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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Cooking with Gingerbread Memories

It's true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers.  But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you'll find you've created family traditions and lasting memories.  Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul. 
Caroline Kennedy

We are making memories over on Estle Schipp Farm...we had our Annual Gingerbread House Day with the extended family and it was so much fun!  A Big THANK YOU to everyone who participated - to the older children who helped the younger ones, to the Pappaw who held babies to give Mommy arms a little break and to the little ones who approached gingerbread, icing and candy with wild abandon.  It was a joy to share...

Every year, we go to the gingerbread house display at Conner Prairie for inspiration and return home to decorate our own gingerbread houses and gingerbread men.  We always try to have it couple of weeks before Christmas so that we can relax and build memories.  This year added another great set of memories for everyone present.  The most memorable may have been the gingerbread man that was decorated by one of our little ones - his first - it was full of icing and candy, and I noticed a little piece of the chicken tenders we served for lunch on the gingerbread man's hand like a little chicken mitten.  LOL

It is hard work that we mothers take on to create these memories...whether it is searching for just the right candy decorations so everyone has their favorite...or getting up way before dawn to roll out the gingerbread and cookie cut the men to bake and have well cooled before the festivities begin...the planning and work is nearly always worth it.  Very occasionally, things do not always go as planned but for the most part, due to your hard work, events go reasonably well - never perfect, of course.  My children hardly ever seem to remember the things that go wrong - it is always fun to ask each one before the event which memory is their favorite, each child has a different favorite it seems.

Traditions and memories are worth every bit of your time and effort.  I'm so proud of you for making these things happen!

Here is an easy recipe for Gingerbread (3 dozen gingerbread men)

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or ground mace
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add molasses, egg and vanilla and mix well.  Slowly add flour mixture until well mixed.  This can be done with a mixer.  When dough comes together, shape into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill at least 4 hours - overnight works too.  

After chilled, take dough from refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Flour your rolling surface and roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutter.  If you want to be able to hang them on your tree after decorating, make a hole near the top with a straw -be sure to make the hole at least 1/4 inch from the top edge.  Bake 1 inch apart and bake 8 to 10 minutes until cookies are set and lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheets for a couple of minutes.  If the hole that was made to hang later has partially closed, use the straw to make the hole again before the cookies cool.  Move the cookies from the sheet to a wire rack or plate to cool completely before decorating.  

I would love to have comments with your favorite family traditions....I just might add them to mine. :)

Tomorrow we recharge our batteries and Make Monday Matter...hope to see you then.

Peace be with you,

Star Schipp

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