Husband and I bought a new car last month. (Hooray!) The good news is, it’s awesome. The bad news is, it’s like the cockpit of the space station and neither of us really know how to work all of the buttons. For instance, it has one of those back-up camera things to show you what kinds of things you’re running over when you pull out of the driveway.
backing into the driveway at home…
Husband: I never know whether to look at the camera or to use the mirrors and trust my instincts.
Me: Try the camera thing. That’s why it’s there.
Husband: Eh. I don’t trust it. I’ll go with my instincts.
[suspicious thump as we back over the curb]
Me: …I think I’d go with the camera next time if I were you…
So, the instincts might not beat the back-up camera but they sure come in handy in the kitchen. For instance, adding orange zest to everything. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that before, but it’s one of my basic rules of baking:
1. Always add more cinnamon.
2. Always add more vanilla.
3. When in doubt, add orange zest.
Thus, orange zest (and extra cinnamon and vanilla) made it into my gingerbread cookies. Husband (who feels the same way about gingerbread as I do about vegetables) proclaimed them delicious (I was shocked) and has eaten half a batch.
He even pitched in the with decorating, because I got a hand cramp 15 gingerbread men in. (true story) He laughed at me until his hand started to cramp. Neither of us are big fans of cookie decorating. Neither of us are very good at it either (which is why the pictures are intentionally blurry), but somehow we feel a twisted obligation to do it every year. Weird.
1 C shortening
4 tsp (ish?) water
3/4 C pure cane white sugar
3/4 C pure cane brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup (or molasses – I use whichever I have in the pantry)
3 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1. Cream shortening, water, and sugar together until creamy.
2. Add in egg, vanilla, orange zest, and corn syrup.
3. Stir in dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
4. Chill dough for at least 2 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 350
6. On flowered surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes.
7. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. As with all cookies, it’s important to take them out before they look done. If your cookies look cooked, you’ve gone too far. Unless you like crispy cookies.
8. Place on wire rack to cool.
9. When cool, frost with royal icing.
2 egg whites
3 C powdered sugar (more or less depending on thickness)
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 tsp flavored extract (I use orange or lemon for gingerbread, almond for sugar cookies, vanilla for everything else)
1. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
2. Stir in corn syrup and extract.
3. Gradually stir in powdered sugar until desired consistency.
4. Frost cookies.
5. Watch out for hand cramps.