Monday, November 19, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies and Gratitude

Thanksgiving is only a few days away!  
I love a holiday where we enjoy special food & express Gratitude. 

A favorite November treat of mine is Gingerbread cookies.  My mom often makes these in the shape of little pilgrims for Thanksgiving weekend. The cookie cutters she has are the plastic ones with the detailed indentions. They make really cute pilgrims. Since I don't have those cute pilgrim cutters, I like to make fall leaves.

I think these fall leaf cookies are so pretty and simple. When I was planning to make them this week,  my kids chimed in and begged to make “ginger people”.  I think they thought it wrong to make gingerbread cookies and not make people. So, we did both. I made leaves and acorns and they made people.  My children always add a new twist to experiences.  They pulled out all of the containers of sprinkles and colored sugars.   I tried to explain that these cut-out cookies aren't like sugar cookies, and the icing is just for piping, not for spreading.  I tried to explain that there would not be much for the sprinkles to adhere to.  But where there is a will (or a love for sprinkles), there is clearly a way.

I don’t know if you have ever made or used Royal Icing.  It is not like a yummy buttercream frosting.  It is smooth, thin and white.  It drys hard.  It’s pretty, useful and sweet,  but not delicious.  (Though Dave thinks the frosting adds to the yumminess of the cookies. He insists that they enhance not only the look, but the taste).

These are a nice cookie to have around during the holiday, for the kids to enjoy or the adults to nibble on, when not wanting to get out plates and forks for another slice of pie.  They also travel well, if you happen to be traveling.  

They can also provide an activity for young people to do, when they are bored, or want to help, but there are already too many cooks in the kitchen.  You can make the dough ahead, keep it cold, and then at set it up in another room (away from the kitchen choas) to create some cookie art. I did this a couple of different years with Dave's family during the holidays.  It felt like a better place for me to be than being in the way in the kitchen.  Kids from 2 to 32 seemed to enjoy the project.

Gingerbread Cookies 
(via my mom via Mabel Smith – many moons ago)

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. ginger
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

Mix together dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Stir in molasses.  Blend in dry ingredients.  Chill overnight.  Roll dough 1/8" thick – Cut out with cookie cutters.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets, with a little space between cookies.  Bake at 375 ˚ for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool.

Pipe designs with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

3 tablespoons Meringue Powder (Wilton Brand is sold at Craft stores in bakery supply section)
4 cups (about 1 lb.) powdered sugar
6 tablespoons warm water   (or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water)
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.

I wonder what is happening in YOUR kitchen this week.  Are you baking to take food somewhere?  Are people coming to your home? Are you in charge of the turkey, a side, a dessert?  My mom has begun to keep the Thanksgiving Meal document archived on her computer so that we can simply pull it up, tweak it, and sign up for who does what! YUM! 

If you are still looking for recipes for Thanksgiving meals, here a few I recommend. 
These are all previously posted, time-tested, yummy recipes!

Cranberry Salad, to CELEBRATE that cranberries are available now.

Special Pear Salad (if you have a smaller crowd)




and you can't go wrong with some

I hope you get to enjoy a good food with loved ones and maybe try a new recipe.

I wanted to share this powerful quote with you from Henri Nouwen (a favorite truth-teller in my life) about Gratitude that I am letting soak into my heart and mind this week:

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.
 As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. 
Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God. 
From the Daily Meditation by Henri Nouwen (Bread for the Journey)

Wishing you a grateful holiday.  I am thankful for YOU, friends!


  1. I love the special pear salad! And the cheesy potatoes. And the macaroni. And...

    And, you!

    Thank you for being you. I'm grateful for you and all that I've been given through your family.

    And, I love Henri. We should really


  2. I love you too, Amy! Thankful for all you have given me (and my family). Let's read some Henri together!

  3. We are making these cookies right now! Eric is so excited because they are reading stories about gingerbread people in school this week. Yum!