Nothing says Christmas and the holidays more than the warm, spicy notes of gingerbread.These gingerbread cookies are made all the more special with a touch of honey and a drizzle of lemon icing. Use your favorite cookie cutters and the icing to add your own personality to each cookie.
And for a cute spin on your little gingerbread dudes, wrap their arms around miniature candy canes or string a few up on a ribbon and use as a festive holiday garland.
It’s easy to get stuck in our daily routines. . .seeing the same sights every day, breathing in the same smells, hearing the same monotonous sounds. It’s also easy to forget just how diverse the landscape can be, even within the U.S. Perhaps this is why I have a special place in my heart for Yellowstone National Park. With it’s super volcano, hydrothermal systems, petrified forests, & glacier. . it couldn’t be any more different than the sights & sounds I experience every day in the city. As a matter of fact, there are certain places within Yellowstone that feel so other worldly you may even find yourself questioning whether or not you have been unknowingly transported off to a galaxy far, far away.
I’ve been to Yellowstone twice. Once on a business trip – yes, I know this may come across as a boondoggle of sorts, but really I was presenting my research at a Biofilms Symposium in Big Sky – a hop, skip and a jump away from Yellowstone. Not one to miss an opportunity, I decided to fly in early & hang out with the river guides (hey. . .this was before the Mr.) & look for “lions, & tigers, & bears, oh my!”. . . okay, maybe just bears.
I was completely naive & oblivious back then. I thought it was perfectly fine to go hiking up the mountains by my lonesome. . .no whistle, no bells, no bear spray. Sure there were signs posted everywhere that said: “beware of mountain lions”, but every single local I had chatted with swore up & down that in all their years living in the area, not once had they ever laid eyes on these stealthy cats.
So off I went, trekking up the mountain, confident I would not see a mountain lion, or any other creature for that matter. . . well maybe a squirrel.
As I took each step I happily fantasized about how firm my buns would be after such an arduous hike & the pastry I would soon devour to counteract all those calories sacrificed.
I was taking in the smells of the crisp, clean mountain air & admiring the open meadow with its colorful kaleidoscope of wildflowers dancing in the breeze. It was such a peaceful, serene place. . .not a soul was in sight. I was quietly bending over so I could get a closer look at the mesmerizing beauty of the wildflowers when I suddenly heard an unexpected rustle.
“That’s strange”, I thought. “Who else could be up on this mountain?”
I looked up & let out a gasp. Standing 20 feet away, looking equally startled, was a large male bear. Like me, he too believed he was the sole creature enjoying the bounty of the mountain.
My gasp quickly alerted him that he had company of the human sort which caused him to stop dead in his tracks. He gave me a quick look, decided my buns looked way too chewy for his taste (…see that hike paid off) & continued to dash off to whatever secret rendezvous he had planned.
Needless to say, this encounter facilitated a change in plans & I aborted all bun exercises so that I could scurry down the mountain, lickety split.
Housekeeping was jazzing up my room when I returned. Perfect! Another soul to recount my experience with.
As I excitedly told the housekeeper about my unexpected encounter, she was equally surprised. Apparently this was the first reported bear encounter of the season (lucky me & my keen abilities for channeling wildlife interactions). She also told me about a moose that had taken a particular liking to chasing men down the mountain. The moose’s last victim was a runner, whose headphones made him completely oblivious to the gangly moose that spotted him & angrily dashed off after him. Once Mr. Runner realized what was going on, an impromptu game of hide & seek broke out with Mr. Runner dancing & shimmying behind a tree in the hopes that the moose would eventually lose interest in the game. Fortunately he did & Mr. Runner made it back down the mountain while the moose ventured off in search off the next unsuspecting victim.
So in honor of Yellowstone & encounters with a feminist moose, I decided to whip up some gingerbread cookies in the shape of what else. . .moose. I also made some doves because “On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me: two turtle doves”. And you can’t make gingerbread cookies without making a few iconic gingerbread men, right? So I made thee little guys but I put a cute spin on them by wrapping their arms around miniature candy canes & stringing up a few on ribbon to use as garland. Each one got a little personality with a bit of lemon icing &, “voila”, we now have gingerbread for the holidays.
May your holidays not be filled with bear (shouldn’t be hard since they are hibernating, I think) & moose encounters.
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You might also enjoy these tasty treats from The Road to Honey (click for recipes):
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Honey Gingerbread Dough.