Gingerbread with Broccoli Trees

One of the requirements was that the house be only constructed using edible items.

We’d already purchased chili-shaped red cherry gummies, so I ran down to our store. Of course, as long as I was there, I eyed the stock; evaluating each item for inspiration. Super-Hot Tamales, spicy Red Hots, old-fashioned Fireballs, cinnamon flavored licorice twists and mango-habanero gum, and dried chili peppers piled up on the kitchen counter. I also grabbed a few packets of blueberry habanero cookies and two spicy chocolate bars, for dinner.

Next stop was Country Market. In the baking supply section, I basketed powdered sugar and food coloring. Intending to pick up a few cute mini-tubes of icing, I saw an easier way. Colorful packages of hard icing letters! I grabbed two sets of those, thinking I’d use them to add ‘Michigan Hot Sauce Club’ to the roof.

In the candy aisle, I slowly evaluated every red or green item in the candy aisle. It was disappointing to determine there wasn’t anything especially unique or anything I didn’t already have. I’d seen some adorable trees made by stacking Hershey Kisses, though. I thought they’d be cute even though they weren’t ‘hot’, I picked up one bag of white chocolate peppermint kisses . Just in case I came up creatively short, later. And, in case, I felt like eating some.

“Ok,” I thought to myself. “What food looks like a tree?” Years ago, a young lady who recently became engaged, used to call broccoli ‘little trees.’ When I got to produce, I stopped in front of a bin full of green stalks and crowns. I stood there a while wondering if broccoli would hold up for a week or so, or for however long the house would be on display.

Thinking it probably would wilt, or worse, I also realized I hadn’t come across any broccoli trees on any of the many, many gingerbreads I’d found online. Logically, that made sense. I mean, no kid’d want vegetables on their candy-covered house, right? Still, since my mind was already headed that way, it leaped to jalapenos.

Jalapeno peppers seemed to sturdy. We bought them in large quantities and they lasted a long time at our house. I contemplated that pile and figured out that jalapenos look nothing like trees. I couldn’t even imagine a way to make them into trees, so I sighed and turned the carriage around. That’s when I had an ‘aha’ moment. If I drizzled white icing on them, the wrinkly little habaneros in front of me could turn into snow-covered pine trees. Yeah, it was stretch.

I miss judged how much décor a candy house would need. So, I ran a little short on the idea of using the licorice ropes to resemble logs. I arranged, rearranged and shuffled candies around on the kitchen table for a few hours before I came up with a sweet plan. Done with the decorating, I stood back and shook my head. The Hot House looked nothing like I’d imagined. I knew I wasn’t going to be entering it into any contest, that was for sure.

When I revisited the mess the next evening after work, it honestly didn’t look as horrible as I thought it had. The structure had held together, was kinda cute and definitely unique.  I knew there wasn’t going to be another theme’d like it. I knew it wasn’t likely I’d be winning any awards for construction or beauty, but, maybe, it would at least be amusing. I know Jeff would’ve laughed, so I took my entry downtown.

Somewhere amongst my belongings, is a red ribbon that reads, “People’s Choice Award” and an old camera card with a color picture…

Jeff Hot House Gingerbread House

 

Gingerbread (Hot House)

I can’t place the timing, which always irks me. I wouldn’t even be questioning the timing, if there hadn’t been that recent ‘50 years ago’ today newspaper story. That startled me into a memory, too.

I know what happened, but I’m not always sure how or why what happened, happened. So, on that note, I confess: I’m not at all sure how I got to the beginning point of the story I’m about to tell you. Obviously, some things had to have happened first.

Like the conversation, Jeff and I had. That’s easy enough to recall, because… Wait, wait. It could have been something that came up in a BNI meeting, but it would have had to occur at the end of September 2006. I can’t help thinking that would have been pretty far in advance. I suppose, though, as area business were looking ahead to the holiday season, it might not have been unreasonable announce plans for an open-house and contest.

It’s something Jeff and I talked about, were excited about and planned to do: enter a gingerbread house contest at a local, main street yarn store. I’m sure they carried more than yarn, but the first time I entered the shop wasn’t to shop. I was there to drop off our creation. Near tears, I didn’t linger.

Physically, it was only my creation, assembled in the weeks following Jeff’s death. I didn’t have much time, and I’d never made a gingerbread house, before. The ideas and enthusiasm were just as much shared as everything in our lives was.

Jeff started it, so I expected Jeff would be making it, too. But, there I was, a few weeks into widowhood, thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together. Perhaps, well probably, I was still in a sort of shock. Functioning and trying to keep moving along. I decided to keep the plan, and set out into the internet world of gingerbread and patterns and royal icing.

My edges weren’t straight, my technique was terrible. My royal icing either didn’t harden fast enough or hardened too fast to use. Eventually, I baked and sugar-solder assembled on a plain cardboard base something that happily looked like a lot house. I stared at the pile of decorations I’d amassed and the naked shell for a while wondering, “Now, what?”

I decided to let the structural bones set-up overnight and dragged out the top of our Tupperware cake carrier to protect it.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 01 02 A good overnight set could either make a lot jakorte

Bonus Photo & Story:

Tecumseh Herald Gingerbread House Jeff and Eric 1967