Imagine my surprise when we actually made it in to the Black Tie Calf Fry in Chadron last night in the middle of a winter storm warning! I was supposed to be ready to go by 4:30. Shane drove up at 4:45 and I was just as he had left me.....no makeup....hair not done.....and in my sweats! He was quite surprised.....mostly because he knows how frustrated I've been lately at Mother Nature always ruining our plans. We discussed going for a few minutes and we decided....what the heck! My brother and his two boys were here from Montana so Stone had no intention of going with us. We stopped to drop him off at my parents' house on our way and visited a bit. Then....off we went. We rarely go anywhere without Stone so this was definitely one for the books!
The Black Tie Calf Fry was a lot of fun! Maybe I should back up a step or two.....perhaps you are unsure what a "Black Tie Calf Fry" is exactly?! Well, let me enlighten you! Overall, it's the annual fundraiser for the Chadron State College Rodeo team. The "Black Tie" part signifies dressing up for the event.....the "Calf Fry" portion signifies calf fries......or calf testicles, if you will. Yep.....it's really just another way to say "Rocky Mountain Oysters". These are usually collected at branding time when the male bull calves are castrated, which turns them into steers. A lot of people seem to enjoy calf fries.....I'm not one of them. They are too chewy for me. I actually don't mind eating one or two fresh ones as they cook on the branding stove (my great uncle Walt taught me how to eat these when I was quite young). As far as eating them on a plate at a fancy outing.....nope! So, that explains the Black Tie Calf Fry.
Every year at this event there is one or two featured speakers. I was pleased to see Paul Tierney last night. His daughter, Amy, is on the CSC rodeo team. He was also one of the featured speakers at this year's event. I had a good visit with him and got to know him a little better. He knows my parents as he used to rodeo back in the day when they did. I love meeting people that are a positive influence. We were talking about other people that fit this bill....Walt Woodard and Tee Woolman. I was telling Paul all about the Walt Woodard Team Roping clinic that Shane and I are putting on in Chadron in May. Paul told me about a recent article about Tee Woolman....I'm going to have to look it up. In fact, he was so in tune with getting the article into my hands he called me at home this morning to tell me where to find it. What a guy!! Here we are last night:
We enjoyed this year's Black Tie Calf Fry.....it was in a new location and was really nice! I even scored a painting for an unbelievable price by Lori Harrington. Unfortunately, Lori passed away several years ago. I never met her, but my folks knew her pretty well. I was thrilled to get this painting.....it will be great in my spare bedroom once I get it redone. Here is my new painting:
Well, today it's still snowing......my folks, my brother, and Shane are working heifers today. It's 9 degrees at 1 pm.....BRRRR!!!! The cows look pretty chilly down on the creek today.....
Our horses aren't thrilled either, but they were intrigued when the heifer gathering began this morning!
I'm the camp cook for everyone today.....I actually love this role....especially when it's cold outside! There's a roast in the oven so dinner is on its way. I decided this morning would be a great time to finish my Sugar Cookies, so here goes.......
Yesterday, I made the dough and let it sit in the fridge to firm up overnight. Here is the recipe once again as posted on Allrecipes.com.
The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
Okay, here's how I make these......I bake them at 350 degrees as my oven tends to get a bit hot and I also use parchment paper. If you've never used parchment paper.....do yourself a favor and go buy some....you won't regret it! There is nothing worse than burned cookies.....I had to learn how to bake with this oven, but over time I feel like I've come out victorious. :)
Here is what I started out with today:
Get some dough out of the bowl and work it into a ball. The dough is usually quite stiff so it takes some hand working to get it pliable.
Put some flour on your roller and go to work. The dough needs to be left at about 1/4" thick maybe even more if you like thicker cookies (which we do). Roll out the dough.....then put your cookie cutters to work.
Use a spatula to get them to your cookie sheet. Add more dough from the bowl to what you have left and repeat the process.
The fun thing about this kind of sugar cookies is all the possibilities there are......like cookie bouquets or cookies on a stick!
Fun, huh?! Now, put them in the oven....and keep on making cookies! I bake these at 350 degrees for around 10+ minutes. I am constantly checking on them. There is nothing worse than burned cookies....or even those that got too dark. Today, exactly 14 minutes was perfect!
The cookies should almost look undone when they come out. They will be puffy. They should have much color on the top at all...if they do, you've gone too far! Here is how a corner should look:
It took me a many times of making these cookies to get my timing down just right. Something inside me wanted them to be "golden".....I learned after several times that "golden" isn't pretty on these cookies! This is how the backs should look:
And the tops:
The cookies on a stick are perfect!
Now, it's time to cool the cookies. I do this as I continue to make cookies.....this process takes several hours (including frosting the cookies) so you need to plan to effectively make these. Towards the end of making the cookies, I start on the icing. This is the fun part!
Sugar Cookie Icing
In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.
Here's what I did today:
I used Rum Flavoring today (mostly because I was out of Strawberry....)
I love using gel food coloring. It's so vivid and easy to work with.
I actually made 3 batches of the icing.....one in each color: white, dark pink, and red. It was the perfect amount for the total amount of cookies that I ended up with.
Decorating these cookies is really fun.....I had a blast with these!
I even made some for our friends/neighbors with their brand on them!
And of course, I had to made one for my little sweetheart with his name and brand on it!
Here's one for my big sweetheart, Shane, with our horse brand on it!
Here's what I ended up with.....after a couple of hours work!
Here's a little funny......what do you do with the last piece of dough? You know....the one that is too small to cut another cookie from, but too big to just discard? Shape it into a pancake and bake it with the last batch!
This cookie has always been my "taster cookie".....I don't feel guilty eating the ugliest cookie out of the batch! :) *Just a little oddity about me and my baking secrets....haha!*
I hope you all try these cookies. They are quite a bit of work, but honestly.....they are worth it!! I've never tasted sugar cookies that are this good.....and they are festive and fun to make based on what holiday you are celebrating.
Well, I'm off to finish lunch over at my folks' house. I just got a radio call to come and rescue the kids from the corrals.....they are hungry and cold. Here's Stone and "Bob" (my parents' dog):
Stone is giving Bob an uneasy look as Bob just swiped some of Stone's pop-tart. Glad I left those cookies at home....they wouldn't last long over here with this bunch! Enjoy your Sunday! ~Cheyenne