Cooking With Your Kids: Gingerbread Cookies

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So, I am a day late with my “Cooking With Your Kids” series post. On Friday Big B and I made gingerbread cookies, but they needed to be refrigerated for 3 hours and we wanted to wait until Dad was home today to decorate them. We wanted to make it a family event.

Gingerbread Cookies

I’ve never made gingerbread cookies before, but I thought it would be a fun holiday activity to do as a family. I found a really great recipe from Food Network here. The link has directions for Royal Icing that I have not including since we used store bought cooking decorating icing. It allowed us to have multiple colors, and they came in nice neat bags that made it easy for Big B to use.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg
Whenever we do more difficult recipes I will premix all of the seasoning into a very small bowl so Big B can just dump them into the mixture all at once.

Gingerbread Cookies

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper and set aside.

Gingerbread Cookies

Using an electric mixer at high speed beat the butter and vegetable shortening together until well-combined. Add the brown sugar and beat for about 2 minutes. Finally beat in the molasses and egg.

Gingerbread Cookies

 Big B was not a fan of the constant loud “beating” of this recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies

Using a wooden spoon this time gradually mix in the flour mixture until it forms a stiff dough.

Gingerbread Cookies

Divide the dough into two disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled. About 3 hours. The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

Gingerbread Cookies

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Deal with one disk at a time allowing it to warm for about ten minutes before trying to roll it out. If you attempt to roll it out too soon it will crack. Lightly dust the counter with flour to prevent the cookies from sticking. Roll out the cookies to about 1/8 thick.

Gingerbread Cookies

This is where my camera battery died, so I don’t have any images of the cutting of the cookies. Use the cookie cutter and put the gingerbread men onto a non-stick cookie sheet about one inch apart. Once on the cookie sheets Big B and I added raisins to the cookies. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely.

Gingerbread Cookies

 Now the fun part… decorating! This is the example I did for Big B…

Gingerbread Cookies

 

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

We had a great afternoon decorating cookies together as a family! I think this will be a new holiday tradition.


Celebrating Bodhi Day

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I love learning about other cultures’ and religions’ holidays, so I thought some of my readers would be interested in hearing about a holiday that is important to our family. We are Buddhist. Our friends and family all know this, but it’s not something I often talk about on the blog or online in general, but I did want to share our family’s celebration of Bodhi day.

Celebrating Bodhi Day Buddhist Holiday

Bodhi Day is a holiday that celebrates the day that Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. This holiday is celebrated on the 8th day of the 12th month (December 8th on our calendar).

Prince Siddhartha left the luxuries of his life in order to search for the root of suffering, and how to be liberated from it. Siddhartha spent six years living as an ascetic under six different teachers. During this time he was unable to find the answers that he was searching for, so left his practices as an extreme ascetic and vowed to sit under the Bodhi tree until he found them. He meditated under the tree for a week and on the 8th day, upon seeing the morning star, he reached enlightenment.

There are many ways to celebrate Bodhi Day, and it generally picks up traditions that are common for the area of the followers. Many use this day for remembrance and meditation. For our Bodhi day traditions we also try to incorporate activities that are interesting and engaging for our children.

Eating Vegetarian

Many Buddhist are vegetarians, but this is not something we practice in our everyday lives. We do however, eat vegetarian on the Buddhist holidays.

Rice and Milk

Rice and Milk is an important tradition for Bodhi day. It’s said that Sujata offered rice and milk (or Rice-Milk, which I am assuming is a mixture of rice and milk) to the Buddha in order to help him regain his strength. For one meal on Bodhi day we consume rice and milk in remembrance of that gesture.

Celebrating Bodhi Day Buddhist Holiday

Celebrating Bodhi Day Buddhist Holiday

Our Holiday Tree

Many religions incorporate a tree into their holiday traditions this time of year. It all started with the pagans for winter solstice, and was later pick up by the Christians. Generally Buddhist decorate a Bodhi tree with multicolored lights to represent the many paths to enlightenment, but we do not have access to the Bodhi tree and because we celebrate some of the secular traditions associated with Christmas we use an evergreen tree instead.

We talk to Big B about how Buddha was sitting under the Bodhi tree when he reached enlightenment. We explain to him that Bodhi trees are very common in India, so children in India are able to decorate the Bodhi tree. Evergreen trees are common for our area, so it is easier, and makes more sense, for us to use an evergreen.

Candles

At the end of the day we light a series of candles at our main Buddha alter. We have three candles set up behind our Buddha. Each one represents one of the Three Jewels; The Buddha, The Dharma (Natural Law), and The Sangha (The Community). As we light the candles we explain what each one means. We have one candle sitting in front of our Buddha. This candle symbolizes enlightenment and is lit each day for 30 days starting on the 8th.

Celebrating Bodhi Day Buddhist Holiday

Jewel Craft

I wanted to do a Bodhi Day craft with Big B to represent ‘The Three Jewels.’ We recently did a popsicle snowflake window display. I loved the way they turned out, and I thought doing something similar for our jewel craft would be nice in one of the other windows in our classroom/dinning room. I made three jewel shapes with popsicle sticks and had Big B paint and glitter them. I then put a layer of tissue paper on the back so they would be pretty and colorful when the light shined through.

Celebrating Bodhi Day Buddhist Holiday

Celebrating Bodhi Day Buddhist Holiday

The Buddha

Finally, PBS has a documentary on the life of The Buddha. Each year we end the night watching this documentary. It’s beautifully made and narrated by Richard Gere.

This is such a wonderful time of year with all of the different holidays. I hope you enjoyed learning about one of the holidays that is so important to us.