Look at the cookie, he’s smirking at me, right? Know why he’s smirking…because he knows he is about to become my breakfast. Gingerbread for breakfast is healthy isn’t it…just pretend and say yes it is!
So today I want to chat about holiday traditions and tell you a little about ours. A few rules in our house for the Christmas season:
- The tree doesn’t go up until Thanksgiving Day or later.
- Mexican food is normally served up on Christmas Eve for dinner.
- The kids get to open 1 present of their choice on Christmas Eve (they’ve found out that the biggest present doesn’t always mean what they think it might be).
- We are always home for Christmas Day.
- Gingerbread Men are the first (and sometimes only) cookie made…they are the best.
A little story about Gingerbread Men and my obsession with them. I should clarify I do only make them during the holidays, because if I made them throughout the year, I’d pretty much make them a food staple in my diet…yes I love them that much! Anyway…back when I was a young girl we would go visit my grandparents in the small town of Sagerton, Texas. Want to know how small, look it up on Google Maps…it has a hard time finding it! My grandfather was a farmer there, and since I was one of only 2 grandkids, hanging out with our grandfather was quite the treat. He had the same sweet tooth that I do (he usually ate a bowl of ice cream every night while watching the 10pm news and never gained a pound..unlike me). Back to the story…so one of my favorite memories with him is that he would load up my brother and I and take us over to a bakery in Haskell, Texas, for sweets. I asked a dear cousin and she thinks the one I’m remembering would be The Sweet Shop, which sounded familiar to me (thank you Norva for jogging my brain). Now I could be wrong, because it was a long time ago, but in my memory they served Gingerbread Men year around, and that way my cookie of choice.
So here’s what I remember: The gingerbread men were a fairly large cookie, had that amazing spice taste, and had redhots (cinnamon imperials) to dress them up instead of icing. They were a little more crunchy than the ones I make, and the redots were melted into them perfectly. They were my favorites! I honestly can’t remember picking anything else out of the cookie case than the gingerbread men. We would then ride home, piled in the front seat of his truck (because we could that back then) and munch on our cookies the rest of the way home.
Some of you may have had the honor of knowing my grandfather, Jack. He was a wonderful man, who I adored with everything in me. This year will be the 22nd Christmas without him and I miss him dearly every day. I can still picture him getting out of his recliner, putting on his glasses, and passing out all the presents. There was also the Christmas we refer to as the Caveman Christmas when a huge ice storm knocked out all the electricity but he kepts us warm and fed with the fireplace going strong and the grill cooking every meal. The man could do it all in our eyes. He was a good-hearted, strong, Christian man who got more joy out of watching my brother and I open a ridiculous amount of presents than any package he opened himself.
Every year we make Gingerbread Men. It’s something everyone around here helps with. I guess they realize how much it means to me. For years I searched for a recipe that tasted even remotely close to how amazing those cookies were, and finally many years ago I scored one that has been the closest yet. When my oldest was in kindergarten in Colorado, his teacher helped the kids make Gingerbread Men in class one day. I walked in to pick him up and the smell was an old familiar friend. Ms. Janet was more than kind enough to share her super simple recipe and it has become a staple in our house during the holidays now for almost a decade. I hope you can enjoy it as much as we do, and I hope it brings back at least one holiday memory that makes you smile and remember those who are no longer with us.
Ms. Janet’s Gingerbread Men:
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 sticks margarine
- 1 1/4 c. molasses
- 2 eggs
- 5 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cloves
- Cinnamon Imperials/Redhots (see note below)
Mix all the ingredients together except cinnamon imperials. Knead dough on a floured surface. Roll to about 1/4″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes.
-NOTE: We add redhots/cinnamon imperials to ours right before they go in the over. Put as many as you want, push slightly in dough, and bake as directed above.
Definitely one of my favorite tradition…it’s just shame they disappear so quickly in our home. 😉