Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Burden of Parental Obligation

For a year, nay, two years, my kids have been begging to make a gingerbread house.

I'm not exactly sure who first put the idea into their wee little heads, but it was exasperated by the presence of a full-page picture of a glorious house of sweets in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book . For years the kids would page through this cookbook, ogling the treats, and upon coming to the Page of Revelation would plead to make the gingerbread house.

There are easy excuses to put it off. It is a seasonal project, and an involved one, so it's not something that can be launched upon a moment's notice. It is easy to say that maybe we can make it for Christmas, next Christmas, next Christmas, Christmas, NOT NOW. And besides, the project in the Cooky Book isn't an actual gingerbread house. It's a house of cardboard that is pasted with candy, frosting and cookies. Not exactly the edible confection that the kids are imagining.

But this year, Christmas is approaching and I find that I am out of excuses. Really, I am. They deserve to have at least one gingerbread house in their childhood and this is the year. Which leads me to my next point.

How do you make a gingerbread house? Eek. Everyone I've asked says BUY A KIT, but one quick perusal of Amazon (aka Mall of The New Century) tells me that this is not truly helpful advice. What, pray tell, is "a kit" supposed to contain? A mold? Cookie cutters? Actual gingerbread? A cardboard house to paste cookies or gingerbread onto? And where do I find a recipe for sheet-like gingerbread from which to make molded or cookie-cut house pieces? I am lost in the woods here. A woods with a gingerbread house in the deepest, darkest part. Help me find it? I'll bring the bread crumbs.


Rachel Koniar said...

When I worked at an elementary school the kindergarten made them from gram crackers and store bought icing, which you could make your self, it just has to be a very thick icing. Then just buy peppermints, gum drops and sprinkles.

scmom (Barbara) said...

It really depends on whether you want your kids to eat the house. Often, unless you eat it right away, it's not edible. If a genuine gingerbread house sits around for even a few days, the gingerbread is stale and the frosting is rock hard.

When my oldest was in kindergarten they made gingerbread houses at school (that teacher was a dream!). The top half of a half gallon milk carton (cardboard style with that seam at the top cut down a little) covered with graham crackers using royal icing (look that one up) and loads of candy. They didn't eat it though. It sat around until Christmas and then I secretly disposed of it. They can eat the candy while they decorate, and lick their fingers of the frosting, but if you use this method it saves you from making it a totally edible creation.

Striving Green said...

We went to a weekend school/ECFE sponsored event 2 year ago - they took care of all of the supplies & clean-up. Maybe your city's community ed or school district will have something like this?

Also, I think craft stores like Michaels have kits with everything. Good luck & enjoy!

Knittymama said...

Experience #1: Take regular gingerbread cookie recipe, cut out templates from cardboard, make gingerbread frosting (found on internet) and make stunning gingerbread house. Put on top of fridge to keep 3yo from devouring entire thing. Husband accidentally knocks it off onto the floor.

Experience #2: Try exact same thing as last year. Nothing sticks together and the walls fall down. Eat a pile of gingerbread goop.

Experience #3: Let talented uncle make gingerbread house and preassemble at home. Laugh as anal retentive uncle hyperventilates over the haphazard decorating methods of children. Highly recommend this method.:-)

Plan for this year: if uncle can not deal with gingerbread craziness again, cheat and make them with gram crackers:-)

HTH! Good luck:-)

Striving Green said...

Just an update - I bought a kit at Lund's the other day. I'm excited to break it out!

Maeve said...

Hi Sarah! Glad I found your blog too. Your kids take such cute pictures!

My friend makes gingerbread houses from scratch almost every year with her family. I could ask her for the recipes if you'd like.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've seen kits at Trader Joe's and other grocery stores. I'm sure they say on the box if you need anything else. From what I hear, you really don't want to start by making the gingerbread house bits. Unless you want a very long day or two-day project?