You would think, after the the candy made in a facility that also processes peanuts incident of 2009 and the broken roof out of the box/no premade icing debacle of 2008 as well as the hot-glue needed for construction project of 2007 (that I did not blog about), I'd have learned.
But no, we saw the gingerbread house kit in Sam's shortly before Thanksgiving, and after checking the ingredients and seeing no mention of nuts at all, I caved and put it in the cart. Oh well, it's blog fodder, I thought. And so, one snowy snow day last week, we set to constructing a little house with a lot of candy once again.
O. and N. were really excited when this was the "advent activity" they pulled out of our calendar that morning. (One of our advent calendars is a felt Christmas tree banner with pockets for each day of the month. Each pocket holds an ornament to hang on the tree, so I also include a slip of paper with holiday-themed activity to do.) As opposed to "bake cookies" and "write a letter to Santa" -- advent-ures that went over exactly the opposite of gangbusters. "But that is so boooooring."
Here they are holding the kit. It's made by Orbit Cookies, a Canadian company.
*Read below for an aside about the frustration of food allergy labeling*
All the candy and frosting pouches waiting to be opened up:
O. squeezing the bag of -- HALLELUJAH! -- pre-made icing. No fancy tips or add-ons, just a bag to snip the corner off of and squeeze out!!!
O. took this one of L.'s vantage point of the proceedings. We had to halt production at one point so I could take him out and feed him, which set the other two off on a crying spell. So I still ended up piping icing one handed, the whole thing I was trying to avoid with the front pack.
This kit also came with fondant, to be rolled out and shaped. Intimidating, but my kiddos proved we could totally hang with Duff and Geoff and the rest of the Charm City crew.
Fondant rolled into snakes for roof decoration:
This kit had the very best 'well duh E...' tip ever. Decorate the sides of the house before assembly. Seriously. Why was this not obvious to me before??
Also genius about this kit? The slots on the base for filling with icing and sticking the walls into. Why don't ALL the kits have this "Tab A" goes into "Slot A" construction???
J. is really getting into the projects this year. Here he is constructing the candy chimney on the roof.
I am really proud of my icicles on the roof-line.
Final step was letting O. and N. use the extra icing and sprinkles to put as big a pile as they wanted on one of the snickerdoodles we made the day before and eat it all. That did not stop N. from saying "Just one more piece of candy, Mommy? Pleeeeeeaaaaase???? Just one more?" about ten thousand times that day. That girl loves candy.
J. and I prefer other types of holiday sweetness.Oh yes, it was a lot of fun for EVERYONE.
* I looked the company up on Google, hoping to link up to them and plug how happy I was that they made a kit that was nut free. (Though it was not actually labeled "nut free" just had no mention of nuts -- two very different situations.) That led me down a rabbit hole of food allergy forums that discussed email contact with the company confirming that their cookies ARE nut free, as is their baking facility, but that they can't confirm that the gingerbread house kits are really nut free, because the candy comes from a different plant. Of course this is not indicated on the package, because all of that "processed with nuts" language is completely voluntary. So it's really nice when the companies include it, but it doesn't mean the companies that DON'T include this information is safe, which makes for a very confusing and frustrating situation for someone trying to buy for a child with said allergy, and trying to advise others what my child can and cannot eat when she's not with me. For example, I always buy Kroger brand chocolate chips because they do not have the "made in a facility that also processes" advisory, whereas Nestle does. This does not really mean that Kroger is safer. It may even be that I'm buying the less-safe option, because chances are Nestle, who includes the label, is more aware of possible cross-contamination issues and probably includes more safe-guards so it doesn't happen. But I don't really know. Neither ACTUALLY contains nuts, so I find myself making guesses about what's safe and what's not, and of course my kid has never actually had a life-threatening reaction (at least not yet), so I find myself getting lax with what I let her eat, telling myself I have the epi-pen if I need it, and she's not actually eating nuts, for God's sakes. Maybe I just shouldn't make the gingerbread house. But if that's the case I also shouldn't buy ANYTHING that I didn't grow in my very own yard. I've already seen her have to be restricted from so much, even in the brief time she's been in preschool, and mostly that's okay. She won't be harmed from a little deprivation of treats. But still. There is so, so much more to say on this topic, including my own confusion with my son's school's allergen/food policy. They are trying to do the right thing, but even as someone used to dealing with all of this, I'm still not sure what to send in for his holiday party. I'll save the rest for a post a different day. To sum up, we assembled our house a week ago, and we've seen no adverse reactions yet.
I don't know why this text is underlined. I'm tired of messing with it. Darn you, Blogger.