If you are looking for a nifty project for the family to do together and enjoy through Christmas, then Jim Thorpe's Dimmick Memorial Library may have just what your family is looking for.
Library staff member Irene Hudock is looking for tastefully designed gingerbread houses for its sixth annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest. By tastefully designed, the gingerbread houses should be both lovely to look at and delightful to taste.
"The fragrance of gingerbread will soon be coming from the Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe," Hudock noted. "The Library is sponsoring a Gingerbread House Contest as part of Jim Thorpe's Olde Time Christmas Festival."
"Start a new tradition in your home by making and enjoying your own gingerbread house. You just might be a winner in the Gingerbread House Contest this Christmas-and then you can eat your creation!"
Get your entry forms at the Dimmick Memorial Library, 54 Broadway in Jim Thorpe, 570-325-2131. Entries must be delivered to the library by the judging day, Dec. 5.
Prizes will be awarded for the best three gingerbread houses in each of three categories: Adults - 13 and older, Children - 13 and younger, and Groups of two or more.
"It's a great way to use up leftover candy from Halloween," Hudock noted. "As we get into the cold weather and you need an indoor project for your children, what better way than have them decorate a gingerbread house.
"To get started, you can make the gingerbread at home or buy a kit which is available in stores," she explained. "We have books on baking gingerbread, quite a nice selection of books for adults and children. We can provide templates, recipes and directions."
Although the contest calls for a "gingerbread house," entries over the years have stretched the creative boundaries with a variety of gingerbread architectures. "In the past, we had submissions of a stadiums, a teepee, an alpine chateaux, a tiki house, a spa, a campground, an Egyptian pyramid, and Santa on the beach.
The walls are made of gingerbread and are cemented together with royal icing, a recipe made with meringue powder, confectioners' sugar, and water. Besides holding together the gingerbread walls and roof, the white royal icing can be used to simulate snow as well as hold the candy decorations in place. By placing the icing in a plastic bag and snipping a corner, the icing can be used for writing or forming designs on the project.
Entries will be judged on originality, theme, attention to detail, structural integrity and creativity. Entries shall be no larger than 12 inches by 18 inches, and must have major components-such as walls and roofs-made of gingerbread not graham crackers or cookies, and must be made entirely of edible materials-no lollipop sticks or wrapped candy except for the foundation, which should be concealed and sufficiently sturdy for easy transport. One entry per person or group is permitted. Entries must be constructed in 2013.
Gingerbread cookies and ornaments have been a German seasonal tradition since the 1500s when it was discovered that the addition of ginger to baked goods both added spiciness, wafted fragrance throughout the kitchen, and helped preserve the treats that were not immediately devoured.
The idea for the gingerbread house contest came to Tom McBride, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Dimmick Library during a trip to Germany where he and his wife, Betty Lou, toured German festivals. "They had a lot of gingerbread houses on display," McBride said.
"Don't be afraid to participate; just have fun," Hudock said. "Build a house. Bring it to the library. Enjoy yourself. We want people to come and see them. Afterwards, you can take it home and eat it."