Kim Edwards' The Lake of Dreams is a little bit sleepy novel. The story follows Lucy, a young woman who has escaped the pain of her fathers sudden death by traveling the world and staying far away from her family home in the Finger Lakes region of New York. When she finds herself at a bit of a dead end in her life with her boyfriend in Japan she decides to travel home to The Lake of Dreams (the name of the town she grew up in) after her mother is in a car accident. Here Lucy must confront her past and the fact that everyone in her family has moved on from her father's death but her. Staying in her childhood bedroom, Lucy finds some old letters in a cupboard concerning a ancestor who no one in her family seems to know about. Lucy then embarks on a quest to discover more about this long lost relative - Rose - to uncover her families secrets. Lucy ends up finding a connection between Rose, who participated in the woman's suffrage movement, and a famous stained glass artist from the area - Frank Westrum. A large part of the book focuses on a series of stained glass windows that depict biblical scenes from the women's perspective. Hence, these stained glass cookies which I haven't made or even thought of since I was a kid.
Remarkable Creatures and Private Life). Now you may be asking, I see pictures of stained glass cookies here, what does that have to do with anything? That was another kind of random subject of the book that I did not find that compelling. Touring an old church in her hometown after her return, Lucy comes up a beautiful stained glass window featuring a mysterious woman and a pattern that is the same as a blanket Lucy found in her house. The window is by a famous stained glass artist Frank Westrum and after some digging and trips to Rochester and other exciting places in upstate New York Lucy discovers a connection between her ancestor, Rose, and Westrum. This obsession with the stained glass doesn't really go anywhere and to some extent I think that the author put the stained glass in the novel to re-connect Lucy to her high school sweetheart who now runs a glassworks in town. There is some romantic tension between these two but it does not go anywhere. So, in the end, I don't really now what to say about the book. It was just blah and I am sorry that I cannot recommend it. But I will look forward to Kim Edwards' next novel and hope it is better.
Stained Glass Cookies, adapted from gourmet.com
These sugar cookies with candy stained glass are probably most often made at Christmastime as little tree ornaments. It is a mistake to relegate them to decoration though. This particular recipe makes really perfect, crisp sugar cookies that are truly addictive. I think if you had egg cookie cutters these could make great Easter cookies or anything spring - themed. Of course these perfect cookies are from Gourmet Magazine, sniff, sniff.
2 and 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups or so of candies - I used life savers, jolly ranchers would be good too.
- First crush the candies. Separate them by color, and put each color in a little baggie. Wrap the baggie in a kitchen towel and then smash the hell out of those little candies with a rolling pin until the are crushed. The smaller the pieces the better. Set aside.
- Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy -3 - 5 minutes should do it. (You can also use a hand held mixer for this but it will take longer to get fluffy.)
- Add the egg and beat until combined.
- Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
- Add the flour and mix until it just comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into three pieces. Shape each into a disk and wrap in plastic. Let rest in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.
- When dough has rested take one package out and on a well floured work surface with a well floured rolling pin roll the dough out until it is 1/8 an inch thick (which means pretty thin).
- Cut out shapes of your choice with smaller shapes inside of your choice. Transfer to the cookie sheet.
- Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed candies to the cut out holes, more if the cut out is bigger. Repeat with the remaining dough disks.
- Bake until the edges are golden - 10 - 15 minutes.
- Let cook completely in pan on rack and then remove from pan.