18 December 2011

in which we are sugar'd

Rachel and I have a tradition of gingerbread construction. It's been at least five years now. We always use this recipe for dough and icing because the dough produces extremely hard and strong house pieces, and the icing dries quickly, good for the impatient among us.

We make our own templates with a ruler and scrap paper; if you roll the dough thinly the recipe will give you enough for two cottages, one large (approximately 6x6x4 inches) and one small (half that size). One each for the large and small sisters. Once everything is baked, cooled, and whipped, we slice up an Amazon box for bases and away we go.

Our first gingerbread house was festooned with sugar in all its many-colored forms. We even bought Frosted Mini-Wheats, which otherwise never cross my mother's threshold. But they do make an admirable thatched roof.

In years since then, we've done several subtler models, using natural decor such as dried green lentils and cinnamon sticks. Away with the food coloring! Away with the refined sweeteners! we said. (If you're interested, rows of banana chips make excellent roof tiles.)

That was all very well in its way. This year, however, we returned to our roots. I mean, it's not like we're eating the stuff (mostly) so we went to the store and bought sugar with abandon. For our house decorations both of us went for the Hansel and Gretel, the wholehearted candypalooza look, with-- if I may say so-- smashing results.

On Gingerbread House Day my kitchen contains more high fructose corn syrup than it does at any other time of the year (since at any other time of the year, it contains zero).