Magic at the Movies

We had a mini milestone yesterday – we took Boo for her first movie at a cinema! We’ve been putting it off for the longest time because the volume levels are so high at all these cinema theatres. Our cut-off was 4 years and we also wanted to take her for a regular children’s movie but everything is 3D these days (what’s up with that??) – we didn’t want her first movie experience to be with grubby cinema glasses. But we had no choice because EVERY single movie comes out only in 3D so we finally succumbed and took her for Rio 2 yesterday evening. The hubby and I had it all planned out. It was going to be a big surprise – we bought the tickets when she was out of the house and we only spoke of our plans when she wasn’t in the room. I wanted to tell her before we left for the mall but her father wanted to tell her just before we entered the auditorium. As parents, we were so excited all day – we couldn’t wait to see her expression when we broke the news to her!

So here’s what happened – we reached PVR, we bought the popcorn (Boo thought that was the special treat 🙂 ),  I got my camera out and then the hubby asked her “So do you know why we are here?” and before he could go any further, pat came the reply “Yes, we are going to watch Rio”. Somebody should have taken a picture of our faces at that moment! I was gobsmacked – we were very careful not to discuss it in front of her, she had never been to a cinema before so she didn’t have a clue about where she was. So how did she guess? Turns out our 4.5 yr old  has the power of putting two and two together – a fact that we parents tend to forget!! She recognised the poster, she saw the families with all the little kids standing nearby, she understood the movie icon that was displayed everywhere so she guessed right! But we weren’t entirely cheated out of the surprise – her next question after the innumerable ones regarding when we were going in and we are going to miss it etc etc was how big the screen was. Our Boo thought it would be a little bigger than an Ipad! Ha – that put the smile back on our faces! We told her she’d find out in a few minutes and as soon as she entered the auditorium and saw the screen, all we got from her was a squeak and a ‘Whoa!’. It was a good choice for a first movie theatre experience – Rio 2 is a bright and happy movie with plenty of songs and jokes along the way. The colours are gorgeous and in 3D, it’s all the more splendid. Boo pulled off the glasses halfway through the movie but she watched it open-mouthed for most of the 2 hours. At the end of it all, she told us she had a swell time and couldn’t wait to go for another one!

Do you remember your first movie at the theatre? I am sure it was a magical experience and we so wanted our child to have the same memory. I think at this age, she is unlikely to forget this for a long time. I can’t remember my first movie experience and if my father was here, I bet he could have told me. I remember all the theatre movies that we saw as kids but I just can’t recall which one was the first. Jungle Book, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Star Wars are a few of them and I still remember those days quite vividly!

Welcome to the movies, Boo!

Photo Courtesy: Corbis

Photo Courtesy: Corbis

 

There is a new Monkey in town!

On a hot Saturday afternoon in April, a few netizens including yours truly were invited to visit the recently opened Monkey Bar in Indiranagar. I was a little surprised to find out that the owners felt the need to open a second MoBar in the city – does Bangalore really need another pub for people to crawl to? Apparently it does and you’ll be happy to know that although it is an extension of the first one, this Monkey has a little ‘something extra’. The Wood St Monkey Bar is a tiny but cozy place and perfectly fits the needs of its loyal patrons – mostly young college goers and after-work drinkers and socializers. The new location is bigger and airier and is just what Indiranagar needs. The signature green wooden door and wooden panels are very much a part of this Monkey as it is the other one and who can miss the quirky posters that fill every gritty exposed brick wall. With a scooter placed above the entrance and its tiny version leading you to the restroom, one doesn’t really feel far removed from the Wood St Monkey bar.

20140406-231954.jpg              20140406-232017.jpg

I think the long bar with its many stools will be a much-hounded spot for customers. I particularly liked the flying pigs on the panel above the bar. An ode to Pink Floyd perhaps?

20140406-232030.jpg

 

Flying Pigs panel

Flying Pigs panel

If you find downstairs too stuffy then head on up the winding staircase to the next level where there are enough tables to seat parties of 4 or less. There is even a large section complete with a pool table and foozball for the restless ones in the group.

20140406-232125.jpgOne of the advantages of a larger space is the ample room for the amazing chalk art that has come to be synonymous with Monkey Bar. You’ll find the blackboard panels everywhere so you can’t miss them.

20140406-232048.jpg

Now on  to my favourite part of any watering hole – the menu. Since I am off-limits where liquor is concerned, I couldn’t try the cocktails and there were some good ones on offer. Everyone’s favourite cocktail ‘Mangaa‘ had a strong presence along with a couple of new ones – Ginger Rogers and Copper Monkey – all served in quirky drinking vessels. The Ginger Rogers in a ‘bharani’ styled pot and The Copper Monkey in a copper glass like Grandma used to have. Very cute!

Food-wise, Monkey Bar being a gastro pub, one can be assured that the food has equal standing with the liquor. The menu is eclectic in a way that is a MoBar characteristic. From Asian to diner cuisine, firm indian favorites and some Continental staples, don’t come here expecting gourmet food but instead experience dishes with true salt-of-the-earth flavours. There is something for everyone. Some of the Wood St MoBar favourites are still on the menu like the pierogies (pot stickers for you and me), pita and pandi curry, tiger beef – but there are a few new kids on the block that are enough to pique anyone’s interest.

One of the standout favourites of the afternoon was the Crab Rangoon – a throwback to crappy American Chinese food but with a Monkey’s twist. A deep-fried wonton stuffed with a creamy crabmeat filling served with a small side of salad. I loved the generous filling in the wonton which is something that you never get at most places which is usually more wonton than stuffing. Crab lovers will love this!

Wonton heaven!

Wonton heaven!

 We were served pierogies (pot stickers) as well but I found the pork sausage ones to be quite greasy – the dough had soaked up quite a lot of the fat that had leaked from the mince – but I enjoyed the taste of the stuffing. The chicken ones were good and not much different from the ones served at Wood St which is a good thing if you are looking for the same thing. The next thing that we tried was the Goan Chorizo Pao. This is another new element and I enjoyed this one too. If you like goan chorizo then do try this dish. The portions are just right – 2 paos on a plate which can be filling even for one person.

The second pao didn't make it to the shot :-)

The second pao didn’t make it to the shot 🙂

 A few of the other starters that were on the table were the Pepper Chicken which is a standard stir fry dish which will be a crowd pleaser but won’t be particularly memorable. The Devilled Fish made with fresh king fish was a surprise – usually a plate of this type will leave you with bits of overcooked deep-fried chunks of fish and considering that a ‘Devilled’ anything usually means a over-sauced protein of some sort, this fish came apart when we poked at it. I don’t have a photo of this dish because it got over before I could pick up my camera!

The Tempura Calamari is another standard bar favourite but this MoBar version was perfectly made – golden, wonderfully crunchy  and marinated in a green curry glaze – this is another dish that I can see people asking for seconds. From far, it looks like a dish of pasta and I was actually confused for a second.

20140406-232151.jpg

In between dishes, we were also served a Monkey favourite, the Tiger Beef. Thin slices of beef tossed in an Asian sauce with lots of veggies – this dish never fails to disappoint me no matter how many times I have ordered it at Wood St.

Out of the blue, a salad made an appearance at our table, the Roasted Beet and Orange salad. I was a little surprised with this – who orders a salad at a bar? But I suppose if you visit the bar during the day which a lot of people do over weekends, this would be a good way to cut through all the heavy food. Perfect for summer with loads of healthy greens and beets. I would order it and take a big bowl of it back home!

Photo Courtesy: Monkey Bar

Photo Courtesy: Monkey Bar

 Onto the burgers that Monkey Bar is famous for. We were served two new dishes – a Sloppy Joe and Pork Belly Sliders. The Sloppy Joe had a BBQ shredded pork filling and was served with a side of sweet potato wafers and coleslaw. I didn’t enjoy this one because I thought it needed a pickle or a gherkin to cut through all the meat. It was too ‘meaty’ for me but if you are a fan of such burgers, then go for it. Time and time again, I get so let down by ‘sweet potato anything’ that I have tried in Bangalore. In the US, sweet potato chips are nothing but French fries made with sweet potatoes and they are to die for. I wish these wafers were made like French fries instead of crisps. On its own, they would be a hot favourite but one needs something a little more substantial to go with a burger, in my opinion. I loved the house-made bun though – I could have a whole bag of those any day 🙂

The Pork Belly Sliders came in a line of three with a nice fat cone of French Fries. I so wanted this dish to be fantastic because I adore pork belly but unfortunately it fell flat. I like my pork belly to be crisp and sour and sweet and this was anything but 😦 Plus there was some sort of raw chilli paste on the inside of the bun that left a bitter aftertaste. Having said that, I will still order this the next time I visit (because I LOVE pork belly) and hope for the best 🙂

20140406-232229.jpg

For mains, we tried the Parsee  Orderlies’ Mutton curry which is a mutton lamb chop curry with Amul cheese grated over it, served on a bed of coconut and clove rice. There is nothing spectacular about the curry – it was good and the meat was very tender – but the star of the whole dish was the rice. I could have had a full bowl of only that. It was so aromatic and very moreish and is perfect with any kind of meat-based dish. The Chef gave us a little story behind the origins of this dish – at one point, there was a time when all you could find in Army canteens were boxes of Amul cheese and one would find that it appeared in almost every dish that was served up – cheese pakoras, a cheese dhal, a cheese dessert and of course in a mutton curry. He told us that the story was totally untrue but that adds to the inspiration behind the dish and makes it whimsical and that much more special. I could have done with a little more cheese though 😉 We also had the Berry Pulao but a chicken version of it. I enjoyed this dish as well – not very heavy and served with lots of fried onions and potato salli.

20140406-232208.jpg

 For dessert, we tried the Chocolate Pot de Crème with Salted Caramel. Given my massive sweet tooth, it would be just like me to revisit a bar just for a dessert 🙂 This was one of the best desserts I have had in a long time. I am a sucker for salted caramel so I like anything that has even a smidgen of it. In this dessert, my favourite flavour came as salted caramel popcorn on top of a velvety chocolate mousse. There were a couple of thin slices of poppy-seed cake on the side but I thought they were completely wasted since all we wanted to do was lick the glass clean. The dessert had a secret ingredient that had us all guessing for a while until the chef put us out of our misery – olive oil!

Photo Courtesy: Monkey Bar

Photo Courtesy: Monkey Bar

 The second dessert was a Lemon Cake that had bags and bags of lemon flavour which was a bit much for me. There was lemon curd, a lemon pound cake soaked in a lemony sugar syrup, a quenelle of whipped lemon cream and tart strawberries. If you relish the lemon citrus flavour even when there is an excess of it, you will love this dessert. My favourite part of the dessert where the little biscuit fingers that were placed on top of the cake – very light and crumbly.

20140406-232222.jpg

Unfortunately I didn’t try the vegetarian dishes but a look at the menu tells me that veggie-lovers will be more than satisfied with what they have to offer.

 All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon with some interesting conversation and good food.  I will definitely visit this Monkey Bar again to try out my favourites as well as some of the new stuff they have on the menu. I love the fact that while both places are essentially the same, they’ve added a few different things to the décor and the menu to give both bars a unique flavour of their own.

Monkey Bar in Indiranagar is located on 12th Main (opp SBI) just after Crossword if you are coming from Old Airport Rd. They are open for regular business from next week onwards and from 7pm all this week. The ever popular Monkey Bar breakfast will start from April 26th onwards. Those of you with kids will be happy to know that your brood is welcome but only until 6pm so my next visit will be with Boo in tow 🙂

Monkey Bar is a home-grown Bangalore brand and when it was launched in Delhi last year, it opened to rave reviews and gave Delhiites a taste of what Bangalore is all about. So let’s show our Monkey some love, people!

Be Merry!

20140406-232134.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

True Love

I am back after a long gap so I must thank my regular readers for their patience. Getting the ‘Where are you, we miss you” messages have been good for my soul! 2014 didn’t get off to a great start – a hectic Christmas season, two stomach bugs almost back-to-back, crazy work deadlines and one very grumpy pre-schooler (Boo turned 4 and the infamous terrible tantrums have been making a regular appearance).

I’ve been mulling over what my second post of the year should be and yesterday I stumbled upon it by chance. We haven’t yet taken Boo for a movie at a cinema given the eardrum shattering volume levels that they operate with these days. But when the new Disney movie was released in December we were all ready to give Boo her first ‘big TV’ movie experience. Unfortunately it was only released in 3D and knowing our child’s restless behaviour we didn’t think she could sit through a movie with glasses on her nose. But we were in luck…..sort of! Frozen was being shown on TV yesterday so  we settled down to a nice relaxed afternoon of movie-watching. I have sat through so many Disney movies about princesses and fairies and also been part of many pretend fairy-princess games with Boo and her friends that I thought I knew what to expect from this film. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and how! Don’t get me wrong…there was the usual – a princess (in fact two of them), a prince, a villain, an animal sidekick, lots of humor etc etc. But the heart of the story lies in the relationship between two sisters. There are so many metaphors in play here and one can easily see real-life relationships in this animated film. In the end, when an act of true love is needed, one thinks that means a kiss between the boy and the girl but at the last minute, one sister sacrifices herself for the other. Isn’t that what true love is? It doesn’t have to be between a boy and a girl – it can be between siblings, between a mother and a daughter, best friends. I thought it was a beautiful message and I applaud how a big studio like Disney is trying to make a shift from the traditional format of stories – good vs evil, boy loves/girl loves boy, evil stepmother etc.

At the end of the movie, Boo turned to me and said she wished she had a sister. I told her that having a sister is wonderful but so is having a brother. Siblings add so much richness to our lives and I hope Boo will be blessed with a sibling that she will laugh and cry and fight with and sometimes all at the same time! I resented my sister for the first few years of our lives together because of all the attention (and space) that she got instead of me but over time, we bonded and I often say that she is my soul mate. My husband is my best friend of course, but only a sibling can truly complete you even after marriage/children.

Shoes in a Shelf

Siblings rule! If you have a brother or a sister (or many) give them a call or if you are really lucky, reach over and give them a hug or a kiss! They really are the best.

Happy living, folks!

My Book Club Reads for 2013

And so another year zips by in the blink of an eye – at least that’s how it was for me. 2013 was a year full of surprises and new friendships. I started the year by promising myself that I would do something different and by resurrecting my blog, I unknowingly opened up a world of opportunities. Boo and I also had a very busy social calendar this year by making a whole bunch of friends in our neighbourhood. We joined a family nature club and got to do a lot of stuff outdoors – something that the three of us never do. I travelled a bit this year – some ‘me time’ with my mother and sister in the form of a weekend away in Bangkok and a couple of vacations with our extended families. I wish we had done a few road trips this year but there is always 2014 for that 🙂 On the books front, I read a lot of interesting books this year thanks to GoodReads and of course my book club. Without much faffing about, here is the list of books that the nine of us pored over and discussed to our hearts’ content every month.

1. Frangipani by Celestine Vaite: We wanted a light, frothy book to start the new year off and this was the perfect choice. This was my selection since it was my turn to host and it is one of my favourite books in my collection. It’s a book that I keep going back to and if you have a daughter and/or a mother that you are close to, you will enjoy this book. It is set in beautiful Tahiti and the mother-daughter relationship which is the core of the book will make you laugh out loud at times and at other times, give your heartstrings a wrench. Being a woman and a mother at the same time, can be hard and the author’s portrayal of it will resonate with most of its readers. A good tea time read!

2. The Illicit Happiness of Other People

by Manu Joseph: This year, our list took on a distinct South Asian flavour with many of the chosen authors from the Indian subcontinent. Manu Joseph’s was the first such book on the list and it did not disappoint. Right from the title (isn’t that how we sometimes feel when we are down and look at other people around us), we were hooked. The story is about a family that is shattered by the apparent suicide of the first-born son but on closer look, one realises that an already broken family cannot be broken again but the fissures will run deeper. The father is obsessed with finding out why and in doing so, discovers a whole other world that his son occupied. The family is a Syrian Christian one living in an orthodox Chennai neighbourhood in relative poverty and the plight and suffering of the parents and the brother are gut-wrenching. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is another sob-story – it is a very interesting look into the world of psychiatry and at the heart of it, the book’s mysterious characters and their philosophy will reel you in. Definitely one of the most interesting books of the year.

3. The Extras by Kiran Nagarkar: This is the second book of the author and is a sequel to the first one and it follows the escapades of Ravan and Eddie and their foray into Bollywood. Both residents of the ‘City of Dreams’ that we know as Mumbai, Ravan and Eddie yearn for their time in the sun. Through various pitfalls, love triangles and a motley crew of characters, the book unravels slowly. Frankly it wasn’t my cup of tea but if you are looking for a light and funny book set in Bollywood, this might just be the thing  for you.

4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer: Another light read but oh, what a funny one – easily one of the club’s favourites of the year. Set in Channel Islands during the German Occupation in WW2, the story is about a mixed bag of people who start a ‘book club’ in a bid to survive their island’s new occupants. The book is funny and sad at times and one of the principal characters in the book isn’t even present in the book but comes alive through the narratives of her friends. The book’s most interesting feature is that it comprises only of letters mainly between the main protagonist and various other people she comes in contact with on the island. It reminds one of the Italian film that won the Best Foreign Film Oscar “Life is Beautiful’ which takes a humorous yet whimsical outlook on one of the darkest periods of world history. Do get your hands on this book – you won’t be sorry!

5. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne: Two back-to-back WW2 books wasn’t intentional but both are unique all the same. This book is written from the point of view of a little boy who is the son of a Nazi commander in charge of a death camp but who has been shielded from his father’s work. Amazingly, he has no idea what the buildings next to his house are and he actually envies the people that he sees over there without knowing why. Life is so simple through a child’s eyes and even something as horrific as this, takes on new meaning. The book has been criticised heavily for its simplistic telling but it leaves you with many questions, and that I think, is a feature of a good book.

6. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes: We had read another of Barnes’ books last year (Arthur and George) and that wasn’t received too well so when this book landed in our laps, none of us were sure about it. But what a different book it was! The remarkable thing to us was the same author wrote these 2 books that are completely different from each other. While we didn’t enjoy the earlier book, we all liked this one. The book’s main character has led a perfectly ordinary life – marriage, divorce, kids but a letter from a lawyer takes him down memory lane to a time that he had put out of his mind. Interesting characters and a story that will keep you involved as you go on. The question we often ask ourselves “What if we had done it differently” comes alive in this book and the answers (yes, there are many) are difficult.

7. Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto: Another book with a lovely title – it kind of reminds you of some big West End musical! This book also has an interesting outlook on psychiatry more specifically schizophrenia. The author has been open in saying that the book is partly autobiographical and his central character “Em” is based on his mother. The story talks about the extraordinary love affair between the narrator’s parents and how the entire family struggles with the mother’s mental illness. The book is largely humorous but the sadness of the narrator’s father and sister and of course, his own, isn’t lost to us.

8. Mistress by Anita Nair: The heart of this book is about a retired kathakali dancer. As many of you may know, kathakali is a unique dance-drama form that originates from Kerala. The performers take years to master their craft with plenty of discipline. Kathakali is known for the elaborate make-up and costumes and the complex facial expressions and hand gestures. While the artiste has an assistant to help with his costume, he is responsible for his own make-up and if one could take the time to look at pictures of kathakali dancers, one would know that it is not an easy task. The book has a couple of storylines running parallel to each other but it’s not worth mentioning. The most interesting part of the book is the kathakali dancer and his reminiscing about his life. The book’s chapters are divided into the nine ‘feelings’ or ‘expressions’ that a kathakali dancer displays during his performance. It certainly gives the reader an insight into the mysterious world of this unique dance form.

9. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif: The author is known for his extremely clever and witty book “A Case of Exploding Mangoes”. Unfortunately this book is not in the same league. I am sorry to say that I couldn’t go past 20 pages of the book but for those of you who might want to know more about it, please check this out.

10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: This was my book club selection and I went for a book with a slightly different flavour. It is set in a fictional world 50 years from now when women have lost all their rights and are only viewed as birthing machines. A large part of the US is now run by a Christian fundamentalist group who use biblical references to justify their barbaric practices. This book doesn’t leave you with a pleasant feeling and in fact many of the book club members didn’t like the book much because of the negative energy that it aroused. To my mind, it raised a lot of uncomfortable questions and also the nagging doubt that this could happen in the future. The Handmaid’s Tale features prominently on many lists by various publications and publishing houses as one of the books to be read in one’s lifetime. If for only that reason, please do pick up a copy of the book. You won’t be disappointed.

11. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: The book is about the marriage between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. The author did a lot of extensive research for this book and it is largely true. It is set in 1920s’ Paris and showcases the hedonistic but fun life of both aspiring as well as established authors such as Hemingway himself, Ezra Pound, F Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. I think most book enthusiasts have a book waiting to be written in them and they would enjoy the parts of the book that describe Hemingway’s efforts to build up his material. As anyone who writes even a little bit will tell you, writing is very hard and more often than not, the words don’t come easily. The same is true for Hemingway but the core of the story lies with Hadley and you grow to understand her conservative views on marriage and empathize with her situation. Living with creative people even one as mercurial as Hemingway must be very hard. A wonderful book if you are a fan of Hemingway and his contemporary writing peers and of course, Paris which to me is another character in the book.

12. Cinnamon Gardens by Shyam Selvadurai: Set in 1920’s Colombo during the last few years of colonial rule, the author takes you into the hidden world of an aristocratic Tamil family.  Multiple storylines are woven into the book and that was my problem with it because it didn’t leave me with enough emotion for any of the characters, however interesting they were. A young girl trying to break away from her conservative family’s traditions and work as a teacher; a prominent member of an old family struggling to accept his life as a father and husband while remembering his gay lover when he was a young student in far away London; a family patriarch whose pride and ego has been wounded when his first-born son runs away with a servant. All in all, it makes for light reading and if you are stumped for a book in the middle of the week, this could be a good choice.

So this is it, my list for 2013. In addition to the above, I read a whole lot of other books and here are some of my favorites (in no apparent order):

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (a thriller that has just been confirmed as a film to be directed by David Fincher) – it’s also our book club read for this month.

2. Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – its is non-fiction which is a genre I never read but I loved this book and couldn’t put it down for 3 days.

3. Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

4. The Marrying of Chani Kauffman by Eve Harris

5. Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Dr Aben Alexander – A book that profoundly shook me to my core. Quite a few people close to me will be getting copies of this book. It will change the way you look at God and death.

6. Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

7. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

8. Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adiche

9. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

10. Dear Life by Alice Munroe

In case you would like to see last year’s book club list then please click here.

Happy Reading!

Book Club Reads 2013

A Gingerbread House for Boo and her Friends

Christmas is the season for baking all kinds of  cookies, fruit cakes and spiced breads. The house is filled with the aroma of spices and it leaves with you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Living in a city that gets chilly during winter also helps – I just can’t imagine living in a hot and humid place during Christmas time. But nothing sets you in a mood for Christmas like one of my favorite spices, ginger. Gingerbread cookies, spiced ginger cake and that little thing called a gingerbread house. I have wanted to make a gingerbread house for the longest time but it seemed kind of weird to do it without any kids at home. By the time Boo came along,as a 1 yr old and then a 2 yr old followed by a 3 yr old – it just didn’t merit the kind of effort that would go into making it so I put it off indefinitely. That is until she turned 4! To me, this is the magic age for a little girl. That’s when she is old enough to truly understand and appreciate all the efforts you make whether it is in the kitchen or for crafts or outdoor activities. She is also old enough to help out but since this was my first time, I decided to limit her involvement to the minimum.

Since I can cut a straight line only a little better than a 4 yr old, I decided to take another route to making the house – I bought a gingerbread house mould from Amazon. You can check out what I bought by clicking here. I bought it in June and a friend very kindly got it from me when he visited the States. If you buy it during the Christmas season, be prepared to shell out 20-30% more. I was very happy with the product and I selected it based on the number of positive reviews that were posted on Amazon. I usually shy away from using recipes that are given on the packaging because most of the recipes just don’t work – my dust covered Wilton cake doughnut moulds are a testament to that. But everyone mentioned that the recipe was perfect for the mould. So I used it with a little trepidation which was justified since I ended up with only just enough dough to fill in the moulds exactly. My poor little gingerbread boy and girl had the life squeezed out of them to accommodate the dough. The other tip was to press the dough into the moulds rather than roll them out and that worked like a charm. The royal icing was double what was required but then how do you halve 3 egg whites? I just froze the leftover icing to be used on Christmas cookies later. Royal icing is the only icing that works because once it hardens, it sets like cement which is perfect for sticking the panels together.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable exercise and it took me only about 4-5 hours and that included making the dough, baking it, letting it cool, making the icing, putting up the panels, allowing it to dry and then decorating it. I enjoyed it thoroughly and it wasn’t in the least bit exhausting. The next time I do it I will definitely enlist the help of Boo – this time she was only allowed to do the final sprinkling of icing sugar over the house to look like snow.

I made the house primarily because I wanted Boo to get some Christmas thrills and because we were hosting a Christmas party for Boo’s neighborhood friends. Actually, scratch that – I wanted to make the house and then decided to host a party so that the effort could be enjoyed (and consumed) by a gang of little kids 🙂 It was a big party pleaser and my gingerbread house was finished in under 30 mins because I also sent some home with the moms in the food goodie bags.

This is my new Christmas tradition – a gingerbread house every year. It’s something that is enjoyed by both kid and adults alike – after all, the inspiration comes from the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel and who wouldn’t love a house made from candy? It’s whimsical and fun and above all, quite easy to make. In case you are wondering what to do with the mould during the rest of the year, it can also do double duty as a chocolate mould.

Here are a few images of the making of my gingerbread house. Hope you enjoy it!

Making the dough

Making the dough

After adding the dry ingredients, this is what the finished dough looks like

After adding the dry ingredients, this is what the finished dough looks like

The dough pressed into the moulds

The dough pressed into the moulds

The panels that are fresh out of the oven

The panels that are fresh out of the oven

The fun part begins - the decoration!

The fun part begins – the decoration!

The half-finished house

The half-finished house

The finished gingerbread house complete with a sprinkling of snow!

The finished gingerbread house complete with a sprinkling of snow!

image

Our gingerbread house (zoom in to see the details)

Happy Holidays!