Rematch!


For two years now, Kate has been lording it over her brother that she came in first in the gingerbread house building contest, kids division,, and he lost.  Now, technically, he came in second, and she won, because there were only two entries in their division.

I am one of those modern parents who thinks it was great that they even entered, and used their creativity and all that. I would give out ribbons and trophies to everybody!

Last year, we were sick for the contest- I actually had made dough, figuring we could roll it out, but that just didn’t happen. It has been in the freezer for a year- I figure since we don’t eat the houses (mmmm! stale gingerbread!) it doesn’t really matter that the dough is old.

So, this year, we are healthy, and ready to go.  The houses have to be at the library at 9:30 Saturday morning.

Image My design is a cabin on a glass candy lake, with an ice-fishing hole.

Kate wants to have a Valentine Post Office, with heart shaped windows made of hard candy.

Will (previously known as “the boy” but it seems reasonable to refer to him by his name now,) is making a gingerbread Jurassic Park…with dismembered gingerbread people who have been ripped apart by the gingerbread T-Rex.

In order to prevent tears on Friday, we have been doing a little bit of mixing and baking and building every night this week. There still may be tears on Friday. We’ll let you know how it goes.

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The Gingerbread Contest


Wow. There are people who are much better at building things out of cookies than we are.

Seriously.

There is a model of the new library re-model, with some of the rectangular parts of the building designed to look like books, and the front windows represented by animals made out of fondant.

This is in the professional division, because the maker is an architect. This is his first time working with fondant.

There’s a lighthouse inhabited by mice. The builder had to make a special mold to create pieces for the rounded lighthouse. Holy moly.

No, the Girl is not biting off pieces of the house- she is having an authorized candy cane.

Here’s a close up of the mice who inhabit the lighthouse. Not sure what it is a reference to? Is there a story about the lighthouse mice? Maybe there should be.

Notice that the mice underground are watching a scary movie- it's about a cat.

There’s a model of District 13, from the book Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, as imagined by a teenage book club. Sorry, no picture.

There’s a model of The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, by an entire kindergarten class.

Can you imagine 24 kindergarteners with this much candy and icing. Sticky.

We have ideas for next year- like an ice fishing shack on a glass candy lake, with some goldfish crackers visible under the water. Also, Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen’s moisture farm on Tatooine. Just give me time to forget the misery of this year.

Update- we actually placed! The Girl got 1st in the youth division, and the Boy got 2nd. I got 3rd in the adult amateur division, which considering the other entries, is no shame. Okay, there were only 3 in my category, but I’m still not ashamed.

 

edited to add- The Girl accidentally sat on her house. Maybe I should have said something when she put it on the chair? Yeah, it’s my fault. We knew we were going to compost them eventually, but she was still pretty upset.

 

Gingerbread House Madness


Every year, I think it would be fun to make gingerbread houses, and then we do, and I make it so it isn’t fun.

At all.

It takes a full 12 months for me to forget how terrible it is, and then I do it again.
This year we added the variable of a contest. http://www.friendsofthelovelandlibrary.org/index.php/events/gingerbread-challenge  So we have a brand new way to make it not fun- competition. yea…..

I had a great idea- mine would be a greenhouse, using glass candy for the windows, and candy plants inside that you would be able to see through the windows. The Boy had a cool idea too, a house under construction, using candy canes as the studs of a house. The Girl wanted to stick with tradition, no theme, just a house, but also with windows, and a tree inside.

Okay- the 6 day process begins.

Monday- make dough, last minute trip to grocery for Crisco, not a pantry staple at our house, to make the “construction grade” dough. Chill dough overnight.
Tuesday- roll half the dough, cut out windows and doors, bake and then use every inch of counter space to cool foil sheets of house pieces, for three separate houses. After oven is off- I count up and realize I am 1 piece short…Deadline for entering contest passes, and I feel a little relieved.

1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/3 cup water. Boil for-freaking-ever, or until thermometer reads 260.

  • Photo credit- The Girl
  • How cool is that? Candy you can see through!

Wednesday- Good news- they are extending the deadline…We boil the sugar syrup to the hard crack stage, 260 degrees, and pour it into the windows I cut into the gingerbread. Both kids are watching closely- thankfully no one gets burned. Roll out other half of dough to make more panels and windows. Recount- still not enough panels- resolve to fill in with graham crackers. As the sugar cools, I repeatedly caution the kids not to touch, Not to Touch, Not To Touch!!

Put myself into time out after 2 walls break due to touching…NOT TO TOUCH!!!!

Technically, a box of candy canes was dropped on it. I really lost it- you know it's bad when your throat hurts from yelling.

Thursday- I attempt some repair with sugar syrup- it is partially effective, if by partially we mean wobbly and sticky. (Also, the fruit flies are having a field day). We did have some fun playing with the decorating kit, including making trees out of ice cream cones.

The Girl tinted the icing, and piped it herself- I love this tree.

Friday- Okay, with enough royal icing, the Girl’s graham crackers attach to the sides and form a cohesive house.  The Boy creates a toilet out of a marshmallow and a life saver. Classy.  My greenhouse roof slips twice, then cracks, then finally sticks.

Contest Saturday.

I have second thoughts.

Both kids have nightmares of dropping their houses.

Why are we doing this?

 

Edited to add- if you do glass candy windows, make sure you get the temperature up to 260, or hard crack stage- my windows were not, and they have slumped over the past weeks.  Not quite a solid, they are a supercooled liquid. The Girl’s windows cooked longer, and are slightly amber colored, but much harder. This is easiest if you have a candy thermometer. We used an instant -read thermometer.

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