There in the forest lived a bear. He was a small but a very good bear whose name nobody knew so everyone called him Bear. He had a small, but a cozy house in the middle of the woods with a comfy fluffy bed, nice big table with many chairs and a big pantry room where he stocked all of his provisions for the winter. The Bear’s busiest seasons were summer and fall, though armed with two big baskets, he would walk around the forest and gather many yummy things such as berries, fruits and honey. Winter was his favorite season. Everything was white and the soft fluffy snow was everywhere, making the forest look like a dreamy, puffy cloud. The other reason why the Bear liked winter so much were his long walks in the woods where he would visit his friends – the Fox, the Squirrel, the Hedgehog and the Snail.
The Fox’s house was on the other side of the forest from where the Bear lived and the Bear liked going to the Fox’s house at least two times a week, not because she was most hospitable of all of his friends, but because she was rarely at home. And the Bear liked guessing and eagerly waiting to find if the Fox was home or not. The Fox also was an avid discoverer, traveler and a gatherer of all interesting things and the Bear loved listening the Fox’s stories about unfamiliar places and going though, touching and smelling all the Fox’s treasures from her trips.
Another house that the Bear liked to visit was Mr. Squirrel’s house. Mr. Squirrel was a small creature with a big puffy tail and the energy of a hundred squirrels. He was always on the run, always carrying something and always in the state of panic that he didn’t fill his den with enough food for the winter. When, in fact, he had so much stored food that often it would take up his entire house, even his bed and then he had to stay with the Bear. The Bear actually loved when Mr. Squirrel stayed with him because it meant that there will be a food party with all of their friends in order to free up space in Mr. Squirrel’s house.
So on the day when the Snail and the Hedgehog informed the Bear that they couldn’t come to the annual Christmas and New Year’s parties because they had lost most of their food in the fall’s flood, the Bear knew what to do. He convinced Mr. Squirrel, though it was not easy, to bring some of his food to the Bear’s house. Then, on Christmas Eve, The Bear, the Fox and Mr. Squirrel armed with a wagon cart and many blankets sneaked into the Snail’s and the Hedgehog’s houses while they were sleeping. Then, very gently – not to wake them up, placed the Snail and the Hedgehog into the cart and covered them with warm blankets. After that they carefully wheeled their sleeping friends to the Bear’s house and waited...
....When the Snail and the Hedgehog woke up on Christmas morning, they were puzzled and surprised. They had no idea what had happened and how they ended up in the Bear’s house. The Bear, on other hand, was so happy and was eagerly handing them two small cups of honey chamomile tea. Then the door opened and there arrived the Fox and Mr. Squirrel carrying many baskets of the Squirrel’s provisions. After that they all gathered and cooked a lovely breakfast, drank some tea and sat around the Bear’s table. They chatted laughed, as all good friends do, for many days and nights until the new year arrived.
This project was a collaboration between me and the lovely and very talented Lindsay Schwartz. It is very rare in life when we have the chance to meet an exceptional human being that would not only magnetize us with their genuineness, kindness and humanity but with whom we would also work so well. To me, Lindsay is one of these people. And for various reasons that I can’t find words to describe, she makes me peaceful, aware on myself and my surroundings and open to the creativity that lies deep in me.
Thank you, Miss Linz, for being who you are and I look forward to many more shared moments and projects together.
Video Art Direction and Hand Lettering by Lindsay Schwartz.
This recipe was modified from this Bon Appétit Magazine recipe.
Makes about 40 3-inch cookies
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
• 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon*
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 8 tbsp (1 stick / 125 gr.) butter at room temperature
• 1/3 cups sugar
• 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
• 1 tsp orange zest
• 2 cups of confectioners sugar
• 3 tbsp water or milk
* I used Vietnamese cinnamon for my cookies because of its complex flavor. Feel free to use any cinnamon you like/have.
Mix the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the egg yolk. Then beat in the orange juice and orange peel (batter may look curdled). Blend in the flour-spice mixture and mix well with a spatula. Gather the dough together into a large ball.
Cut the dough ball in half and shape each half into a flat round disc. Take one of the discs and roll it out between 2 large sheets of parchment paper (this will prevent dough from sticking) to about 1/8-inch thickness. Carefully place the rolled dough with the parchment on a baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour. Repeat with the other dough disk.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Take one of the chilled and rolled out discs from the refrigerator and slide it from the baking sheet onto a table. Remove the top parchment paper and line the baking sheet with it. Working quickly, cut out cookies using cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies onto the lined baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. Gather the dough scraps and reroll to 1/8-inch thickness and cut out more cookies.
Bake the cookies until golden, for about 8 minutes. Let the cookies stand for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies and the parchment paper to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Repeat with the remaining rolled and chilled dough.
Using a whisk, mix the icing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well blended. The mixture should be thick and not runny. Add more water or sugar in necessary. Place the mixture into a piping bag (or a ziplock bag) with a very small tip attached and decorate. Let the icing dry for at least 4 hours.
Store cookies in a plastic box lined with parchment paper.