make art. transform life.

thoughts about creativity and  art:   live your life as your work of art.

Making s cookies, I remember

Thank you so much to the reader, Valerie, who wrote to ask me about the s cookies that my Grandma used to make! I remembered that I had mentioned those light and delicious cookies in my last post about observation and  memory.

My grandma Marianna used to make them  with us , allowing us to help mix and then shape the cookie into an "s" shape after she pressed the dough through an extruder. I remember her kind hands helping us, patiently waiting for them to come out of the oven and finally sharing a taste after they cooled. The were simple and not too sweet.  When I recall them , I remember the the kindness of my Grandma, the sun in her kitchen and the warm fragrance of baking cookies.

Motivated, I searched for our family book of Sicilian recipes and called my dear cousin Trisha who helped me find the it! I studied the recipe, unconvinced that it was the same as the ones I had made years ago. After searching the internet, I found a recipe by Tom del Rosso that fit more closely to my memory.

I substituted organic palm oil shortening by Spectrum  for Crisco. I was especially thriled to find the combination of vanilla and lemon flavors, as I think that was part of it too. I used the pastry bag method and prefer them golden brown.  Enjoy!  Thank you, each of you for the nudge to get that recipe!

S cookies were originally made using a funnel attached to an old-fashioned meat grinder, but they can be formed with a pastry bag. Sometimes they are shaped like a figure eight. This cookie is soft when it first comes out of the oven, but crisps up like a sugar cookie as it cools. They are a cookie jar favorite, but also look stylish ona wedding cookie cake.


3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until light and lemon-colored.
  • Whisk in the shortening, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  • Gradually stir in the flour mixture, mixing well to blend the ingredients. Let the batter sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Fill a tipless pastry bag two thirds full of the batter to form 3-inch-long Ss or 8s on cookie sheets. Or drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inchesapart, and shape each one into a 3-inch-long S, using the back of the spoon.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Watch carefully and rotate the sheets to prevent burning. Let the cookies cool slightly on the cookie sheets before removing them tocooling racks.

Note: These are wonderful with coffee or tea and make a greatafter-school snack. They can be frozen, but will be softer in texture.

I'd love to hear about times when making something has triggered a memory of someone close to your heart!


Imagine, the first step to getting things done!

grandma's bath

Explore your problem by imagining solutions in your mind's eye. That exercise can make the difference between solving the problem or walking away in defeat! It is commonly understood that artists create by holding images in their minds eye. But the mind holds more than visual images. Did you know that musicians can hold the sounds of melodies and musical compositions in their minds? Dancers practice the muscle movements in their heads to develop kinesthetic skills. Athletes have been known to improve in their sport just by reviewing and feeling their movements in their mind. Whole books have been written on holding the taste of madeleines (Proust in Remembrance of things Past) or chocolate in Laura Esquivel's book, Like water for chocolate!

I can recall my Sicilian grandmother making the steamy fragrant honey lemon tea when I was ill with measles, the fragrance of her hand nurtured gardenias, her  plain and simple S cookies wafting their fragrance from the oven. It has been noted that the sense of smell is very effective at triggering memories.

I have drawn on these memories, triggered by fragrances, to make a series of paintings drawings. This mind imaging in ALL senses improves as you use it, similar to exercising muscles.  It just takes practice.

If you want to accomplish or change something, just imagine it, with one or more of your senses. You will be amazed!

Start with small things. Imagine what you will do when you get home from work. Imagine taking a walk past the fragrant lilac bush on the next street.Feel the sea breeze softly sweep your hair back from your face. Engage in the energy that surges through you as you walk briskly through the neighborhood. Suddenly, you are ready for your walk!

Choose to hold things in your mind's eye every day. That tiny action will transform your life image by image.

Oh yes, and let me know what happens!

An amazing and true art/ business connection! In a blog from U.S. News, On Careers, Miriam Salpeter discusses the importance of observation skills, referencing my post on increasing your observation skills in 6 steps. I love how she so clearly explains the connection betweens between eye, hand and mind as enhancing practical life skills in the marketplace.