Smart Cookies

Every once in a while, you come upon a cookbook that both horrifies you and intrigues you. "Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year," is that book.

Author and part-time Stonington resident Julia Usher is the Martha Stewart of the baked-goods set. One look at this book made us feel like baking rejects — nobody's cookies look that good — but at the same time, we wanted to buy a copy in the worst possible way.

While cookie swaps are a given during the holidays, Usher extends the fun with themed cookie party ideas — for Halloween, a haunted house with meringue ghosts and fondant-covered pumpkins; for a wedding or bridal shower, cookies that look like miniature pieces of Spode china. She is a master of icing, and her decorating techniques are enviable. Fortunately, she shares them, along with more than 50 recipes and packaging ideas.

Usher's work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking and Gastronomica, and she was a 2008 James Beard Foundation Food Journalism Awards finalist. She will hit Maine for a book tour starting this week. For details, visit

Maine book tour locations and dates:

November 18 | 1-3 p.m.
Sherman’s Books & Stationery, Freeport

128 Main St., 207-869-9000
Cookie talk/demo and book signing

November 19 | 6:30 p.m.
Bangor Public Library, Bangor
145 Harlow St., 207-947-8336
Cookie talk and book signing

November 20 | noon
Maine Coast Book Shop & Café, Damariscotta
158 Main St., 207-563-3207
Cookie sampling and book signing

November 20 | 4-6 p.m.
Now You're Cooking, Bath
49 Front St., 207-443-1402
Cookie decorating demo and book signing

November 21 | noon-1:30 p.m.
Stonewall Kitchen, York
Stonewall Lane, 207-351-2713
Cookie decorating demo and book signing

November 28 | 1-2:30 p.m.
Mr. Paperback, Ellsworth,
Maine Coast Mall, 225 High St., Suite 13, 207-667-5089
Cookie sampling and book signing

November 29 | 1-3 p.m.
Rabelais Books, Portland
86 Middle St., 207-774-1044
Cookie talk/swap and book signing


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