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Let’s plan a Gingerbread House Party!

Gingerbread Houses and Gingerbread Men cookies are a time honoured family tradition in our home during the holidays. Children and adults of all ages love to decorate a Gingerbread House and Gingerbread men cookies. Why not invite a few family members like nieces, nephews or grandchildren or have a few of your child’s friends or neighbours over to decorate gingerbread? That part we how to prepare for: make the gingerbread shapes in advance, have lots of icing and bowls and bowls of candy! Now let’s take this theme to the next level by creating homemade party invitations to hand out. This hands-on craft will build excitement as you include your children in the preparations.

Gingerbread House invitation

  • Using left over brown compost bags from your fall yard clean up, draw the shape of a house with a chimney and cut it out.
  • Using white paper or felt cut out a snow covered roof and glue it to the brown paper house.
  • Draw on a window and door with a black marker. Decorate the house by using colourful markers or gluing on decorations and colourful pieces of felt.
  • On the back of the house can be all of the party information, including the date, time and location of your party and don’t forget who your guests should RSVP to.
  • Deliver the gingerbread men invitations to your guests.
  • You will need to repeat these steps until you have made enough invitations for your guests.

Gingerbread person invitation

  • Draw your favourite shape of gingerbread person on a brown paper bag or roll of brown craft paper or find a template that you like online. The template should be large enough to be able to write the details of the party on it. Make sure to make enough invitations for your guests.
  • Cut out the people using pinking shears or decorative edge scissors.
  • Draw a face with colourful markers or glue on decorations .
  • Include the date, time and location of your party and don’t forget who your guests should RSVP to.
  • Deliver the gingerbread men invitations to your guests.

Here are a few crafts to take home as party favours. Not every guest will try to “glue” every candy onto their house or cookie so you may need to keep some idle hands busy with this craft.

Gingerbread Man paper doll garland family

You can create this sweet garland of paper-doll-style gingerbread boys & girls by using a brown paper grocery bag or brown craft paper, scissors and some crayons. Each child could customize their garland to represent their very own family or group of friends.

  • Open the paper bag flat and cut into strips as tall as you want your gingerbread people to be.
  • Accordion-fold each strip of paper, making the folds the width of your gingerbread man template. Or you could use a cookie cutter to draw or trace a gingerbread shape onto the top of the folded strip.
  • Cut around the shape (this is a grown-up job!) but remember not to cut any parts that are on the folded sides, in this case the ends of the arms and legs. Unfold and see the string of gingerbread people holding hands!
  • Now your guests can start decorating! Use crayons or washable markers to create your family of gingerbread people or your very own circle of friends.

 Gingerbread person tree ornaments

Use the same steps to make the gingerbread person invitations but his time you can punch a hole in the top of the head and string a festive ribbon or sting of twine through for a more rustic look. Have different buttons, stickers, sparkle blue, markers and other stick on decorations that could be used to create your own one of a kind tree ornament.

Developed by Myrna Grahn, PHEc

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Canadian Housesoldiers and War Time Rations

During World War II, a call to help win the war went out to housewives across the country.  They were being enlisted as “housesoldiers” to keep their families strong and healthy by feeding them well.  Convinced that “the first line of defense was in the kitchen” Canadian housewives took up the challenge despite food shortages and rationing.

CanadaHousesoldiers

To help their efforts, home economists, government departments, utilities, food companies, and community groups published advice columns, recipes books and pamphlets on how to stretch their rations, make do with less, eliminate food waste, plant victory gardens and can their own fruits and vegetables.  A collection of these booklets can be viewed at www.wartimecanada.ca.

Looking through these booklets has given me a tiny glimpse into the challenges faced by these housewives as well as their resourcefulness and ingenuity.  It also makes me appreciate just how many choices and options we have available to us today – thanks to those who fought on our behalf.

Here are a few of the tips and ideas I found for three of the key food items that were rationed – butter, sugar and meat.

Butter

– use shortening, lard, pan drippings or “vitamin enhanced margarine” instead of butter

– reduce amount of butter in any recipe

– use condiments like mustard, ketchup or jams and jellies rather than butter

– use herbs and spices on cooked veggies instead of a pat of butter

– only put out a wee bit of butter on the table for each meal rather than the whole block (portion control)

– extend butter by mixing it with water, margarine, evaporated milk and/or gelatin

– extend butter by mixing it with mustard (recommended by French’s mustard)

Click here for How to Extend Butter with Water

Butter

Sugar

– use brown sugar, corn syrup or molasses instead (much easier and cheaper to get)

– reduce amount of sugar in any recipe

– use dried fruit to sweeten foods

– serve warm desserts (warm foods tastes sweeter)

– serve cakes without frosting or icing

– use syrup from canned fruit to sweeten food

– serve more seasonal fruit

Click here for a classic War Cake made with Molasses or Brown Sugar

WarCake

Meat

– choose less expensive cuts of meat

– reduce portion size of meat

– use vegetables and beans in place of meat e.g. Vegetable Loaf, Baked Beans

– use every morsel of meat eg. use bones for broth, then save bones for munition production

– make more stews, meat pies and casseroles less steaks and roasts

– extend ground beef with vegetables or bread crumbs

– save leftover meat and grind with pickles for sandwich filling

– mix meat with home canned tomatoes and vegetables

Click here for a Tasty Vegetable Loaf from 1943

VegLoaf

Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener. For more articles, recipes and tips on Making Home Cooking Easy and Enjoyable visit her blog at www.gettystewart.com.

Funding for this article provided by the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.

 

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Pumpkins and Jack ‘o Lanterns – Edible or Not?

It’s pumpkin season and people are asking…

Can we eat these big pumpkins?

Pumpkins

Yes! You can eat the seeds and the flesh of big pumpkins as long as they haven’t been carved and sitting around. Those big pumpkins may not be as sweet as the smaller “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”, but you can still use them for everything from roasted veggies to oatmeal, to soups, loaves and pies. Pumpkins are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene, an important antioxidant), vitamin C and potassium.

Can I eat these Jack ‘o Lanterns?

Pumpkins_Decorated

No! Once you carve ‘em, don’t eat ‘em! Within 2 hours of being carved their bacterial load may be too dangerous to eat. Don’t take the chance. And besides, think of all the soot that’s been deposited by those candles flickering on the inside of those pumpkins.

Instead, consider buying an extra pumpkin just for eating or try decorating your pumpkins without carving, so you can use them as decoration and as food! Decorate your pumpkins with string, gauze, pipe cleaners, craft paint, markers, felt pieces, nuts and bolts, buttons, duct tape, Mr.Potato head pieces or other odds and sods you have lying around the house.

One pumpkin will go a long way in making all those delicious pumpkin recipes we’ve come to love.

Not sure how to make homemade pumpkin puree from a pumpkin, check out these links:

How to Make and Freeze Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkins, More than Just Decorations

Storing Pumpkins and Other Winter Vegetables

How to Cook Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Winter Squash Recipe Collection

Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener. For more articles, recipes and tips on Making Home Cooking Easy and Enjoyable visit her blog at www.gettystewart.com.

Funding for this article provided by the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.

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