A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I got to go on a church youth activity called Pioneer Trek. Pioneer Trek has a special place in our hearts because that it where we met and our love story began. But that is a story for another time.
If you are nodding your head and know exactly what is going on or just want to know about these pioneer cookies, then great, keep reading. If you are wondering what the hey-ho this Pioneer Trek is, you may want to skip past the cookie part and I’ll explain a little.
This year our focus was different. Instead of just walking miles and miles with handcarts, the youth walked a few miles to arrive in Nauvoo (and early Mormon Pioneer settlement.) Our job was to recreate the city of Nauvoo. We had a committee and planned a bunch of fun activities. We had a bakery, a blacksmith shop, a school, a printing shop and a photo booth. The Strong Man even put his mustache to good use and visited the town selling snake oil.
This was happening while the kids were busy building a smaller version of the Nauvoo Temple. It was SO COOL!
Of course, I wanted to thank the people on our Nauvoo committee and that means cookies.
I’m proud of these here cookies because they came from my own head. I didn’t steal anybody’s ideas for these and I’m really happy about how they turned out.
To make them, I first found some clip art of pioneer-y silhouettes and a silhouette of the Nauvoo Temple. I printed them out and made royal icing transfers using 20 second consistency black icing.
My husband asked why I chose to make royal icing transfers. I explained that:
1. It’s easier to trace a more exact copy if you are doing directly over an example (as opposed to using a projection on the cookies with a Kopy Kake or Pico projector.)
2. You don’t have to sweat messing up because if you do, you can just make another one. You haven’t committed until you put it on the cookie.
3.You can make a bunch and choose the ones you like. (And you should make extra because they are fragile and your kids sure like to nibble on the broken ones!)
After the transfers dried overnight, I carefully removed them from the acetate (you can also use wax paper, but is opaque and a little harder to see through.)
Then I made outlined and flooded the cookies with an off white colored icing. While the icing was still wet, I carefully placed one of my royal icing transfers in the center of each cookie.
After theses were dry, I set to “antiquing” the cookies. I took a small amount of brown gel paste and added a smidge of black and green. I mixed this on a palette, then I used a damp paint brush to smudge the color on the edge of the cookie, making my way to the middle.
I wiped off excess with a paper towel.
Then I was ready to add the writing. I first tried piping the writing, but I didn’t like the look. So I filled one of my chalkboard pens with black gel color, added a couple drops of water to thin it and used that. It made the perfect thin scrawl and was so much easier than piping!. And before you get all impressed, I cheated and found a font I liked online and used it for reference. Our Trek theme was “I am ready now.”
The best part of these cookies is that I was going for a rustic, beat up look. So any imperfections were welcome. I loved how they turned out. Each committee member got a small box of the coolest cookies ever (well maybe until the next batch is made.)
Now if you wanna know more about our Trek or what or why we do it, here is more info.
For LDS people, aka Mormons our history involves the early members of our faith being kicked out of one community, rebuilding another community only to be kicked out again. The Mormon people finally traveled across the plains and found a place where nobody would bother them, Utah. Many of these pioneers walked (only about 1300 miles.) They so deeply believed in their faith that they were willing to endure unimaginable trials and difficulties.
To pay homage to their dedication and try to understand and learn more about what and why they did it, we do a small scale reenactment of their journey west. We dress up in pioneer era clothing, leave our electronics at home and pull handcarts through the wilderness. It is challenging, but not even a drop in the bucket compared to the real pioneer’s journey. They had no sleeping bags, no high tech hiking boots with wicking socks, no Zyrtec. They gave birth in the wilderness and ate flour mixed with water. Many of them died.
We had a girl join our church group for this activity, she was from Brazil and not a member of our church. She must have thought we are the craziest people alive. Marching around in the sagebrush with our bonnets and bloomers.
This particular Trek was different. The focus was not so much on walking with handcarts, but building a temple. The Temple is an important piece of our religion. It is where we enter and make promises and covenants that bind our families together for eternity. And the early pioneers gave everything they had to build temples.
After being kicked out of their community, the pioneers first built a community called Navuoo, Illinois. They spent three years building a temple, but before they could complete if fully, they were driven from Nauvoo and ultimately traveled to Utah.
Our youth walked a few miles each day and ultimately arrived in our makeshift Nauvoo. While there, they built a smaller version of the Nauvoo temple. Yes, built a temple. I will never fully understand how this was even possible (that was a different committee!) But they built a temple out of wood, styrofoam and canvas in one day. It was big enough to walk through and quite amazing.
The next morning, they were woken early by a “mob” and told they had to leave. They packed up their belonging and walked out of Nauvoo. While they walked away he “mob” pulled down the temple they had worked so hard to build. This was a glimpse into what happened to the real pioneers. They too left their beloved Temple because they weren’t welcome in the area.
This experience was amazing and powerful, I’m thankful I got to be a part of it!