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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cookbooks

Today was the Batty Binder's Holiday gathering...and as usual with Batty Binders, we always bring in food, enough, as President Teresa Brown says, to feed a small country.  For several days, I've been thinking about the cookies you see at left...home-made gingersnaps from an old recipe my family has made since at least the 1950s.  We called them "ginger crinkles" .  Many people make them...a molasses spice cookie, chilled, then rolled into balls and rolled in sugar.  Very simple..a little time consuming only because you have to refrigerate for at least an hour and roll all the balls.  But yummy.  One of my favorites, and as I found tonight, a favorite of others.  I made a double batch as I know they are one of Lynn Mosher's favorites as well, and we all bring something to share for our Thursday stitch ins.

It's been a while since I made these...and I remember the hand printed recipe card I made out when I was in high school, but I was pretty sure that the recipe was also included in the First Congregational Church in Athens, Michigan's book my mom compiled in 1978/1979.  I love this cook book, not only because it has most of my family favorites in there, but because it has recipes from my friends and their families as well.  Looking through the book as to who submitted the recipe brings to mind all of the people, many of whom were old when I knew them and are long dead now.  Who can forget Zepha Spencer, or Ethel Reebs who was the choir mistress of the all men choir?  Little white haired ladies who put in recipes calling for a "quick" oven or for pinches of salt? Some of the recipes can be submitted as just a list of ingredients...you are supposed to know the method and I do as I grew up in the kitchen watching, then later working with my mom.  I don't know if my own daughter would be able to do it...her interests growing up were not in the kitchen, although she did have an interest in cake baking, frosting and brownies...and she got sort of a reputation as being a great baker of those items...and I'm happy to say that I convinced her that home-made frosting and brownies rather than mixes were the way to go.

I think the best recipe books and the best recipes can be determined by the number of splotches on the pages.  A good recipe, and a good cookbook, has lots of them as it shows use.

This was my first cookbook.  My mom gave it to me as a Christmas present in about 1976 or so....the same year she gave it to my sister who was just starting her life as a married woman.  It was also the book we used when I was in Mrs. Beck's Home-Ec. class.  You can see the amount of wear on the edges.  I still use it...even if it does have a habit of calling for too much salt and too much baking soda...but if you know the recipes and know the usual proportions, you can tell if it is too much out of whack.

A great cookbook I discovered this summer was one my niece Katie gave to her newly married sister Beth, Michael Ruhlman's Ratio:  The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of  Everyday Cooking. It is a great book and gives you a lot of information on method as well....and it gave me the code for making the best light and fluffy baking powder biscuits....

So...I suppose you're wondering about the cookie recipe.

Ginger Crinkles

1/2 c. shortening (I usually use butter or margarine or a combination of the two.  When I was a kid, we used Crisco, and I think if you used butter flavored margarine that would be fine too.)
2 c. brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
1/2 c. molasses (I prefer Grandma's which is a light molasses, but as a kid, we used B'rer Rabbit light molasses but sometimes Black Strap molasses which gives a stronger flavor and a bit of a tang from the sulfur).
4 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon if you want to go faster)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger (I like using fresh grated ginger.  I keep a hunk of root in the freezer and grate it as I need it...it is much fresher than using ground).
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
granulated sugar....It's prettiest if you use a coarse ground sugar, but I only had the regular table sugar so the grains are less noticeable on this batch).

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add in egg and molasses.  Blend in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover the bowl and chill a minimum of one hour (making it the day before and stuffing it in the fridge overnight works well).

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Shape dough into rounded balls, about 1"- 1.5" in diameter (or a little bigger, but not tooo big).  Roll the ball in granulated sugar nad put on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake 10 -12 minutes or just until set.  I usually set the timer for 11 minutes.  Immediately removed from baking sheet to cool.

These make a ginger cookie which is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  You can leave it for a tad longer to make it crunchy throughout.  This is actually the recipe for a double batch because they aren't that much trouble to double it and the recipe halved is for 4 dozen cookies....if you make them small...I made about 6 dozen using the doubled batch and that will give me enough to take to tomorrow gathering as well as tonight's.  Plus a couple to eat myself.  These freeze very well.  

5 comments:

Sherrie Spangler said...

This brings back so many memories of well-loved recipes and those splotchy pages. I have a similar recipe and it was my kids' favorite -- until they both went vegan as adults. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

KAM said...

Lisa.....Mom used to make these...the memories rallied as I read your blog today...will make a batch to share with the family.
Love my old, collected cookbooks and most especially the group of Scandinavian ladies cookbooks from my mother's kitchen that my daughter and I dig through every holiday for just one or two to add to our menu.
Kristin

Lisa Quintana said...

Thanks Sherrie and Kristen! I'm glad they struck a chord with you. So many yummy recipes and memories which are just as good!

Michele at Sweet Leaf said...

I had to smile at this post--especially when I saw the cookbook. I'm pretty sure my mom had that BC Cookbook when I was growing up. In fact, I bet if I checked my bookshelves it's now in my house somewhere! That tells you how much I cook nowadays. Happy Holidays!

Lisa Quintana said...

Thanks, Michele. I think most people had this cookbook. My mom got a copy for my sister and I (or did I say that in the post??? ) and then a little later, it was still out when my niece was about 9---which is when we start baking in our house, and she got one for each of my nieces. It is a good, basic starter cookbook.

I love reading cookbooks and I am also amused to see how cookbooks change, reflecting the habits/interests of the time in which they were written.