Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

My Gingerbread recipe is allergy free.  I make gingerbread cake and gingerbread cookies, but for houses, the cookie dough is what is needed.  

My kids gave me a cast iron gingerbread mold years ago. You are supposed to bake the pieces in the mold, but I just use it to shape and stamp the pieces. This way I can make more than one house at a time. Then I let the house components dry overnight. Letting them dry insures that the stamped designs for the roof and doors will not bake out.  

A cast iron mold is not needed. Instead cut shapes (2rectangles for the house sides, 2 rectangles for the roof, 2 pieces that are made from a square with a triangle top for the shorter side and the gable.  

However you cut the shapes, when you bake them, they bump up.  So when they are cool, trim them so remove the bumps and make them as even as possible. 

Royal icing works well for putting the houses together and decorating them. However it is full of egg whites and if that's an allergy problem, as it is for us, use this simple method.

Hot glue the houses together. Let's face it. No one is going to eat the gingerbread house after it has been sitting out for a month... and if they want to eat it, hot glue peels off as easily as a cellophane label.  

I use an icing made with confectioner's sugar, rice milk and a bit of corn syrup. It should be stiff. It requires a bit more patience than royal icing, so just hold the decorative candies in place for a minute or two, or apply the glue, wait a minute until it sets up and then stick the decoration on.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Remember that Cliché about Lemonade?

Our family members have some serious food allergies.  This problem has been a source of physical suffering-both acute and long-standing.  It has caused anguish and anxiety.  Some pretty cruel and ignorant (meaning uneducated) comments have been made in response to these allergies.  But it hasn't been all bad-no, not at all.

Without my son's allergy to milk, I doubt I would have learned how to cook. It has actually been fun to learn the chemistry of cooking so I could figure out how to make allergy-free recipes for every day and holidays. People have said they love my Christmas cookies, and yet those cookies are all entirely milk-free.

In their concern to protect, our family members are careful when preparing food for holidays. Lots of conversation happens about what to bring and how to cook it. Innovations abound and all in the name of love, cooperation and a desire to be together. True we might miss pumpkin pie (which just isn't the same without eggs and cream), but we've learned to make wonderful, allergy-free pumpkin muffins that every one enjoys.  The important thing is that everyone can eat the holiday feast and that the allergic people and those who love them (which is all of us!) are not anxious about a potential trip to the ER. Safety tastes much better than butter.

This year during our Thanksgiving Day activities, I was blessed to learn that the care and concern was being passed to the younger generation. Years ago I made these little acorns from leftover plastic Easter eggs.  (Directions at the bottom of the page). 

They open and are kind of silly and cute, so we thought we would

make a treasure hunt for hiding surprises and  treats.

  The older cousins set aside treats for the younger who were arriving after dark, asking, "Grannie did you make sure these are allergy-free?"

After a full table at dinner, we decorated gingerbread houses.

An austere Italian Alpine cottage...

and a Tuscan villa with roof tiles scattered from a sudden storm...

Notice the snowman below...

Joey had a plan for a driveway with a pretzel/candy car, a yard and a fence. He was pleased with it, but congratulated Jack more than once on making what he thought was the very best house.

It's true, Jack and Andrea had the extravagant touch...

Here are Karl and Rosa working together...

We loved Karl and Rosa's 1st Wedding Anniversary Gingerbread House. They put a candy cane heart like the one Karl is holding on both slopes of the roof.  So cute!

But the best part was that everyone could touch every candy and not worry.  

Who knew that when I put those few allergy-free candies and treats in my little, homemade acorns this year that I'd find a harvest of such treasures as peace, compassion and consideration? 

How to make the acorns for your own treasure hunt:
Save plastic Easter Eggs. Target has some that have sort of flat bottoms that work well for acorns. But it doesn't really matter.  Get an old, discardable paint brush, tacky glue, hot glue and hot glue gun, brown buttons, one pipe cleaner, yarn, scraps of felt.
Water down the glue a little so that you can paint it onto the outsides of the eggs, one at a time. When it begins to tack up, (a few minutes), begin to wind the yarn onto the egg starting at the top and making sure that you don't cover the ridge that makes the plastic egg fit together. Let this dry. Repeat with the other half of the acorn. I used thicker yarn for the top to simulate the acorn top. Make as many as you'd like.

Cut felt oak leaves and use embroidery floss to stitch down the center to give texture.  Group these and hot glue to the top of the acorn. Glue a button on the bottom half of the acorn and make a felt or pipe cleaner loop to fasten if you wish. The acorn will shut because it was designed that way when it was still an egg =).  Cut a tab from the felt scraps about 1/2" wide and 3/4" long. Glue this inside the acorn at the back (opposite where you are putting the button) to form a kind of a hinge.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My son recently gave this intelligent, important speech at the high school where he teaches.

"It’s good to see you all. I’m really glad to be here, and I love this school. Chapel has become one of my favorite parts of the week, because I like when we (the school) can do things together. Even when I don’t follow the speaker, or I don’t understand the lyrics of a particular song, I still get the feeling that it’s not just myself doing this. We do chapel together.
It's my adventure now.There are a number of ways we talk about the world, cliches or platitudes, bromides or chestnuts, that we repeat over and over and over and rely upon, which turn out to be completely untrue. The biggest thing I think we misunderstand is time. We talk about time as if it were a series of moments that we inhabit one after the other. We talk about “time flying” or we remember specific moments from long ago, as if they were points on a geometric line, like intersections. We say that moments are brief. But really, when I think about how I experience time, my life is one long moment. I’ve been alive for almost 34 years now, and it’s always now..."

Read more by clicking here:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maybe, just maybe...

Hey! I think maybe, just maybe a certain little someone looks a bit like me! What do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Phases of the Moon

Jack tells me that this is a "nearly full moon."

Jack insists that he's never seen the moon.  One time this past year, he and Joey spent the night just so we could go outside to see the stars and the moon, but the sky was overcast with clouds and we saw only hints of the moon beyond them.  

But it took a few cookies to show me the phases of the moon. 

Below find a model for a crescent moon.  

And...oops! No moon at all. 

Time for the next month to start!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Improved Gingerbread Recipe

Remember my gingerbread recipe?  Well, I've improved it.  I used egg substitute, baked the recipe in a cupcake pan, added a fresh lemon glaze and found out that it was even better!   Read more...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Clare says:

Clare's mommy says:  "What would you like for lunch, Clare?"
"Nothing," says Clare, then before I can say it, "But Grannie and Mommy say, 'you hafta have someping."

Clare's mommy says: "Who makes the rules around here?"
Clare says: "Cinderella."

She also said she'd like to have a lady bug apron. So I made her one.  Wouldn't you?

If you'd like the apron pattern, visit and use the "contact us" button to request one. Pattern is free until Feb 29.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Switch Up

I'm so touched that all of you are following my blog.  I'd like to switch addresses and post on the only now.  It will be the same ol' me and the same sort of ideas and writing, but at a different web address. Would you mind signing up to follow that blog?  There's a brand new "subscribe" button on the bottom left hand side of any page. You may also ask to have blog posts emailed to you.  Thanks so much and thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Lover's Block of the Month Club

Book Lover’s Block of the Month Club

picture of blue, orange yellow sampler quilt based on the novel Solomon's PuzzleThis year Cottonseed Glory, the wonderful quilt shop in Annapolis that was the inspiration for quilting inSolomon’s Puzzle, is hosting a special book club to celebrate the love of reading and quilting.  As Pat Steiner, Cottonseed Glory’s owner says, “After all, it’s not often that a wonderful novel is centered around Annapolis and a quilt shop!”

Book Lover's Block of the Month Club is copyrighted