Making memories, one Christmas cliché at a time.

Gingerbread by SashaWarner
Gingerbread, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
The first weekend of December was our kickoff to the Christmas season. It is supposed to be joyous, and joyous we were. We did every traditional Christmas family weekend task that came to mind. Saturday included putting up the Christmas tree, cheesy pictures of the kids dressed up in front of the Christmas tree, and a Santa Claus parade. Sunday we made a gingerbread house and gingerbread men, pigs and moose.

The parade was a highlight. According to Nevin, it was not because of Santa. People have been asking him, "What did you see at the parade?" He smiles wide and exclaims "fire trucks!" And did you see anything else? "There was tractors, too!"

(Side story: as a tractor rounded to corner and came into view, my dad said "Look Nevin, there's a tractor!" To which Nevin responded, "Holy Smokes! I love tractors!" Holy Smokes? I have to stop cussing around the kids.)

The gingerbread experience was more of a day long extravaganza, which is much like everything I fully involve the toddlers in. It was fun. I clipped the recipe from the Ottawa Citizen a few years ago, as it came straight from the chefs at le Courdon Bleu. Our gingerbread house looked nothing like the one in the paper.

Le Courdon Bleu Ottawa Gingerbread House
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsulphured molasses

1. Mix the first three ingredients.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the spices and salt. Beat in eggs and molasses.
3. Add to flour mixture. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour; preferably over night. (I didn't do this, and the dough was very sticky).
4. On a well floured surface, roll the dough out to about 5mm thickness. Cut it into your desired shapes.
5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, place your shapes on the sheets, and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350*F.

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
4 cups icing sugar, or more to thicken
1 lemon juiced

Beat the egg white until stiff, but not dry. Add sugar and juice. Beat for about 9 minutes longer at high speed. Icing should be thick and glossy, about as thick as toothpaste. If icing is too thick, add egg whites. If icing is too thin, add sugar. Icing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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