Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Gingerbread and Christmas. One of the best combinations, ever.

For years, my Auntie Lilly -- who lives in northern Wisconsin -- sent us a tin of homemade gingerbread just before Christmas. She made individual gingerbread men and labeled them so that each of my daughters knew which one was hers. One memorable year when the girls were young, and the much-anticipated package from Auntie Lill came late in the day (too late to eat without spoiling dinner), I set the collection of decorated trees, and the personalized men out on a platter to be enjoyed after dinner. The kids couldn't wait.

My husband came home from work right on time, but I had my back to him. Hungry, and spying the platter, he reached for one of the men and bit off its head. My middle daughter, Sara, whose gingerbread man this was and who had been waiting very patiently all day, started to cry. "Dad's eating my gingerbread man!"

He stopped before consuming the entire cookie, but the head was long gone. Poor Sara. I called my aunt and she got a huge chuckle out of knowing how much we love her gingerbread. She whipped up a new batch and sent it to Sara. And after Sara claimed her new man, she shared with us all.

We laugh about it now, but my poor husband will never live down his "Dad ate my gingerbread man head!" reputation.

My aunt is 88 now. Although she's active and chatty and still just as fun to talk with as ever, she's not able to make her gingerbread anymore. But she gave me her recipe! I make it every year. I prefer to make the trees rather than gingerbread men. Way more icing goes on trees!

I have no idea where she got this recipe originally, but she's tweaked it over the years and I have too. By the way, this makes a lot of gingerbread. You can halve it if you prefer.


2/3 cup Crisco shortening
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I prefer dark)
1 1/3 cup molasses. I like Grandma's brand, robust
2 eggs

Mix together.

In a separate bowl, mix:

5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger

Add the dry ingredients to the shortening/sugar/molasses bowl and mix thoroughly. I generally use
my dough hook.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. I prefer thick gingerbread, so I roll it to about 1/4 inch thick or better. Place shapes on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 7-9 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

They look good, and taste great plain, but I prefer them iced...

The icing is the simplest one I ever used and I'm sure you have all used this one before, too...


Powdered sugar
Food coloring

Depending on how many cookies you intend to frost, you can decide how much icing to make. For this recipe I start with 3 cups powdered sugar. I add just enough water to make a loose paste... and then I add my food coloring. The simplest thing ever, and it's delicious!

Simple things are often the best... and that's the sentiment our family will be celebrating this Christmas as we spend time together.

I hope you have been enjoying the entire holiday season... whether you celebrate Hannukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or no specific date at all... I hope you have been taking in the joys of the season and all the goodness of 2009.


Now - before I sign off - please don't forget to send us a Secret Ingredient for our January contest. You might win a great prize... and I'll give you a hint about that... it involves Chocolate!! But we need your secret ingredients, so please send them to MysteryLoversKitchen@gmail.com

I'll also give you another hint... I'm running another, special contest in January, to celebrate the release of Eggsecutive Orders. I'll be asking you to tell me where you've spotted Eggsecutive Orders - in bookstores, online, etc. And I'll be asking you to e-mail me personally with your answers... So keep your eyes open now, and on January 5th, tune in here and I'll tell you how to enter! It'll be super easy. And that prize? A $25 bookstore gift certificate ;-)


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your Aunt Lilly's recipe, Julie! I think it's great that you've had something fun to look forward to each year that reminds you of her. And now you get to carry on the tradition, too! Merry Christmas!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. sigh... it is so easy for us dad's to get a bad rep.

    Love the story!

  3. Elizabeth - I know. A family tradition that has delicious roots from way back. It doesn't get much better...

    Grill-man - LOL Too true. Of course, it doesn't help that my husband has a reputation for nailing food that one of us has set aside for later, or for a party, or to take to someone's house. (Three daughters and one wife. The poor man can't win!) We now label special stuff with "Danger Will Robinson!" and he wisely keeps his hands off.

  4. What a wonderful recipe and a delightful story. Happy Holidays.

  5. LOL, Julie! Your poor Hub. I love gingerbread
    and am planning to make some this week. I'll
    have to try your recipe. I'm a fan of Grandma's robust molasses, too!

  6. Wonderful post. I can just see your husband's face, holding that beheaded cookie. And your Aunt Lilly reminds me of my beloved Aunt Mary, who was my friend and champion. She's gone from Earth now but loved, loved, loved as much as the days she lived.

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Gingerbread is one of the great smells of Christmas. Your poor hubby. That's a story I'm sure your daughter will never forget. Happy Holidays!

  8. Thanks Mason, Jenn, Cleo, and Janel! I so love gingerbread. I saved some dough and plan to make another fresh batch tomorrow. What I made this time is just about gone ;-)

    Have a wonderful, safe, and happy holiday!

  9. What a great story, Julie. There's something about gingerbread cookies that just says Christmas. I'm looking forward to trying your recipe!

    ~ Krista