Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Gift Project and Cookies!

I love to make gifts for the people in my life; whether it is a bit of baking, a knit or crochet project or a series of photographs, the gifts under my Christmas tree featured many a homemade one. Earlier in December as I frantically set about to crochet a scarf for my father-in-law, finish Mr.’s wrist warmers and bake a box of muffins for Bubs’ daycare I began to lament the lack of homemade gifts through the year. Christmas is not just about gifts to loved ones. Just ask the little girl who unexpectedly received her very own desk and easel on Christmas, a day when her daddy was working and she would be spending the day mostly wither her mommy, all because I listed it on Freecycle, tired of tripping over it. I played just a small part in that little girl’s Christmas but the feeling I had was an inspiration.

What if I made a gift for someone in my life, a loved one or a neighbour, Miss N’s very kind and cautious crossing guard and spontaneously gave it to them?

As a food blogger it wouldn’t be enough to just make the gift but to also write about it, a push to develop a new recipe. I’ve been excitedly thinking – read: obsessing over, the first person to receive the gift. It needn’t be big; in fact some of the smallest gestures can mean the most. It is at this point I want to invite every one who reads this blog to join me in this endeavor.

Each month I will post a theme and you will have two weeks to develop your recipe (if you are not a cook, don’t stop reading!) and write up a post on your own blog. Send an email to thegiftprojectblog@gmail.com (It’s different than the regular blog address to cut down on confusion) I will post a link up of all you inspiring people. I aim to post the theme at the beginning of the month, ideally the 3 or 4 and them two weeks later the link up, so the 19 or 20. If you are on Twitter, (you should follow me!) and I will be using the hashtag “thegiftproject” and you will always be able to find information there. Thank you for helping me do this, it really does mean so much to me

After various conversations with some friends, mostly the lovely Liz Lemon (no, not that one, she’s better) and Karen from Notes from the cookie jar that I felt this month’s theme should be “comfort”. Karen suggested something healthy would no doubt be ideal since we’re just getting out of that tummy-expanding season. So, my friends do as you see fit to bring a bit of comfort to someone in your life.

Theme: Comfort

Post up: January 19 (you have until this date)

Link up post: January 20 (I’m not mean, I can always add you if you are a few days late.)

A note: If you do not have a blog but do have a flickr account, feel free to take part send any of your photos over to The Gift Project group. Also, if you are not a food blogger, don’t fret. I will also reserve a special section for not foodie gifts It would not be fair of me not to since the point of this project is kindness and inclusiveness.

Since you have taken the time to read all of this, I shall reward you with cookies! I made these cookies for our big Christmas Eve get-together. These are my mother-in-law’s favourite cookies from when Mr. and I baked for the market, along with a number of lovely Haligonians. These poppyseed pinwheel cookies are based on the Eastern European cookies Lebkuchen and despite my notorious sweet tooth, I love them.

The recipe is a serious adaptation of Black and White Linz Dough from my dad’s 1965 copy of The Czechoslovak Cookbook. It is sturdy cookie dough that holds up to all of the chilling, rolling, chilling and cutting of the pinwheel cookies. The poppy seed mixture is totally my own concoction. Do not be surprised at how wet it is, surprisingly it creates a slight glaze on the cookies. I meant to do that, really I did. Also, these delicious specimens of baked goodness feature very little sugar because of the spice so with moderate tweaking a bet you can make this sugar-free friendly.

poppy seed cookies


Linz Dough

2 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup sugar

¾ cup butter

1-2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

1-2 egg whites

1. Whisk flour with cinnamon.

2. In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy, add vanilla

3. Add one egg yolk. Slowly start adding the flour mixed with cinnamon, ¼ cup at a time.

4 .As it becomes dry alternate between the egg white, yolk and flour. This is to be fairly firm dough.

Chill in refrigerator while you prepare the poppy seed mixture.

the pre-bake line

Poppy seed Mixture

2 cups poppy seeds

zest of two oranges

one egg yolk

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp orange juice

Mix together until smooth in a bowl.

The Cookies

1. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a ½ inch thickness. Carefully transfer to a flat sheet of saran wrap. Be careful, I found my firm but sticky.

2. Spread the poppy seed mix across the surface. For a tidy look, leave a space of about a centimeter around the edge.

3. Using the plastic as an aid (but don’t roll into the cookies) roll into one long tube. Pinch the ends.

4. Chill for one hour. Cut into centimeter thick rings. Despite lacking baking soda these babies rise.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 12 minutes.


  1. I left a comment on your flickr pic for one of those cookies but it disappeared :P I had a piece of cake at the Multicultural Festival that was kind of like these.

    I love that you're doing this but I'm not good at following through with things like this. We shall see I guess?

  2. Hi - I did something similar a few years back. I decided on my Mum's birthday that I would give a spontaneous award to someone who exemplified her quiet kindness. Turned out to be a woman who owns a cafe near where I work. She's so dear. I got her a big bouquet of flowers and told her why. It was good. I'm not sure how to do what you suggest but I'll figure it. I'm not baking though. Not after last month...so it'll have to be knit or grown or something else!

  3. Those look heavenly - and what a nice project!

    Thanks for linking up to Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies last week! The new linky for the week is now up, so please stop by!

  4. I love the The Gift Project idea. I'm going to join you in this gesture - let's spread a little love :)
    As for the poppy seed paste: my Turkish neighbour gave me a jar of the stuff. She uses it to make bread-like rolls. I have yet to try it, though.