Monday, December 31, 2012

FAQ #2 - Can I Print Your Recipes?

Fans asked, and the labbits answered! Gayle asked, "Can I print out your recipes without all the pictures?" Well, the labbits can't believe you want to skip all the cuteness, but they realize that it's easier to read a recipe when you're not distracted by images sprinkled throughout the directions. The labbits cook with the laptop in the kitchen all the time, and that makes for a really gross laptop. (What do you mean, "just clean it more often"? You probably think Patrick shouldn't leave his almond bark on the laptop, either.) Makes sense to print out the recipe and put it in a book. A labbit's cookbook, now wouldn't that be awesome?

Patrick here has been busy the last few days making a major update to the blog. It's tough typing with big, furry paws. The dang keys are so small and it's a lot of hopping back and forth over the keyboard. Anyway, he likes to clean things up and start a new year fresh, so he's happy to announce the change has been made right before 2013! Now he can leave the laptop behind and ring in the new year with the other labbits.

Here's Patrick's screenshot. Links to printable recipes, hooray!
As you can see from Patrick's screenshot, each recipe will have a link you can click on that will take you to a printable .pdf file of the recipe. Most are only a page, but some of the more complicated recipes will be 2 pages. He did his best! Just click on the link, and you can print, share the link, and cook up a storm.

The labbits wish you all a Happy, Merry New Year. 2012 was a great year, and 2013 is going to be even better!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning with Kris Kringlor

Pipkin is visiting friends in the Great White North, and when he woke up on Christmas morning, he found a visitor in one of the stockings. It was Kris Kringlor! On Christmas Eve, Kris Kringlor hops around underground delivering presents to all the good little labbits asleep in their warrens. He believed Pipkin had been particularly good this year, so he thought he'd visit and say hello. It helps that Pipkin put out particularly good cookies for Kris Kringlor:

Cookies just like Kris Kringlor's butt!

Kris Kringlor filled Pipkin's stocking with lots of goodies.  It was so stuffed Pipkin had to crawl in to dig them out (good thing labbits are naturally fond of digging).

Look at all the loot! Candy canes (Kringlor doesn't keep it all to himself after all), Laura Secord gummies, bookmarks, bicycle paper clips (Pip will have to share those with Masher and Doddy Blue), earbud cord wraps (Pipkin's always untangling his earbuds), Godiva chocolates, oh my!

But wait...there's one more gift from Kringlor, something big at the bottom of the stocking. This requires serious digging.

"Kringlor, hold my toque. I'm going in!"

"Umph! I've got it, I think..."

"Oofah! Just gotta...turn this stocking around..."

"Wow! It's the Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography! Thanks, Kris Kringlor."

Pipkin's going to hunker down over the winter and read this guide cover to cover. He's taken many a terrible photograph, so hopefully this book will help him take better photos - after all, this is a photo blog, and there have been many outings not blogged because of blurry, dark, overexposed and just plain bad photos.

Pipkin hopes you all had a wonderful holiday surrounded by loved ones and good food and lots of cheer. Here's to the coming new year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Labbits Like: Labbit Butt Sugar Cookies

Merry Christmas to all the Year of the Labbit blog readers! Today Ted brings you this easy recipe for sugar cookies and icing sugar. If you're gathered around with your family and all the presents are open and Christmas dinner has been consumed, how about making these sugar cookies? They don't have to be labbit butt shaped, you can use this recipe for any shape of cookie, and it's fun to make all different colors of icing to decorate cookies as you like. But for the labbit fan out there, here's a cookie for you. Print the recipe here.

Labbit Butt Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Egg whites of 2 eggs + yolk of 1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing: 
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp milk, more or less, depending on desired working texture
food coloring
Mini chocolate chips for the labbit buttholes
1/4 tsp vanilla extract, peppermint extract, rum extract or almond extract, depending on how you'd like it to taste. Note: using vanilla extract will cause your icing sugar to no longer be white. If you'd like white icing sugar, you may want to omit the vanilla extract or choose another flavor which is clear, such as peppermint or almond.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour to firm up.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove dough from plastic and roll to a thickness of 1/4" between two pieces of wax paper.

Press a cookie cutter into the dough and place cookies on a cookie sheet about 1" apart. For labbit butt tails, take a small piece of dough, roll into a ball and flatten into a disk. Place on labbit butt. (Labbit butt cookie cutter tutorial here.)

Bake at 400°F for 7 - 9 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cook on a wire rack.

Prepare the icing! Some prefer their icing more runny to "paint" their cookies. Others like a firmer icing for use in a pastry bag. Keep this in mind when making your icing. For labbit butts there is very little detailing to be done so icing with a pastry bag is fine. In a small bowl, add milk to the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Slowly add more milk for a thinner texture. Divide into separate bowls and add in flavor extracts and food coloring as desired. Mix well. Note: If you're dividing the batches of icing, don't forget to cut the amount of extract you're adding. Peppermint extract is especially strong.

Dip your cookies, paint your cookies with a brush, or fill pastry bags with an icing tip and ice your cookies. For labbit butt cookies, outline the cookie with icing. Place a mini chocolate chip under the tail and ice around the hole. Fill in the rest of the cookie with icing. For colored labbits with white tails, ice the tail, allow the icing to firm up for a few minutes, then outline the tail in a separate color. Place the chocolate chip, ice around it, outline the cookie, and fill in with icing.

Allow the icing to harden for a few hours before stacking on top of one another. Enjoy!

Yields: Two dozen labbit butt cookies (about 2.5" cookies)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

Labbits love candy. You can have some, if you can get past KRINGLOR, who has hoarded all the Christmas candy.

Labbits Like Culture: The Art of Edward Gorey

On his way to the Great White North for Christmas, Pipkin stopped in Portland, ME, to catch the Edward Gorey exhibit "Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey," in its last few days at the Portland Public Library.

A bird with sneakers? A rabbit with a mustache?

This free exhibit was put together by the library, the Maine College of Art, and sponsored by the Bank of Maine, and has over 170 pieces of Gorey's work in the form of framed illustrations, rare sketches, book covers, stage designs, personal letters, and some of his own hand-stitched toys.  Edward Gorey's work resonates with Pipkin because they both share a whimsical spirit of the ridiculous and nonsensical. White toy rabbit + mustache = Happy Labbit. Penguin-like creature + scarf + Converse sneakers = The Doubtful Guest. Crazy! Here are a few pictures from the gallery.

Display case at the center of the gallery.

Variety of art cards, books, sketches, accordion fold and flip books.

Oooh! Tiny little labbit sized books!

Pipkin wants a Gorey illustrated copy of War of the Worlds!

Who doesn't love Edward Gorey's cats? Pipkin wishes he could flip through the rest of the sketchbook.

Patriotic figbash!

Pipkin's happy Gorey was into toys.

Pipkin made his way around the gallery, looking at the framed prints. Some of these pieces are rare or unpublished. Pipkin has a rather large collection of Gorey's books, but there were many he'd never seen. He liked the cautionary little tale above.

It's hard for Pipkin to pick a favorite, but this one panel with the rabbits' restroom made Pipkin giggle. The dead body, hanging limp at the woman's side as she points to a burial spot in the middle of a field of rabbit poops is just so macabre and silly at the same time. Very Gorey.

The exhibit runs for only a few more days, until December 29th, 2012. If you're near Portland, ME, it's well worth the trip to the library to see it before it's gone. No Gorey fan should miss this exhibit. One of these days, Pipkin's going to visit Gorey's home on Cape Cod. For now, he's inspired to revisit the books and perhaps get Clover to knit or sew a figbash toy.

Happy Christmas Eve, all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

DIY Cookie Cutters (Labbit Butt Edition)

For the final Christmas Cookie, the labbits went with the classic Iced Sugar Cookie. Sugar cookies are easy to make, and you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. You probably even have the ingredients to make your own icing, but you'll need to pick up some food coloring (available in the baking aisle at your local grocery store), or you can simply buy cookie icing, which comes in tubes. The labbits have posted the recipe for the cookies here, but first, they bring you a DIY guide to making your own cookie cutters. The labbits searched the stores in vain for a rabbit shaped cookie cutter, but those are probably not around until Easter, or they just didn't look labbity enough. Also, none of the rabbit shaped cookie cutters showcased the charming rear ends of the labbits. So, they decided to make their own.

You can always improvise in a kitchen and look for shapes to cut out cookies: Jar lids, cutting around templates, or hand trimming cookie dough works well in a pinch, but if you want lots of the same shaped cookie, and a permanent cookie cutter that lasts through a dishwasher, you'll want to make something more substantial. Here's what Ted did to make the labbit butt (labbutt?) cookie above.

DIY Labbit Cookie Cutter
You'll need:
  • Template of the shape you want your cookie cutter
  • Scrap corrugated cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Roll of aluminum flashing, available at your local hardware store. Note from (the heavier the gauge the stronger your cutter will be and the harder it will be to bend) WARNING: Be sure to ask the hardware store if the aluminum is safe for food contact. Some kinds are not safe because they are chemically treated.
  • Piece of string
  • Straightedge/ruler
  • Marker
  • Gloves (a pair for cutting the metal, a nitrile/thin rubber gloves for the gluing)
  • Newspapers, craft paper, cardboard, to protect your work surface
  • Tin snips
  • Knife or sharp edge to score flashing
  • Fine grit sandpaper, sanding block (Ted used a piece of 2"x4"), rags (old sock)
  • Needle nose pliers, snub nose pliers
  • Small clips or rubber bands
  • JB Weld Cold Weld or some other strong adhesive. JB Weld is food safe and will last through a dishwasher.
1. Sketch out the shape of your cookie cutter. When you've got the shape you like, cut it out so you have a template.

2. Trace about 5 or 6 of these shapes on a piece of corrugated cardboard.

3. Cut out your shapes and stack them. You'll need to stack these as high as you want your cookie cutter to be deep.


4. Glue each shape to the next to create your mold. Press together and allow glue to dry.

5. Take a piece of string or twine (something not stretchy) and measure the length around the mold, following any curves and bends in the pattern.  Add a half inch to the length, and cut the string. Use the string to measure and mark the length of aluminum flashing you'll need to cut.

6. Using a straightedge, mark off the length and width of your cookie cutter. If you want to crimp over the edge of the cut side, make another marking about 1/4" along the length.

7. Now we're ready to cut the flashing. If you haven't already, you should line your work area with some newspapers, craft paper, or a piece of cardboard. You'll also want to put on a pair of gloves. Cutting the aluminum flashing may create small shards of metal, and they can be sharp. Don't cut your paws, put on some gloves. Now get your tin snips and cut along the outside lines of your cookie cutter.

8. Now you've got a sharp, rough edge, with bits of metal. Prepare a sanding block by wrapping a rag or an old sock around a piece of 2"x4" or anything on hand that's block shaped (deck of cards secured with an elastic, a tin of spices, etc.,). Wrap your sanding block in fine grit sandpaper (Ted used 150 grit). Gently sand the edges until smooth, then wash with a little soap and water to remove any dust and fine metal bits.

Sharp. Ouch!
Smooth, ahhhh!

9. Folding over an edge gives your cookie cutter a bit more rigidity and helps it keep its shape. If you use a heavier gauge of flashing and you sanded the cut edge very smooth, you may not need this step. To fold the edge, start by lightly scoring along the inner marking with a sharp blade. With snub nosed pliers, bend the edge towards the score, then fold over and gently crimp the edge.

10. Now for the fun part! Take your strip of flashing and bend it around your mold. Use pliers to help with sharp turns, or different sizes of dowels to bend around curves.

11. Put on a pair of thin latex or nitrile gloves for working with the epoxy. Mix together the JB Weld Cold Weld epoxy according to the package directions. Spread a thin layer on the two ends and press together. With clips or a series of rubber bands, clamp together the ends and allow to cure overnight. Ted used a bunch of rubber bands around the mold to help the cookie cutter retain its shape. Depending on the shape you've made, you can skip the reinforcing and just clamp the ends together for the epoxy bonding.

12. After the epoxy has cured, remove clamps and rubber bands. Use pliers and refine your shape. Wash with some soap and hot water and TA-DAH! You have your own cookie cutter! Now go make some cookies!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies for Santa!

To celebrate Christmas the labbits have shared a Citrus-Spice cookie and an Eggnog-Almond cookie, and although both are tasty, the names don't sound like something you'd sell to a kid whose idea of cookies is Oreo Double Stuff or Sugar Cookie or Gingerbread. Ted DeCoste wanted to get in the kitchen and share something that kids of all ages would reach for, but more than anything, Ted wanted to bake a cookie that one would want to leave for Santa, with a big glass of milk. Chocolate chip cookies are a classic, but Ted wanted to take it up a notch or two. So, how about a cocoa-y cookie with chocolate chips? And, how about crushed up bits of candy cane? Yes!

Mmmmm, peppermint!

The labbits love recipes where you throw things in a bowl, mix them up and drop them on a cookie sheet to bake. No waiting for dough to cool, no rolling out the dough, no zillions of steps, just mix and drop and bake and eat! (Ow, the paws! Maybe wait a little bit for them to cool...)

Santa is sure to love these cookies, and this recipe bakes up a generous 3 dozen (baker's dozen, natch). Perfect for fattening up Santa to such a state that no magic can get him up the chimney. Labbit wants ALL the presents! Print the recipe here.

Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed candy canes (about four 6" candy canes)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Crush about four candy canes with a sharp knife or in a food processor. The Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender does a quick job of making itty bits of your candy canes. Sift the candy cane bits through a fine metal sieve, separating the fine candy cane "dust" from the small bits. Discard fine candy cane dust. Set aside small bits.

Cream together the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 

Beat in the egg...

...then add vanilla and peppermint extracts. 

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. 

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. 

Add in the chocolate chips, stirring to distribute evenly. 

Finally, add the candy cane bits and stir to distribute evenly.

Mmmm, so tempting to eat raw cookie dough!
Drop small, rounded spoonfuls onto a prepared cookie sheet, leaving 2" space between each cookie (they spread a lot when baked). Bake at 350°F for 9 - 11 minutes for crisp-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside cookies. Allow cookies to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool...or let's face it, before you shovel these into your mouth. These are best fresh, while the chocolate chips will still melt all over your fingers. YUM.

Yields: About 36 cookies.

Recipe: Adapted from