Sunday, December 12, 2004
Happy Holiday Houses!
Here's wishing all of you a joyous holiday season! I wanted to share a couple of photos of gingerbread houses made by Michele Foster of Choctaw. She's won a couple of first place awards in the gingerbread division of the Oklahoma Sugar Art Show, held annually the last weekend of the Tulsa State Fair.
The first house she entered in the competition included a fence, car, doghouse and sandbox. Everything on the property was edible.
"I used candy canes for fence posts and the posts that hold up the carport," Foster said. "Then there was royal icing for the roof and the grass. The fence is gingerbread. The sand is ground-up gingerbread. The dog house even has a little dog in it, named Sugar, for our dog."
Foster even used gingerbread with red royal icing to make the car, which features a tag with her husband's initials.
"There's a tree in the front with a tire swing made of gingerbread. I get a little crazy with it," she admitted.
A second prize-winning house was made of chocolate ginger-bread.
Michele's houses have been featured as part of a special program on The Food Network about the Sugar Arts Show.
One of the things that fascinates me about Michele, besides her culinary skills, is her personal story. She's another "epiphany" person.
"I used to work for Xerox repairing copiers," she told me. "After the bombing I couldn’t stand the thought of my kids being blown up by a madman. And I had always wanted to be a bakery chef."
She decided she could run a bakery and be more involved with her children and feel better about both her career and her family life.
"Ten years ago I could not decorate a thing. Now I am amazed at what I can do," she said. "I never thought I would be able to do the things I’m able to do. It blows me away."
How did she learn her craft?
"I got a book. That’s how I learn to do most of the things I do. That and playing. Mostly people do things the hard way. I try to find easier ways to do things," she said.
"A lot of times it depends on what I have on hand. This was not a cheap hobby. I make some of my own tools and make what I can. I cut my own boards, make my own tools. I cut unusually shaped boards."
She operated her bakery, named "The Sugar Fix" for a few months before she became ill and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She wasn't able to maintain a full-time business, so she now works as a wedding consultant and makes special occasion cakes and sugar art for family and friends.
Michele also has written a cookbook, "The Sugar Fix, the Recipes and Rantings of an Obsessive-Compulsive Cook," which is available at Author House.
You can see more of Michele's work and read more about her at her web site, The Sugar Fix.