Friday, December 11, 2009

Ginger Creams: a lovely holiday cookie

I just shared this recipe with a friend on Facebook, whose partner tried it this summer and raved about it. These were my favorite cookies growing up, and that says a lot, considering how often my mother baked cookies from scratch.

She made the usual chocolate chippers (that was what the recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook called them), and her roll-out sugar cookies at holiday time are still the best recipe I've found (it's flavored with fresh lemon juice and nutmeg,a nd so not bland like many sugar cookie recipes). She also made chocolate crinkles (my younger brother's favorite, and pressed cookies, and bow-ties (a bit like fried dough rolled in confectioner's sugar), and cookies known as Never Fail Cookies, a vanilla cookie with cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on them.

But Ginger Creams were my favorite. So here's the recipe. It comes from my mother, but since it's Scandinavian in origin (a Finnish bakery in Boston sold them for a while and they tasted identical to what I remembered from childhood), I think she may have gotten it from a friend of hers who was Swedish. In any case, I hope you will try baking them and enjoy them.

Ginger Creams

Dough should be chilled for at least one hour before baking.

Mix together thoroughly:
1/4 cup shortening (butter or margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses (light or dark, not blackstrap)
1/2 cup water

Sift together and blend in:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Chill dough.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease cookie sheets.
Drop by spoonfuls about two inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake for about eight minutes (do not use bottom rack or cookies may burn).
While still slightly warm, frost with lemon or vanilla frosting. (I make a simple vanilla buttercream).

This wonderful cookie blog has a Raw Ginger Cream recipe that looks worthwhile.The photo above is what they more or less look like before frosting; thanks to food blog Two Frog Home for the nice photo.

By the way, I have been compiling my mother's dessert recipes (mostly cookies) and am going to put them into a cookbook. I also want to include some of my Dad's recipes (though most of his were not written down). A sort of memoir with recipes (wish I was the first person to thin of this, but apparently it has already been done before I got off my ass. Still, it's a good format for what I want to do, which is tell the stories of the prominence of food and food-related activities (cooking, growing, gathering, fishing, hunting) in my upbringing. Tentative Title: Pickled Garlic and Sweet Milk.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alone Again. Naturally.

I've had some time on my own this week. I've gotten some stuff done but I've also gotten to eat whatever I want.

As it turns out, I've eaten pretty high on the hog.

After a long day at work on Sunday, I came home and baked fresh cornbread. I ate it with some fresh bean soup that I'd made the day before.

I've eaten salads and collard greens, lean chicken breasts and sauteed cabbage.

My main vice--if one can even call it that--was buying a grocery store bakery pumpkin pie on Tuesday evening. It has allowed me to have a cup of coffee and a sliver of pie, any time I want.

Now, that feels like a luxury to me.

I believe I'll have an apple, a banana and some organic peanut butter for dinner.

And a sliver of pie for dessert.