Friday, December 19, 2008

Gingerbread friends!

What fun it was to spend the morning in Vivienne's classroom, helping children cut and decorate their very own gingerbread people. We read Jan Brett's Gingerbread Friends ( the sequel to Gingerbread Baby) and then started making cookies in small groups. They also got the chance to worked on the woven heart ornaments, inspired by Jan Brett's website. If you have not seen her web page, it is well worth a visit. She has tons of free activities to print for children, drawing tutorials, and more. I love her beautiful illustrations and style. Her Christmas Treasury book is on the top of my list for purchasing.

~Vivienne's heart ornament~

I stayed up into the wee hours of the night baking the gingerbread creations. I tried out two different recipes, one was a basic gingerbread from the kids cookbook, Look and Cook, and came out a lovely rich color and bit softer in texture. The other was a more traditional lebkuchen from The Christmas Cookie Book , which used a variety of spices. It was more complex in flavor, and came out a crisper cookie. I think that I prefer the lebkuchen. Both were very tasty, and filled my house with such an inviting aroma. Mmmmmmm! The kids were thrilled to finally get to eat their cookies the next day, at the Kindergarten Holiday party. One of the dads, Hank, played guitar and led the kids in song, what fun!

I caught a short show on NPR while driving around today, and Dorie Greenspan was talking about making gingerbread houses and the history of gingerbread as a Christmas tradition. Making gingerbread houses became popularized in Germany by the Grimm's story of Hansel and Gretel. She also has a recipe which incorporated black pepper or ground mustard seed for a little bite.And there is another recipe in the back of The Christmas Cat (one of our favorite books) which uses significantly more molasses. It is interesting that gingerbread can be stored in air tight containers for a month, and the flavor actually improves with age. I will be making more this weekend, I think every single cookie I have made is gobbled up already!

I also got to make window stars with Mia's third grade class, which was great. The kids were so pleased with their work. I would have liked to take more photos of my activities, but I struggle to find a way to be attentive and present in the moment and step back to observe behind my camera lens. Jasper was so cute, he blended right in to the classrooms, picking up a book and reading or joining the kids in their work.

~Mia's star~

Run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch ME I'm the Gingerbread Man!

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