Gingerbread (for gingerbread houses)

In a large pot on low heat, melt
1 C vegetable shortening
1 C granulated sugar
1 C dark molasses
Remove from heat and mix in
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T cinnamon (can substitute 3 t ginger & 1 t nutmeg)
Stir in thoroughly 1 C at a time
4 1/2 – 5 C sifted all-purpose flour
Mix and knead all ingred. until dough is even in color and smooth, not crumbly or dry. From into a log, divide into 3 pieces. Wrap 2 in plastic wrap to keep from drying out while working with other one.
Put a cookie sheet upside down on a damp towel (to keep it from sliding around). Roll out dough slowly and carefully 1/8 to 3/8 inch thick. Lay out pattern piece and cut around with knife or xacto. Leave 1/2 inch between pieces when baking. Bake at 375 for 10-14 min or until your finger does not leave an imprint on the dough. Pieces will spread, so lay pattern piece back on cookie and re-trim while it is hot. When cookies are cool enough to hold their shape, remove from cookie sheet and let cool thoroughly on rack.
In large mixing bowl:
4 C (1 lb) powdered sugar
3 T meringue powder (from a baking supply place)
Add 6-8 T warm water
Mix with electric mixer on low, then on high 6-8 min until mixture holds a stiff peak. If too thick, add water 1 t at a time.