Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I may have piped icing directly into my mouth.

As part of my ongoing attempt to force myself into Christmas cheer, I caved into the children's demands and purchased a gingerbread house kit. I have never, ever made a gingerbread house before in my life. I was too daunted to actually make the walls. Then when I saw the kit on display at the warehouse club, I grabbed it on a whim. Ten dollars seemed inexpensive for happy children and a little Christmas spirit. When I carried the kit into the house, the children's screams of delight could be heard by all dogs in a five-mile radius. I am hoping to have my hearing back by Friday.

I cracked open the box on Sunday evening, attended by two eager elves with freshly scrubbed fingers. The kids grabbed the walls while I read the directions. "If a wall happens to be broken, DO NOT BE DISTRESSED!" I was slightly alarmed by the strength of the emphasis. Luckily, no pieces were broken so we didn't actually have to test the effectiveness of the instruction. I kept reading. "Assemble the walls at least thirty minutes before decorating." I broke the bad news to the kids. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I convinced them that finishing the project in two days would only prolong the fun. (Good marketing is a secret to good parenting.) I filled the slots in the base with icing as directed. Little fingers emptied the slots of the icing as I started icing the tabs. We were off to a good start.

The walls went up easily. I instructed the kids to hold them up while I prepared the roof. I thought that holding the walls would keep fingers out of the icing. It worked, but I did see a little pink tongue licking the base of the wall. I pretended not to see it as I slapped the roof on. "Ha HA!" I crowed in delight. Then the roof started to slide down. I slid it back up and reinforced with more icing. "Ha HA!" again. And again it started to slide. And again. And again. And again. I finally managed to affix the roof more or less correctly and fill in the inch wide gap at the top with icing. Royal icing is the duct tape of the food world. We set the house aside to dry and I secretly hoped that the children would forget about it overnight.

Yesterday afternoon, I no sooner walked onto the daycare playground before Claire came running toward me. "We're making a gingerbread house! We're making a gingerbread house!" So much for my secret wish. I herded her out of the building while she stopped to announce our plans to every available set of ears. B the time I had hung up my coat and checked the voicemail, the kids were both sitting at the table with the house and the box of candy. I poured myself a glass of wine and joined them.

Thirty minutes, a dozen pieces of stolen candy, hand cramps from piping, and a pretty funny version of the Twelve Days of Christmas later, we had a completed gingerbread house. I stepped back from icicling the roof to get a wide angle view. Surprisingly enough, it's pretty darn cute. It's amazing what white icing and candy can accomplish. As I was admiring our work, Jake asked me the all important question. "So, can we eat it now?"


Jen said...

How cute! My first gingerbread house was constructed when I was visting a friend's parent's house at the age of 20. I worked really hard and even included a little candy person in the yard. The next day, my friend's dad asked why I placed a stick of dynamite in the front yard.

Christy said...

Oh, how crushing, Jen! I'm sure it was adorable. Please tell me that didn't put you off gingerbread houses forever.

Mary Witzl said...

That is a perfect ending! I'm betting that house won't last a week.

We made a gingerbread house three years ago and had the exact same experience with the walls that you describe. I think I needed to put more sugar in the icing and let it harden more before trying to assemble the walls. The thing collapsed in one big sticky mess, but it looked like a very convincing dilapidated house. And it tasted great.

Sarah said...

I bought a gingerbread house kit this weekend, and it's currently in hiding. I think Jane will explode when I finally take it out! I'm glad you posted your cautionary tale. Now I know what to look forward to.