Before we begin with ginger cookies, a huge and wonderful Christmas cookie hug to all who participated in DROP IN AND DECORATE. I think we had 14 dozen incredible sugar, gingerbread and chocolate cut-out cookies, decorated to the nines, for our local Bridge, An Assisted Living Center. We tasted, we decorated, we had dinner, we played, we sang, we laughed and we got to be better friends. Perfect thanks to Lydia Walshin of The Perfect Pantry for the super idea (now in the eighth year) of holiday fun and “doin’ good.”
Lydia tells me she’ll include a pic and a few sentences on the website after the first of the year. Eyes peeled. And: Let’s do it next year!
Thanks to everyone who read and/or participated in the blog this year. At eight months old, it remains a joy and a learning experience nearly every day. Happy, Happy End of the Year. Enjoy more time at the table this week as we move into 2010.
(Now on to the the ginger cookies!)
Is there anything more Christmasy (food-wise) than a ginger cookie? I have so many foods and ideas to blog for Christmas (I’m making clam sauce today) that I don’t know what to do. But things always boil down to cookies during Advent, don’t they?
One year, I just had to figure out what was
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME AT CHRISTMAS………
What wouldn’t it be Christmas without.
Or, what was Christmas….
You know. It’s the year you decide to drop
ALL that decorating
ALL that shopping
ALL that worrying about when you’ll get it wrapped…
ALL that pouting about “It’s not like it was when ___________.”
And you wonder,
“What is my very favorite thing about Christmas?
Do I need the tree?
Do I need the lights?
Do I need the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha?
Do I need the big party?
Do I need to go to the Nutcracker(again)?
As our priorities tumble and crumble and finally crystalize, we straighten out and fly right…
Knowing just exactly what we need at Christmas as we walk to the stable, waiting for the savior to be born in OUR hearts because we need to be new and clean and loving so very badly.
As I’ve walked (not run) each of the years since my priorities scrambled and came round right, I’ve discovered I like a couple of things best about Christmas:
1. Worship–Christmas Eve especially
2. Baking Christmas cookies for my family and friends
Well, gee, I guess you couldn’t figure it out.
And, if I just had to name my very favorite cookie (and my children and husband each have theirs), I guess I would name
ALYCE’S GINGER COOKIES–a word or two about them:
These cookies are a cross between a cookie sold during Needlework Week at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia (where I worked for several of my lovely years at the National Trust for Historic Preservation) and the cookies they sell in Coshocton, Ohio and are OH SO famous for.
These are not snaps, no, definitely not. They aren’t the Gingerbread Girls of the Drop in and Decorate variety. They are cookies. Crispy and chewy at the same time. Sweet and spicy and even a tad “hot” all together. Throw out your old bottle of ginger and get a new one before you begin. These are why cookie jars were invented, my friends. Why kids come home. Why husbands raid the freezer middle of the night.
Make ’em; make ’em right. You’ll always be tweaking them between the kinds of sheets and the oven temps………. Are they done? Are they not? (Don’t overbake them; they’re toasty garbage.)
The recipe is a guide. You’ll make them your way and they’ll be your cookies. Eat them with milk. Eat them with hot tea. Eat them with coffee or hot cocoa. For capital G-Goodness sake, just make them and eat them. What else do you need? Part of Christmas is… well, it’s just ginger cookies.
ALYCE’S GINGER COOKIES–A BIG BATCH –6 DOZ 2-3″ COOKIES
- 4 cups unbleached white flour
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I like sea salt.)
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I like Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon)*
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shortening ( I know, I know)
- 2 cups sugar (plus more for rolling)
- 1/2 cups molasses
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger*
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Beat well the shortening, sugar, molasses, egg and freshly-grated ginger until fluffy. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Shape into 1″ balls. Roll in granulated white sugar and place on cookie sheet two inches apart.
- Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are quite dry but centers are soft and still a tad gooey. If you overbake them, they’re dunking cookies.
- Let cookies sit on trays for 1-2 minutes. Remove from trays to cooling racks until completely cool. Store in airtight containers for 1-2 days. Freeze for up to 2 weeks if not using immediately.
*If you don’t have Vietnamese cinnamon, you can add 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper with the spices. You can also (or instead of the grated ginger) add 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger.
I have a good friend named Ginger. This is for her. Merry Christmas, everyone…
Love you always, Alyce