Annie's Gingerbread Page


Ginger is a tangy spice most commonly used in baking and in flavoring beverages. It comes from the rhizome (underground stem) of the ginger plant, which is grown throughout tropical Asia, Japan, the West Indies, South America, and western Africa. The finest ginger comes from India and Jamaica.

The long stems and grasslike leaves of the ginger plant sprout directly from the knotty, root-bearing rhizome. Conelike yellowish-green flowers, streaked with purple, grow on the stems. There are four main varieties of the spice: (1) dried, (2) black, (3) white, and (4) preserved. Dried ginger is made by washing and drying the rhizomes. Black ginger is prepared by scalding the rhizomes with water and drying them. In making white ginger, the outer layers of the rhizomes are peeled off before being washed and dried. Preserved ginger is made by peeling the rhizomes and boiling them in syrup. Most preserved ginger is made in China.

Ginger is used to flavor such baked goods as biscuits, cookies,
gingerbread, and pies, and to season meat and vegetable dishes. It is also an ingredient of ginger ale, ginger tea, and other beverages. Oil of ginger is used in making perfumes and as a medicine for certain ailments, including stomachache and toothache.

A plant called wild ginger belongs to the birthwort family and is not related to true ginger. It grows in shady woodlands of the Northern United States. Wild ginger is a low, woolly plant that has heart-shaped leaves and one bell-shaped, brownish-purple blossom. The root of wild ginger is used as a stimulant and as a spice.

Scientific Classification. Ginger belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. Its scientific name is Zingiber officinale. Wild ginger belongs to the family Aristolochiaceae. It is Asarum canadense.
~Above Information from the World Book Encyclopedia~


The Best-Known Gingerbread House is from "Hansel & Gretel"

In popular folktales, one of the best-known gingerbread house is found in the story of Hansel and Gretel as told by the brothers Grimm. The brother and sister are captured by a witch who lives in the gingerbread house. The witch plans to devour them but is killed by a clever trick on the part of Gretel. The children escape with her wealth and return to their family.
~Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia~


"Hansel and Gretel" Children's Opera

Engelbert Humperdinck, pronounced HOOM puhr DIHNGK, (1854-1921), was a German composer best known for his opera Hensel und Gretel (1893) and for his incidental music for Shakespeare's plays. He composed mainly vocal works, and his music shows the influence of the German folk song. Humperdinck gained immediate success for his children's opera Hansel and Gretel (1893), his best-known composition. He wrote the music for a text his sister adapted from a Grimm's fairy tale. His other important work is the opera The Royal Children (1910), which also had a fairy-tale theme. Humperdinck wrote a number of choral works and more than 60 songs. He also wrote incidental music for plays, including four plays by William Shakespeare.

In 1880, Humperdinck met and became a disciple of the German composer Richard Wagner whose theories influenced his music. He served as Wagner's assistant and helped him score and prepare for the first performance of the opera Parsifal (1882). During his career, Humperdinck also taught music at the Conservatory of Barcelona in Spain and at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany. He was born in Sieburg, near Bonn and educated in Cologne and Munich.
~Above Information from the World Book & Compton's Encyclopedias~


Crunch-top Gingerbread

Set oven to 350 degrees
Prepare 1 package gingerbread mix; bake in a greased 10x6x1&1/2-inch pan in moderate oven (350 degrees) 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Crunchy Topping. Bake 10 minutes.

Crunchy Topping: Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons enriched flour, 2 tablespoons enriched flour, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, dash salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 cup broken California walnuts; mix thoroughly.
~From Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook Published 1953~


~Gingerbread Men Ornaments~

12/22/98 - Recipe Below submitted by Jo
I have recipe for Gingerbread men ornaments.
It is as follows:
1/2 c. cinnamon
1/2 c. applesauce
2 Tablespoons glue
Mix together and roll out onto wax paper. Use a gingerbread cookie cutter to cut out the shape. Poke a hole on the top with a straw. Let air dry for a couple of days. Then you can paint them if you like. But the smell is wonderful!!!! This makes approx. 6 ornaments.

NOTE: I have not tried these. Remember that they are NOT edible. Visit Melanie's Christmas Crafts Page for more details on how to make the ornaments.


The Gingerbread Tree

Doum palm, a tree (Hyphaene thebaica) of the palm family, native to Nile region; grows 20 to 30 ft (6 to 9 m); usually forked with leaves 25 to 30 in. (65 to 75 cm) long; fruit oval, yellow orange with fibrous center that tastes like gingerbread; common name is gingerbread tree.

Doum palm, pronounced doom, also spelled doom palm, grows in Arabia, Upper Egypt, and Central Africa. Each branch of the doum palm ends in a tuft of deeply lobed, fan-shaped leaves. The tree bears an irregularly oval fruit about the size of an apple. The fruit has a red outer skin and a thick, spongy, and rather sweet inner substance that tastes like gingerbread. For this reason, the doum palm has often been called the gingerbread tree. Large quantities of these fruits have been found in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. The seeds are a source of vegetable ivory.

Scientific Classification - The doum palm belongs to the palm family, Arecaceae or Palmae. Its scientific name is Hyphaene thebaica.
~From The World Book Encyclopedia & Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia~


When I think of gingerbread houses and gingerbread men it reminds me of "Hansel and Gretel," a Grimm's Fairy Tale . The Grimm's brothers lived in Germany in the 1800's. Their stories were for and about the German people. I remember going to see the play during the Christmas holidays when I was a child. We also saw The Nutcracker at the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto. I love hearing an orchestra play Classical music.


OK so you don't think you can make a Gingerbread House. You feel just a little intimidated. Don't worry. Your local grocery store will have premade gingerbread houses closer to Christmas. They even sell kits that you can purchase. If you don't see them or you have want to be really organized and plan ahead this year, ask the store manager to order them for you. I know that my store is always willing to help and serve the customer in any way that they can. They are there to make things a little easier for you.


Grimms Fairy Tales

Grimm's Fairy Tales is a famous collection of German folk tales. Most of them were collected by two brothers, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. The most famous tales include "Hansel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Snow-White," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," and "Rapunzel." As the Grimms knew, some of their stories had been previously published, especially in Italy and France.

Between 1807 and 1814, the Grimms collected the tales mainly from friends and acquaintances who lived in and around Kassel, Germany. The brothers published the tales to preserve work they believed was created by the people. They regarded the tales as an expression of the spirit of the German people, and they worried that fewer and fewer people could tell the tales accurately.

The Grimms tried to retell the stories faithfully, but made changes to suit public taste or their ideas about how to tell the tales most effectively. The brothers gathered many tales themselves, including those stories told to them by a woman who came to town to sell produce.

The first volume (1812) contained 86 tales. The second (1815) contained 70. Jakob spent much time helping Wilhelm collect tales for the first volume, but the second volume and later editions were largely Wilhelm's work. By the last edition of 1857, there were 210 tales. The Grimms collected most of the last stories, as well as some from the first edition, from printed sources.

In collecting the tales, the Grimms were influenced by the romantic movement in German literature, German romanticism expressed itself in many ways, but it dealt primarily with German history and mythology, nature, fantasy, and the supernatural. All these elements appear in the Grimms' fairy tales. ~Above Information from the World Book Encyclopedia~


What is a Gingerbread Hornbook?

Paper was scarce and expensive during the Middle Ages and until the early 1800's. It had to be used sparingly. The hornbook was invented to protect the paper on which the first lessons of young children were printed. The hornbook was a flat board with a handle. On the board was pasted a sheet of paper with the simple lesson of the beginning student. On the paper were usually the alphabet, the Benediction, the Lord's Prayer, and the Roman numerals.

In the 1700's, gingerbread "hornbooks" were often made. Students were allowed to eat a letter of the alphabet that they had learned. Hornbooks were used only in England and America. ~From The World Book Encyclopedia~


I remember playing the "Candyland" board game with my sister Debbie and my brother Billy. Hasbro still makes the board game and now you can play "Candyland" on the computer with a CD Rom. Why not pull it out of the closet and play it with your kids or grandkids? I hope it will bring back some wonderful memories.


A GAME for you to try

Why not play the "word game"? You take the word or words and then see how many words you can make from the letters. You can only use the letters that you see there and can not use the letter twice.

"Gingerbread House"

Here are some words from Gingerbread House:
ringer & bring
heed & grain

Now you try it. Next time use "Hansel and Gretel".


Click the Gingerbread Man to visit my Annie's Gingerbread Page
Continue on to my other Gingerbread Pages:
Annie's Gingerbread Welcome Page
Annie's Gingerbread Links Page

NOTE: Many of you have asked me about Gingerbread Border Print to add to your kitchens or other rooms in your home. Personally I don't know anyone who makes it. What I suggest is that you check with Home Depot in your area. If they don't have it ask them to help you locate it or where they might suggest that you try next.
NEW - If you are in the US: One of my visitors mentioned that she was able to find some at "The Dollar Store" which is a chain here in the south. So that might be a good place to start.

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Annie's Christmas Welcome Page

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