Cookie Weekend [ An Annual Baking Extravaganza ]

I believe this was year #13 for my attendance at Cookie Weekend in Wisconsin. 
This yearly weekend ranks up there as one of my faves. 

Here's the history: 
Years ago and years before I was on the scene, 
my dear friend Denise, her sisters and mom started getting together the weekend before 
(or actually originally might have been the week of) 
Thanksgiving to do all their Christmas baking in one shot. 
That way, they were together, sharing the load of all that baking, 
just gettin' it done. 

And then somehow, magically, Michelle and I [another dear friend] were jumbled into the 'sister' category and were invited to come. 


So you might be thinking, "That's fine, Alysa, but really, a whole post about baking cookies? I mean, everyone bakes cookies with their friends and families so what's the big deal." 

I'm so glad you ask.

You see, 
we have this secret wildcard that takes our cookie baking
Cookie Weekend 
to a whole 'nother level. 

The secret wildcard you ask? 

Denise's oldest sister Dawn works at a camp outside of Madison, Wisconsin. 
And THAT means 
we have unlimited access to an industrial-sized kitchen 
with huge baking trays 
and cooling racks
and mixers
and fridges
and a lodge 
and, well, just think DREAMY.

We're talking hundreds of dozens of cookies. 
[ Not exaggerating. At all. ]

Thirty plus different types of cookies, 
including all sorts of fancy candies and 
homemade caramels and such. 

It really is a sight to behold. 

Through the years we try to step it up a notch. 
Why wouldn't we? 
We've incorporated cookie pj's and aprons some years.
In recent years we've added a huge movie screen in view of the kitchen 
so that we can watch "Elf" and all sorts of other Christmas movies. 
 Laughter aplenty. NO shortage of belly-splitting laughter. 

It's dreamy is what it is. 

We leave Friday and come back late Sunday evening. 
A kid-free weekend full of Christmas shopping 
late-night chit-chatting 
with no responsibility other than
 to not burn the cookies. 

It's my one weekend that I actually do Christmas shopping, so now that the kids are in school, I drop them off and race out, just as fast as I can, to Denise's, where we begin Christmas shopping our way to Madison!

And on a non-cookie-related side-note, 
this year I borrowed my friend Cindy's delicious macro lens;
 the first time ever playing with a macro lens. 
In short? I want to own one too.

Perhaps a visual of Cookie Weekend would be something you'd enjoy?  
Well, okie doke.

 To the lodge we go, where all the magic happens.

Mix in a little bit of lifelong friendship.
Bitter cold weekend but couldn't resist running outside for a wee little bit to play with the macro.
The kitchen. Yes. We're lucky. We know.

 Just a fraction of the actual cookies we bake below:::
White Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies [ or some such name. ]
Raspberry Punch Cookies, yearly baked and perfected by Lois, the matriarch of the family.
Oh boy. I'm forgetting the name. Someone help me. I know we dip these in white chocolate, too.
Cream Cheese Brownies. Various flavors; think mint, rolo, peanut butter cup, etc. All delicious. And in case you're wondering, these take forever to make. And they could drive you to drink. Tedious. Time consuming. Just ask Michelle and I as we were sent to Friday night brownie duty this year. We're not sure what we did to deserve this but we're putting in our request effective immediately, to be taken off brownie duty for the 2014 year.
Chocolate chip. Every platter's gotta have chocolate chip cookies right? We tend to fancy ours up a bit by dipping in chocolate. Why wouldn't we?
Glass Candy. Cinnamon. Cherry. Lemon. Orange. Mint. And this year, Gabe -- who is the master glass candy maker and has been for decades -- threw in a little extra 'sauce' JUST because she could. Let's just say that eyes watered and the ENTIRE cookie crew about fell over from the strength and smell. She might be fired. Well, not really because none of the rest of us want that job. Michelle and I will take brownie duty over glass candy duty. Or not.
Crinkle Cookies. Their crinkle is so lovely. Yes?
Nut Rocca. Need we say more?
One more glass candy image. Had to take it outside to photograph it so it wouldn't knock us all over dead.
Peanut Butter Candy Kisses. Heavenly. And, these particular cookies MIGHT be the brunt of some significant inside jokes. Just sayin'.
Oh, Raspberry Swirl Cookies how I do love thee. Let me count the ways. Our very own Denise tackles these every year.
Are these White Chocolate Ginger Cookies? I should know this by now but I'm simply forgetting. Shame on me.
Terrible photo but THESE are my very favorites. They don't make it onto any platter or into any cookie tin that I give away. I eat every one of them, over weeks of time. I don't share and I'm okay with that. Scandinavian Almond Bark. They'll be in heaven. I promise. So sorry that you'll never get to taste them.
Spritz Cookies of all colors and shapes. Again, Gabe at her finest!
The little girls do some sprinklin' and decoratin'. 
Lemon Poppyseed Cookies below.
And they decorate a few of the sugar cookies!

And while we're on the subject of sugar cookies, 
we have yet ANOTHER secret weapon.

A personal sugar-cookie-painter. 
I mean, with real paint people. And a real paint brush that she dips in water and such.
Diana feverishly creates sugar cookie masterpieces with that brush.
Take a looksy.

Diana tried her had at rose-maling (no idea how to spell this lovely word) and did a mighty fine job!

I have to say I love all the designs, but I'm smitten by the trees.

Oh, and the mittens, too.

And I'm wild over the snowmen. Aren't these just the cutest cookies you EVER did see?

And there are dozens of other types (think stars and Christmas lights and candy canes and winter hats and on and on and on)  that I didn't even photograph.
Gonna be honest. It got late into the night, 
and quite frankly, I got a tad bit lazy. 
Didn't wanna go up to the lodge
to get my camera. 
Now I wish I would have so you could see more samples of her work.
But I didn't. 
You're just gonna have to 
trust me that all the rest are JUST as amazing.
You can't borrow her. 
She needs to save up all her 
strength for our Cookie Weekend.
She does have one other responsibility for Cookie Weekend, and that is to come up with
a new comedian for us to listen to late into the night on Saturday night while she
finishes up her sugar cookies and we sit around and watch her work.

So this year, we lit the lodge afire 
and had everything boxed and labeled 
and distributed to the nine of us by Saturday night. 
That NEVER happens. 

We rocked Cookie Weekend this year. 
Just ask us.

Only a very small fraction of the cookies.

Found these old photos BELOW [from years ago]
My professional disclaimer: 
All are prior to me being a photographer, 
when I was going a little crazy with editing features! 
A girl's gotta start somewhere, right?
Pecan balls and brownies and spritz on this table.
Candy canes are so pretty ya know.
Snickerdoodles above. With a LOVELY dark black border. =)
Huge cookie trays where we just keep cycling them through.
Video screen with Christmas movies.
Diana hard at work.
Lovely nails, Diana.
Pre-painted sugar cookies by the trayloads.
This year Katie [ a girlfriend of one of Denise's nephews ] was tired of Cookie Weekend so she skipped out on us and went to Africa. We forgave her but will need to vote to see if she'll be allowed back in next year. We did make her Aunt Truth's peanut-butter-chocolate-TO.DIE.FOR-balls in her absence.
Dawn, the queen of caramel making, hard at it. Not gonna lie. Caramel making is the WORST job of the weekend. We're gonna buy you a life-time supply of ice tea with extra lemon for your efforts, Dawn.
Crinkle Cookies resting 'til they cool.
And speaking of resting. 
This little lady needs a rest after that lengthy post. 
Hope you enjoyed the visual tour through our Annual Cookie Weekend.
I really must go find me a cookie.
I'm starving.


ailie said…
Um, wow, this is amazing. About how many cookies do you come home with?
Alysa said…
Ailie -- boy, not sure how many. I know we each left there with over 3 huge grocery-sized bags full of cookies. Maybe 1000 cookies each? I know that seems like a lot but that's probably not too far off in estimation. 30 + different types of cookies and then some cookies several dozen each and some types only a dozen or two each. Maybe next year we'll make it a point to count. Now I'm curious, too! =)

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