Joan’s Chewy-Delicious Ginger Cookies

These ginger cookies are killer, but you will need to endure my story to get to the recipe, so sayeth my husband!

During a recent trip to visit family in Rhode Island, I took a detour and drove to my childhood home in Massachusetts. An hour later, I was sitting in the kitchen of a woman I had never met, eating the most delicious, chewy on the inside, crackly on the outside, flavor-FULL ginger cookie.

The welcoming woman’s name was Joan Sapir, and our room was once the kitchen of my aunt’s bustling summer house. This kitchen was a happening place when I was a kid, and I gathered from my brief visit with Joan it continues to be.

Like for many of us, when we decide to visit the place where we grew up, I was driven by an ache for that which was familiar — my childhood home, my beautiful mother,

my brothers,

my grandmother who lived down the road,

the beach community where sunbathing mothers sat on the jetty in aluminum foldup chairs knitting wool sweaters designed by local guru PS Straker, occasionally stopping to do mom things like rebait a child’s drop line. I can see my mom knitting my pink Candide cabled crewneck sweater– apparently, the same pattern my friend Suzy’s mom knit for her.

For old times’ sake, I walked the well-worn path around our hamlet, affectionately known as the “DONUT.” I was doing just that when I met Joan in front of her house. She said, Hello, and that was all the prompting I needed to tell her my childhood life story and how her house was once my second home. What could she do but invite me in? When I walked in and saw the narrow steps leading to the upstairs bedrooms, my eyes welled up. How often had my cousins and I run up and down those stairs?

After a lovely visit with Joan and a few more impromptu visits with former neighbors (Nina, Suzy, and Erin), I drove home. My heart was full; how affirming is it to be remembered and welcomed by old friends fifty years later? Crazy as it may sound, even the cottages, whose gabled roofs my brothers and I routinely climbed when the summer folk left, seemed to wink as I walked by.

The Cookie Recipe

Well, that is the story behind this ginger cookie. It is as much a story about the power of radical hospitality and returning to one’s roots as it is about a cookie

A few notes about the ingredients:

Molasses and Sorghum Syrup

You can use molasses or sorghum in this recipe. I tested both, plus blackstrap molasses, a medicinal-tasting syrup many cooks say not to use for baking. They were all good. A little research showed that three cycles of boiling and crystallization of sugar beets or cane are required to make refined sugar. With each stage of processing, more sugar is extracted and the molasses, a byproduct of sugar production, becomes a little less sweet. Regular molasses has been through two extractions and blackstrap has been through three, making it more minerally dense.

Sorghum syrup, on the other hand, is made by boiling down juice extracted from sorghum cane. It has an earthy taste and is delicious on biscuits. Check out Raising Sorghum Cane to Make Sorghum Syrup to learn how it is made. I have a friendly relationship with Kentucky farmers who grow, harvest, and cook sorghum. I prefer it to molasses and substitute it cup for cup.
 

Measuring Flour
I weigh flour for consistent baking results. Place a bowl on a kitchen scale, zero out the bowl’s weight, and pour in flour until the scale reads 1 pound, 6 ounces. It’s easy peasy.

Sifting Dry Ingredients Together
In the old days (when I was a kid), cooks used a mechanical sifter to mix dry ingredients. You don’t see sifters much anymore; nowadays, cooks place dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together.

Portioning out the Dough
Bakeries use cookie scoops to portion dough to achieve consistent baking results. I once took a deep dive into the world of cookie scoops and learned that each scoop has a tiny number engraved on it that tells a baker how many cookies they will get from one quart of dough (or of ice cream, their initial intended use). Here’s a link: Cookie Scoops as a Unit of Measure. Who knew?

Sugar Topping
The cookies are topped with coarse-grained sugar, giving them a beautiful finish. Joan introduced me to King Arthur’s Sparkling White Sugar. It’s a game changer for providing cookies that have that bakery look. The crystals do not dissolve while cooking. An alternative is turbinado or plain sugar.

Yield: 4 dozen, 3-inch cookies

Ingredients:

The recipe I have written is a doubled version of Joan’s. The cookies have a long shelf life, freeze well, and are happily received as gifts; it makes sense to double it and only mess up the kitchen once.

½  cup coarse-grained sugar
5 cups (22 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup sorghum or unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs

Mise en Place

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350º.
Use 3 ungreased cookie sheets.

Place the ½ cup of coarse-grained sugar for sprinkles in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium bowl. Use a whisk to thoroughly mix. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Be sure to pause and scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula.

Add sorghum (or molasses) and eggs. Beat until well-blended, about one minute.

Add flour mixture. Mix slowly until white flour streaks disappear, about 30 seconds. At this point, you could cover dough and put in fridge and bake later.

Portion dough using a #40 cookie scoop, about a heaping teaspoon. Each 3-inch cookie weighs ~1 ounce. For ease, I portion out all the dough at once and then roll each into smooth balls.

Dunk each ball’s top half into the sugar bowl and arrange on a cookie sheet about 2-inches apart.

Bake in a preheated oven until cookies are golden, have puffed up, cracked on top, and started to deflate; about 12-15 minutes. You may have to fool around with the cooking time. Reposition pans in oven halfway through cooking. Do not overbake. Remove from oven, let stand for two minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. I think the cookies taste best a few hours after baking.

Related Posts from Bay View Neighbors:

My aunt, who lived in Joan’s house, is famous for Auntie’s Italian Fried Cauliflower.

Another of my aunts from Bay View makes this delicious entrée, Rachelle’s Italian Sausage, Onions, and Peppers.

My cousin is famous for Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips.

Erin McHugh, author of Pickleball, is Lifeis featured in this Thanksgiving favorite, Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie.

My husband, The Biscuit King, is famous for his step-by-step biscuit-making recipe the results of which are best slathered in butter and sorghum.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2022 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may not be reproduced without the written consent of Judy Wright.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries

I can not get enough of sweet, roasted chunks of butternut squash in the fall. I like to keep a whole cooked squash in the fridge to use in salads where the bright orange squash chunks take the place of tomatoes, or for use in warm, hearty grain salads made with onions, peppers, kale, and farro. Recently, I picked up a few butternut squashes and Brussels sprouts at a farmstand and roasted them with olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper.  When they came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with dried cranberries and a drizzle of sorghum syrup. The result was as colorful as it was yummy.
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Prepping butternut squash can be a challenge. The shell is hard to peel, and it feels like you are risking life and limb when you try to cut into one. I make a shudder/squirm movement everytime I make that first cut as I try to shake off the image of me lopping off one of my fingers. Here is a cooking tip, so none of us will ever have to face that scenario, microwave the squash for a few minutes to soften the shell and then peel and slice it. To do this, cut the tips off of each end of the squash, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, pierce the squash up and down its length with a fork, and microwave for three to five minutes depending on whether the squash is cold or at room temperature.
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The Recipe
Yield: makes 8-9 cups

Ingredients:
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2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stem trimmed and quartered
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon McCormick’s Garlic Pepper
⅔ cup dried cranberries
2 heaping tablespoons sorghum syrup or honey

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400º

Prep Brussels sprouts: wash, dry, trim the stem, and quarter lengthwise.
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Prep butternut squash. Microwave to soften shell and then peel, slice into discs, and dice into bite-sized pieces.
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Toss butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper in a bowl. Spread into two parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheets.
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Roast for 20 minutes and then rotate pans on oven racks. Cook until done, about 20 minutes more. Remove pans from oven and immediately add about a third of a cup of cranberries and a heaping tablespoon of sorghum (or honey) to each pan. Stir together in a bowl and serve.
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Here it is served with Brooks’s recipe for Pork Tenderloin and Perfect Rice Every Time!

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Favorite Fall Desserts
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

@judyschickens Homemade Healthy Super Delicious Granola

When I started making my own granola, the family couldn’t get enough of it. Yes, it was nutritionally dense and packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, but it was also sweet and salty, making it addictive and high in calories.

Granola

I recently read Michael Moss’s bestseller, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. He wrote, “To make a new soda guaranteed to create a craving requires the high math of regression analysis and intricate charts to plot what industry insiders call the “bliss point,” or the precise amount of sugar or fat or salt that will send consumers over the moon.” With the concept of the bliss point in mind, I began tailoring my recipe to reign in the salt and sugar content and decrease the calories. I had to make quite a few batches to get to a healthier and tolerable bliss point.

Here is a list of the dry ingredients and their corresponding nutritional attributes (starting with the bowl of coconut at the top of the photo):

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Coconut: fiber, iron, zinc
Pecans: antioxidants, vitamin E, protein
Craisins: antioxidants, fiber
Ground Flax Seed: omega 3’s, fiber, protein & lignans
Raw Pumpkin Seeds: magnesium, zinc, omega 3’s
Brown Sugar: calcium, iron
Wheat Germ: vitamin E & folic acid
Raw Sunflower Seeds: vitamin E & magnesium
Almonds: protein, fiber, vitamin E, minerals
Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats: lowers LDL cholesterol, fiber
Chia seeds: high in fiber and protein

Ingredients:
granola
8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups wheat germ
1 cup ground flax seed (optional)
1 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup raw, unsalted, pumpkin seeds
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
¼ cup chia seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅔ cup sorghum syrup (or honey)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
2 cups dried cranberries

Yield: 4.5 pounds

Preheat oven to 250º

Mix the oats, wheat germ, flax, brown sugar, seeds, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

Granola

Into a 4-cup liquid measure, pour ⅔ cup olive oil, add sorghum until it reaches the 1⅓ cup line, and add hot water until it reaches the 2⅓ cup line. Stir in vanilla and whisk until well mixed.

granola

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and immediately mix until all ingredients are uniformly coated.

Pour mixture into two  13″ by 18″ rimmed baking pans.

.Granola

Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, add the cranberries and mix. The granola will become crunchy as it cools. Store in an airtight container when cooled. It freezes well.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds add a nice crunch and are high in fiber and protein. “Chia” comes from the Mayan word for “strength, ” Apparently, athletes swear by them for improving endurance. The chia seeds are on the right. The flax seeds are on the left.

granola

A tasty and nutritious breakfast:

I enjoy having a half cup of granola with simple-to-make homemade plain yogurt or kefir for breakfast. Kefir is a slightly sour probiotic drink that has the consistency of liquid yogurt. If you add berries to the top, it’s like eating a sundae for breakfast!

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Related Breakfast Posts
Fruit and Nut Bread
The Biscuit King
The Navel Mary Way: How to Peel an Orange

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© 2014-2022 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Oats, Sorghum, Ginger and Cranberry Cookies

My son is leaving town after a nice visit home and I have a need to send him off with his favorite cookies. Will this ever change? He said they are so hearty he eats them for breakfast. I like the way he is thinking; hearty sounds like a meal instead of a dessert. I would have seconds in that scenario.

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One of the key ingredients in this recipe is ginger, a spice that imparts heat and sweet at the same time. Usually, I use ground ginger, but since I had fresh ginger root in the fridge, I decided to grate it and see how it affected the taste.  The change was mind-blowing. Between the ginger and the sorghum, this is one very flavorful cookie.

Yield: 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients:   
sorghum oat cookies     
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons ground ginger or 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sorghum (could substitute honey or molasses)
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups raisins, Craisins, or dried cherries
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (use sunflower seeds if allergic to nuts)

Topping mixture: you’ll need a small bowl of water, and a little sugar and salt

Prepare oven and baking pans:
Preheat oven to 350º.
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease pans with canola oil.

Mise en Place:
sorghum oat cookies

To melt butter: Place butter in a tempered-glass liquid measuring cup. Melt butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. If little flecks of butter remain after melting, that is okay; better to let them melt on their own than risk overheating and causing the butter to separate into fat, water, and milk solids.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

To prepare chopped nuts:  I won’t dirty the food processor for just one cup of nuts. Instead, place the measured amount of nuts in a baggie and use a meat mallet to crush them into small pieces.

Sorghum oatmeal cookies

To grate fresh ginger: As a general rule, when substituting fresh spice for a dried amount, use triple the amount of fresh. This recipe calls for 1½ teaspoons of ground ginger; I grated 1½ tablespoons instead. Know that 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. Also, you can store unpeeled ginger root in the freezer.

First, peel the ginger root and then grate. I used a fine-holed Microplane grater. The ground ginger will be very moist.
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To prepare eggs: Always break eggs in a separate bowl before adding to batter and then inspect for tiny broken shells or a foul-smelling yolk.

Measuring the flour: For a refresher course on how to properly measure dry ingredients, check out my post, Home Ec 101. As an FYI, I spooned the flour into the measuring cup and then leveled it off with a knife (or my finger!). If you scoop the measuring cup directly into the flour sack, it packs the flour into the cup. If you do that four times, for the required four cups of flour, you could add as much as one full cup of flour to this recipe.

Finally, make the cookies!
Into a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients: the flours, baking soda, salt, sugar, ginger, and oats. Mix on slow speed for about 30 seconds.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

Add the liquids: sorghum, melted butter, water, and eggs, and mix on low-medium speed for about one minute.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

Turn the machine off and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the Craisins and nuts and mix on slow speed for another 15 seconds. Over-mixing the flour could result in tough cookies.

Use a tablespoon or a cookie scoop to make golf ball-sized portions of dough.
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Place 12 balls of dough on each cookie sheet. Lightly press the balls with a fork placed on the dough in two different directions to create a criss-cross pattern.
sorghum cookies sorghum cookies

Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each cookie lightly with water followed by a sprinkle of sugar and a touch of salt.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

Bake cookies for 8 minutes and then rotate cookie sheets on oven racks. Set a timer. Cook for about 7 more minutes, or until just lightly browned. Best to err on the side of “I think they’re ready,” than “Ugh, too hard” when determining doneness. Place cookies on wire racks to cool. Cookies will harden as they cool.
sorghum cookies – Version 2

Other cookie recipes:
3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies!!!
Mary’s Award-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies
My Favorite Rollout Butter Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

Here are a few other recipes that use sorghum:
Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola
The Biscuit King
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Raising Sorghum Cane

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Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.