Thursday, January 7, 2016

Graham Cracker Houses x 3

I didn't start this December with a burning desire to make Graham Cracker Houses three times. I did, in fact, want to make houses once. Which we did. We even invited friends over and had a little family home evening lesson taught by Reed and followed up with the building of tiny houses. We had a lot of fun and a plethora of candy. The only problem was that the royal icing I made was not drying fast enough, so our houses were all kind of collapsing. But we ate ourselves silly on candy, had a great time talking, and eventually got a few structures to stand. Mara (one of our teenage friends) helped the boys construct theirs, then they went to town putting candy on by themselves. I teamed up with Lila, and Ryan went at it on his own. I also intermittently popped over to help Audrey and the boys when collapses were looming.

Left: Asher. Right: Reed

Left: Ryan. Right: Lila

Left: Ryan. Right: Lila
Left: Asher. Right: Reed

A week or so later, we had a Sunday morning to fill, a lot of extra candy and graham crackers, and a burning desire to perfect the royal icing. I consulted Alton Brown and realized that my icing didn't dry quickly enough because I only beat it to soft peaks--as the first recipe instructed--rather than stiff peaks. This second batch of icing was perfect, drying to holding level within seconds and rock solid within a minute. Ryan and I worked together to build a rather impressive structure while the boys built creations with lego brick candy we'd found in the depths of our candy basket. They also consumed a rather impressive amount of skittles. Asher made a Santa (on the chimney) and Reed built a dragon (by the door) and a plant (next to the house). After we were done building, we all worked together to decorate. 

A few days later, right before we left town, the boys asked I photograph our structure completely--which I clearly succeeded at--then they used the suckers as wrecking balls! Ryan and Lila quickly joined and before we knew it, our graham cracker house was a pile of delicious rubble.

Then, while we were in California, Ryan and I thought it might be a fun activity for the cousins to build their own graham cracker houses. We got supplies and let the kids get to work. Asher and Reed even built their structures completely on their own this time! Peyton's house looked sketchy for a while--many, many collapses preceded her sturdy structure--but turned out to be super cute. Zoe's house featured her name on the roof. (Later, I came in to the dining room to see Zoe's house turned around. Apparently I was displaying the back side of her house, which was the side with her name. My bad.) And Kamdyn's clean lines were lovely. I especially enjoyed Reed's gumdrop trees and Asher's life saver flag pole. Lila woke up her nap just as we were finishing the houses and was super offended that she'd missed out. So, while Janelle and the girls started our next project in the kitchen--sugar cookies--Lila and I built her a little house, too. She basically just wanted to eat candy, I think, but we had a good time. After we'd cleaned up the house mess, we tried our hand at decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. We made another gigantic mess, but our cookies were both beautiful and delicious. 

L to R: Asher, Reed, Peyton, Kamdyn, Lila, Zoe

 L: Lila, R: Zoe

L: Peyton, R: Kamdyn:

L: Asher, R: Reed

The menorah is courtesy of Kamdyn, who is super in to Hanukkah this year. Since we are Jewish and all.

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