*Note: Use care when handling nettles. Their little stingers are not terribly dangerous, but they can cause a great deal of discomfort. I like to wear rubber gloves or use tongs to handle them...
There happen to be a few perfectly good recipes for ginger cookies in the Joy of Cooking. To add another to the repertoire may seem fruitless and redundant, but I am willing to take that chance for this recipe. Mothers possess a magical gift, which no celebrity chef, food guru, or culinary scientist can replicate. This gift is the ability to make food better than it can possibly be.
Because we attach importance to memory and link memory and the emotions we were experiencing at the time, that four-layer chocolate cake made from a box mix and love that Mom made for your birthday every year is the best chocolate cake you can remember eating no matter how many high-end, gourmet slices of chocolate cake you have consumed since. They don't taste as good as when she made it. This may seem irrational, but try asking your friends and family members if there is one thing in particular that their mother (or father) made that no one else's recipe can rival. Be it rice pudding, buttermilk biscuits, or lasagne, mother's command over a particular handful of recipes is inexplicably powerful.
One recipe from my childhood whose deliciousness cannot be usurped by any other is my mother's Molasses Ginger Cookies. Perfectly crisp, not too sweet, and as simple as all cookies should be, these deep brown lovelies are beyond perfection with a cup of strong coffee.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Melt in a small saucepan and let cool to room temperature:
½ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
In a medium-sized bowl, combine:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Melted and cooled shortening
¼ cup unsulphured molasses
¾ cup rolled oats
Fill a small bowl with:
¼ cup granulated sugar
Roll pieces of dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheets, leaving two inches between each ball. Dip the bottom of a two to three-inch drinking glass or bottle into the bowl of sugar. Press the glass down on each ball of dough to flatten it, dipping the bottom of the glass in the sugar before pressing each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.