“Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.”
—John Edgar Wideman
I learned this week that not everyone is thrilled to be mentioned in my blog, even obliquely and not by name, and even in posts that appear to have been read a total of three times, by people in Singapore and Jordan. I am humbled and grateful for the important lesson. I never stop learning, and everyone I meet teaches me something. Sometimes the lessons are very painful and come from unexpected sources. Being a writer is not about making friends or pleasing people. It is about something deeper and more important than that.
Tomorrow, a dear friend is hosting a benefit bake sale for her home country of Japan. I puzzled for a short time about what to contribute. I asked the young boys who happened to be hanging around my house what I should make, and I was greeted with shouts of "Stained Glass Window Cookies!"
And so it is with great pride and no humility that I introduce you to the Japanese version of these delightful treats.
Here is the recipe. I make no claim to originality; it's just basic sugar cookie dough with a crushed-candy design in the middle. But, as you can see, it can be adapted to any situation or occasion.
Jennie's Stained Glass Window Cookies
(makes a couple of dozen, depending on size)
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
hard candies (I use Jolly Ranchers), sorted by color and crushed to coarse dust. I do this with the back of a spoon in heavy-duty plastic sandwich bags. Good job for small boys...noisy and destructive...
Beat the butter until softened; add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and blend. Gradually beat in the flour. Form the dough into a disk and chill for about an hour.
Roll the dough out on a lightly-floured surface and cut into the shape of choice (a 2" round biscuit cutter works great). Using a smaller cookie-cutter, cut a hole in the middle. (For Christmas I use a star; for Valentine's Day, try a small heart. You get the idea.)
Note: for Japanese flags, I used a credit card and a spice jar...
Place cookies on a sheet lined with Silpat or aluminum foil. Fill the hole in the middle of each cookie with about a half a teaspoon of crushed candy. Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 8 minutes.
Cool about 10 minutes on the cookie sheet at room temperature and then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!!
I have been trying to figure out how to increase my readership. It seems that sending my URL out into the world by means of Twitter, Facebook, and comments on articles and blogs that I enjoy is helpful. I also applied to join a major blogging organization yesterday, though I think I am probably too new to qualify. I'd like to shout out to that reader who clicked on one of my ads yesterday and bought my friend Karen's book for their Kindle. I think I know who you are, but I think I know a lot of things that it turns out I don't really know at all.
A shout out to my readers in Singapore and Jordan, too, and to whoever is reading me in Sweden and Australia. I am intensely grateful for your interest.