Tammie Simon’s Soft Cut Out Cookies look almost too good to eat.
Admire the incredible detail of the frosting, then dive into the delicious moist cookie.
The works of art are created from Simon’s imagination, then embellished with edible glitter, markers and paint.
Some of the cookies she featured for this story include Christmas and palm trees.
The Fourth of July stars and stripes pop, Santa’s beard fluffs from his face and you can almost taste the crunch of the ice cream cone.
She loves a cookie challenge: Flamingos, tomato slices, Day of the Dead zombies and the Ball State cardinal mascot are a few.
“I always laugh, because people will call me and say, ‘Can you make…’ and I say ‘Sure, I can try that,’” said Simon of rural Bowling Green. “It’s a labor of love.
“I was reading in a book, how do you know what your passion is? Your passion is something that you do when you lose track of time while you do it. I have no concept of time when I sit and work on these cookies.”
Simon said her cookies are moister than most.
“The recipe is pretty basic — flour, sugar, eggs. I changed it a little bit. I add the almond flavoring. The almond and vanilla together make a unique flavor.”
Simon said she has to check herself with the almond use.
“Almond can be a little overpowering, if you’re not careful,” she said. “I like almond. I like a lot of almond. I have to be careful. I get a little heavy handed with it sometimes, and then it gets almost hot, I don’t know how else to describe it.”
Sour milk, which is made by adding lemon juice, is also a different ingredient.
There are two choices for frosting that she provided.
“The butter cream frosting makes everything taste good — you know everything’s better with butter,” Simon said.
But when she wants to be extra creative, she uses the Royal frosting. It doesn’t have as much flavor, but it’s easier to move and shape. It can also be shipped, out to Las Vegas where her aunt and uncle live or to Kentucky, where she has a son.
“The Royal frosting is much more durable. It stays put. It doesn’t break as easy,” Simon said.
She also lends her magic to cakes, baking an Elsa from “Frozen” and a truck featuring donuts for wheels.
Simon even created a garden cake for her husband’s birthday: Apple and peach trees, onions, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and carrots from fondant, which is like Play-Doh but edible.
Simon does a lot of cooking at home, mainly because she loves to be in the kitchen, but also because she has an unusual food allergy. She’s allergic to a food preservative.
“The main thing I have to stay away from, especially in restaurants, are salads.”
After eating a salad once, she started to go into anaphylactic shock, alone in a parking lot. She called her husband, who called 911.
Simon said she has a few warning signs when she’s digested something she’s allergic to.
“It’s like I sucked on a penny, it’s real tinny. I can detect that as soon as I eat something.”
Simon serves a new dish for dinner almost every night. She subscribes to Taste of Home magazine, pulls recipes from it and organizes them.
“I have sort of a system,” she said. “Every Monday … I go through and I pick out recipes for the week … then make my grocery list.
“I’m not a very organized person, but I’m obsessive about that.”
Her favorites are pasta dishes; she’s not wild about seafood.
“I’m fortunate because my husband is not picky and I try lots of new recipes,” she said.
Simon also shares with her neighbors and fellow parishioners at St. Aloysius Catholic Church.
A recent success was a mac and cheese. She substituted the cheddar for a bar of Murray’s Old English, found at Kroger, which she shredded.
Some of her favorite desserts are old-fashioned rhubarb pudding, with rhubarb from her own patch, and a deconstructed peach pie, with a homemade crust.
“I’ve been trying different cookie recipes for rolling out cut-out cookies. I have red velvet and hot chocolate roll-out cookies that you put little tiny mini-marshmallows in, Oreo cookie roll-out cookies. But when it comes down to it, the plain cut-out cookies, the recipe that I submitted to you, is the one everyone likes the best.”
A dream has been to open a bakery and restaurant. Simon has a spot picked out — a vacant storefront across from Meijer on East Wooster Street. She also has a concept: Packaging three meals for the day for pick-up.
“When the Sentinel does the cook’s corner, that would be my celebrity of the week, and I would do their food,” Simon said. “I have it all planned in my head.”
She and husband Gary have three sons, Tony, Matt and Tom.
She grew up in Findlay and learned to bake from her mom.
“My mom used to do wedding cakes, so that’s probably where I got the decorating bug.”
Simon keeps her cookie cutters in a three-drawer storage unit. The bottom one is filled with Christmas-only cutters. The stars of the collection are two decades-old cutters from a great aunt, Marie Clark, who lived in Bowling Green.