You’ll never guess what’s happening. It’s the sun! It’s shining! I haven’t seen a cloud in 4 days! And according to it should stick around through Tuesday. They even used the term “abundant” to describe the degree of sun we have headed our way.

Time to bust out the shorts and flip-flops kids – it’s 58 degrees in Washington!

This does, however, make it very tough to sit here at my office desk. I’m lucky enough to have a huge window nearby, but on days like this it feels like a tease. Thankfully, I’m only 1 hour and 14 minutes out from the weekend, which gets me to pondering how I should spend the next few sun-soaked days.

Onion soup is up on the kismet calendar and today I found a recipe online for cup-pies (divine). Hmmm….tasty soup, miniature pies, a sunny day…sounds like the recipe for picnic perfection to me!

A few words on the cup-pies, I originally found them mentioned on one of my favorite food blogs, Cook & Eat. If you haven’t been over there yet, you better check it out because the lovely Lara has crafted the prettiest food blog with the tastiest food pictures I have seen yet. What that girl can do with a camera and some food can only be described as mouthwatering. She also has a secondary blog, Still Life With…, dedicated to food photography tips, perfect for amateur photogs like yours truly.

So, Lara had a post in her archives where she showed off what you can do with a basket of plums, i.e. make mini plum pies. She also happened to mention where said mini pies originated from. Cue Eggs on Sunday, another delightful foodie blog featuring Ithaca New Yorker Amy.

Amy was inspired by one of my favorite shows, Pushing Daisies, to create the itty-bitty pies. Genius! I watched that show religiously but didn’t even think to try making my own pint-sized pastries. Could have been because at the time I lived in a magical place called Delta Gamma where I, along with my DG sisters, were banned from using any equipment in the industrial sized kitchen but I digress…

So yes, tomorrow I will be making a picnic lunch to enjoy with the boyfriend and possibly best friend Leah up in Seattle. I’m thinking of filling my pies with a citrus raspberry concoction…or perhaps I’ll stick with your basic spiced apples, might go better with the onion soup on a sunny winter day.

Sorry kids, you’re just going to have to be patient and wait until Sunday to hear how the mini pies turn out. But to tide you over, here are some Viennese sugar twists…or Tennessee sugar twists if you’re like me and make up names when you can’t read the slightly ripped recipe card at first.


Viennese sugar twists
I’ve been told these are traditionally a Christmas cookie, but think they’re good all-year round. A tip: be careful while grinding your almonds. They produce a bit of moisture due to oil content and your ground almonds will begin to stick if over-processed. I found that grinding in small batches worked best. Also, be prepared for a very stiff and delicate dough. It breaks easily, which can make work surface to baking sheet transfer tricky. It’s easiest if you roll out your dough bits first and then transfer them to the baking sheet before shaping them into a pretzel. Never made a pretzel before? Loop your dough up to a U shape, twist once about a third of the way down, and then attach the two tips to the bottom of the U.

You will need:
1 cup sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
Sugar for dusting

Preheat your oven to 350.

Cream together sugar, butter, egg and egg yolk. (p.s. my favorite way to separate egg yolks and whites can be seen in the movie “The Hours.” Meryl Streep performs the task, gently tossing the yolk from one hand to another. Love it.)

Beat in vanilla and salt.

Stir in flour until well blended. Mix in almonds (that you patiently ground in your coffee grinder bit by bit till it began to omit a rather unpleasant electrical smell). Yes the dough is supposed to be that stiff.

Break off tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into pencil-thin strips around 10 inches in length. Shape into a pretzel and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes (or for 15 minutes if you make your dough strips to thick…)

Transfer to cooling racks and sprinkle with sugar while still hot.

Yield ~ 3 1/2 dozen cookies