of precious metals. Oh how those gals will be delighted opening the box and seeing that shining, shimmering goodness that really is a girl’s best friend. Wait, what? Jewelry? Heck no.
The metals I’m talking about are stainless steel, aluminum, copper and tin. Stop, stay with me. Don’t switch back over to ESPN.com. I’m here for you, not me.
There are A LOT of products that your cookier will squeal for made from this space-aged alloy. Kitchen-Aid mixing bowls, commercial kitchen tables, shelving units, sinks and a full assortment of appliances.
Do you only have one screwdriver? No? Didn’t think so, so you already know the value of having spares and extras of the things you use every day.
Lest we not forget PME decorating tips. These stainless steel babies are produced in England and are the crown jewels of the decorating tip world. You can't get them in the average craft store- you have to order them online, and they're not cheap. Sure, there are other brands like Wilton and Ateco, but PME is top notch Who doesn’t like a great set of tips?
From baking sheets to bun racks, it’s not just for holding your Coors Light. Aluminum dissipates heat well, is non-ferrous and is light and less expensive than many other metals. Get to know this one. And for an extra chuckle, ask someone from the UK to pronounce it. Amy's favorite baking sheets are from Sam's Club, and the full sheet rack is from The WEBstraurant Store.
Some of the most beautiful cookie cutters (and most expensive) you’ll ever see are made from copper. Copper products are typically NSF approved and frankly, are just a wonderful hue that compliments the other metals well. What? I can’t appreciate a nice set of colors? Ahem. Also, mixing bowls and copper pots can be used for many other sweet treats.
Tin is a very common metal used for cookie cutters. Foose and American Tradition are great names in the tin and tin-plated steel cookie cutter industry- and they're made right in Pennsylvania! These cookie cutters give her kitchen the shiny, blinding quality we’ve all come to expect.
Still wanting gold and silver?
Have no fear! Luster dusts, sheen airbrush colors, and even dragees come in those metallic gold and silvers you know she'll love. What's a dragee? That's fancy baker talk for those little BB looking things that bakers put on cookies and cakes. They have REAL silver in them, so don't eat them.
OK guys, you’ve done great staying with me thus far. So I’ll throw you a bone. Here is a cookie decorating gift that you can go get from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Go to the roofing area and pick your baker up a roll of aluminum flashing and a pair of snips. This material can be cut into strips and you can form this into a custom shaped cutter if you’re so inclined. Plus, you can pick up that band saw that you’ve had your eye on.
So fellas, shop early and don’t end up on the couch, again. And for once, don’t make her return what you bought her and get what she wants. You can do it. I have faith.
Which cookie gift do you think YOUR cookier would love the most?
So today’s installment will be a peek into my world. My world as a cookie widower. My darling wife may not realize that the events I’m about to portray take place, even though she is directly responsible for all of them.
My wife is an amazing cookie artist. And I’m amazed at the final product every. single. time. But the sweet reality (see what I did there, I throw the puns in for free folks) is that I see every cookie she does in at least 5 stages, sometimes more, rarely less.
Step 1: The sketch. My wife sketches almost all of her cookies out first to know what direction she is going with the design. The sketches alone are awesome. And I get to see every one. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Sometimes we pretend like she’s asking for my input, but usually it's simply a "look, here will be my _____ design". Sometimes she also has to show me the cutters that will make said cookie.
Step 2: Cookie is now baked, most likely with a flood (that’s the base layer of royal icing for you non-cookiers out there) and maybe with a few initial details. It’s important for me to see this phase (seemingly) so that I can start to envision how the final product will be. And how it’s shaping up to the sketch already examined in Step 1. Usually this step is an iPhone picture sent to me at 10:30pm while I am watching football.
Step 3: This will vary on the cookie. In some cases it’s the “still in progress” cookie further on down the line, or for my example here, it’s the completed cookie. Once again, shot with her iPhone, and sent to me while I am working. It’s done being decorated, but the journey is not over, far from it.
Step 4: The packaged, ready-for-delivery cookie. Here I get to admire either my wife’s ability to place said cookie into a cellophane bag or revel in her plastic wrap skills as they are plattered. Breathtaking.
Step 5: Now I get to see the photos of the cookies that my wife just took. And since she upgraded cameras, now every cookie gets no less than 5,000 pictures. On a plate, off a plate, different lighting, flash and no flash, table cloth or SwankyPrint. Imagine my delight in seeing the cookie at least the 4th time now on the 2” LCD screen of a camera that cost more than my first car. (The camera is a mid-line camera, I got my first car pretty cheap).
So, that is my life. I get to share with her enthusiasm for her craft at literally every step of the way. Every. step. of. the. way. But it makes her happy, so I look at all 5,000 pictures.
Next time, you’ll hear about how I’m involved in every cookie cutter purchased. Every. . . single. . . one. . .
My question is, do any of you other cookiers subject the lucky significant other in your life to this?
Note from Amy: Mike writes the post in a word doc, and I transpose it into this blog. And yes, I reviewed every picture and every word, before it went live.
My name is Mike.
I am a