By Andrea Springer, Knitting Savant
I love discovering new recipes. My Pinterest boards are a tribute to trendy food combinations, exotic handmade ravioli, and a million different ways to use herbs. However, as fall settles in I find myself digging into my tried and true recipes. I go back the comfort foods of my tribe and pay homage to my culinary heritage.
I’ve been mentored by good cooks. My mom has the ability to put together an amazing meal at what seems to be a moment’s notice. There’s a place at her table for anyone who happens to be around. Growing up on the farm, we pulled up an extra chair for everyone from visiting family members to seed salesmen, and she always managed to make it work and make it wonderful. While we all have our favorites, I think we all would agree her vegetable soup is amazing. It’s a soul-satisfying concoction she puts together with leftover roast beef, her canned tomato juice, and anything else she finds in the refrigerator. I can’t begin to reproduce it and believe me, I’ve tried. It’s one of her signature dishes.
Aunt Verna, Dad’s oldest sister, was also an amazing cook. Over the years, when the Springer cousins came to Kansas to attend Hesston College, it was Aunt Verna who took us in when we needed a home-cooked meal. She fed the multitudes. We put our feet under her beautifully set table, and after Uncle Orval offered the blessing – always ending with “Forgive us when we have sinned. Help us to forgive others” – we gratefully ate all the things she put before us. She remembered what we liked, made extra mashed potatoes when her nephews were in attendance, and humbly accepted our gratitude for every delicious mouthful. Dinner at Aunt Verna’s also included a prolonged time of fellowship at the kitchen sink after the meal to help clean up. I still marvel at the sheer number of people she entertained during her lifetime, and that she did it in such a tiny kitchen and without the benefit of a microwave or dishwasher.
In addition to showing me how to cook, both Mom and Aunt Verna both modeled an easy, open hospitality. They inspire me to open our home to others and share food and fellowship. I’m only beginning to understand how important their example has been in the way we live today.
This recipe for Molasses Crinkles started with Aunt Verna, who shared it with Mom. Mom made a few changes and shared it with me. I’ve made a few changes and now share this version with you. My guys give it “five thumbs up.” Enjoy this rich and spicy taste of fall!
Mix the following together thoroughly:
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar (brown or white)
¼ cup molasses
Sift together and stir in:
2 cups + 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves (I sometimes substitute ground cardamom here)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup candied ginger bits (optional)
Chill dough. Roll into balls and dip the tops in sugar (I like to use demerara sugar – it gives the cookie a lovely crunch). Place sugar side up and three inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with two or three drops of water to produce a crackled surface on the cookie (optional).
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until set, but not hard. Makes three dozen cookies.
Andrea Springer wears many hats. She’s a knitter and knitting instructor, life coach/consultant, public radio show host, wife, stepmom, daughter, sister, friend, and volunteer. Andrea is passionate about helping people express themselves through knitting and maybe helping them uncover additional gifts and talents in the process. You can follow her blog at www.knittingsavant.com.