Baking up a Christmas tradition
NEW CASTLE, Colorado – Once the kids had grown and left home, Alice and Danny Adams were in need of a new Christmas season tradition.
So one day before the holidays about 11 years ago, Alice decided to try something she’d always wanted to try – building a gingerbread house.
She found a recipe for the gingerbread and went to a catalog to order the cookie cutters to make the sides, roof and other parts of the house.
“I’d never done anything like that before, so I just decided to give it a try,” said Alice, a third-generation Garfield County native who grew up on the Sample family ranch up Elk Creek.
Danny is also a Colorado native. He and Alice raised two children in New Castle, Daniel and Sarah, both now in their 30s. The Adamses also have a new grandchild, as Sarah recently had a baby.
After the kids were gone away from home, gingerbread houses became the new way to occupy their time during the lead-up to the holidays.
“We make a new one every year for the home,” Alice said. “It never turns out the same. We put little window panes in them, and sometimes we put a little light beneath the windows.”
She saves Christmas gift wrapping each year, cuts it up and uses it for wallpaper inside the gingerbread house for the next season.
“We like to try all kinds of fun stuff,” she said. The couple often makes several smaller houses to give to friends and family as gifts.
Danny is a big help. Alice is stricken with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and has the use of only one hand. So, Danny holds the gingerbread house pieces in place while Alice uses a special cake-decorating bottle to apply the royal icing and glue the parts together.
“Before, I had to use toothpicks and spatulas, but that was really hard,” she said. “It’s been a real treat to have the decorating bottles.”
The gingerbread itself is made from scratch. It takes about a day to harden, and about a week to make all the parts.
“I make the bread, and he cuts out the parts,” Alice said. “We made a log house this year.”
The assembly process starts with putting two walls together on a large board that serves as the base. They let it stand for half a day to make sure it’s sealed. After the walls are assembled, the roof goes on.
“We use special gumdrops to help seal the roof, then we put the chimney on and decorate that,” she said.
The house is decorated with all sorts of yummy marshmallows, gumdrops, peppermint sticks and candy canes. There’s a wreath on the door, and the yard is filled with candy and little decorated trees.
The house itself is about six inches by nine inches, and about 10 inches tall. All except the Christmas wrap wallpaper and the lights is edible.
“The hard part is gluing it all together,” Danny said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get it to stand up before the glue sets. It’s not something you can do in one day.”
Danny ended up decorating most of this year’s gingerbread house.
“I retired four years ago, so this gives me something to do,” he said. “It’s fun, especially since I can’t play golf this time of year.”
Each year, the new gingerbread house is prominently displayed as a centerpiece on the china hutch in the kitchen, adding a big dose of holiday cheer to the Adams household each Christmas season.
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