At the beginning of the month, several people messaged me on Instagram to say they were looking forward to seeing what I’d make for this year’s gingerbread creation.
I was flattered. I was also looking forward to seeing how far my cookie genius would take me.
Last year’s Ambani Gingerhouse involved the brilliance of molds made out of leftover gingerbread dough to create perfectly-sized hard candy windows. It also required working in the presence of two curious cats, and with limited counter space.
It wasn’t enough to woo the judges of the online contest I entered, but when I edited last year’s post to announce my defeat, I also mentioned recruiting a friend for 2019’s project.
Tammy is someone who, like me, is delighted to go overboard on baking projects. She specializes in not being able to decide which cake to bake; instead, she bakes them all to stack atop one another. In 2017, for her boyfriend’s birthday, she served up a cake that was about a foot tall and took her well into the wee hours of the night to make. As one of the attendees at this birthday party, I got to eat this magnificent cake.
Anyway! I asked her what she had in mind for our gingerbread project.
If nobody showed off, we wouldn’t have pro athletes, artists, or stunt people. The whole point of Instagram is to show off, whether it be your hot bod, hot bowl of ramen, or in my case, the demonic balls of fluff that are my cats.
There is one month of the year when cookie architects get the most attention: this one. December.
When I’m not juggling greasy bike parts, I’m mashing my oily meathooks into gingerbread dough. I design buildings nobody can inhabit, just ingest. And I am good at it.
Without further ado, I shall show off, starting with last year’s saccharine behemoth:
Three winters ago, I decided that I needed to add to my extensive list of hobbies. I don’t cycle or camp when it’s cold out. While climbing remains a viable option, I’m not strong enough to visit the climbing gym more than twice a week. Without natural light to work under, the art supplies remain stored away over winter.
As a kid, I specialized in wrist jewelry made of rexlace, embroidery thread, or seed beads. I made sculptures (and ashtrays) out of pottery, polymer, and modelling clay. My primary school book reports were often accompanied by papier mâché heads of the characters’ likenesses which I now realize may have weirded out my teachers. I pointlessly melted and re-formed crayons by throwing them in boiling water. I had a calligraphy set and a collection of rubber stamps with embossing powder.
I know none of you have tested my granola guide, otherwise, I would have been awarded a medal by now.
You probably found the idea of combining honey, nuts, dried fruit, and rolled oats to be too daunting, so I’ll be sharing an even easier recipe. (Easy if you have a food processor; impossible if you don’t.)