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December 09, 2004

Gingerbread Men

I finally got out to a grocery that had eggs, and bought two 10s of them. (What is the English word for a group of ten? We don't buy things by the dozen here.)

I taught J8 how to read a recipe today, double checking the ingredients, and measureing things properly. He also did the math to quadruple the recipe. Since we haven't formally forayed into the multiplication tables or fractions, I was happy that he figured it all out accurately!

This Gingerbread recipe ought to appeal to the gourmands among us--real ginger root is the key ingredient.

Gingerbread Men

4 cups plain white flour
2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
4 full teaspoons of freshly chopped ginger (3+ inches of ginger root)
1 teaspoon ground dry ginger (opt)
250g (8 oz.) butter
4 small eggs
2 teaspoon golden syrup or honey

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the soda, cinnamon and salt. Rub in the butter until it all crumbles, then add the sugar, working it all into a dough. Grate the ginger or cut very finely. Finally add the beaten eggs and golden syrup and mix it all together. (Using your hands works best.)

Place some flour on a clean surface and roll out the dough flatly. If the mixture is still too sticky, add a little bit more flour. Cut into shapes and place on a greased tray and bung it in the oven at 180 C for about 15 to 20 minutes, leave to cool on the tray and eat them.

I've found that the ginger flavor matures if you refrigerate the dough overnight or store the cookies in a tin for a day or so. We piped details in white frosting on these last year, and they were our primary tree decoration. They still tasted yummy after hanging on the tree for awhile!

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Comments

> and bought two 10s of them.

I suppose you could say you bought one score of them.
(As in Four score and seven years ago....")

Nah, you're right, there's no handy way to say it
in English. :)

Hmm, my grandma's recipe includes molasses, but not
fresh ginger. :( Hard to come by in Wisconsin back
then, I suppose.

Posted by: JohnK at December 10, 2004 12:33 PM

Actually, I think "score" is a good way to say twenty. She purchased two *half-scores* or one score. We often say here in the states that we have purchased a dozen eggs, rather than specifying we purchased *twelve* eggs. If we purchased them in lots of ten, we could say we purchased a half-score of eggs, rather than specifying the number.

Posted by: jtr at December 10, 2004 06:33 PM

"Score" is archaic, though.

Posted by: Aris Katsaris at December 11, 2004 12:49 AM

I did some research on this and could find no imperial measurements for 10. Seems as though there would be. Have a nice day.

In America why doe we have 10 hotdogs and 8 hot dog buns?

Why do we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?

Posted by: Rick Zahn at December 11, 2004 11:24 PM

"Dizain" is the word for a group of ten. It's not used much anymore.

Posted by: Odious at December 12, 2004 01:03 AM

I knew that if I asked, someone would know the word. Between dizain and score, it should be much easier to talk about.

Honestly, I'm such a traditionalist, that I hate the idea of losing the English System of measurement. But the base ten metric system makes sooooo much more sense. Last time I was in the States and buying produce, I found myself doing so much mental math--how much does this cost in kilos? In grivnia? Just to understand if 49 cents was a good price for bananas. . .

Posted by: TulipGirl at December 12, 2004 03:27 AM

Base ten is so much easier...I have learned to think in base ten. Now I regret not having a Centigrade based oven as well. It is weird though, taking someone's temp and realizing that a few degrees matters...there is a great degree of difference between 37.5 and 38
Oh and the gingerbread men sound yummy. I may try my hand at them sometimes.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at December 12, 2004 02:46 PM

Hey we buy eggs in 10's over here too. It's funny to think of hanging food on a Christmas tree. The lizards and ants would all have a merry Christmas here if we did that. And I bet we could even coax some roaches to move in. =)

Posted by: Jane at December 12, 2004 03:50 PM

Hey we buy eggs in 10's over here too. It's funny to think of hanging food on a Christmas tree. The lizards and ants would all have a merry Christmas here if we did that. And I bet we could even coax some roaches to move in. =)

Posted by: Jane at December 12, 2004 03:50 PM

Odd -- no word for a group of 10 in English (or at at least no common word), and I've never missed it. If they came in 10, we'd probably just say, 'a carton of eggs' or 'a box of eggs' or whatever.

As for English vs Metric measures--I'm happy with our mixed model in the U.S. I much prefer english measures for carpentry and cooking. Having measures that neatly divide into thirds, halves, quarters, eighths, etc is much nicer. The time I tried to use metric for carpentry, I really didn't like it -- centimeters are too coarse for almost everything and mm too fine. And that's not to mention that all our houses are based on english measures (8 foot ceilings, 16 inch or two foot centers for studs & joists, etc). Switching would be a pain for anyone who wanted to buy materials compatible with existing buildings.

I also slightly prefer the finer grain of Fahrenheit degrees and pounds. But for science, of course, metric measures are always used.

I doubt the US will ever switch completely to metric measures--the hybrid system serves us quite well (NASA's famous screwup notwithstanding--why on earth was NASA using english measures for anything?)

That the US didn't make the switch is, to some extent, relevant to the Urkrainian situation, I think. In other countries (I'm thinking of Canada and the UK, in particular), the switch to metric measure was not popular, but the those in power told the people they had to do it and the people grumbled, but they did it. Here, in the 1970's, the experts and those in power told the people they'd have to change and the people said, "Forget about it, it's not going to happen". And it didn't.

Posted by: mw at December 12, 2004 05:06 PM

btw, I just wanted to ask someone WHY gingerbread men and houses have become associated with Christmas; is there a real connection or is it just so much work therefore it was only done on a special occasion?

Posted by: Rachel Ann at December 13, 2004 12:10 PM

I was intrigued by Rachel's question...and failed to come up with an answer. :(

Still, for those with Rachel's curiousity about this TYPE of history, this book might be of interest: "Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs" by Francis X. Weiser, S.J.; Harcourt, Brace and Co.,
1952.

And then there's "History of Gingerbread" which basically says that while the gingerbread house apparently has the longest tradition in Germany, its connection with Christmas seems to have started in North America - especially Pennsylvania. But it doesn't really explain WHY there's this connection, and so doesn't quite answer Rachel's question, IMHO.

My own audaciously-offered theory? Anything which can be made in the shape of symbols and which has a long tradition in largely protestant countries ends up in Christmas kitchens. But that's just my 1/10th of a score of cents. :)

Posted by: JohnK at December 13, 2004 09:22 PM

Who knew a recipe post would turn into a history lesson on measurement and gingerbread? That's one of the things I love about blogging. . .

JohnK--I do a double take every time I see you post. You have my Dad's name and initial, and I'm always wondering whether it's him. *grin* (I don't think he reads here, but I e-mail him any of the posts about the kids I think he'll like. . .)

Posted by: TulipGirl at December 13, 2004 09:47 PM

True, I'm unrelated to any tulips, but I'm glad to already have something of a vicarious place in your heart. ;-)

Posted by: JohnK at December 14, 2004 12:30 PM

There is a common word for a group of 10 in English, though it's primarily used for years - you bought two decades of eggs (dizain refers exclusively to poems). The only other common use for decade I can think of is for the Rosary.

Posted by: Russ R at December 14, 2004 06:38 PM

I think de reasin gingerbreat men came about when uncle Billy was driving a red car through the tunnel in Paris. The French make ginger breat with chopped marijuana in it which gives it a lift in flavor. But if yoo make it with ground carrots it can werk. Jus dont forgit to let it dryout and wet it with some llama milk. Apparantely de flavor is mind boggeling. Have a Merry Easter and hope the easter rabbit brings you plenty of Crismass peresents. It will taste a really good time.

Posted by: Herman Weinsap at December 18, 2004 10:41 AM

hehe I believe twenty (20) is the elegant way to say two lots of ten under the metric system. There is no imperial reference for 10 as a measure because it did not need a generic referene because imperial measures don't divide into lots of 10 for any common purpose (engineering, cooking, scientific). Why have a special reference for something that isn't used. Hence specific names for lots of 10 eg dizian in poetry or decade for years or rosary for prayer.

Posted by: Liz at December 21, 2004 08:32 AM

Actually Liz "decade" as a group of 10 is fairly common in the technical literature of science and engineering. I had forgotten it was also used briefly during the French Revolution, when "decades" (groups of 10 days) replaced weeks.

Posted by: Russ R at December 21, 2004 04:16 PM


 
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