Penny, the mother of a dear friend I met on my first trip through college, was a force to be reckoned with. In fact, I think Penny gave private lessons to other forces on how to be reckoned with. She’s eighty years old now and finally beginning to slacken her pace a little, but when I first made her acquaintance thirty years ago, that woman hardly ever sat down, even to eat a meal. She had almost too much energy to suit me.
My friend Heather took me home to meet her mom during my freshman year of college in 1989 so we could bake Christmas cookies. I had a small budget and a large gift list that year, so giving away treats seemed like a great idea. Besides, I was worn out and needed a break before final exams.
Little did I know, the last thing Penny had in mind for that weekend was a break. When Heather and I arrived, the baking supplies were stacked on the dining room table–sacks of flour and sugar, boxes of butter and cans of shortening, cartons of eggs and jars of molasses.
“Good grief!” I exclaimed. “Are we baking for an army?”
“That’s the way we roll,” Penny answered heartily. “If a recipe doesn’t make at least twelve dozen cookies, it isn’t worth fussing with. I usually do forty-eight dozen gingersnaps at once, but this time we’ll cut it back to twenty-four because we’re also doing ginger strips, yeast cakes, and toffee.”
We worked like fiends that weekend, but we also laughed, listened to music, and had deep conversations. The baking marathon with Heather and her mom is one of my favorite memories from that time in my life because of the intimacy we developed in the cozy kitchen that smelled of ginger and cinnamon. Plus, I gained a lovely, versatile recipe I’ve used many times over the years.
Gingersnaps are spicy, sturdy cookies that please crowds. They’re great dunked in coffee or dipped in hot cocoa, and they taste good paired with almost any warm tea. They freeze well and also hold up nicely in the mail, so although I sometimes cut this recipe in half, twenty-four dozen cookies tend to disappear more quickly than anybody would ever think they could. 😊
2 cups lard or shortening
2 cups butter or margarine
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
1 cup molasses
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons Allspice
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
8 cups flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a couple of cookie sheets.
2. In a very large bowl or pot, cream together the lard or shortening, butter or margarine, and sugars. Add the eggs and molasses.
3. Add the baking soda, salt, and spices to the wet mixture and blend well. Then add the flour, a cup at a time, and mix thoroughly after each addition.
4. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Coat each ball in granulated sugar, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Cookies are done baking when they begin to crack on top. Cool on the pans for a few minutes, then remove to paper towels. These cookies seem to store best lined up tightly in gallon-sized Ziploc bags with the air squeezed out. They can be frozen, kept in the fridge, or even mailed that way. Enjoy!
About the Author
Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader.
As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.
Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her teenage daughter, her guide dog Spreckles, and an aging family cat named Sam-I-Am.
Her website is: http://www.brightsideauthor.com.