When I was eleven years old, I’d just returned to the States for my Best Christmas Ever. For the greater part of my childhood, I’d been living in a Muslim country, where I hadn’t seen a lot of evidence of Christmas other than the inside of our own home. That year, we were on homeleave (meaning we didn’t have a place to go), so we went to the ancestral home in a very small town in the hills of rural Ohio. My extended family made up a significant percentage of the local population, and they offered their spare bedrooms to us. I’d never before been surrounded by so much family. I met cousins and some of the aunts and uncles for the first time. The wonders of Christmas and the quintessential small-town setting in picturesque wooded hills made it idyllic.
But family made it the best. And traditions made it such fun! One of our favorite traditions was food, of course, so we enjoyed gathering around various tables. But the one that stands out the most was the table in my Aunt Rachel’s farm kitchen. She was renowned in the valley for her cooking, and she pampered us with her skill. Her oven had a window, where I could watch her little balls of dough magically spread into sugared, molasses cookies. I’ve made it my tradition ever since to bake her cookies this time of year, and I want to share it with you:
Aunt Rachel’s Molasses Cookies
(makes 5 1/2 dozen)
- Melt 2/3 cup butter and mix with 2 cups brown sugar.
- Add 3 eggs and 1/2 cup molasses. Mix thoroughly.
- 5 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsps cinnamon
- 2 tsps ginger
- 4 tsps soda
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, shape into balls the size of a walnut, and roll in granulated sugar. Bake 8 minutes at 375.