Cookies Desserts

lavender sugar cookies recipe

the scent of calm and ode to a guinea pig ::::

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The burst of blanched green buds on the trees appear this time of year. I notice the birdsong change, the mockingbird commanding the most attention over the wrens and red-winged blackbirds. The anticipation of spring has me thinking about more potential time spent outside, for the kids and for our grass-nibbling guinea pig Pepper Lizzy lazing in the sun and shade.

Sweet Pepper Lizzy came to us through a friend who could not keep her inside due to allergy issues. While guinea pigs are well suited for mountain weather, they are not adaptable to spending a thick, humid Georgia summer in a garage. Just before my birthday last spring, she became part of the family.

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The kids immediately took to her, though the novelty wore off quickly and relegated me to her caretaker. Pepper was just like any other guinea pig, always sniffing for a treat, rummaging through her food dish, picking out the fancy bits. Not a very demonstrative guinea pig, she was docile and snuggly. Cute and stupid is how I like them.

Out of the dozens of cute and dumb guinea pigs I’ve had over the years, Pepper was the most mysterious. Before my friend had her, her housemate had acquired Pepper at work. Apparently, someone walked in to his workplace and gave him a guinea pig. There was no history of her origins, no age, no siblings.

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And mysterious it was when she seemed more lethargic last week. While always slight in frame (she isn’t the most rotund guinea pig), she had lost weight. She refused the pellet food but still ate fruit early last weekend. I gave her a quick look-see: a missing tooth! This must be the culprit, I thought. Guinea pigs can lose a tooth or two and have difficulty chewing any foods before the tooth grows back. The problem is, when guinea pigs get sick or can’t eat, they go downhill very quickly.

I fed her softer food on Sunday without much luck. I came home from work on Monday and tried again, even with hand feeding. She was definitely interested in some nourishment, but was too tired and withdrawn to make much effort. In her cage that night, Pepper sat, nose in the corner, shivering. Something was seriously wrong.

I took her to the vet on Tuesday, having to drop her off because of limited appointment times. The wonderful veterinarian called me later with an update explaining while a tooth was missing, he had seen much worse dentition in guinea pigs before. He did observe that she was very dehydrated with low blood sugar, addressing this with subcutaneous fluid injections and dextrose. Pepper took some food by mouth, but very little. He was also concerned about her pain. I’d like to keep her overnight and see how she does, he explained. We’ll talk tomorrow.

The phone call came and went, going to my voicemail as I was seeing (human) patients. I sat down for a break in between, and called him back.

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lined up just like arty mcgoo’s cookies — her design inspires

The vet tech said, “Pepper passed last night. she had a uterine infection. I’m so sorry.” I was speechless. Uterine infection?? (Passed?? As in gas? Or an exam? Just say DIED. She DIED.) This was not what I was expecting to hear. While I knew Pepper looked very sick, I did not expect her to die that night. Being at work seemed to make it worse as I had to hold myself together and continue the rest of my day. Two things made me extremely sad about the situation. I was not sure how I would tell the kids what happened. And I felt terribly guilty for not recognizing her illness sooner.

I talked to the veterinarian later that day to get the full story. Apparently, the uterine infection was not discovered until after her death, the next morning. The veterinarian remarked he had never seen a guinea pig with pyometria before. In hindsight, he realized why the broken tooth did not really add up to her observed physical condition.

It’s unclear why she developed the infection, possibly a tumor or something else. Even if it had been caught sooner, treatment may have not been enough anyway.

So I will look forward to this spring, full of rebirth of flora and fauna, but without the sweet cuddly Pepper Lizzy enjoying the sun. Instead, I will look at my yard, and think of her nibbling on grass, nestled in the wildflowers.

Here are my flowers for you, sweet Pepper. Eat lots of parsley in Heaven.

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Design from the fabulous blog Arty McGoo. Sugar cookie recipe from my past sugar cookie escapades.

One year ago: swirl sugar cookies

Two years ago: hembesha

Three years ago:  savory sesame seed monkey bread and sugared rosemary bread

Four years ago: pina colada sorbet and quick chickpea red pepper soup

Five years ago: ginger brown sugar soda sundaes, ricciarelli, and pasta with zucchini, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes

 

lavender sugar cookies recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: at least 1 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Recipe for royal icing - I used sweet sugar belle's (http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2014/02/royal-icing-for-cookie-decorating/ ):
  • 2 pounds {one bag} confectioner's sugar (907 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder (45 grams, on my measure)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons oil-free extract (I use vanilla)
  • ½ to ¾ cups warm water
  • Juniper green food gel
  • Purple food gel
  • pearl dust + vodka
Instructions
  1. MIXING: Measure and sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or in mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter and the sugar. Once smooth, add the eggs, almond extract and combine well.
  3. Add the dry flour mixture to the butter / egg mixture, but by bit. Mix until the dough is smooth.It will be thick.
  4. Shape into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour, though overnight works. You can freeze the dough here too (but thaw in the fridge before using).
  5. ROLLING: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you chilled the dough more than an hour, allow it to warm very slightly to encourage better roll out. Roll between long pieces of parchment, to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and to obviate the need for any extra flour. Roll to between ⅛- to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out rectangles and bake for about 8 minutes, or until tops are matte. Cool slightly before removing from pan and cooling on rack. Wait at least 2 days before icing the cookies. You can freeze them for months, thaw in the fridge, and ice.
  6. ICING: Find a tutorial on flood icing and piping icing consistencies. There is no one way to do this; you need to find your preferences. Piping icing needs to pretty thick for the lavender buds and stems. I don't pipe the white base at all: I just use a thick flood icing to make the white "canvas" for the flowers.
  7. Whip up the icing: Begin by stirring the extract into half the water (start with ¼ cup).
  8. Using a paddle attachment, gently mix the sugar and meringue powder. No need to sift.
  9. Set the mixer on its lowest setting slowly and add the water/extract mix to the dry ingredients. The icing will become thick and lumpy as the water is added. Don't worry! It will become smooth.
  10. Continue to add the remaining water (this may or may not be the entire amount) until the mixture reaches a thick, honey-like consistency.
  11. Turn the mixer to medium speed and whip 2 to 4 minutes until the icing is thick and fluffy. You want a soft peak consistency.
  12. Divide up a small amount for each purple and green coloring, and set aside. The remaining untinted icing will be the canvas for the flowers. If you do not need to use all of the royal icing at once, it keeps well for about a week, untinted, at room temperature and well wrapped. Just remix it if the water starts to separate.
  13. Thin the white icing for the cookies slightly. Again, look at tutorials for a a thick flood consistency. Pipe on the white icing on each cookie and allow to dry at least overnight.
  14. The next day, tint your reserve piping icing. You want the sweet pinky purple lavender color for the flowers and a dusty green for the stems.
  15. Follow my design (or even better, the original artist, Arty McGoo) for the look you want to achieve and allow to dry overnight.
  16. Mix a small dab of pearl dust and vodka together. With a small paintbrush, dab the stems with this. This gives the lavender a realistic silvery glow. Lovely! Allow to dry, admire your art, then gift to wonderful friends.

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