The day after Thanksgiving is always a big day at Thyme & Seasons. It's the day when Molly McGregor brings a gaggle of kids to our tea room and spends the afternoon making holiday ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree that stands in the Hobbit House window.
Molly opened the Hobbit House Children's Bookstore a couple of years ago, right next door in the three-story frame house that used to belong to Vida Plunkett. (You can read Molly's story in An Unthymely Death and Other Garden Mysteries), and is always up to her elbows in one project or another. On Friday, Molly and a dozen kids were up to their elbows in gingerbread and spice dough. Judging from the giggles and shouts of laughter, they were having a wonderful time. Ruby's granddaughter, Baby Grace, was there, too. She's a little too young to be making ornaments, but she had her own bit of cinnamon dough to pound and she loved being part of the fun. Ruby made a couple of cookie ornaments just for Grace, to add to her growing Christmas keepsake collection.
Molly asked us to pass these recipes along to you, for your own holiday fun. So here they are, with holiday wishes from Molly and friends at the Hobbit House, Pecan Springs' only children's bookstore!
1 1/4 cup margarine, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups sifted flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
3 teaspoons nutmeg
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Cream well until smooth.
Sift together dry ingredients. Stir into butter mixture until smooth, adding
more flour if necessary to form a firm, slightly sticky dough. Wrap in
plastic and chill until cold. Roll out 3/8" thick and cut into shapes. With
a chopstick, make a hole through each shape for hanging. Bake at 350 degrees
until brown underneath and slightly pale on top. Makes enough for 12-14 small
gingerbread figures. If you want to make more, it's easier to make separate
batches than to double the recipe. Freeze extra dough. Decorate with
frosting and colored candies. (You can also use this recipe to make
gingerbread houses. Just roll it out a little thicker.)
Cinnamon Spice Ornaments
one cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup ground cinnamon or a mix of cinnamon and other spices
Mix the applesauce and cinnamon together to form a dough. Roll out the spice dough on a cinnamon-dusted work surface, then cut out the ornament shapes using cookie cutters. Use a chopstick to make a hole for hanging. Bake in a 170-degree oven for one hour. Turn off the heat and let the ornaments cool in the oven for several hours.
At home, you and the kids can make these ornaments one evening and decorate them the next. You can use frosting, candies, and other cookie decorations--or you can glue on bits of paper, greeting card cutouts, lace, ribbon, and beads. These will be family keepsakes, so you'll want to store them for next holiday in a tin box with a lid, carefully packed to keep them from breaking. Next year, when you open the tin, they'll still smell spicy, but if they lose their scent, a few drops of cinnamon oil will do the trick.