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GOURMANDISE

Cookie cutups

There's a new book just published by Ten Speed Press called "The Art of Cookies: Fast and Fun Cookie Decoration" ($15.95) by Noga Hitron and Natasha Haimovich. It is a fun mix of art and taste.

Basic recipes are given (butter cookies, gingerbread, chocolate cookies), and all the rest of the book is decorative tips. Spiders and ghosts for Halloween, titanic turkeys for Thanksgiving, even a high heel shoe or a sporty baseball shirt.

Say cheese

The California Milk Advisory Board recently conducted a study of America's cheese-eating habits, and the results show our cheese is changing. Among the facts the board discovered:

* The most frequently eaten cheese in America is mozzarella, which recently edged past cheddar in popularity. Americans ate 2.8 billion pounds of mozzarella in 2003. (We ate 2.7 billion pounds of cheddar.) You have to credit the eternal popularity of pizza here.

* After them, the most popular cheeses are Monterey Jack, cream cheese and Swiss.

* Our appetite for cheese is growing. In 2003, Americans ate 8.8 billion pounds of natural cheese, or 30.6 pounds per person, which is four pounds more per person than in 1994 and 19.5 pounds more than in 1970.

Say squeeze

New on the market are Pillsbury Treat Toppers, ready-to-spread frostings packed in six-inch high plastic doughboys. They are available in vanilla and chocolate, sell for $2.50 and are easy for small hands to grasp.

And why the doughboy you may well ask. Simple enough. Little Poppin' Fresh (for that is his name), created in 1965, is a very well-known figure. He receives more than 200 fan letters per week and 1,500 requests for autographed photos a year.

Thinking outside the box

And the big news is that the National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (Nov. 15) has expanded. Originally sponsored by a national appliance manufacturer, the campaign became the impetus to clean out the old icebox before the Thanksgiving holidays cluttered it all up again.

But why stop there, thought Burnes of Boston, a manufacturer of photo frames. What about the outside of the fridge? The company actually commissioned a national research survey and found that a full 90 percent of consumers display items on that particular door.

Do you see yourself here? The most popular display items include decorative magnets (87 percent), photos (69 percent), children's artwork (57 percent) and phone numbers (47 percent). And everything from magnets to tape is used to hold them on.

Sooooo -- Burnes developed a boxed set called the Refrigerator Collage Kit to help control all the mess. The set contains 20 clear magnets in five sizes, and the suggested retail price is $10. For more info on where to buy, log onto www.burnesgroup.com.

Quotable

"Three little ghostesses

Sitting on postesses,

Eating buttered toastesses,

Greasing their fistesses

Up to their wristesses.

Oh, what beastesses,

To make such feastesses!"

-- Old nursery rhyme