Wednesday, November 07, 2012

ginger sugar cookies {what good memories are made of}

there are a few foods that transport me to specific places in time.
do you have foods like that?

one of my favorite trigger foods is also my favorite cookie.

ginger sugar cookies signal the arrival of fall and winter. they put me in the holiday spirit.
even better, they remind me of a darling lady that i adored from gorgeous western new york. 
grandma linnea. 
my sister is lucky to be named after her :) she technically wasn't my actual grandma, 
but who would have ever known? she loved us as family. mostly my mama. 
we swedish folk stick together, i guess. she told such funny and sweet stories of my mom, 
she was her sunday school teacher! 

one winter during my horrendous teen years, i visited linnea. 
it was different than all the other visits i'd had with her. not only was i there for several months, 
this time, i had all the cookies to myself.

her fabulous and legit vintage kitchen built by her husband 
was the canvas for creating magic with spices, sugar and butter.
this woman, nearly crippled, would scoot around in a little wheeled dining chair. 
whistling and singing, and chatting. all. day. long. 

i can still hear her cute little swedish voice.

whenever we woke up, we'd start coffee, and preheat the oven.

spritz cookies, shortbread, ginger sugar cookies...
we baked and baked and baked together. 
a few dozen for us cookie monsters, and most for neighbors and her friends at the nursing home.
linnea made amazing cookies, and she loved sharing them.

she'd say "hannah! aren't you going to eat any cookies?!?"
when she knew i'd eaten probably a dozen already.
so i ate more. no way i'd disappoint an adorable swedish grandma.

looking back, i wonder if it was more than just a passion and ministry for her. 
i think it was therapy. and maybe worship, too.

while we'd wait for dough to chill or cookies to bake just right, 
we'd watch something. guiding light and as the world turns. those were her faves. 
i've never figured out why such a sweetie old lady was so addicted to those soaps. 
i suffered through them for her sake. i mean, i was basically in cookie heaven.
it didn't matter what we watched. usually in the afternoon, we'd pop in home alone on vhs. 
every afternoon to be exact. it was one of the only movies she owned. and she loved it. 
i can still hear her laughing.

maybe that's why it's one of my favorites, too.
i can practically recite every line from that john hughes holiday masterpiece.

we'd laugh and talk a lot. even cry a little. she usually cried sweetly when telling stories of her childhood.

we'd drink coffee, and play ninety rounds of skip bo 
(with plenty of extra skip bo cards in the deck, of course) until the wee hours of the morning. 

it was a beautiful gift to me, time with her that winter.
only, i don't think i really understood how special it even was until recently.

her walk with jesus and her living out love for others impresses and humbles me.
she was so patient and so unconditional with my crazy teenager self. what a blessing she was.

i'm so grateful i could know linnea for awhile on this earth. and someday, on the heaven side of life,
i'll see her again. for now, i bake these most delicious cookies and remember her well.

i hope you'll try them, too!

ginger sugar cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar, for rolling

sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. set aside. mix sugar and butter until fluffy.
blend in molasses and egg. beat in flour mixture.
refrigerate dough for one hour.
preheat oven to 375.
shape dough into balls(i like to make tiny ones), then roll in sugar. 
place two inches apart on parchment lined(or lightly greased) cookie sheets.
bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown. i start with 6 minutes, watch them like a hawk 
until i see them just starting to get right. i like them a little soft, but crispy on the edges :)
loosen from baking sheets while still warm.

these would make a delightful treat for someone!
they also ship super well!

or a yummy little favor at a thanksgiving gathering.

and totally perfect for christmas, too!


  1. I love this post, sweetiepants.

  2. The first time I had these at your house I must have eaten at least a dozen. They are dangerously good. :) I make them every Christmas since your mom gave me the recipe. I wish I had met Linnea.

  3. These cookies are gorgeous and I can just about taste them through the computer right now :) What wonderful memories you have to go with them! Isn't it so satisfying to carry on a tradition? Love this post.

  4. Love this sweet story. I have a such a grandma self, not really on the tree but totally wrapped up in the depths of my heart.

    We are making these cookies today. Amen.


  5. So, I'm not a fan of ginger, but you make these look SO good! I love food memories, and a few of mine deal with my Grandma. I hope I'm creating good food memories for my kids (but they'll probably just remember me barking at them to eat more veggies).

  6. I love this post. I think if we're lucky (blessed?), we all have one such lady in our childhood. What lovely memories!

    I can't wait to make these, Hannah! I'm not a big fan of ginger, but for some reason I love me some ginger cookies! Thank you for sharing the recipe! :-)

  7. Love this post and I totally picked up the ginger & cloves at the store just now! I'm assuming you use ground cloves & ground ginger? Can't wait to make these!!

  8. this made me cry!! what a beautiful story. i adore my 1/2 swedish 1/2 norwegian grandmother and your post made me want to jump in my car and go visit her.
    the cookies look and sound SOOO yummy - can't wait to try your recipe :)
    Blessings, beautiful!

  9. Gosh that story is too sweet.

    Also, about those cookies shipping well...

  10. so. you are a great photog. and a great packager.

  11. hannah. this post is so incredibly sweet.

  12. i saw your cookie ig pic. and then cheered when i saw some premade ginger molasses dough at tj's. i bought them, made them, ate them, and thought of you the whole time. : )

  13. Girl. This struck me today. To the core. Tears of appreciation and understanding.
    Love you for writing it...

  14. Ha! I just posted my Molasses Gingersnap cookie recipe on my blog! Those cookies make up at least 75% of Lauren's body:-) My recipe came from my aunt who passed away when Lauren was 2. I've been making them for at least 40 years. One ingredient I don't use in mine that yours does is cloves. They are a family favorite though!

  15. i love ginger cookies
    and i love the story behind yours.
    and so happy that baking season is upon us.

  16. I have a recipe that is pretty much identical to this one. My favorite cookies for this time of year!

  17. way to pull at my heart strings miss hannah.super sweet story.

    my great grandma was polish/// she was always putting more and more food on my plate/// miss that : )

  18. Oh I can't WAIT to make these cookies!!!
    And can I tell you how beautifully photographed this piece is?
    Really lovely, Hannah.
    After looking through all the pictures, I want to make them right now!!
    Love from,