My quest for the perfect gingerbread cookie recipe started decades ago. I tried every recipe in every cookbook I had, could borrow or checked out of the library. In total, over 30 recipes were tried and none of them gave me exactly what I wanted. Which was a firm cookie that could stand up to being frosted, stacked, cut large or small, turned into a house, Tardis or person yet be soft inside and above all DELICIOUS.
Then I found a cookbook that has become my favorite, The Joy of Cooking (the 1945 edition). You know that the first recipe I tried was, of course, the gingerbread recipe. And it passed the test and met my personal criteria with flying, merry Christmas colors.
I also enjoy altering a good recipe to make it fit all of my purposes, rather than spending ten more years hunting down the next perfect recipe. This recipe creates that classically dark gingerbread cookie, but sometimes, for the sake of interest and to add more variety in building elements, I want a more ‘blonde’ version. Something that fits all the above criteria, but contrasts the dark so we can make contrasting roofs or marbled cookies. I’ve included my own alternate ingredients to create a ‘blonde’ version in the parenthesis following the original ingredient.
(Recipe and information continue below photos…)
They had to test the gingerbread house decorations before they started. It was like setting a plate of Christmas magic down in front of them.
Three icing bags ready to go for three sets of eager hands.
This is how light the Blonde Gingerbread dough works up.
The Boy is my Christmas elf. He LOVES Christmas and all of the traditions that go along with it. He’s kept me on track with gifts, lists, decorating and wrapping presents. He is such a blessing!
Big Sister focuses on precision for the moment, I’ll get a pic of hers when she’s spent her hours designing and finishing it.
And here is The Boy’s creation, he did the whole thing by himself and couldn’t be prouder.
Gingerbread Cookies (blonde version substitute in parenthesis):
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (blonde: 1/2 cup white sugar)
1/2 cup molasses (blonde: 1/2 cup corn syrup)
3 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup warm water
My own additions (optional):
2 Tablespoons orange zest
1 tsp vanilla
Cream the butter and molasses together in one bowl (this is where you would add the orange zest and vanilla as well). In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients (original recipe asks to sift, but I don’t). To the creamed mixture, add 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix until stiff, then add 1/3 of the water, do this until dough is combined. The dough will be stiff, but moist when touched. Depending on the weather and moisture of other ingredients, I’ve had to use more or less water by a few tablespoons. I cheat and use a stand mixer, this dough is very thick and would be a bear to make without it, but it can be done.
Every year the Lumberjack and I get to do Santa’s job and we love it. This year, the Boy is seven, I’m not sure we’ll get another chance to be “Santa” with our kids again. Another bittersweet moment. The Girls are in the know of course, and they play along with the Santa game every year for the Boy’s sake. He’s a true believer at the moment, trying to figure out how Santa fits down the chimney, how he gets so far in one night, how he carries all the presents, etc., etc.. These “deep” questions about Santa usually unravel the mystery and reveal the parents, standing behind the giant imaginary man in red. Maybe next year, we won’t get to play this game but it’s all part of growing up a family right? They grow up, and so do we. Now I see why folks start looking forward to having grandkids.
This year I got a special treat. I was able to make the Santa gift for a little girl of a friend of mine. She asked for a red hat and kitty cat, and I got a tug on my heart at the idea of being one of Santa’s helpers for another child. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when you make something by hand and you have a specific person and purpose in mind, your work will show it! Here’s the result, and cannot wait to hear how she receives her Santa gift and I’m honored to say that I was truly one of his helpers this year.
Starting with the work in progress. At this stage, it’s like setting the scene, now to make the characters come to life…
I’m just trying my hand at embroidery stitches with yarn since I love the effect so much. I’ve seen this done by others and love it. Dawn at Fiddlesticks does just an inspiring job of color combining and stitch work, she’s truly an artist. (I love to refer to my creative heroes by first name, even though they don’t know me from Adam, it cracks me up inside.)
And here we have the Kitty peeking out of the bag and below the entire set. A hat, wrist warmers, and purse with kitty, all spiffed up and ready to go under a very special tree.
For exactly one year now I’ve been sharing with you. We’ve talked crochet, recipes, gardening, Santa, Solomon and chocolate. And yet I’ve been holding back a little. I would also like to share more of my LIFE. And that means, my family. You Wonderful People have all become this Wonderful Community of Folks, interacting, recommending, listening and sharing. I love it. It’s so much more than the original, blurry vision I had for this blog.
I’m not going to be famous. Not a famous cook, crocheter or comedian, but when you put it all together, stir some lumpy kids into the pot, a Lumberjack for flavor and God for a binder, it makes for a tasty recipe. And that is what I want to share more of, with you.
MadMadme will still have all the same stuff, the recipes, the patterns and the (ehem, unfinished) projects but it’s going to get a bit more colorful. Because it’s not the yarn, the flowers and the food that make my life bright, it’s the tiny faces, giant eyes and squishy hearts of the ones that love me, even when I’m a bit dull and dusty, even when I’ve retreated to a dark corner. They fill up the spaces with joy, they make me laugh and then tease me about how I do it. They fill my heart and break it, over and over again. They are my world, and I am honored to be a part of theirs. And they are a gift straight from Heaven. It is only right that I share more of THEM with the world.
So let’s start now with a few photos of tonight. Tonight, we went to a hip little area in near Vanderbilt University for dinner. We ate amazing food, laughed too loud and drank WAY too much coffee. It was cold outside but my soul was on fire with love for my clan, strange how a meal and conversation can pick you up and set you on a hill, how it can alter your perception, change your perspective and make you an evangelist for Love.
Hello all of you wonderful Mad Folks! I just wanted to say thank you for making the first year of my blogging life a pretty neato adventure. We’ve been cooking, crocheting, teaching, gardening, sharing, and taking pics of this whole Mad world together and I had no idea, just one year ago, that this amazing community would grow up around the blog.
There was no set direction, just the hope that by sharing what I loved, I would find kindred spirits to enjoy those loves with me, and I have! It all started with a 40th birthday post, that was written for my friends and family, and to anyone else who wanted to peek inside the window.
Thank you for reading, commenting, and coming back with each new post to be a part of this creative project.
My humble regards and heartfelt thanks to You.
Thorough patterns, that include product pictures, charts, diagrams and yarn info have always been like gifts to me, 8 1/2 by 11 inch presents. I enjoy working with them, I look for books that include these elements and now as a pattern designer, I strive to include them in my own work. This pattern can be found on Craftsy and Ravelry, and it includes instructions for adapting the pattern in size, length, width and to accommodate different yarn types and weights.
Mad Wrist Wraps are my Ode to Autumn this year. Genuinely warm but with a hint of delicate texture. I hope you enjoy the pattern, I’ll be continuing to post pictures as I make more of these with different types of yarn and colorways. Thank you all for being so encouraging and wonderful while I work out my pattern writing ya-yas.
The photos below, with the hands and French horn, are my Lovely Daughter’s. Notice the way she is embracing her horn? She loves being in band and she loves being the only one playing this instrument. The marching is harder than she expected, but it is challenging her in all the right ways.
These are made with Lion Brand, Amazing yarn in Strawberry Fields.
The wraps below are made with Yarn Bee brand, Rainbow Wool yarn.