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Cookies for Carnival!

Pat’s Adirondack pine shortbread cookies (Provided photo — Yvonna Fast)

Happy Carnival! It’s February — and time for Carnival!

Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival is a long tradition which begun in 1897 as a one-day event. It has become a 10-day celebration. But this year, the Carnival Committee is asking the tourists and visitors to stay home.

The past year has been history-making and challenging. We are living through a pandemic, and everything has changed. Concerts, theater performances, poetry readings have been canceled or moved to Zoom. We’re not traveling; we’re sheltering in place and staying apart from friends and family.

This year’s Carnival is different, too. There is an Ice Palace but you won’t be able to go inside. There are fireworks but you have to watch them from your car. There will no parade, no Coronation, no fry pan toss. The Rotary Show will be via Zoom and consist of highlights from previous years. There are no pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners. No chocolate fest.

The past year has brought challenges, disappointment, unease, exhaustion, fear. But the vaccines are here, and we can look ahead to 2021 with hope and joy.

Pat’s Adirondack pine shortbread cookies (Provided photo — Yvonna Fast)

We need something to cheer us. Carnival is a festival of winter fun and joy. So toss that fry pan in your own back yard! Take out the lawn chairs and canoe paddles and dance in the snow! Run on snowshoes. Skate on the winter ice. Go out into the forest on skis, or just take a walk in the snow. Celebrate!

Make soup and hot chocolate to warm up from winter’s chill — and bake cookies! Cookies lift your spirits and are welcome any time of year. They’re fun to bake for the whole family and make great gifts for friends.

Here are a couple of winter-themed cookie recipes to help you celebrate Carnival at home.

Happy Carnival!

Pat’s Adirondack Pine Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh, finely chopped White Pine needles. You will need approximately- 1 cup fresh needles. Other pine or fir needles may be used or mixed together. Rinse and remove any brown bits.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest or 1/2 teaspoon liquid lemon concentrate.(Real Lemon)

Pinch of salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

Finely chop the evergreen needles -tender spring tips may be added if in season. You may use a food processor, coffee, or spice grinder. If you use a chopping board and a knife, you need to chop as fine as you can. Remove any brown bits, or large needles until you have a uniform green, slightly sticky “powder”.

In a large bowl, cream together the evergreen needles, butter, sugar, lemon zest, and salt.

Add the flour, a small amount at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition to form a smooth ball of dough. Mixing may be done with a wooden spoon, fingers, or both.

Divide the dough in half. Place each half between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Using the paper as an aid, shape each piece of dough into a 1.5-inch diameter log.

Wrap in plastic and freeze for 15 minutes.

While dough is in the freezer, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds by slicing the roll.

Place slices 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until the edges are golden brown or about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

Note: Any pine needles may be used along with most fir needles. If making these on Sunday for Valentine’s Day, cut the dough into heart shapes before baking.

Snowball Cookies

These bite-size cookies look like miniature snowballs!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla or anise flavoring, optional

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans

1/3 cup additional powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

In bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy and combined.

In another bowl, stir together flour and salt. Stir into butter-sugar mixture.

Grind nuts in food processor and stir in.

Chill dough in the refrigerator for an hour or two. (You can store the dough in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 6 weeks).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

Place powdered sugar for dusting in small bowl; set aside.

Scoop dough by tablespoons and roll into balls with by hand. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets; do not flatten.

Bake about 10 minutes or until bottom edges of cookies are lightly browned. Don’t overbake; they don’t need to brown on top.

Cool cookies about five minutes, then roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

Place on wire rack to cool completely, then give them another roll in the powdered sugar.

Store in a covered container up to 5 days.

Option: For chocolate cookies, add 1/2 cup cocoa powder with the flour and salt.

Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.

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