I try to hit a balance here on PlanetBakeLife of personal stories but not too personal in case my particular brand of crazy drives you off. Today, however, I’m putting that aside because my friends over at the Blind Foundation asked me to do a post for their annual Bikkie Day. While that means you get an amazing shortbread recipe, it also means you get a story. So I suggest you make these biscuits and a cup of tea and settle yourself down.
Firstly, let’s talk about the Blind Foundation. They’re a great organisation that get no government funding. They count on the good nature of others so they can provide help and support to blind and partially sighted members of the community. A previous boss of mine is part of the Blind Foundation with only 14% vision in one eye. To see how independent and mobile he is thanks to the support The Blind Foundation offers is really quite touching. He doesn’t have a guide dog but personally I think this is one of the most amazing services that is offered. Guide dogs are not just service dogs, they become companions, they are part of the family.
The breed most commonly associated with guide dogs is the humble Golden Retriever.
We were lucky enough to have 3 goldies in my lifetime. Every single one of them was special. They are their own unique personality. When a Golden Retriever enters a home, it brings with it love and happiness and a boundless energy.
First we had Chloe who was my mom’s baby before I arrived. Chloe tried to suffocate me as a child because she was incredibly jealous of my bond with my mother. She had always been the baby of the family and struggled when I turned up. But she learned to love me eventually. Unfortunately Chloe died of tick bite fever. It’s common in South Africa but that doesn’t make it any easier to come to terms with. Hearing my mom cry in the middle of the night when she went to say goodbye to her beloved dog is something that has stuck with me for a long time.
Then we had Candy Kisses. We called her the seal. She was fat and full of life and could jump as high as any puppy until the very end. Candy fell in love with a Rottweiler named Arnold. You may think a dog can’t fall in love, but you’re wrong. They were like sweethearts. Candy had 13 puppies, fluffy like a Golden Retriever but as black as night. They were beautiful. People travelled 18 hours to fetch themselves one of those puppies.
And finally came Marco Polo. Our beautiful boy. He stayed pure white his whole life. He would have been a fantastic guide dog. With the exception of my Barbie’s hands and feet, he never destroyed anything. He was happy to carry shoes around for hours or fetch you a random object without damaging it. Marco was the most special soul, kind and gentle and always loving.
When we moved to the UK, we made the incredibly difficult decision to put our animals down. Marco, Candy and our two cats.
They had lived amazing lives. Candy was 13 and Marco was 11. All they had ever known was us; they were spoiled rotten, especially by my grandmother who fed them toast with piles of butter for breakfast. We couldn’t leave them in another home where we weren’t sure of their safety and their happiness and financially we couldn’t take them with us.
It will forever be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Even now 14 years later, knowing that it was the kindest and best decision for them, it still makes me indescribably sad. I would never have given up the good times with our animals. Getting to know and love them was a pleasure.
The Blind Foundation’s Bikkie Day aims to raise funds to help train guide dogs so they can find their special human. It’s not cheap but it can improve the quality of a blind person’s life dramatically.
As you can see, this is close to my heart. I hope you’ll head over to the website and order your Bikkie Day cookie cutter and get baking this year like I am. Whether you pick this recipe or any of the others featured by other bloggers and The Blind Foundation on their site, I hope you’ll lend a hand to such an amazing cause.
- 250g Butter
- 1C Icing Sugar
- 0.5C Cornflour
- 1.5C Plain Flour
- Zest of 4 Lemons
- 3TBsp Poppy Seeds
- Cream together the butter, lemon zest and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the cornflour, plain flour and poppy seeds. Mix until a dough forms.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1cm thick. Cut out shapes using your special Bikkie Day cookie cutter.
- Put the biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 140°C
- Bake the biscuits for 25 minutes until lightly golden on the edges. For thinner biscuits, reduce the cooking time and for thicker biscuits increase the cooking time.
- Put the shortbread biscuits onto a wire cooling rack until firm.