Friday, April 30, 2010

Homemade rocks

Grandma couldn't cook. Overdone meat, mushy veggies and eggs sorta rubbery. She even gifted my mother a cookbook on her wedding day, and its inscription read
"To Marjorie, with the hopes she become a better cook than I"
But us kids saw it different. My sister and I still talk about the big slab of chocolate cake she'd put in front of us on a red flowered plate, the frosting dense with bitter chocolate and all washed down with a half a quart of milk so cold it froze your throat. Did I mention she made the cake with bacongrease?

But her masterpiece was Molasses cookies. And she made them in the big bowl in the top picture. Then she'd store them in a coffee can lined with wax paper. That can always seemed to be full of cookies. Chewey, gingery, and and big as baseballs.

So this morning I decided to throw out a batch of rocks. I've had the right molasses for weeks in the cupboard, it has to be Brer Rabbit because thats what she used. I am happy to trumpet the news I can still operate a mixer, follow a recipie and my spices are even reasonably fresh.

At the last minute, I decided to add extra raisins.

Here they are baked and stacked on a pedalstal cookie stand I made special just for today.

I only got sappy once while making these, the moment I took the first bite. The light-as-a-cloud texture, the cinnamon and dark molasses taste and I swore I could feel her standing in the kitchen with me. Its not really about the cookies, its about the love.
Pottery news: new pears in my shop tomorrow

Here's the cookie plate painted with a naturey theme. The base is made to look like a tree trunk.
Grandma's Molasses Cookies
One half cup shortening creamed with 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
Add one beaten egg
3/4 C. dark molasses
1/4 C. boiling water. mix
dry ingredients
3 C. flour
1 t salt
1 t soda
1 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 t cloves
One cup raisins*
Mix to drop consistancy
Place on silpat well apart, they spread.
Bake 15 to 20 min at 350.
*I mixed black and yellow raisins and its very nice.


vicki said...

Oh Julie - I have been dreaming about molasses cookies - how did you know! These look wonderful - so I WILL be making them for sure! Thanks for sharing the recipe dear! Your pears are totally lovely and I LOVE the little platter and spoon!


farmlady said...

Oh Julie, this is a wonderful post. Your story brought back memories of my grandma's kitchen and how it always smelled so good. It reminded me that she used lard for her pie crusts and molasses for sweeteners in just about everything.
I'm sure that your grandma was standing right beside you as you baked those cookies and I'll bet she was smiling when you wrote this story about her.
Did you feel that kiss on your cheek?

susan jenkins said...

Oh my, I laughed out loud and sighed as I read with fond memory about the molasses cookies gramma made for us. Everytime we came up to visit there they were in the coffee tin. We all tried for years to make them like she did and you have done it!
I so love your plate, beautiful and your pears so precious. Love the pictures of the molasses and then the stack of cookies!! I'm so happy I live in the neighborhood!!
Gramma would be proud.
Love sis

Roseanna said...

Julie, those cookies look delicious. I love ginger cookies. I will be making these tomorrow. The pedestal plate is just gorgeous...I 've been thinking about a platter. My family was and is all about the food, such memories are evoked from all those recipes. I am so happy that my daughters have carried on the tradition of cooking and baking.

P.S. I hope you received my email regarding the painting on brass.

Aunt Jenny said...

I bet alot of us will be baking these cookies tomorrow...I know I will! They sound just like MY grandma's cookies too. I can hardly wait. That cookie plate is just adorable...LOVE it! The pears and spoon too...But then I love all your work..irrisistable all!
Have a wonderful weekend..and thanks for the house will smell heavenly...and I can hardly wait

Erin @ I Heart New England said...

What a lovely story, delicious recipe, and beautiful pottery! I absolutely love that cookie plate!! ♥

Sweet Birdy Love said...

Hey Julie, lovely to read your post, nice memories and the cookies look so yummy.
Brer Rabbit molasses, I think I would buy a bottle just for the label if we had it here in Oz.
Love your cookie stand it's just too cute and the pears are great.
Bee skeps, foxes and Bluebirds so many beautiful things to look at and admire.
Might have to try this recipe as it seems to be a favourite with alot of people.
P.S. Was thinking about you last night and wondering if you have finished your Marion Cran book?

Delila Jemaiel said...

I love baking, not that much cooking. I imagine the scent of these molasses cookies. i have one good recipe also, but i will surely try to bake with your recipe. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post Julie!


p.s. i am waiting with excitement to see my mug... though no hurry!

Librarian said...

I want that cookie stand!!! I positively gasped when I saw the beautiful butterfly and other things you've painted on it. If my mum got it for her birthday, she'd probably make cookies every week just to have a reason to use the cookie stand :-) (Have I ever mentioned that my mum is an excellent cook and makes wonderful cakes and muffins and cookies?)

a mermaids purse said...

bless grandma, love that story x
funny thing is my nanny was a great cook but my mum seemed to burn everything!!- we used to laugh and say is it 'charcoal' for dinner?...hehe ;0)xx

love the pottery pears!
i admire you so much, lovely post as always xx

Claire said...

Hey Julie, another lovely post, with wonderful memories attached.
Love the Brer Rabbit molasses I think I would buy a bottle just for the label it's so cute.
The cookie pedestal stand is very sweet just right for displaying a stack of cookies.
Bee skeps, foxes and blue birds some of my favourite things, the new pears are great. You must be enjoying your new work space, have you finished your Marion Cran book yet, hope you enjoyed it.

Jo said...

Oh my mouth is watering!! Just did a quick mental check that I had all those ingredients in the cupboard, as those cookies look simply scrummy.

Love, love, love your work, Julie - they always bring to my mind happy memories of a bygone age, and precious times reading Beatrix Potter and the Brambley Hedge tales. Your pears, cookie plate and spoon and truly gorgeous. Thank you.
Hugs x

Pat said...

Bet those cookies are just wonderful and LOVe the plate you made!! As always, your work is so imaginative and fun! take care, pat

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Those cookies look rather tasty, Julie and look so good set against the delightful pedestal plate. Love the last photo looking down on the plate and spoon. Lesley x

Ruostevilla said...

The recipe reminds a lot Finnish christmas ccokies, which I adore, must try yours. Beautiful memories.
Oh, I made four candle holders out of clay today after work - thanks to you!

cabin fever said...

Such a wonderful tribute to all of our grandmothers! I, too, remember those cookies, and yes, my grandmother also used nothing but Brer nice to remember all of those memories.

LOVE the new pieces, especially the cookie plate. The pears look so pretty all in a row, too.

xoxo Liz

PS. Speaking of grandmothers- Just returned from the shower for Sarah and baby Ada Maeve, named in honor of Sarah's Cape Cod grandmother, and my grandmother's good friend. It is a small grandmother-world after all!

Vintage Fairy Tales Rebecka said...

Will you please bring some cookies for the afternoon tea!?
We will all be there!
Bring as many as you can,
The Skating Monkey is hungry!
Love the pears, the one with the fox is a favourite!

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

we are smelling us some molasses cookies over here....yes we are...

that is so old fashion and cozy...

me and teddy are going to make 'em....

and LOVE the coffee can....

donkey baking molasses cookies

Tracey Broome said...

Hey: The recipe looked yummy and I just tried it and let me just say, this proves I am NOT a baker! I thought I followed the recipe but they were terrible. My daughter and I both had to spit them out when we took a bite! I knew something was wrong when the batter looked a lot like dirt, very dark compost. They sort of tasted the same way. I am wondering where the butter and sugar are in these cookies? They looked nothing like yours when they came out, shoot, yours looked mouth watering!

A Time to Dance said...

They look lovely Julie, my gran used to make rock buns and my dad used to tease her and say have you any of those stale buns to break my teeth on? :-)

dc said...

I've been meaning to look for a molasses cookie recipe so thank you! Have you ever made these with butter instead of veg. shortening?

Lori ann said...

What a completly lovely post, it made me happy, weepy, envious and full of joy. And hungry! those cookies look wonderful, but oh that cake plate! Julie you are genius.
thank you for sharing the recipe, so sweet!
xo lori

dc said...

I baked these last night and boy were they delicious! I made them with butter instead of shortening and omitted the ground cloves(only had whole cloves) plus since some of the kids don't raisins I omitted those as well. Oh, and they only took about 10-11 minutes to bake in my oven.

I may have to bake more today since I was going to bring them to our elem. school garden club this afternoon and there aren't many left!

Thanks again!

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...


Yes! Sugar and shortening ingredients at the top of recipie!!!
I'm sorry you didn't see it!

art spirit said...

Can't wait to try your cookie recipe!
Love your post and the wonderful cookie stand with the tree trunk base-what a great idea! Of course, I love everything you make!

julie said...

dear Everyone,
thank you for your wonderful comments! Grandma would love this so much. And dc, I've made them with butter, yes. very good.

Gloria Freshley said...

Hi Julie, I've been thinking about these cookies for 5 days now. As soon as I finish commenting, I will make them! The pears are really very charming. Just lovely! Thanks for everything...

La Dolce Vita said...

amazing blog and your work is wonderful!! I will have to come back and visit often!!

April said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Be still my beating heart! I have just found your work and your Blog, thanks to Rebecka Ryberg. I would just about commit a crime to have that hedgehog tea cup...and the Donkey plate! I think I am hyperventalating! I am too excited to look up that word to see if I spelled it correctly- OH MY!

Lesley said...

They look very tasty indeed! I love hearing your memories of your grandma, it makes me think of helping to make jam tarts in my nan's old kitchen and how she used to keep her milk and yoghurt on the windowsill because she didn't have a fridge. Doesn't food evoke so many memories? Your pottery is so beautiful, and wonderful to have made a special stand especially for them. And you already know I do so love your pears. Such a beautiful painting style you have. Thanks for the sharing the recipe. xx

calamitykim said...

I am so thrilled you shared the recipe! The hunt is on for Brer Rabbit Molasses! I love the cake stand and the pears are gorgeous! Are you putting that little scene with the face (on your Flickr) in the Etsy shop? I can't tell you enough how wonderful your work is! I will be sure to take pictures and link back to your recipe if I make some cookies this weekend!
calamity k

Patricia Griffin said...

Hi Julie! So fun seeing your blog and this post. I love your pears and spoons. They make me smile. Very nice!

annamaria said...

So lovely and yummy to come here- I love stories about grandmothers and cookies...I think I am going to try your recipe- and I do love all the wonderful pottery you make-
thank you so much for sharing all this and being a real inspiration-
Annamaria xx

Nan said...

What a wonderful, wonderful posting. I love it that you still have her bowl, and I love it that you made a cookie pedestal for the recipe!

Claire said...

Hey Julie, thanks for dropping by, lovely to hear from you.
The Autumn colour is sooooo lovely, it's hard not to be inspired by it.
Next time I visit the Gardens I shall think of The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe.
Imagination is a wonderful thing. Life would be very boring if we didn't have one.
Hope you are well,

Claire X

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Hi Julie
Did I mention that I really like your banner? x

Furniture movers said...

It looks so good. Molasses cookies sound really delicious. I must try that recipe. Thank you for sharing.

laura said...

I am in love with your work & that recipe sound heavenly. xoxo Laura

Anonymous said...

oh Whitty Whitty Whitty, it's been too long since we have chatted! I think I smell those cookies from here-- mmmmmmmmm. Saw a bluebird today and thought of you too, popping in to say hello and send along a hug to you. Summer is here. A haze is as thick as that molasses and just not very nice, expecting a glorious week ahead. Take good care, xoxoxo Basil Sandi

Animals who garden

Animals who garden
Donkey with green paw