Four Grandmothers Gingerbread Cookies


Last December I finally tried my hand at one of the most coveted recipes within the pages of my Great-Grandmother Miriam’s recipe book: her soft ginger cookies. She made them every Christmas when I was a child; we looked forward to them so much that she even wrote, “the kids like these” in the recipe (the entire thing is handwritten, another aspect of the treasure).

Blessed with a quiet afternoon to myself, the baby napping and the other children at school, I set about mixing up the dough in my trusty KitchenAid mixer, which was a wedding gift from Grandma Ruth. As I got out my rolling pin and cookie cutters, it suddenly dawned on me that my cookie baking was accompanied by not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR of my grandmothers.

These bowls will last a lifetime and become family heirlooms to pass down from generation to generation - and that's the kind of quality that can't be bought in a big department store.

Our pottery mixing bowls will last a lifetime and become family heirlooms to pass down from generation to generation. That’s the kind of quality that can’t be bought in a big department store.

Two greats, and two grands: Great-Grandma Miriam’s handwritten recipe, Great-Grandma Jane’s wooden rolling pin, the mixer from Grandma Ruth, and antique cookie cutters from Grandma Toody (whose real name is also Ruth, but that’s another post). Sadly, the two “greats” have passed on, but my two grandmothers are still with us. What a gift it was to make these cookies with all of them “present” with me!

Here’s Great-Grandma Miriam’s recipe, word for word.

Soft Ginger Cookies
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  1. 3/4 c. molasses
  2. 1/2 c. melted shortening (don't substitute butter)
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 2 tsp. strong vinegar
  5. 2 tsp. soda
  6. 1 tsp. baking powder
  7. 2 cups flour
  8. 1/2 c. sugar
  9. 1 tsp. ground ginger
  10. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  11. 1 egg
  12. 1/2 c. buttermilk
  1. Mix all ingredients together in the order given.
  2. Then stir in 2 more cups flour.
  3. Roll out thick and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Cut out in desired shapes.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.
  1. Dough will be sticky - use a generous amount of flour to roll out and cut out!
  2. These were RAGINGLY popular last Christmas. I made all star shapes and the cinnamon-sugar mixture gave them just the right hint of glitter.
  3. They don't require icing, but if you really HAD to, you could do a nice butter cream or even cream cheese icing.
Lehman's Country Life
 Editor’s note: This post first published in December 2014.