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House of Love

February 13th, 2004 · No Comments


Okay, perhaps House of Sugar is more appropriate.
House of Candy.
House of Dental Caries.

The girls and I had planned to make a Gingerbread Log Cabin at Christmas time, but we were so deluged with a flood of yummy holiday cookie gifts, that I decided to postpone the project.

I’d never made any gingerbread architecture before and it was a little more work than I had imagined.
It took the girls and me 3 afternoons to complete it.
The first day we made the dough and chilled it.
On the second day we rolled and cut out the shapes. The cabin has 59 pieces, including two for the roof, 17 long logs for the sides, and 30 small spacers to help with the door and roof shape. I traced around paper patterns with a knive, carefully placing them on cookie sheets.

Here’s the cookies after they were baked:


Then on the third afternoon, Wednesday, we made the house. Hurrying on Tuesday night, I had stacked the “logs” into a Ziploc bag, unaware of how soft they still were. Even though I made extras, too many long logs cracked, so one side of the cabin had to use a broken one.

Abigail, Michaela and I read the instructions. I gave each girl one shape to distribute, and we built it together: Michaela laying the long logs, Abigail the smaller spacers and I did the rest, applying frosting glue with a brush. It was fun.

Aftewards, the girls decorated the house with frosting and candy. Abigail had chosen gumdrops and Michaela gummy bears.


So there the house stood in all its glory, for about 3 minutes, until I noticed the roof beginning to cave in. We had put gummy grapefruit slices as shingles, but I quickly removed them, in an attempt to save the house. Two days later it is still standing, but with a concave roof that’s pulling away from the logs on the top. I’ll spare the picture; it’s not a pretty sight. But still pretty sugary and tasty, I imagine.

I thought that making the house this week would fit nicely with Valentine’s Day. I realized too that it would fit nicely with Lincoln’s birthday which was yesterday. From what little I remember of his life, I knew he was born in an iconic log cabin.

But I didn’t know that the cabin at his birthplace in Kentucky today is merely a replica, and that it is housed within a Grecian-style temple: Like many other historic Lincoln sites, this one probably doesn’t match the picture in your imagination. When you arrive on the grounds, you see not a log cabin but a neoclassical granite and marble structure — a sort of Greek temple in the Kentucky woods.. It seems a bit strange. I’d be happy to just see the humble cabin standing there unadorned.

I wanted to take the opportunity to teach the girls something about Lincoln, but I hadn’t prepared at the library and I couldn’t find anything on the web that would work for them. I wanted something simple for early elementary age children. Google searching and surfing didn’t seem satisfying. This was one time when I wished I had gone to the library rather than the Internet – I wished I could have asked a librarian instead of Google.

But I’m sure the girls still learned some things – and I did too. Next time I’ll make the roof pieces thinner and the logs thicker. I’ll bake them longer. I like my cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal, snickerdoodles) soft but gingerbread logs should be hard! I’ll try to be more precise when cutting out the pattern pieces. And I learned that Lincoln was the first president to have a beard, and that he was the only president to have held a patent.

I hope the girls learned some math, as we measured the pattern pieces, cut the dough, counted the cookies and stacked the logs to form a house. I think they learned a little history – at least Abigail recognized Lincoln’s face in the newspaper today, starting a small discussion about the Civil War. Most of all though I hope it was a good memory we made together, having fun building a house out of gingerbread, frosting and love.

Tags: food