On the Sunday after Christmas, I decided it was high time to make a gingerbread house.
I know what you are thinking. "The Sunday AFTER Christmas?" Yes, the Sunday after Christmas. I know gingerbread houses are primarily used as gaudy holiday decor, but the fact of the matter is that gingerbread houses are delicious all year long. I say that with a lot of certainty, but the truth of the matter is that I never made a gingerbread house before this week.
Sure, growing up we made semi-edible houses using graham crackers and a pint-sized milk carton, but even as a little Baby Gay Martha, I knew that wasn't the real deal. I would not be satisfied until I was the architect of my own tiny, delicious house.
Somehow the opportunity for gingerbread construction never showed up in my life. All of high school and college passed by without the slightest suggestion of the presence of spiced building materials. I guess you can say I made bad life decisions. But I turned my life around and decided that this year would be the year that I built my house from the table up! Of course, a big part of me being able to take the challenge on is my wife Rachel who never says no to my crazy ideas, she just looks at me skeptically and says, "Really?"
So construction began on the Sunday after Christmas at my parents' house. I asked Rachel to design the building, then I made the blueprints. Actually, I just used the dimentions of a piece of note paper. I literally just ripped it out to use as a guide. I probably should have actually measured something, but this was my first time and I was excited. I got started by making the building materials. Gingerbread is super easy to make, it turns out, but it takes a long time drying out in the oven so that it is tough enough to use for building. That is to say... I packed up the baked gingerbread pieces on Sunday and decided that we would build and decorate the house on Monday night after work!
Monday came, and, as I am in the habit of doing, we started our construction project around 8PM. This is the time I come alive. Unfortunately, this is the time Rachel starts to peter out. I knew there was not much time. Things started out smoothly. We started assembling the house with royal frosting caulk.
We had our architectural embellishments and landscape specimens all ready to go.
The wee gingerbread men that would be living in the house came over to check out the construction site. They were pretty pleased with what they saw and encouraged us to keep going.
And that is when we started to get cocky.... We decided to put half the roof on, figuring the base was dry enough. Everything seemed to be holding its shape, so we added some decorative brick elements to keep us entertained while the roof half was setting.
Then, just as wee gingerbread man came back to check on our progress...
...disaster struck. I'm not sure if it was a tiny earthquake in the form of our cat brushing up against the table or if the construction was doomed from the start, but it was clear that the house was not getting built on Monday.
Tuesday dawned, and I knew that it was now or never. I had a promise to keep to the gingerbread family - and to myself. I couldn't let down the Baby Gay Martha I used to be by letting her think the only gingerbread house she would even know was the graham cracker milk box one! This was the time in the home renovation show when the music really starts to pick up. On Tuesday night, I started out by recaulking the walls and roof with frosting.
That seemed to hold, so I moved on to placing shingles on the roof, installing the half timber beams, and building the windows, doors, and window overhangs. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
A few hours later... the Gingerbread family got to discover their new house.
I am pretty proud of my little gingerbread house. However, never having made one before, I am also not sure how one eats a gingerbread house. This thing smells delicious. Do I just crush it when it's time to eat? It seems so wrong. Is this why we never made gingerbread houses growing up? Because eating them feels strangely like evicting a nice gingerbread family?
In any case, yes, I am expecting this to become a holiday tradition for me (and probably just me, it didn't really seem like Rachel's thing, though her design was pretty great.). Really, I don't see why we don't make edible houses for all the holidays. I see an edible real estate empire in our future....