By LaReeca Rucker
It probably seems like I am quite the cook based on some of the social media posts I have made lately. Truth is, I’m not. But at one time, I aspired to be.
As a person who has a lot of hobbies that I drop and pick up again from time to time, I have done everything from stamp collecting to salsa dancing. At one time, I convinced myself that I was going to be the next top chef. (Well, not really, but I was determined to master cooking.) For a while, I was obsessed with watching the Food Network. I purchased many cookbooks, and I was given many cookbooks as gifts.
But truth be told, cooking – I learned – is much more than a skill. It’s a talent. It’s an art. And while I can generally read directions and sometimes create a dish that is a hit, I also sometimes miss. I’m an unreliable cook.
However, this Christmas I was determined to make a few dishes for a family Christmas event, and I wanted to attempt to make gingerbread men. I purchased a pack of Christmas cookie cutters from the Dollar Tree, and one was shaped like a gingerbread man. I also had a Mississippi-shaped cookie cutter that I used to create gingerbread state cookies.
I followed the directions on the Betty Crocker package, but I quickly realized something wasn’t working. The dough wasn’t sticky enough. So I added another egg. That was a mistake because it made the dough too sticky. So I refrigerated it to see if that would fix the issue. It did not.
That meant I had to drive to town and purchase a sack of flour so that I could add it to create the right texture to roll out the dough and use the cookie cutters.
This was my first attempt at making cookies. If I have made any in the past, it was helping my grandmother in the kitchen as a child or baking Pillsbury dough that you buy in the grocery store. I’ve never made anything from scratch, if you want to call packaged Betty Crocker ingredients “scratch.”
This will probably sound ridiculous to experienced cooks, but when I put the dark brown dough on the cookie sheets, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect or how long to cook them. But to my surprise, the cookies expanded and turned a lighter brown color in less than 10 minutes. It was kind of magical and easy to do.
Then came the fun part – decorating. I purchased white icing that was already in a bag and easy to squirt to outline the cookies. I also purchased a package with several tubes of different colored icing that I used to create a bow-tie and buttons on the gingerbread men. I outlined the Mississippi cookies with white icing too and drew a heart with red icing where Oxford is, like some I’d seen previously.
Christmas night, my niece mentioned that she had never eaten a gingerbread man, and my nephew had fun biting one’s head off, so I felt the gingerbread men were a success. Later, I couldn’t stop thinking about the following song. I bet this is what the gingerbread men sing to each other as a warning of their impending doom.
I have seen some gingerbread cookies transformed into ornaments. I’m not sure what to use in order to preserve them, but I’m sure you can find out how to do it by Googling or visiting Pinterest. I saved the best gingerbread man, so I may try this. Because decorating cookies is a fun, creative way to get in the holiday spirit, I may do it again for Valentine’s Day, creating heart-shaped goodies.