cowboy art

I saw this hanging on the wall at an estate sale, with a $5 sticker on it.  Can you imagine trying to sell your kids’ elementary school artwork — is nothing sacred?  Who knows, maybe there is a market for such stuff?  Let’s see, I’ve got some of my daughter’s artwork that might interest y’all.  Here’s a sample of her cowboy art:


Perhaps something from her Degas period might appeal to you:


This one is my personal favorite, which I could never part with at any price:


Then there was the dark period — we’re still trying to figure this one out:


In any event, I’d be willing to bet that the cowboy picture was drawn during that time of year in Houston when everyone’s a cowboy — the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is presently upon us.  Friday was Go Texan Day, the day the trailriders thunder into town, the barbecue cook-off starts (a full weekend of smoke and debauchery), and the rodeo season officially kicks off.  My newsfeed was filled with adorable pictures of my friends’ kids and grandkids in their cowboy couture.  I got kind of verklempt thinking back to the days when I used to dress my kids up for Go Texan Day.

Tomorrow, March 2, happens to be Texas Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, an event that marked Texas’s independence from Mexico.  9-1/2 years later, Congress admitted Texas as a state of the Union.

Inspired by the child’s cowboy drawing and all the Texas-ness going on around me, I set out to make a Texas cookie.  The one that kept popping up in my searches was Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies (rather pompous sounding, don’t you think?), her entry in the 2000 presidential cookie contest.  The inane contest began in 1992, when Hillary Clinton rattled a number of women with her comment that “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.”  Family Circle magazine seized on this and came up with the contest, pitting HIllary’s chocolate chip recipe against a classic one from Barbara Bush, and asking readers to vote for the winner.  In 2000, Laura Bush’s cookie beat out Tipper Gore’s gingersnaps.

This recipe for Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies makes a huge batch of very stiff dough — you might wind up mixing in the chips and nuts with your hands, as if you were making meatballs.  You can follow the recipe and make Texas-sized cookies by scooping out the dough with a 1/4 cup measuring cup, but we preferred them regular size, using 2 tablespoons of dough.  There’s some debate about how long to bake them.  I baked them for about 16 minutes, and they came out golden around the edges and crisped up as they cooled, which we preferred over ones that cooked for a shorter time and were softer in the middle.

At first bite, we did not love these cookies.  But like soup, they vastly improved the next day, to the point where they were really good — crunchy and packed with goodies. Come and bake it!

Recipe type: Cookies
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened flake coconut
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl, and mix together.
  3. Place butter in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Beat in sugars. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Mix in chips, oats, coconut, and pecans. (These steps will take some time and elbow grease.)
  5. For Texas-sized cookies, use ¼ cup of dough for each cookie, spacing cookies 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. For cookies the size of those eaten in the rest of the U.S., use 2 tablespoons dough for each cookie, spacing 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and centers are set. Remove to racks to cool.



Stiff dough requires a lot of elbow grease

1/4-cup scoops for giant cookies, 2-tablespoon scoops for normal-sized cookies

Golden and crisp from the oven


You can make them Texas-sized, or the size that the rest of the U.S. enjoys


Bang bang eat ’em up


Baking cookies is an integral part of many families’ holiday traditions.  Two of my family’s favorite holiday cookies that I make every year are Ginger Cookies and Double Coconut Macaroons.

Part of my holiday baking tradition also includes trying a new cookie every year.   I’m not sure which recipe it’ll be yet (I’ll update when I decide), but have I got a cookie for YOU to try!  Recently, I won the grand prize in a holiday cookie contest sponsored by House & Home magazine.  The recipe, Golden Pecan Balls, was published in the November issue, and my prize was a beautiful set of Jamie Oliver T-Fal stainless and copper cookware.

Golden Pecan Balls are based on a cookie my Mom used to make called Walnut Crescents.  There’s a lot of variations of the cookie out there, which you may recognize as Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, or Butterballs.  My version is different in that it uses European butter, golden syrup, and toasted pecans, and if I don’t say so myself, it is delicious.  If you’re looking for a holiday cookie that’s easy and delectable, I would be honored if you gave my prize-winning Golden Pecan Balls a try.

Recipe type: Cookies
  • ½ cup European-style butter, softened
  • ¼ cup Lyle's golden syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted pecans,* finely chopped
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • *To toast pecans, place them in a single layer in a large dry skillet over medium-heat. Stir continuously for 4 or 5 minutes, until nuts are fragrant and beginning to darken in color, being very careful not to let them burn. Let cool before using.
  1. Place butter, syrup, and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat using an electric beater, until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in pecans. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Roll dough into 1" balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, approximately 1-1/2" apart. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden.
  3. Place powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. When cookies are cool enough to handle, roll them in powdered sugar. For a pretty presentation, dust lightly with powdered sugar just before serving or packaging (see magazine photo above).

 IMG_3161Ready for the oven


Baked to golden deliciousness


All dressed up and ready to go