Sunday, December 14, 2008

gingerbread lessons

Yesterday morning my daughter and I set out for a neighboring town, where we participated in a gingerbread house making party. A chef friend had offered three cooking classes in exchange for a ms read I did for her, and yesterday was the first.

She has a lovely dedicated kitchen (huge, with gigantic windows all around) apart from her home, equipped with all the beautiful, functional kitchen supplies anyone would ever need. The sense of creation was abundant there - I knew it would be a place for fun and inspiration the moment we went through the white iron archway on the path from house to kitchen.

The gingerbread "pieces" had been pre-baked and were waiting for each participant on a foil covered piece of very sturdy cardboard, four to each worktable. There was an "icing" station to get icing bags filled and refilled. The sound of the cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer was the backdrop work song. Every table had an array of decorating candies and supplies: red licorice, pretzel logs, frosted wheat cereal blocks, christmas candies of every color, peppermints in every size and shape, chocolate kisses, gumdrops, candy beads and sprinkles, m&ms in green and red, tiny marshmallows, "peeps" christmas trees and snowmen.

Within about two minutes we had white icing all over shirts, sleeves, in hair, and yes, on the gingerbread house. We went a bit overboard with the icing trying to make sure the structure was sound. It seemed to be, but when we put the roof on, way too soon, the thing collapsed. We started over. We got support from the other gingerbread builders. We stopped now and then to watch other collapses, other roofings, and then got back to work.

I love the creative process. I love what getting my hands deep in a project does for my perfectionistic tendencies. I start out wanting something to be one very specific way. It often doesn't work - either I've set my goals way too high, or I get too locked into that "one way." But the magic happens when the process itself takes over and pushes me to let go of that initial "ideal" and allow other things to manifest.

It was when I let go of the icing being perfectly aligned, with little whip points, that things got fun.

Our gingerbread house ended up being completely frosted in white, and completely covered in decorative patterns and colors. We got the roof pieces decorated and put on. It was gorgeous! It was whimsical, it was a bit over the top, but it had a certain magical style that happened when it went from controlled to "let it flow."

And of course, with all our attempts to ensure its safe transport from there back home, it collapsed one wall at a time on the drive. But we managed to get it back together so it could be seen and appreciated - before the nibbling started!


the7msn said...

No pictures? I guess I can understand you not wanting to get icing on the camera. Hope you stopped in the barn on the way in to the house so at least the donkeys could lick your clothes.

billie said...

Linda, I rarely take the camera to stuff like that - I am also someone who never wants to take photos on Christmas morning or in the midst of other "activities." I don't like to be outside the moment, snapping photos. But I did say right before I lifted that gingerbread house into my arms - too bad we don't have the camera so we could get a picture NOW. A premonition of what was to come, I think! :)

Alas, no icing for donkeys. Everyone is getting whole flax seed and Barleans Greens right now, my version of equine treats! The whole flax is a big hit.

Ken and Marty use these wonderful things called Mustang Munchies - they are flat cracker-like cookies that are basically nothing but healthy stuff - little or no sugar. I've only found them online, in one place, and need to order a big bag of them. Rafer Johnson and Redford love them, as do the horses. (best part is b/c they are thin, you can break them into pieces and make that treat last longer..:)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I would have loved to have seen your creation, Billie. For me photography is so important because oftentimes I'm so busy and focused 'in the moment' that I miss things or didn't notice something, until I view the photos later. Seeing the images helps me bring up memories, thoughts, ideas and allows me to complete the entire scenario.

It sounds like you had a fabulous time creating and tasting and just enjoying the holiday season, too.
I love gingerbread. Now I'm in the mood to make some.

But I'm out of molasses and the wind is gusting 60 mph with temps in the 20's while snow is blowing.
So the gingerbread will just have to wait...sigh.

New Mexico

Janet Roper said...

Hi billie,
You have an award waiting for you at my blog. Please stop by and pick it up!

billie said...

Lisa, if I could send you some gingerbread, I would - I'd stay in too with those winds!!

billie said...

Janet, thank you - I'll pop over there shortly!

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's too bad you didn't get to take a picture of your creation. I'm sure it tasted delicious and it sure sounds like you and your daughter had a lot of fun making it. What a great Christmas memory for the two of you.

billie said...

Arlene, I am sure we'll remember it, including daughter sitting in the back with the seat down so she could try to keep it intact on the way home! And me getting lost in a town I know due to being re-routed for the Christmas parade. :)