Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Rural Clarkston, Washington -- October 2016
I commented to sister Harriet the other day that nothing much is happening in “real time” and maybe I should post another old recipe.

Harriet said: “I think old recipes are interesting.  Grandma had one that came from WWI, I think, that was a ginger cookie without sugar.  I can’t remember exactly what it had in it, but it was interesting.  Maybe it was a molasses cookie.  She used to make them often when I stayed with her in 1938-39.  She said Grandpa taught her to make rolls, and she taught me how to roll the dough into little balls.  Grandpa was overseeing the operation and making comments so I could get it to perfection. I don’t think I have done it since.”
I knew the recipe in question. I have it, written in our Grandmother Portfors’ hand, in my folder of recipes. (It’s possible I have posted this before.)

Mrs. Portfors Ginger Cookes
8 c sifted flour
4 tsp soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
Sift 4 cups of the flour; add soda, salt, ginger, and spices. Sift together 3 times.

3 c molasses
1 ½ c shortening (measured, then melted)

2/3 c boiling water
Combine these 3 ingredients with 4 cups of flour, then mix thoroughly and add to above mixture (the flour and spices).

Dough must be chilled -- overnight is best. Either roll the dough or break off small pieces and roll into rounds, then flatten with sugar-coated glass.

Grandma Portfors concludes that her grandmother made these the size of her lunch pail and put one on top of her lunch. "Wonderful cookies,” she says.

Harriet had dated the recipe about World War I, but it is actually much older, coming out of the mid-19th century, or even before. According to Grandma Portfors, these cookies were made by her grandmother (Eliza Brophy Stinson).

I’ve never tried this recipe. It takes so much flour – and expensive molasses. And it makes my arms ache to think of mixing it. It’s such a large recipe that I’m not sure the bowl of my stand mixer would accommodate it. Maybe I’ll try half a recipe someday.

My dad’s family, the Dobsons, also had a molasses cookie recipe handed down through the generations – much the same. They were my dad’s favorite and he made them often. KW


Hallie said...

I am surprised at how little salt and cinnamon there is relative to the amount of flower and soda.

Kathy said...

Yes, I wondered about the salt myself. Why bother to add 1/4 tsp salt to 8 cups of flour? I think the molasses and soda will take care of the salt.

I actually found another written copy of this recipe. I'm thinking of posting it, too, because it's more conversational and actually gives some pointers. It's nice to find Grandma Portfors somehow.