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View from Hickory Heights: A recipe from the past

Yesterday I baked molasses cookies. Now you might wonder why I baked early. These cookies freeze very well. I made some in the shape of pumpkins and some trees and gingerbread men. We will have the pumpkins for Thanksgiving and the others will be for Christmas.

This recipe has a history. My mother told me she remembered going to her grandma’s house after church and eating them. That means they were my great-grandmother’s recipe. I do not know the history beyond that but I suspect maybe this recipe came directly from Germany.

I never knew this great-grandma since she died before I was born. Her husband was my grandfather’s father. Great-grandpa lived to the ripe old age of 85.

I got the recipe from my grandmother when I was getting ready to move to my own apartment. I copied a lot of her recipes because she was an excellent baker. The first time I went to make them in my apartment in Jamestown I read through the recipe to be sure I had all of the ingredients.

I knew they had to sit overnight so I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was that the recipe did not list any flour. I had made them with grandma a long time ago and I was sure that I needed flour. A quick call to grandma solved the mystery.

They did take flour only grandma was not sure how much. She just knew when the dough was right. When I inquired as to about how much flour I needed, Grandma told me to start with five cups. When I made them, you better believe I wrote down how much I used.

I knew these cookies used cookie cutters. I had ordered pans and cookie cutters so I was ready to bake. I also bought myself a small hand mixer since that was what grandma always used.

I still have those pans and most of the cookie cutters. The mixer is long gone.

When we lived in the trailer a mouse chewed up the cord. I finally bought a new gingerbread man cutter because the old one was too big to be practical.

Each year when I begin to bake my Christmas cookies, I get emotional. It is nostalgic to use grandma’s recipes and equipment.

I can still see grandma and grandpa working together in her kitchen. In the last few years, he helped her sugar them before she baked them. They left off the frosting then.

In later years my gift to grandma and grandpa was Christmas cookies. Each week after Thanksgiving I baked a different kind of cookie. When my mother came to visit, she took some of them home to grandma and grandpa. That made a good gift since there really was nothing that they needed by then. Of course, my mother got some to take home, too. She was not a baker.

I guess I have my grandmother’s genes. I love to bake. I once told a classroom mother that if I had a nickel for every cookie I baked I would be a rich lady. She remembered that. One night she called me to ask for a German recipe her son needed for school. Of course, I had the recipe since grandpa was German and loved all of the old kinds of cookies.

I no longer bake as many cookies as I used to. I do make enough to give away. My granddaughter will not be here this Christmas to help decorate the Christmas cookies. She will have to work on Christmas Day so she will be in Texas. I am hoping her brother and his girl will be around to help me decorate. It is quite a job to do it all on my own.

For all of you who like my recipes here is the Molasses Cookie Recipe. If you make them, I hope you enjoy them as much as well do.

Molasses Cookies

1 c. molasses (I used unsulphered molasses so I only used slightly over ½ c.)

1 c. sugar ¼ tsp. cloves

1 c. margarine (the original recipe called for lard)

1c. sour milk (a little lemon juice will sour it)

1 tsp. ginger 1 tsp cinnamon

2 heaping tsp. baking soda 5 c. flour

If you use the full cup of regular molasses, you will need 6 c. flour

Combine with mixer the margarine, sugar, and molasses. In another bowl combine flour, soda, and the spices. (now I use my stand mixer) Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients.

Refrigerate overnight.

Roll out on lightly floured surface and cut into shapes. Sprinkle with sugar or leave plain if you intend to frost them. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 5 minutes on the bottom shelf, then move up to the top and bake another 4 minutes.

Ann R. Swanson Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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