Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Valued Family Traditions

As a child I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents. They lived just a mile or two away. The day I was deemed old enough to ride my bicycle to my grandparent’s was a milestone in my young life. My bicycle and I were inseparable, and I rode to my grandparent’s often.

My grandmother and I would sew together. She taught me how to darn socks, make patchwork quilts, and do cross-stitch embroidery. I would help my grandparent’s with household chores, and often stayed for meals. My grandmother was a wonderful cook. I would watch her cook and once in a while we would make something together. Some of my most valuable cooking lessons were learned in her kitchen.

When I was around twelve we made gingerbread cookies together. The index card I copied the recipe onto still lives in my recipe box written in my childish hand. The memories attached to these cookies are among my most cherished. Over the years, I have made these cookies many times. My father remembered eating them as a child, and they always brought a smile to his face. Bella is the third generation to bake Gram's Gingerbread Cookies. There are pictures of her decorating these cookies when she was barely tall enough to stand at the counter. We still make these cookies together every Christmas. These are the family traditions I value.

Gram’s Gingerbread Cookies

2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

2 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. salt

¾ c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

1 egg

¼ c. molasses

Dried cranberries, dark and golden raisins, whole cloves, crystallized ginger

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. Cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar, egg and molasses. Beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients and beat to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to soften slightly. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease cookie sheets and set aside.

Divide dough into quarters. Roll one quarter out on lightly floured surface and cut with desired shapes. Place well apart on prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Re-roll scraps, cut and place on sheets. Decorate the cookies with dried cranberries, raisins, whole cloves and crystallized ginger.

Bake for 8 minutes rotating sheets after 4 minutes. Watch the cookies closely during second half of baking as they burn easily. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

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