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Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, Egg-Free Gingerbread House

Today’s guest post is by my better half, the man “behind the curtain” in this Glutadoodle Oz of ours.  Without Mike’s love and support, I never would have been able to go on this 18 month journey of self discovery and seeking out the answers to our family’s health issues.  Little did he know 9 years ago when he said those words “in sickness and in health,” that they would become so relevant to his life.

So for that I say to ALL the partners/spouses/family/friends/loved ones who have supported those of us with gluten sensitivity when others could not…you are all angels and your support means everything in the world. :-D

Our family decorates a gingerbread house for Christmas every year.  Essentially, the boys use it as an excuse to eat half of the decorations and frosting while somewhat randomly plastering the other half onto the house.  What follows this exercise is about an hour of exceptionally energetic children followed by a massive crash.  Oh well, it’s only once a year, right?

We started this tradition back when we weren’t gluten-free, so the first few years we bought the kit from the store.  Prebaked, prepackaged, ready to go (of course they never give you enough frosting so you have to make extra…they never seem to give you enough of anything anymore).  Initially, we would go for that classic “Hansel and Gretel” type gingerbread house that you see in photos and then move heaven and earth to replicate (click here to see one feeble attempt).  Of course it makes no difference that those “photo houses” were done by true artists who have probably made 16,000 of them and spent 3 weeks on the one you see in the picture.

Nah…”we can do this in an hour…let’s get started!”

The usual result (as expected) were houses that didn’t quite fit together the right way, were slanted, and had massive frosting globs in the seams.

“Hmmm…maybe this is just a bit more complicated that we suspected?  No worries, let’s just plaster some more gumdrops to it and no one will know.”

Our first gluten-free house was in 2009.  I continue to believe that one of the hidden blessings of having a dietary restriction is that it forces you to think outside of the box.  While certainly not as convenient compared to what we’ve come to know, finding an alternative to any prepackaged food (even a gingerbread house) can also create the opportunity for perseverance, creativity and ultimately, victory.  At this stage, Bob Vila enters the picture.

It turns out that the star from “This Old House” (who I must admit I never actually saw DO anything on the job site) had free templates out there for a two story gingerbread mansion.  Pretty cool.  Of course you have to make your own dough (Heidi used this gluten-free and vegan gingerbread recipe over at Cake and Commerce), roll, cut, and bake until just right, but that can be half the fun if you have the time and proper perspective.  I mean, who wants one of those cookie-cutter (pun-intended) store bought gingerbread houses?  If you’re gonna go, then go loud.

So in 2009 we did the two-story monster.  There was quite a bit more surface area to stick stuff to, so even more of the decorations ended up in bellies than usual, but the house was very cool.  And yours truly assembled the panel with the door on it upside down, so if you can climb in through the bottom window, there is a groovy window right in the middle of the upstairs!

One little wrinkle in this exercise for 2010: the gingerbread house had to be gluten-free, dairy/casein-free, egg-free, synthetic dye-free (by choice) and corn-free (for Heidi’s new allergy).  They sell those in stores, right?

Long story short, Heidi had trouble finding a good egg-free royal icing in time for entering our house in the contest over at Cook IT Allergy Free.  The first attempt Heidi made with an extremely thick frosting left a few gaping holes as the gingerbread roof slowly slid off the house.  In case you didn’t know, frosting is not exactly the strongest stuff in the world, and it is just not up to the job of holding together Fortress Gingerbread.  So once it became clear that the frosting was not going to hold the house together, we decided to try again and realized we needed something a bit more manly than frosting.

I am absolutely convinced that the glue gun was invented by a man.  I know they are primarily used in arts and crafts stuff, but think about it: it’s a multi-functional tool, it is dangerous if not handled properly, and it has “gun” in its name.  Definitely a male invention.  We are talking massive firepower here, almost like depleted uranium glue.  I think I would have to soak the thing in turpentine to disassemble it…nice!  This sucker is huff and puff Three Little Pigs legendary.

So with the basic structure in place and with our new dietary needs including our preference to eliminate artificial colorings from our diet, Heidi decided to go loud this year.  We gave up on Hansel and Gretel, and plugged in to the grid.  Electrification, baby…oh yeah!

Here are the pictures of the 2010 edition of the Kelly Family Gingerbread Brick…erm, House.  Sam barricaded the front door (placed right side up this year, mind you) with the rather sinisterly smiling marshmallow snow man.  It’s like a bad 1980’s B-movie “Smiling Marshmallow Snow Man Zombies” or something like that.

You’ll notice that there are some before and after pictures, as in before the boys (and their Dad) got a hold of it.  We were kind of juiced on sugar toward the end, so it started getting a little funky (gum-drops WILL stick to the ceiling if slightly wet, just so you know).  We just started to blob frosting everywhere and then sprinkled it with this funky edible glitter; of course if you are 3 years old, ALL glitter is edible as well as glue, dirt, scrubbing pads and anything else that one of your parents are dumb enough to say “Don’t put that in your mouth!” about.  You’ve all been there…you know.

Before

This was Heidi’s failed attempt for a corn-free gingerbread house, as in, the only corn-free items in the above photo are the gingerbread, icing, and the electrical components (her corn allergy was discovered in November and we had no idea that corn is literally in EVERYTHING!).  Will plan accordingly for 2011 and order well in advance from NaturalCandyStore.com.

The Christmas Trees were made from Goldbaum’s Gluten-Free Ice Cream Cones (click here to learn more). The dye-free gum drops were found at Whole Foods but since they were not labeled gluten-free, we just used them for decoration and not for snacking (and yes, a melt down by a certain 3 year old ensued!).

Heidi eventually found a great vegan royal icing recipe and used it to make the icicles and adhere the lights (you’ll need to scroll down to the last recipe on the page).

The lights were all battery operated and came from Lowe’s.

After

Although the house is clearly a masterpiece, we didn’t quite achieve our ultimate goal: there is a bit of artificial food coloring scattered about because I didn’t follow the rules (hey, it’s not like we can eat it since it has glue gun residue everywhere!).  No worries, it just gives us something to shoot for next year (the black stuff is all-natural candy coal).

This sucker is going in a box and up in the garage, I am convinced it would survive a nuclear blast.  I may keep it next to my bed to hurl at an intruder if necessary (the candy canes may have a cluster bomb effect if it hits at the right angle).  Or we may run out of room and throw it away, at which point it will sit in the landfill for the next thousand years and then be dug up and put on display in a museum as “a marvelously preserved example of early 21st century Americana.”

This post is linked to December’s roundup of Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free!, a monthly event hosted by different gluten-free bloggers.  This month’s theme is on Family Traditions and it’s being hosted by my pal Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free.

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Comments

  1. MIke, what a wonderful re-cap of the Kelly Household gingerbread adventures! I loved it! You are a natural blogger! Watch out, as Heidi may just be turning the reigns over to you more often now. I think I may have you give a few pointers to Kurt so that I can rally him to do a few posts for me too!

    And, p.s., I love your Griswold light Display!! I would be afraid to see what would happen if you and Kurt put your minds together for a light show!

  2. Absolutely love your gingerbread house story! It will make for great memories for your kids when they get older. & hey, perfection is completely overrated (you have to have something to shoot for next year!). I think all the houses look fabulous – it's obvious that they are made with love. Merry Christmas! -glutenista

  3. Tia says:

    That was a great post, Mike! I agree with Kim. You might want to watch out about Heidi having you write some more. And, I so agree with you about glue guns. But I think it is a subversive plot to get women to like guns more. Sneak one into our world and watch us get attached (pun-intended). I LOVE my glue gun.

    And, with your family's perseverance, I have not doubt that next year you will make the most allergen-free, dye-free spectacle of a gingerbread house that anyone has ever seen. I can't wait to see it.

    • GF Dad says:

      Tia,

      Have you seen some of these things?! Multiple models, modes, and temperatures…all that's missing is a blowtorch with mask.

      And FYI…guys dig chicks with guns, even if they only fire glue!

      There will be more from me to come. Heidi is such a saint and (frankly) a martyr to this cause. Is the least I can do to help out.

  4. I love that your husband is your guest blogger. I can only imagine what my husband would write about such adventures. ;) You have such a wonderful family, thank you for sharing a bit of them with us every week.

    Happy Holidays!

    xoxo,

    Sunny

  5. MamaKate says:

    I see a goldfish!

  6. Maggie says:

    I see who the true Glutadoodle is now! You, Mike, are the Wizard of Glutadoodle Oz! I love it! Love the gingerbread house – I seriously considered using a glue gun for mine (bless the glue gun and the man who invented it). The best part of the whole house? The goldfish of course! Merry Christmas to my favorite Glutadoodle family.

  7. What fun to read this on Christmas Eve morning. You two are a hoot. With all your little clan has gone through in the past year, it's a good thing you two are smart, silly, and have such a sense of fun and adventure. It has been a delight getting to know you this year, Heidi and I see your partner in crime is a match for goofy glutadoodleness. Merry Christmas to you!

    • GF Dad says:

      Thanks, Wendy. I think goofiness must be part of the lifestyle…an unavoidable side-effect caused by banging your head against the wall too many times!

  8. Wonderful post, GF Dad! Such determined work makes wonderful family traditions, so even if the gingerbread house in the attic doesn't survive, you'll still recall every sticky gumdrop for years beyond imagining.

    Merry Christmas to all of you!

  9. Lexie says:

    Oh what fun to hear from the other half! Great post … I agree about the glue gun comment. I was just telling my neighbor that my husband uses my glue gun more than I do. Here I am thinkin' let's fix it with Gorilla Glue, or wood glue … nahhhh, he just breaks out my glue GUN!!!

    Happy holidays to you, your beautiful wife and adorable boys! And thanks for letting your wife blog like she does. She is doing a world of good and is a help to so so so many.

    Lexie

    • GF Dad says:

      Thanks, Lexie…I am using the glue gun for everything around the house now, but for some reason the dogs won't come around me anymore…go figure.

  10. Laurel says:

    I've always thought my husband's attachment to my glue gun rather odd when we have all those stronger alternatives. NOW though I understand. Thank you Mike. I love all the creative additions to this masterpiece evil snowman doorman, gold fish and coal included. The lights are another masterstroke. Heidi is not only a saint she's a true genius. Legend has it that you can store a gingerbread house in a cool, dark area for 20 years although I'd plan on yours lasting at least 100. You should sneak in one of those messages they leave in building cornerstones through a window for posterity.

    Two things: I love your posts, especially in the little pink boxes; and what do you think of molten sugar instead of glue for a real manly touch? I bet it's how a blacksmith would do it, weld that sucker together! If two people could devise the happiest, most marvelous, joyous, memory filled holiday it would be you guys, no contest. So enjoy that wonderful holiday tomorrow and I wish you a New Year filled with ANSWERS and glowing good health.

    • GF Dad says:

      MOLTEN SUGAR!!! BRILLIANT!!! I must try this now…I bet I can leverage this into some weak excuse to buy a new power tool as well! Thanks for the tip.

  11. How fun, a husband post! Awesome job on the post and the house! So sweet that you attempted to rid it of all allergies … no easy feat.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. Great post, Mike! Thanks so much for sharing all the details on your gingerbread house adventures. I have no doubt that your houses will get better and better … no matter what intolerances and allergies you're dealing with. Heidi is phenomenal and it's pretty clear that you two complement each other. ;-) We're all benefitting from the adventures in the Glutadoodle household! :-)

    Merry Christmas to you all!

    Shirley

    • GF Dad says:

      Shirley,

      Heidi is amazing. We do compliment each other, but often in a chocolate and peanut butter type of way!

      This household is completely glutadoodled…we've gone crazy but for some reason it seems to work for us!

  13. Kathleen says:

    I love the idea of decorating a GF/CF gingebread house as a family tradition. This year a well meaning friend gave us a huge pre-decorated gingerbread house as a Christmas gift (although upon closer inspection it was actually a Chanukah house, which I thought was really cute as well), but of course we had to hide it away from our toddler who is gluten free.

    On the inedible side of things, Chapters/Indigo sells a cardboard house with air dry clay as the decorations. That might be more my speed!

    It all looks great!

    • Oh Kathleen, that would be soooo up my alley!! A cardboard house with air dry clay for the decorations, talk about a fun family project, plus you can keep them and add new ones every year to use for house decorations! What fun to look back on 20 years from now, LOL!

      Can I ask, what is Chapters/Indigo?

      Hugs,
      Heidi :-D

  14. Wow Heidi, maybe you ought to let Mike guest post more often! He did a great job. Love you house. After making my first one this year I am amazed and awed that you do one every year! xo,carol

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MarionsSmartDelights. MarionsSmartDelights said: RT @adventuresgfmom: Our 2010 Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, Egg-Free Gingerbread House #GF #celiac #foodallergy http://fb.me/E3T8OW7f […]

  2. […] A delightful tradition for many is to make Gingerbread Houses at Christmas with the kiddos and Heidi from Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom along with her family have made this a yearly tradition. This post was a real family affair, guest hosted by her husband Mike, they share this year’s masterpiece – Gluten Free, Casein-Free, Egg Free Gingerbread House. […]

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