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Entries in Grandma (3)


Slow As Molasses

The idiom "slow as molasses in January" fits this viscous ingredient that requires great patience when pouring into a measuring cup--but it in no way reflects how quickly Grandma's Molasses Cookies disappear in our household.  They are gobbled up instantly!  Old fashioned flavor from an old fashioned recipe handed down from my Grandma Peyer:

Grandma's Molasses Cookies
3/4 cup shortening *
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Sugar for coating (preferably coarse sugar) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream shortening and sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add egg and molasses and mix well.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Gradually add dry ingredients to molasses mixture and mix until well-combined.  Form into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar.  Place on parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheets, spacing 3-inches apart.  Bake in preheated oven until edges are crisp, about 8 to 12 minutes depending on size.

Makes about 4 dozen.

* For most cookie recipes I use only butter, but this recipe works best with solid shortening (such as Crisco) or a mixture of shortening and butter.  

Roll 1-inch balls of dough in coarse sugar

Place sugar-coated dough balls on parchment-lined baking sheetsGrandma's dog-eared, stained handwritten recipe cardDid You Know:  The more you boil molasses, the less sweet it becomes until you get down to three or more boilings. By this time, you have blackstrap molasses, a product with almost no sweetness but the highest nutritious value.



Recipes Remembered

The intoxicating aroma of bacon sizzling in a hot pan always transports me back to my Grandma's sunny love-worn kitchen.  Her wilted lettuce salad made with home-grown leaf lettuce was my top request every visit.  To this day, I treasure her hand-written recipe and the memories of working side-by side with her, trying to glean all of her kitchen secrets.





Her notes on the back of the recipe card include:  "I very often double this and keep in refrig.  Nice for working people.  So easy to just heat when I want it."  Grandma was ahead of her time and very "hip"--the owner of the most popular music store in town.  In addition to being an amazing cook, she always new what songs and bands were at the top of the charts!  I've modified her recipe slightly, but the inspiration is all hers....

Wilted Lettuce Salad
5 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar 
5 green onions, sliced
1 large head leaf lettuce, washed and drained
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional additional toppings: small cherry or grape tomato halves
                                           sourdough croutons
                                           freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Cook bacon pieces in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Drain off 1/4 of the bacon drippings (grease).  Add vinegar, sugar and chopped onions to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in large salad bowl.  Pour dressing over lettuce, add bacon pieces and toss lightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

If desired, add additional toppings, such as baby tomatoes, croutons and/or cheese.

Makes 6 servings.


It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

For many, images are what signal that Christmas is at hand--manger scenes in front of churches, Salvation Army bell ringers, Christmas displays in the stores (which seem to come earlier each year).  For me--it is the smell of Grandma's Strip Cookies spilling from the oven, permeating the entire house.  And it's not just the sweetness of the smell--it's the memories it evokes. 

Strip cookies are a family tradition.  It wouldn't be Christmas without them.  Every year we followed the same process:  Mom would make the dough (Grandma's recipe), Dad would man the "cookie gun" (cookie press), my two older sisters and I would sprinkle the unbaked strips with red and green sanding sugar, Mom would bake them and we would ALL taste-test!  ...and then of course we would share them with friends and neighbors.  They were a special tradition for me growing up and they have become a special tradition for my own family. 

Grandma's Strip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened *
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper or lightly grease.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon extracts.  In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder.  Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix until smooth and well combined.

Place dough in cookie press and press the dough onto prepared sheets.  Bake in preheated oven until cookie edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of the cookie design.  Cool on wire rack.

For cookie strip effect use cookie press disk that is flat on the bottom and ridged on top.  Press the cookie dough in continuous strips running the length of the baking sheet.  Bake as directed and cut into 2-inch "strips" with a knife or sharp-edged spatula immediately after removing from the oven.  (Optional: Cut off the darkened ends of the long strips and reserve for "baking staff".)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

* In most recipes, I use unsalted butter, but this one is best with sweet (lightly salted).  I have experimented using unsalted & adding salt, but find that I can not perfectly recapture the taste of my grandmother's cookies that way.
These cookies package easily, keep well or freeze, and have broad appeal.