Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas at Grandma's House and Gingerbread - My Favorite Christmas Memory

J.A. Marx posts Part Two of her Chapter Three in The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt today, so be sure to pick up where you left off on her blog.

Chapter Four is written by Deanna Klingel, and today, she shares her Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe with us.

Christmas at Grandma's House
by Deanna Klingel

When you are old (like me) you will realize there isn't one memory, there are many, and each one you think of reminds you of another. But, in a nutshell, all those memories land me at my Grandma's house. It was hot because Grandma's coal furnace belched heat, the big oven and four burners had been on for hours, and a zillion people were crammed into the living space. The kitchen windows were open because my aunts, crowded into the kitchen, washing pans, drying silverware, and bumping into each other were close to a faint from the heat.
My cousins, brothers, and I played outside. In Michigan we built snowmen so tall we had to stand on Grandad's ladder to finish them off. We sailed down the hill in the middle of the road on our sleds, created snow angels, and hid in snow forts until we were called in for dinner. The kitchen table, the dining room table with so many leaves in place it barely fit in the room, and lots of card tables and tv snack tables shoved together made room for everyone. Everyone had a place to sit. Cousins shared the piano bench, toddlers sat on laps and old wooden high chairs, some of us sat on crates and phone books. Everyone had a place at the tables.
Our wet mittens and boots lay smouldering on the heat vents filling the room with the aroma of wet wool and hot rubber. They'd be warm and almost dry when we needed them. Funny how I always thought Grandma had a big house. It's all relative, I guess. Her house was probably smaller than any of the many houses I've lived in as an adult. My tables have probably all been bigger than hers. I probably have more "real" chairs than she had. But the memory lingers as a big warm place with room for all. I love the kitchen smells of Christmas dinner, but most of all, the smell of wet woolen mittens and steaming rubber boots takes me back to my joy-filled childhood Christmases and Christmas dinner at Grandma's.

The recipe my family has had the most fun with is a gingerbread recipe. We've made houses, stables with animals and the Holy Family, Santa's workshops, reindeer and sleigh, an entire village one year. I made little ones with Cub Scouts and Brownies, stables with Sunday School classes, and one year my Girl Scouts made  houses, decorated them and sold them at bazaars to raise money for backpacking in Europe. I make large gingerbread people wearing basketball or soccer uniforms for team mates and ornaments for the tree with names on them. The smell of gingerbread baking signals Christmas for our family.

Klingel Gingerbread, 1979

7/8 c Dark Karo Syrup
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c margarine (2 1/2 sticks)
2 eggs, beaten

Heat syrup until it bubbles. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and sugar. Cool a little, then add 2 beaten eggs.

Sift together:
6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Add syrup. Mix. Pour out on Saran Wrap. Wrap into a tight loaf. Refrigerate at least 24 hours. Roll thin directly on the cookie sheet. Cut out the pieces and peel away the trims. Trims can be reused. all dough must be kept refrigerated pulling off only the wad you are rolling. Trims go into a ball, wrap in Saran and put back in refrigerator.

Bake cookies 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

Remove immediately and unto a cooling rack.

If you are using this for houses do not bake it on a rainy day. If you are constructing houses, let it sit out at least a day before using it. Don't construct on a rainy day. For cookies it won't matter, but they should sit out a day before storing them. If you want ornaments, use a drinking straw to create a hanging hole before baking, and immediately after baking. Let them sit a day before handling them to put the ribbons through.

About Deanna: 

Deanna K. Klingel was raised in a small town in Michigan. She left for college, married, and spent the next twenty years moving every two years with her IBM husband Dave. Their family grew with each move. They eventually settled in Atlanta with their seven children where they put down roots for nineteen years. The children grew up, left home, and Dave retired. They moved to the quiet mountains of western North Carolina. It was here, in the quiet remote setting that Deanna returned to her love of writing, and began the life of a writer.

Her book, Cracks in the Ice, was published by Write Integrity Press in October. It is available in our Give One Get One Free sale, going on now!

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

You're invited to Magnificent Hope's Christmas Party! Come join the fun!

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