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.)

Food and Drink, Mothering

Love Beets

“That’s a colorful salad,” LP commented appreciatively.

I’m finding this adjustment to permanently cooking for basically only two a challenge. LP eats dinner with her dad three times a week, and I am not good at making sure I eat a proper meal under those circumstances. I’m a little better at doing it for the two of us, but in recent weeks, with the busy of Lent upon me, my meal prep has been poor.

And my shopping has been worse.

And I feel guilty about it. I know better. I know if there is good food at home, we will eat it, and it will be better for us. I know there have been times I shopped and planned, for just the two of us, even in Lent.

So this afternoon we spent some time after school at Whole Foods, picking out things that looked both good and nutritious. Tonight we had bean and cheese burritos (organic beans, organic cheese, whole wheat tortillas, salsa) and a big salad of mixed greens, shredded carrots, avocado and sunflower seeds with a balsamic maple vinaigrette of my own composition.

LP, who acknowledges she needs to develop some kitchen skills, stirred beans and salsa in a small saucepan while I heated the tortillas in the large skillet. While we cooked we ate “Love Beets,” infused with balsamic and white wine vinegar. They were good for my mood, which had still been mildly defensive over a conversation about what we have at home that can be packed in a school lunch. After 25 years of motherhood, I’m tired of contending with packed lunches. And at almost 50, my goat can still be gotten by the implication that I am less than fully effective at that 25 year “career.”

Okay, maybe my mood was more than mildly defensive. I want to do everything well, and I can’t, and I get mad at myself about it.

The beats of parenting go on and on, and I know they won’t end when LP stops packing lunches and packs her bags for college in two years instead. They come in the Facebook chat box and after individualized rings on my iPhone. I look hope that despite the recent disarrangements, these children of mine will be okay. I remind myself that at the best of times, I am not the best-organized shopper or cooker and pray other things matter more.

I try to remember the Love Beats, the encounters infused with humor, and solemn affection. And then my mood lifts, if I’ll let it.

Food and Drink, Lectionary

About Salt

Today I made soup, from scratch.

I started with a chicken. I made up my mind to do this after LP and I enjoyed a thrown-together chicken soup the other night using a carton of chicken broth and some lasagna noodles from an open box in the cupboard and whatever else we saw fit to toss into the pot.

So I went to the store on Monday and picked up a chicken, and this morning, I looked for a recipe including at Pioneer Woman Cooks, because someone mentioned her the other day, and I know I’ve loved her recipes before. I got a huge description there of how to do the whole process, from cooking the chicken (how long, so it doesn’t get overcooked, for instance) and all sorts of little picky pieces of turning a chicken into stock and then turning stock into soup. I had a whole chicken, not a package of thighs, so I made a few adaptations along the way, including a friend’s recommendation to use fresh rosemary.

Snowman and I made soup the last couple of times he was home, but each time we didn’t seem to have the seasoning right, so I paid special attention to that part of the recipe. And I was astounded by the amount of salt called for: Lawry’s and Jane’s Mixed Up Salt and Celery Salt and all of that on top of Chicken Base, which is surely also salty.

I only have regular old Morton’s Salt on hand. And it’s a snow day. So I made do. And I put in more salt than I would ever think of doing, right from the beginning.

It made me a little uncomfortable. I grew up in one of those low salt households, because my daddy took those little red blood pressure pills, and my mother paid attention to the doctor’s instructions to watch his salt. She once expressed horror when she saw me put salt in water I had boiled to cook pasta. The look on her face felt like a slap.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matthew 5:13, NRSV)

When #1 Son was a sitting up baby, I went out to lunch with my mother-in-law, and we set him up in a high chair at the end of our table, and without thinking to ask, she opened a package of crackers–Waverly Wafers, I think–and gave him one. He picked it up and put it in his mouth, and his eyes got wide. It was the first time he had tasted anything really salty. He put his hand out for another.

Salt matters. Oh, yes, there can be too much. There can be. But salt brings out the other flavors and makes everything taste fuller and deeper.

I tasted the stock before I added the carrots and celery and onions to begin making it really soup, and I knew the truth. It needed just a little more.

I poured a little salt into my hand and let it fly into the pot.

And it was good.