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Gingerbread tipis – what to do with them?

December 20, 2011

Hi. My name is Katie, and I have an obsessive baking problem.

I grew up in a home where I would sometimes come home from school to the smell of fresh-baked bread, where every birthday cake was homemade and hand-decorated, where you knew a special event was coming up when a batch of creme de menthe brownies came out of the fridge, where baking/frosting/decorating Christmas cookies was a beloved annual family tradition.

One year, shortly after I was married, I felt the need to flaunt my domestic goddess chops, and I made a gingerbread church, complete with stained glass windows. (I didn’t have an electric mixer and wound up with blisters from using a spoon to beat the frosting to fluffy peaks.)  Just about every year after that, I made a gingerbread structure and either decorated it myself or gave it to other people as a gingerbread house kit gift.

One year, I made a gingerbread merry-go-round, complete with gingerbread reindeer as the “horses.”

Last year, I made a gingerbread rural western church, complete with gumdrop longhorn cattle. I auctioned that one off at work to benefit the United Way.

This year, I wasn’t sure I’d have time to do any holiday baking. I wasn’t even sure it was a sane thing to attempt. But this past weekend, I aggressively blocked off some time for baking.

I wanted to make another structure that paid homage to my new “rural west” home. So, with a nod to the first residents of this valley, I made . . . two gingerbread tipis.

The white tipi was made in five pieces a la a pattern I found on That Artist Woman. I used strips of tinfoil glued inside the structure with frosting and a frosting-covered gumdrop just inside the peak to hold it all together and accomplish my tipi-raising single-handedly with a minimum of cussing.

The candy corn tipi is just four pieces. It was easier to construct. Plus, I had broken one of the triangle pieces in attempting to put up the first tipi.

Both tipis show melted Life Saver “firelight” through their doors. (The cardboard base has a hole that you can put a NON-CANDLE! light into.)

White tipi day

White tipi night

Candy corn tipi day

Candy corn tipi night

If I’d had the time, I would have done up the grounds around the tipis, too, possibly with gumdrop bison.

In any case – WHEW! – I got my obsessive baking done for the season. Check!

The major question hanging in the air right now is . . . what am I going to do with them?!??

In years past, I could have relied on my nephews to help me eat the structures (it’s great fun to take a kitchen hammer to that cement-like meringue frosting!), but they’re getting to the phase in life when a big pile of candy isn’t so exciting anymore (nor is hanging out with “old people”).

Nephews nomnomnoming on their assembled gingerbread house kit, circa 2001.

If I had thought ahead, maybe I could have contributed my tipis to a silent auction/raffle prize at the special Scottsbluff winter farmer’s market on Friday (post on this tomorrow) to benefit the Lakota Lutheran Center. Or maybe I could have used them to benefit my museum in some way.

So, here’s the completely last-minute pitch: if anyone out there is interested in a gingerbread tipi and wants to donate $100 to the Lakota Lutheran Center or the North Platte Valley Museum by 7 a.m. Friday, that tipi is yours! (Just email me at wildebeestly AT gmail DOT com. First come, first served. Delivery within a few miles of Scottsing possible.)

Otherwise, I will foist the gingerbread on my relatives. (Consider yourselves forewarned, mi familia.)

Wanikiya tonpi wowiyuskin! Omaka teca oiyokipi!
(That says “Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!” in Lakota, according to the Interwebz.)

Copyright 2011 by Katie Bradshaw

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