Cast and Crew

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let's Have a Ginger Barn Raising!

Christmas this year is going to be simple and quiet. The last few winters have been very hectic, so we're extremely happy to have a simple one to celebrate. No snow, no plane rides, no painting the living room and dining room, no puppies in need of potty training, and most importantly, NO WORK! It's not often that I get weekends and holidays off in my job, so I try to savor them while they're around. I've been super lucky to get extended in my current position, which I've been in since April of this year. Perks include the aforementioned weekends and holidays off, decent working hours, and the ability to commute by train. All this fun won't last, though. I'm back in the ranks of uniformed blue collar labor as of the first of the new year.

But until that happens, it's time for holidays!

Tonight I'll start things off by prepping cookie dough. Gingerbread and sugar cookie dough needs to chill before baking, so it can be made ahead of time. Tomorrow I'll be baking the main body of a gingerbread farm, complete with cow shed and grain silo (I hope). Friday, Christmas Eve, is the cookie bake-a-thon! We've got animal cookie cutters for everything a gingerbread farm needs. I've always wanted to make a gingerbread house during the holidays, but I never make time for it. This year, I'm going all out. Who wants a gingerbread house when you can build a farm??

If you'd like to join me in cookie farming, below are recipes and building instructions (from Let's make some icing!

Don't forget to raise your own cookie cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, llamas, donkeys, horses, and veggie crops!

Gingerbread Urban Farm Cookies


6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 1/2 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (If you're making a barn, silo, house, or cow shed, use the blueprints above and cut the doors and windows with a knife. Leave them in place to cook and remove them after everything is cool.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven (and remember that larger pieces may take longer). When the cookies are done, they will look dry, but still be soft to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. When cool, the cookies can be frosted with the icing of your choice.

Makes 1 barn-sized serving

Sugar Cookie Urban Livestock


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 tspn vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tspn baking powder
1 tspn salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with a floured cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. To stand farm animals up, glue them with icing to the half-round in the blueprints above.

Makes 4 herds (dozen)

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