When I was growing up my Dad was the “house mom”. My mother stayed at home while my sister and I were babies. Then when we were older she worked part time on the night shift as a nurse. When I was about age 10 she was asked to fill in for the Director of nursing and then asked to stay on in that position. She worked all day, came home and drove 30 minutes to campus to work on her M.B.A. Yes, she was super mom for sure!! Dad, who was a high school English teacher, became the “house mom”. He was in charge of planning the meals, grocery shopping and making sure we were taken care of. He still worked as a teacher and loved every minute of it, but he also became the household organizer and held it all together. He did these things without complaining and backed mom up until she retired as the Vice president of two hospitals 15 years ago. Dad came to every concert of mine, took me to brownies and girl scouts and in general kept things going. My dad’s specialties were his spaghetti sauce and tacos. He has also made gingerbread men every Christmas for many years. This past weekend we drove the 2 hours to my parent’s home, hung lights, decorated the tree and helped make the annual gingerbread cookies. Dad made the dough and refrigerated it over night and then in the morning we rolled out the cookies.
Dad at the Oregon coast back in the 70’s
Each and every year people request these old fashioned Gingerbread cookies and each year Dad is happy to whip up his dough.
1 1/3 cups butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark molasses boiled with 2/3 cup honey cool for 10 minutes
3 beaten eggs
2 Tbs.ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. lemon peel
2 Tbs. orange peel
1 tsp. salt
8 cups flour
(1 egg white beaten for glazing cookies)
I asked my Dad to give me the exact directions for his famous cookies. So here it is.
Mix molasses and honey in a pan on the stove until it just boils, turn it off and remove from heat. let this cool about 10-15 minutes but do not let it get hard. Mix together butter and brown sugar, add eggs and mix well. Add molasses mixture, flour and other spices. Mix well. Dad refrigerates this over night or for around 6 hours. This makes the dough easier to work with.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray cookie sheets with baking spray to prevent sticking.
Lightly flour work surface. Scoop out a large piece of dough and form into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll dough and then turn over, roll out until thin and even. Roll dough to around 1/8 inch thickness, firmly press cookie cutter into dough and remove cookie, place on baking sheet. You can roll the dough thicker if you want softer cookies and thinner to have crispy cookies.
Place cookies on baking tray. When tray is full, beat one egg white in a bowl and spread thinly on each cookie. Decorate cookies as desired. Mom puts a craisin as the mouth and raisins for eyes and buttons. You can have fun with this and put what you want on your gingerbread men.
She also left some plain for the kids to decorate later.
Place trays in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until done. Remove trays from oven and let cool. Gently remove each cookie to wax paper to cool further.
These are the broken cookies that we got to taste test!
The night we arrived at mom and dad’s, we sat and talked and hung a string of lights in their t.v. room. The next morning I slept in until 5 a.m. and an hour later mom was up preparing to roll the cookies.
This is the second year mom and dad have been living in their retirement community. For 40 years they lived on 6 acres of land up in the woods in a home with three floors and 3 flights of stairs which became very tiresome! There was a mile long dirt road leading up to the house on the hill and it was isolated. There were many repairs and a great deal of upkeep needed. We treasure our memories of living in that fantastic house up on the hill, but when dad called to tell me they were thinking of moving I was both relieved and of course sad!
My oldest son lives near mom and dad and each year he brings them a tree. This is the tree in their new place and on this little visit the kids decorated it with a variety of ornaments that have been collected through the years.
In the big house they had a large tree that usually had a coordinated theme that changed every few years. In this house mom told the kids to just “have fun” and chose the ornaments they liked.
Mom and Dad many years ago
Last year my son, Yusuf, made this beautiful Advent calendar for mom and dad. This year we picked out their favorite treats and filled it up!
That afternoon the kids had fun decorating the plain gingerbread men with frosting and sprinkles.
Mom usually turns the craisin into a smile but I made this guy a bit more serious!
We lived away from my folks for 16 years and now we can pop over to see them any time! It is a great feeling to be nearby! Love you Mom and Dad!