Monday, December 20, 2010

Darling Delight: Suzy Home-Wrecker's XXXmas Cookies!

You can never really believe what you watch on TV...especially on 1950's sitcoms. Contrary to what you may have seen on reruns of The Donna Reed Show or Leave It To Beaver, housewives didn't prance around in heels and pearls, merrily twirling in their full swing skirts while baking or doing chores. Yes, women were homebound but it was hard work and a lot less glamorous. Damn. It's such an appealing fantasy, though. Personally, I think it's criminal NOT to bake in 6" stilettos but that's just me. But, unlike 50's TV housewives, I don't believe in being timid, weak or subservient to men. Yet, I do believe in being glamorous, beautiful and sexy. Femininity is a lost art form. It's possible to be a strong, powerful and sexual woman and yet still retain your femininity. Don't be afraid of it.

With that in mind I've created a very girlie and very pink Xmas cookie. The recipe was inspired by a cookie that my next door neighbor Miss Yvonne taught me to make. I was 16. She was 26. I would show up on her doorstep and she'd invite me in, pop open a bottle of wine and we'd get drunk, bake and talk trash! Move over Suzy Homemaker....

Hot pink peppermint cookie with a creamy vanilla blonde swirl and frosted white chocolate peppermint icing

* 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
* few drops hot pink food coloring, as desired
* 2 tablespoons cold water, as needed

* 2 cups white chocolate chips (1 bag)
* 1 tablespoon Crisco vegetable shortening
* 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (5-6 broken candy canes)

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture. Add up to 2 tablespoons cold water beat until mixture turns from dry and crumbly into moist smooth ball.

Divide the dough in half. Add the peppermint extract and hot pink food coloring to the half and mix until even in color. Wrap both in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 10 min.

Roll out doughs separately between two sheets of wax paper to approximately 1/4-inch thickness and refrigerate for 10 min. Place vanilla dough on top of peppermint and press together around the edges. Using the waxed paper, roll dough into log. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place cookies 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat and bake for 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. These cookies are best a bit underdone. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing you will need to melt the chocolate in a double boiler. A double boiler is a saucepan that holds hot water, and a bowl that fits securely over the saucepan. Begin by filling a saucepan with water from the tap but not so much that the bottom of the chocolate bowl touches the water. Heat the saucepan over low heat until it just begins to simmer, then turn off the stove and place a mixing bowl with the chocolate over the water. Let the chocolate begin to melt, and then stir it gently with a plastic spatula. When almost all of the chocolate is melted add the vegetable shortening, lift the top bowl from the saucepan and set it on the counter. Stir continuously until it is shiny, smooth, and completely melted.

Dip your cookies half way into the melted chocolate and place on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Chill in refrigerator until hardened.

Makes 24 cookies. I like to dip half the cookies in icing and leave the other dozen plain.

 Darian Darling as Suzy Home-Wrecker
photos by Veronica iBarra

Brought to you in association with La Bella Memoria

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lil' Blonde Darling: Lilli!

Blonde Beauty Icon Lilli

 If I told you that America's sweetheart and iconic children's toy Barbie was based on a seXXXed up German comic-strip character, would you believe me? Well, it's true...and her name was Lilli! Created by the cartoonist Reinhard Beuthien, Lilli debuted in the German tabloid newspaper BILD in 1952, originally as a way to fill empty space. 

Portraying the risqué misadventures of a tarty, sassy blonde "working girl" living life in the big city, Lilli was an oversexed fashionista who enjoyed keeping the company of rich men. While she did maintain a job as a secretary, she was definitely the type of girl who, like Holly Golightly in 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's "got $50 to go to the powder room". Because of it's bawdy humor the cartoon was an immediate smash hit and became a weekly feature.
"I must insist that at least one of you stops following me!"

"Yes, I kissed him, but I didn't want him to get too serious so I stopped him after three."

 "No, I can't go out with you. I am too tired. I spent the whole day doing my laundry".

To cash in on the success of the character, BILD released an 11 1/2" Lilli novelty doll in 1955, aimed at adult male readers and sold them in bars and smoke shops as an erotic gag gift. Since the dolls produced up until this point were babies or toddlers marketed to girls, a doll with a voluptuous figure sold to men as a sexualized plaything was quite titillating.

A smaller 7 1/2" version of Lilli was also produced and could be playfully dangled from the rear view mirror of a car, on a little included swing. Who needs a mudflap girl when you can have a three-dimensional "sex pet"?  The promotional material touted her lifestyle as "always discreet," and that her sexy wardrobe made her "the star of every bar"!

Although not originally intended for children, little German girls fell in love with shapely Lilli and a high quality wardrobe was later produced featuring the fashion trends of the 50's; tight sweaters, capri pants, sexy pencil skirts, outfits for parties, the beach and tennis as well as cotton swing skirts, nighties and traditional German Dirndl dresses.

By 1958 Lilli had become so popular in Germany that a feature film was produced called Lilli - ein Mädchen aus der Großstadt (Lilli — A Girl From the Big City). Portraying Lilli was a coveted role, so much so that a contest was held by BILD, who instructed it's female readers to send in their photos to compete for the role! Women from all over Germany entered the contest and BILD's offices were flooded with thousands of entries. In the end Danish actress Ann Smyrner was chosen as the winner.

While on a European vacation with her two children Barbara and Kenneth, Mattel Toys founder Ruth Handler spied sexpot Lilli in the window of a toy shop. Having already suggested the idea of an adult-figured fashion doll to a less than enthusiastic board of Mattel's directors, Lilli was exactly what she had in mind. She purchased three of them, gave one to her daughter and took the others back to show the Mattel board that a grown up doll with a womans body could work. She reworked the design and concept of sex kitten Lilli, transforming her into the "teenage fashion model" Barbie (named after her daughter), which Mattel launched in 1959.

 1955's Lilli vs 1959's Barbie

Although the design was tweaked, side by side Lilli and the original Barbie are nearly identical! Barbie became a runaway success in the US, unbeknownst to the makers of Lilli, and Mattel discreetly bought up all patents and copyrights to the German doll by 1964. By the time the creators of the Lilli doll realized they had sold off their creation for ridiculously low lump sums, Barbie had already made Mattel such a success in the toy industry, their lawsuits were struck down in favor of the ever-growing American toy giant. Ooops!

So there you have it; the doll marketed to millions of American little girls as a wholesome teenager with a perfect life started out as a gold-digging, high class German hooker! I suppose it isn't any wonder that the Barbie doll has received a huge amount of criticism from feminist groups, who trumpet her as a poor role model with an unrealistic body type, producing unhealthy effects on the self-esteem and self-image of young girls. After all, she was inspired by a sex doll for adult men! I don't know about you but this little known fact always made me like Barbie MORE! Ha!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wind is Your Enemy: Best Hairspray Glamour Choices!

When it comes to hair wind is NEVER your friend. It's your worst enemy. Sure, a strategically placed high-powered fan is good for dramatic effect, don't get me wrong. Alas nothing is more frustrating than spending an hour coiffing your hair, making sure each and every strand is perfectly in place, just to  get it blown to bits in the wind tunnel that is 5th Ave! Fight back against Mother Nature I say! Personally I really don't want my bangs to move, as an unfortunately parted fringe or an inappropriate glimpse of weave track is not the look. The hairhoppers of the early 1960's would all agree with me. Those epic bouffant hairstyles needed lots of lacquer to maintain their size and structure. Here are my two favorite hairspray options: one for when you want hold but movement and one for when you want a helmet. Now go and SHE-llac!

Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray by L'Oréal

This amazing hairspray has been a cult beauty product for decades, coveted by celebrities, beauty insiders and freelance hairstylists alike. Launched in France in 1960, Elnett was a technological breakthrough containing special strong hold polymers that were diffused in an ultra-fine micro spray, and was easily removed with light brushing. Other hairsprays on the market at that time contained heavy lacquers which were very difficult to wash out. It was unavailable in the US due to it's higher VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels and FDA regulations—and smuggled back from Europe by the suitcasefull! Recently a slightly tweaked formula with a more eco-friendly hydrofluorocarbon propellant debuted in the USA. The mist isn't quite as fine as the European version but to save the ozone layer it's a small glaMOUR sacrifice to make. It's distinctive fragrance I can recognize a mile away and will always remind me of being backstage at Fashion Week. Plus, it's slim gold packaging with retro glamour girl illustration is too fabulous to pass up. You must always think of how a product will look on your vanity!

 Buy it at Target

 BY Framesi Mist Hair Spray Strong by Framesi

Ok, this is definitely my secret weapon! Part of a haircare line from Italy, this spray is for when you don't want your hair to move....ever! I use this on my bangs on windy days and I could seriously be held upside down and my bangs wouldn't lift up. No...seriously! It's unbelievable! It's a fast-drying aerosol spray with an insane extra-firm hold, it keeps your style in place while protecting your hair from UV rays, contains anti-ageing Vitamin E and a light silicone for shiny hair. You will definitely need to use a clarifying shampoo after this or wash an extra time or two to remove all excess buildup. An extra step yes but well worth that amount of staying power.