Domestics, Food and Drink

Mom’s Molasses Ginger Snap Cookies

An historic batch, circa Thanksgiving 2009
An historic batch, circa Thanksgiving 2009

Mom’s Molasses Ginger Snap Cookies

¾ cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening, add sugar, egg, molasses, then dry
ingredients. Form into a ball. Roll in sugar.

On a lightly greased cookie sheet, bake for 9 minutes at most. Check at 7 or 8 minutes. Cool on a rack. To keep them a little soft, store before cooling completely.

(This is a much less domestic blog than it used to be, but it’s a good place to save a recipe my family likes. We picked this one up at the first church I served. I’ve made a tweak or two and now claim the recipe as mine.)



We have the strangest ads running on local channels now, for one of the two major grocery store chains in the area, in which a group of women talk about why they are such loyal customers. They look fairly ordinary, not Stepford-like in their appearance, but the expressions on their faces as they rhapsodize about the regularly low grocery prices are excessively contented.

I want to know what the point is. Do they think *I* think if I shop there (which I do and have done for 20+ years) I will achieve this apparent nirvana of shopping?

If anything it makes me want to stay away.

But Snowman is coming home for Spring Break. After two months of only girls in the house, I need to lay in some young man groceries. Not only that, we’re running out of toilet paper, and I can’t bring myself  to buy it at Whole Foods. Too rough, and too expensive!

So if you see me looking blissed out tomorrow, you’ll know why. It’s the everyday low prices.


Hear Me Roar

We frequently get water in the basement of this old house when it rains. It runs across the floor and down a drain. I give thanks for the drain. Not too long ago, however, the drain backed up, and Pure Luck had to pull roots out of it. I ended up doing a bit of that myself, but it seems to be running well now. 

However, I didn't realize the standing water from that earlier event extended into the one walled-off space in our basement. We've used it for storage, for the kinds of things you can't decide what to do with, so you put them somewhere never to look at them until you move. Or have a yard sale. Or have a flood. 

That stuff is wet, or some of it is, and so is the wallboard in that thrown up corner room. I'm not sure why anyone ever thought it was a good idea to wall off that space. It happened before our time. And I'm pretty sure it's going to have to come down now.

Laughing lion mug

Naturally, I'm discovering this when the house is populated by yours truly, a 14-year-old girl, a dog and two cats. I guess I'm going to have to take it one section at a time and do as much as I can by myself. I've got bags and bags to put out in the trash tomorrow. I expect there will be even more next week. 

Most of what's down there is not anything I cared about keeping, but I just found the box my mother's wedding dress is in, and it has a damp corner. The plastic around the box had broken away. It was not directly on the floor, and honestly I hadn't even thought about it. I hope I can have it cleaned and boxed again. If so, it's going straight to our small attic!

I can do this. 

I am woman. 

Hear me roar!

Chez Songbird, Domestics

Truly, I tell you…

Angel soft

We still use the usual amounts of many of the things mentioned in the comments on the last post, but they are particular to the two of us or even just to me (coffee, for instance).

The one thing we all theoretically use, but that we still go through at pretty much the same pace is the t.p.

Oh, and the ammo, of course. 😉

Chez Songbird, Domestics

Grocery shopping

Groceries1 When LP and I are the only ones at home, the grocery shopping is different.

We drink less milk, can barely get through a gallon without having it go sour.

A loaf of bread lasts a whole week.

We rarely buy a box of pasta, but when the boys are home I buy two or three every time I go to the store.

Laundry detergent lasts longer, and dish washing detergent, too, since we run the dishwasher every other day.

Tonight I bought one boneless chicken breast.

But there’s one thing we seem to go through just as quickly without them.

Can you guess what?

Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Domestics

Processing Food

I need a new food processor, and it does not need to do the mixer type stuff, since that part of my old Braun works fine.

I need something that will make rice and chicken, cooked for a dog, into a consistency that will not lead to rice grains all over the oriental rug in the dining room (which is where Sam eats.) None of the special kibbles work for his sensitive tummy, so we are changing to a cooked diet, probably for the rest of his life. I'd like to be able to cook twice a week, but this is a BIG DOG. He eats 5 or 6 cups of food a day. So I need a good food processor but don't want to spend a fortune.

We're going to start with chicken and rice, then later add a vegetable (carrots or maybe even sweet potatoes), fish oil and vitamins, in case you're wondering.

All advice appreciated.

Books, Domestics, Food and Drink, Mothering

The Joy of Cooking

I'm thinking about my mother today. She died in 1993, became my mother in 1961, married my father in 1950, came into this world in 1925. I have to think about the math to realize she would be 83 now, but it seems unreal because she died at 67 and I cannot imagine her older.

The 35-and-a-half year gap in our ages seemed enormous, but I had a daughter at 34 and a smidge, and I understand better now. The gulf between mother and daughter may be as yawning as the closeness at other times feels oppressive.

Yesterday, while we waited for Snowman to arrive, I suggested cooking to Light Princess. We had plans to order his favorite pizza, so I wanted to make a dessert. She gave me the dead eye. "Why do you want to make a dessert?" I took a deep breath. "He is skinny and hungry," I said. "Let's make custard."


She allowed that she had made lemon custard once with her dad and thought it was great. And so we embarked on a culinary adventure.

Baked Custard 2
I first made custard in 1986. We lived in C-Ville, The Father of My Children and I, though we had only one very small child at the time. My mother needed "female surgery" to treat endometrial cancer, and my father dreaded hospitals;he decided being near her daughter would be the best thing for my mother. He managed to get her referred to the University of Historic Commonwealth in C-ville for her hysterectomy.

I went dutifully to the hospital each day that week, in between breastfeeding a six-month-old and covering for a sick colleague at the undergraduate library, a job I left to have the baby. My mother struggled with the aftermath of the surgery. I remember an old-fashioned hospital room, the heat of summer, a few issues of temperament, and a Mennonite nursing student from across the mountain, this last the only bright spot of my mother's hospital stay.

One day I arrived and my mother told me to go home. "Take these milk cartons," she said, "take them to your apartment and make custard. I can't drink the milk, but custard would be good for me."


"Custard? I don't know how to make it!"

Joy of cooking
"You'll find it," she said, "in the 'Joy of Cooking.'"

I remember riding the University bus with the two little cartons of milk. Back at Family Housing, I turned to the index of the 1975 edition. It still felt a bit unfamiliar, a wedding present in 1983, one I hadn't used much. After much consideration, I decided I had a better chance of succeeding with baked custard, rather than boiled, and the Joy of Cooking commenced.

The next morning I returned on the bus, with the custard.

My mother smiled at me for the first time since her operation.

Yesterday I had to hunt for my copy, the cover long gone, the spine cover peeled away. It appears I did use it, after we left C-ville and moved to City By the Sea, when I took on trussing Thanksgiving turkeys and preparing lemon sponge for my in-laws, making brownies cockaigne and scratch cakes that never seemed to rise as high as magazine pictures. The spine is broken at paella, but I don't remember ever making it; it falls apart at quick icings, too: quick white and three-minute and French. Chiffon pies adhere to cheesecake. Lemon curd squares–the page falls out of the book.

Joy of cooking mom
My mother's shelf held the 1946 version. I wish I had it. I remember the heft of this Bible of the kitchen. Anything we needed to know, we could find in The Joy of Cooking.

Her copy fell apart, too, over time. I wonder what stories it might tell?

And whether my daughter will ever wish for mine?