Artist blend: Creative writers pair taste with touch at book signing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

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Artisans came together recently as writers from Renegade Writers Guild held a book signing and celebration at Artist Market on Main to commemorate the publication of the guild’s new book for children, Tales of Tails.

Located in downtown Mocksville, Artist Market is home to a diverse group of artisans whose hand-made and signed crafts are displayed throughout the store. Utilizing the market’s artsy pottery vessels and hardwood trays to serve homemade recipes for party foods, the creative writers elevated their party foods to a sensory experience, bringing life to the crafts.

Using food-safe glazes, ceramists are crafting chic dishes and textured bowls, which can be safely eaten from and used every day. Each potter has honed her clay craft by throwing on a wheel or rolling and pinching, using organic textures and warm colors that give nod to nature. For serving trays, cheese boards, and lazy susans, every handmade, solid wooden craft has its unique characteristic highlighted by the grain.

The movement of “studio to table” begs hand-thrown ceramics and beautiful wood trays to be functional and not just appealing to one’s eye. The artisanal experience foreshadows what might be the future for a quaint, historic town, one that’s uniquely poised to be a favored road trip destination.

The following pick-up, party food recipes were submitted by writers from Renegade Writers Guild.

Shortbread Pecan Cookies

• 1 cup salted butter

• 1/2 cup sugar

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. almond extract

• 1¾ cup all-purpose flour

• ¼ tsp. salt

2/3 cup toasted pecan pieces

In a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar, beating well. Stir in flavorings. Add flour, salt, and pecans to butter mixture. Mix well. Cover and chill for one hour. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough with a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Chill for 15 minutes. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool. Makes 3 dozen.

Cake Squares
(Julie Cartner)


• 21/3 cup flour

• 1¼ tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. cinnamon½ tsp. salt

• ¾ cup softened butter

• 1¼ cup granulated sugar

• ½ cup packed brown sugar

• 3 beaten eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• Cinnamon Sugar


• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 2 Tbsp. milk

• 2 tsp. cinnamon

Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together — set aside. In a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars. Beat until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla gradually until all is combined. Add flour mixture slowly until ingredients are mixed. Spoon ½ of the mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Dollop teaspoon sized amounts of batter all over the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar over the top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes in a greased 9 x 13 pan until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly. In a small bowl, mix the glaze topping until smooth. Drizzle evenly over bars.

Oatmeal Cookies
(Marie Craig)

• 1 egg

• ½ cup applesauce

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 3/4 cup sugar

• 3/4 brown sugar

• 1 stick softened, salted butter

• 2 cups self-rising flour

• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

• 31/4 cups quick oats

• 1/2 cup raisins

In a mixer, beat egg. Add applesauce, vanilla, sugars, butter, and mix well. Add flour and cinnamon, and mix well. Blend in oats and raisins, mixing well. Drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. The recipe makes 60 cookies.

Deluxe Lemon
Coconut Bars
(Stephanie Williams Dean)

• 1 cup salted butter

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• ½ cup powdered sugar

• 4 beaten eggs

1/3 cup lemon juice

• 2 cups of sugar

• ¼ cup all-purpose flour

• ½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ cup grated coconut

For the crust, in a mixer combine butter, flour, and powdered sugar and mix until crumbly. Press mixture into a greased 13 x 9 greased pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. For the filling, in a mixer, beat eggs. Add lemon juice, sugar, flour, baking powder, coconut, and mix well. Dust with powdered sugar.

Party Cheddar Spread
(Mike Gowen)

• 2 pounds extra sharp cheddar cheese

• 1 white onion

• 16 oz. mayonnaise

• 8 dashes hot sauce

• 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

• 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a processor, add cheese, onion, mayonnaise, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and lemon juice. Process until blended and smooth. Refrigerate overnight to let juices combine. Serve with crackers.

Fruit with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Dip
(Gaye Hoots)

• 8 oz. softened cream cheese

• 7 oz. marshmallow crème

In a mixer, combine softened cream cheese and marshmallow crème. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled. Serve in a bowl on a tray with your favorite fruits.

Strawberry Cream   Pastries
(Kevin Wishon)

• 1 pint of trimmed, diced strawberries

• ¼ cup sugar

• 4 oz. softened cream cheese

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• ¼ cup sugar

• 2 sheets puff pastry or pastry dough (rolled into 2 sheets)

• 1 egg

In a bowl, mix strawberries and ¼ cup of sugar and set aside. In a mixer, combine the softened cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 1/4-cup sugar, and blend until smooth. Roll the dough out, and cut each piece into four parts. You should produce a total of 8 pieces from 2 sheets. Make 1-inch cuts on two sides (opposite of each other) of each rectangle piece, but leave 2-inches in the center uncut for filling. Drop and spread 1/2 Tbsp. of cream cheese mixture into the center of each piece. Add 2 Tbsp. of strawberry mixture on top of that. Starting on one side, gently fold each cut piece over into the center, crossing the cut pieces from the opposite side, as you enfold each one. Place each on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush each piece with beaten egg and lightly sprinkle sugar over each. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until browned.

M&M Chocolate
Pretzel Snack
(N.R. Tucker)

• Bag of small twisted knot pretzels

• 10 oz. bag M&Ms

• 18 oz. container of Candiquik, chocolate or vanilla

Lay out wax paper and spread out the pretzels. Melt Candiquik following package instructions. Use a small spoon to drop about ½ a spoonful of Candiquik over each pretzel. Try to keep the Candiquik within the pretzel edges. Place an M&M on top of the Candiquik. Let harden. If you use the entire container of Candiquik, expect to have at least 60 individual bite-sized snacks. You will have excess M&Ms and pretzels.

Spiced Party Cashews
(Linda Barnette)

• 3 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

• ½ tsp. ground red pepper

• ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1 tsp. salt

• 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

• Dash of hot sauce

• 4 cups cashews

In a bowl, stir together butter, pepper, cinnamon, salt, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Mix well. Add cashews and toss until coated. Spread pecans on an ungreased 15 x 10 pan. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 25 minutes or longer until toasted. Stir a couple of times while baking. Cool and store in an airtight container. The recipe makes 4 cups.

Peanut Butter
Fudge Cake
(Stephanie Williams Dean)

• 2 cups sugar

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1½ cups creamy peanut butter

• ½ cup buttermilk

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 cup butter

• 1 cup water

• ¼ cup cocoa

In a mixer, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add peanut butter and buttermilk, and mix well. In a saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in water and cocoa. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir cocoa mixture into flour mixture, and mix well. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 25 minutes or more until center is done. Spread fudge cake with frosting.


• ½ cup butter

1/3 cup milk

• ¼ cup cocoa

• 1 lb. bag of confectioners sugar

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in milk and cocoa, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add sugar gradually until smooth. Stir in vanilla. To thin, add 1 tsp. milk or more. Frost cake while warm. Allow to cool or refrigerate before cutting.

7 Layer Bars
(Stephanie Williams Dean)

• ½ cup melted butter

• 1 cup crushed shortbread cookie or graham crackers

• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels or pieces

• 1 cup butterscotch morsels (optional)

• 1 cup coconut

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

In a 9 x 13 pan, melt butter. In this order, layer cookie crumbs, chocolate pieces, butterscotch pieces, coconut, and pecans. Pour condensed milk over all. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until done. Cool and cut into squares. You can be creative with different types of cookie crumbs, chocolate, and nuts. Makes 3 dozen.

Confetti Vanilla Cupcakes

• 3 large beaten eggs

• 1 cup whole milk

• 8 Tbsp. melted salted butter

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 box plain French vanilla cake mix with no pudding

• White Chocolate Frosting

• 6 oz. chopped white chocolate

• 8 oz. cream cheese

• 4 Tbsp. softened butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2½ cups 10x confectioner’s sugar

In a mixer, beat the eggs. Add milk, butter, and extract. Add cake mix and mix well. Line cupcake pan with liners, and fill each ¾ full. Bake in a 350-degree oven for the time recommended on the box or until done. For the frosting, melt chocolate over low heat. Cool. In a mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter, and beat until combined. Add the melted chocolate, and mix well. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar, and blend until fluffy. For prettier cupcakes, use a tip and pastry bag and frost cupcakes. Decorate with colored sugar or confetti on the icing.