A Cookie Story (Not that one…)

I have a great story for you about cookies — no, not “The Great Holiday Cookie Swap” — that one is already published and on the shelves. (Shameless plug: please buy and/or review!). But first, let’s get the obligatory “Wow, what a year 2021 has been!” and “Sorry it’s long since I posted” dance over with. By way of explanation I will say that last month I had a wonderful set of book reviews ready to write and I came home from the bookstore to find my basement flooded and several boxes of my favorite picture books destroyed. In itself, that would have made for a great post about mentor texts (which you see laid before drying out in these photos), but alas we were too busy drying out our entire basement and fighting with the insurance company (who in the end refused to pay since it counted as flooding). So I will just share my normal “book fan” photo with the books I would have reviewed that day and say they were all quite lovely and you should check them out! Feel free to comment with questions.

And now, on to happier things! Two weeks after this flooding, I was honored by one of my professional organizations, the AATG (American Association of Teachers of German) with the FL-A-CH Award, given each year to a German teacher who shows exceptional teaching of the cultures of Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein. It was a great honor, because as a German teacher, it’s easy to focus just on Germany, but having spent a year studying in Salzburg, Austria, in college, I have always been passionate that German-speaking languages and cultures extend far beyond the borders of Germany. Well, that prize came with a monetary award as well, and I decided to spend some of the money on something that would serve as a reminder of my passion for those cultures. Combining that with my love of baking, it was easy to decide: I would invest in some “Springerle” cookie molds. “Springerle” cookes are a very old style of cookie from Switzerland and other German-speaking cultures which is rolled and pressed with molds. (Though the molds themselves can be used for many other things such as shortbread and marzipan). Originally these were made of wood, but often they are now cast in resin. I found mine from the website Gingerhaus and imported from the Swiss company Änis-Paradies. These beautifully detailed cookie molds come in a huge variety from flowers to holiday scenes, but I wanted to focus on molds to represent the cultures of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. I chose the molds below– including one more, a star of David, to represent the German-Jewish culture. I love them so much– I can foresee adding more to my collection as the years go by!

The amazingly intricate molds from Änis-Paradies and Gingerhaus. Each came in its own tiny muslin bag and they included a scalloped cutter to cut the molded cookies.

But this is not the end of the story! I placed my order in November and near the end of the month, I got an email from the owner of the company, Ms. Lee Shepherd. She was packaging my order and noticed that I lived in York, Maine. Now, it’s somewhat common for people to have heard of York, as it is a popular tourist destination on the coast. However, Ms. Shepherd had grown up there and attended the high school where I teach! In a nod to this “small world” connection, she said she would like to send me a gift along with my order — a copy of her new book. Wow! I hadn’t noticed her book when I was shopping for my molds, but I thanked her and told her I would be very pleased to get it — assuming it would be a small book of recipes. As you can see from the photos, this is no small recipe book, but rather a huge and comprehensive coffee table book with an extensive history of Springerle and many recipes with gorgeous photos! So you see, this IS a book review post after all! I will be working my way through the recipes and of course sharing the cultural information with my students!

And here’s the holiday epilogue…I make Christmas ornaments every year– usually I have a simple ornament that I make with my German classes (this year it was an origami star), and a more ornate one to give as gifts to friends and fellow teachers. So this year, I couldn’t resist making a homemade cornstarch air-dry clay and creating some works of art with these beautiful molds. Have a look at how they turned out! I love them both with and without the ink touches (done with fine permanent markers– I could never achieve that detail with paintbrushes!). Hope you have had a wonderful 2021 despite all of its challenges– wishing you an even better, safer and more peaceful 2022!

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