Friday, October 17, 2008

Spicy and Soft Ginger Cookies

Final Day of Cookie Bookie Week

(Click here to see Monday's cookie on Serious Eats...)
With the cooling weather, there's just nothing better than a comfortable chair, a glowing fireplace, a cookie and a spooky story. Every day this week, I'm sharing a cookie and a few of my favorite October reads.... Today's Book: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee You probably didn't make it out of high school without reading this Pulitzer Prize winner, the only novel by the gifted Harper Lee. Since it is told from the perspective of a six year old girl, it has the warmth and innocent humor of a child's story, although it is rife with adult themes like racial inequality, rape, class issues, and child abuse. Like Washington Irving, Lee plucked true details from her southern upbringing. Lee had a protective brother four years elder, like Jem, and a summertime friend, like Dill, with a flair for exaggeration and story telling. It was none other than Truman Capote. A family near her home, ashamed of their son's legal troubles, kept him shut up in the house for decades, lending inspiration for the unlikely savior of the novel, Boo Radley. (When I was a girl, we had a gray horse in the backyard that we named Boo Radley. He was kind and gentle most of the time, but if you got in his way when he wanted out, he'd run you down. I'll tell you a story about the time he crossed paths with my mother some time.) Atticus, the story's gentle moral hero, is based on her lawyer father, who retired after defending two black men that were convicted of murder and hung. What makes this book especially delightful to read in October is the climax that occurs on Halloween night when Jem and Scout are walking home from the Maycomb County Carnival. I defy anyone not to shake and tremble a little when they read-from the perspective of a child in a ham costume-the rustling of leaves, a quiet but intense pursuit by a shamed killer. I can almost hear my heart pounding just thinking about it....

To Kill A Mockingbird is no casual spooky read; the inhumanity of Bob Ewell and the ignorance of the jury draw the reader into a dizzying moral outrage. Yet it is counterbalanced by the graceful dignity of Tom Robinson and the integrity and forbearance of Atticus, leaving the reader with an inspired sense of what mankind can be. This is an important one, so don't skip reading it. Even if you know it well, it's worth reading again and again. And in this rare case, the movie is just about as good as the book. Thanks for coming to Cookie Bookie Week. I've only scratched the surface her on my favorite October reads; I didn't even get started on Sherlock Holmes. There's always next year for more. And please don't forget October poetry, too. My favorite spooky reads are "Ode to the West Wind," by Percy Shelly, a portion of Shakespeare's witches lines from Macbeth (Double, double, toil and trouble), Alfred Noyes' "Highway Man," Service's "Cremation of Sam McGee,and "Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven." Our treat to eat while reading today is a crackly soft ginger cookie. I've tinkered and toyed with this recipe for years, until finally creating this spicy and sweet gem. Most ginger cookies call for shortening to get the characteristic crackles, but I use canola oil with a little bit of sour cream in mine. You get a fabulous soft texture and pretty crinkly outside, with a taste that I prefer to shortening. In addition to the usual round up of spices, I've added some black pepper. It gives the cookies just a little kick, not to hot, not to peppery, just enough to wake up your taste buds. Thanks for enjoying cookie bookie week; now go read!

Money Saving Tips: Since this cookie relies on oil instead of butter, it's one of the most economical you can make. This is my first pick whenever I have to make enormous amounts of cookies for bake sales, church parties, Italian family gatherings or other crowded events. If you don't have sour cream, use yogurt.
Spicy and Soft Ginger Cookies
$2.00 for 40 cookies
1/2 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour (I used half whole wheat)
cinnamon sugar for rolling the cookies (about 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together the oil, sour cream, sugar, and molasses. Stir in the egg. Add pepper, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and soda. Stir in flour. The dough will be soft and only slightly sticky. Form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar and place on cookie sheets about two inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are spread and beginning to look crackly. For softer cookies, underbake slightly and for crispier ones, let them go a minute or two longer. Let cool on cookie sheets for two minutes. Transfer to rack.
****These sturdy cookies are great for packaging and mailing.
Next Up:
Garlic and Rosemary Butternut Squash Lasagna

72 comments:

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

I love that they're soft. Hard ginger cookies aren't my fave. My niece is off to college and I told her I'd bake cookies for her and mail them. I know she likes ginger and these look like they'll survive the US Mail. lol

Dee said...

This is one of my all time favourite reads. Good pick! The best part about ginger cookies is that the little one doesn't like them *insert evil laugh*

Mary Ann said...

Soft Ginger Cookies just might be my favorite cookie ever. I don't know why. I love hard ginger cookies too. Basically anything with ginger is a hit with me. I am going to make these. I can't wait to try your version, especially since I am not a big fan of shortening. Glad you made some substitutions.

Candy said...

Oh I hate for cookie week to end! This is also one of my favorite books. And one of my favorite cookies.

Lisa said...

Loved your cookie bookie week! Can you believe I was an English major in college but have never read thatbook?!! I will need to put it on my list since I have heard so many great reviews on this classic.

Esi said...

I know a lot people say this, but To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my most favorite books! My essays on it helped me get into honors English and I used to read it all of the time. I think gingersnaps would be a great snack with that incredible book!

Jodie said...

I love ginger cookies- so fall/holiday. Yours look so comforting!

HoneyB said...

Grumpy loves soft cookies! I see the sour cream - have never seen that in a ginger cookie so I'm interested! Well, I'm interested because they look delicious too!

VeggieGirl said...

To Kill A Mockingbird = classic.

Spicy AND soft??? You know very well how I like my cookies then :0)

Fabulous (yet bittersweet) ending to Cookie Bookie Week!!

Audrey said...

Prudy, please stop! I am already overloaded with books to read (and books I've always meant to read) and cookie recipes to try, and You Are NOT Helping.:)

That's it. I'm NOT coming back here until tomorrow (for that lasagna...oooooh.)

(I'm also intrigud by the sour cream in these...I bet they have a perfect texture.)

A said...

Thanks for sharing all your cookie bookie's this week. I can't wait to try some of the cookie recipes. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic.. I need to dig mine out and read it again. Can't wiat for that butternut squash recipe. LOOOVE butternut squash, especially this time of year.

anudivya said...

Love ginger... Prudy do you have any low fat/whole wheat cookie recipes in your blog?

Mary said...

An American classic --- the book and the movie. Scout and Esme ( of To Esme with Love and Squalor) are my favorite portraits of childhood innocence and how wonderful life would be if we all had an Atticus in our lives.

Cathy said...

One of my all-time favorite books ever! I think it's time for a re-read, come to think of it. How wonderful it will be to munch on ginger cookies while reading it. I adored cookie bookie week and am sad to see it come to a close. Anytime you want to review books along with your recipes, it'll be great with me! Have a great weekend!

webbie said...

I love ginger cookies and I love To Kill a Mockingbird. The cookies look absolutely fabulous...I'm craving some with some milk.

As an aside, my aunt and uncle lived near Harper Lee in Monroeville AL many years ago. I got to meet her as a child. A true souther eccentric.

Catherine said...

Oh I'm so sad that this is the end of your book week! Thankyou for sharing all your favorites. The cookies look great, I will definitely have to give these ones a try.

PS I had forgotten that the horse Boo, was short for Boo Radley! Poor Mom!

MK and Co. said...

Great book and great cookie! I love the movie too! I believe it was Gregory Peck's best role. This cookie sounds so good today- As soon as I can get some laundry done I'm making some! Thanks Prudy

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I'm not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, but I just have to tell you that all of your cookies recipes this week have looked SO good. I'm going to get up the courage to give some a try. Thanks!

The Blonde Duck said...

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. You'll never believe this, but until sophomore year of high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a moral, kind lawyer that helped people (like my idol, Elle Woods.) Then I realized that they wouldn't let me spend all my time arguing in a courtroom and moved on to journalims (to be a moral, upstanding journalist).

Love the cookies!

Marjie said...

I do love soft ginger cookies. And I've loved To Kill a Mockingbird forever! Excellent Friday choices.

Maria said...

What a great way to end cookie week! They look super soft and delicious! And that is my all time favorite book. I just love it! Have a great weekend!

Dawn said...

Congrats for the nod at Serious Eats! You are so very talented.
I love how you put a creative twist on these ginger cookies.

Bridgett said...

Hands down this is one of my favorite books. I've read it several times through life and each time I got something different from it. While I am partial to Jane Austen, this book is just as amazing as anything she wrote.

gigi said...

Best of both worlds! Great job, Prudy! Love the book!

I really love the changes you made in this recipe, you know sour cream does wonders and a kick of pepper is most interesting. Have a grand weekend!

Ali said...

I am excited to try all your cookies!! Hopefully not all at once of I will blow up like a balloon!

Thanks for the fabulous recipes!

Ali

ps - did you win a free handbag from handbag planet? Somebody with your name close to where you live won one. Just wondering if it was you!

Jenny said...

Yum Prudy,
Your cookies look perfectly soft and tasty! Have a great weekend!

Cynthia's Blog said...

Prudy, thanks for the book Review. I always love to see Gregory Peck.
And I was planning on making a gingery cookie today too....Really!

Oh, and I hear you have a corndog recipe?

Aggie said...

I love ginger cookies, and these chewy ones look wonderful. You got me with Cookie Bookie week, love the idea and really loved reading about all your favorite books (I love to read...) and of course the cookies! I haven't read To Kill A Mockingbird since I was in school and I've never seen the movie so I may have to rent it now!

The Food Librarian said...

These look wonderful and what a great tie in to a classic book.

jessbcuz said...

I've been eating some soft ginger cookies all this week! glad to see i'm not the only one that associates this cookies with fall! I'll have to try your version next time.

Beth said...

Yep, I read it at Secondary School! I love ginger biscuits - my mum used to give them to me when I was feeling sick!!?

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Ok ok I'll go read now, but I'll grab a buncho of those, ok? I think they must be wonderful with the pepper, very clever Prudy!

1freshstart said...

Oh, these look so good! I might have to make them this weekend!
~Cat
PS: GREAT book!

Sara said...

Oh, Prudy, I loved your cookie bookie week! Thanks for all the good spooky reads!

Debinhawaii said...

Love both the movie and the book--great write ups on all the books this week. (and the cookies too!) You really do have to join Cook the Books! We need you! ;-)

JJ said...

Erin, You are killing me...soft ginger cookies really might be my all time favs...but I am supposed to be on a 1000 calerie diet...how many cookies do you think that is?

Nikki said...

I have so much to say about ginger, and cookies, and To Kill A Mockingbird but I'm just going to say this:

Yum.

Prudy said...

JJ:
I'm guessing about 120 calories each. Have two and a salad and call it lunch. That is my kind of diet.

Emily said...

Oh yummy cookies! Any soft cookies just curls my toes with delight! And what a great book to read (this is a really good movie too). I remember my mom reading when I had to in HS and talking about it almost every night . . . a tradition we keep alive with all the books we read (yes, including Twilight!!!) (She loves Gregory Peck too, Roman Holiday anyone?)

Rindy R said...

What a fun cookie today - You've been baking girl! So glad to hear you loved the movie "Magic of Ordinary days". I see your addiction starting already. The year I found it and fell in love with it - I gave it to every girl friend for their birthday and as a hostess gift with a note attached "Thanks for a "Magic" night"!
If you're like me your going to have to break down and buy it so the library can have their copy back! Have a great weekend!

Pam said...

I love soft, chewy cookies. I want to reread all the books you've mentioned, unfortunately, I'm in the middle of a very long book that is taking forever!

n.o.e said...

This is a great book, and I must say, the movie version is also swell. I'm excited about these cookies, especially to know about the shortening to oil+sour cream swap. Does it have to be full fat sour cream?
Nancy

Jacque said...

Yes, that was an awesome book, and your cookies look picture perfect. I love how crackly they look on top.

Nazarina A said...

Prudy,
I was going to say that I read this book in High school and that is when I scrolled down and read you mentioning the same exact line ha! ha! Those cookies, all I can say is that I shall be making them tomorrow because my husband read your post as well and he wants me to make them for him!It looks to die for!!

Prudy, I would love to extend an award to you. here is the link

http://giddygastronome.blogspot.com/2008/10/power-of-pink-awards-and-on-my-soap-box.html

Leslie said...

It says I am the 45th comment so who knows if you'll get a chance to read this.
I loved all of the book reports because I know these stories well, and count them as favorites.
I read The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow for the first time after reading your blog, and reread Rip Van Winkle. I have to say I preferred Rip to the other, but they were both fun to read. Also, Irving is believed to have created the genre of the short story in America. I did not know this.
The Woman in White was so frightening to read. I read it years ago for book club, and it was horrifying to read how alone and at their husband's and uncle's mercy they were.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic, and one I always enjoy reading over and over. It is amazing to think that Nell Harper Lee and Truman Capote were youngsters together who grew up to both be talented, tremendous writers. Their friendship and lives are as interesting as their characters.
As for the cookies, they look delicious. I wish I always had a cookie jar full so I could grab one at any time, but one batch a day doesn't even make it to the next.
Thanks for all the book reviews and good cookies.
A book and a cookie. I could indulge all day.

alexandra's kitchen said...

I love this book, and the movie is great too. What great pictures you have included. thank you for reminding me of this great story! these cookies look wonderful, too.

Coby said...

Ok Prudy, you mention these cookies are great for posting...so if you're looking to make sure this is the case, I'll be happy to help;)

I'm a big fan of Harper Lee too, even after umpteen reads of To Kill a Mockingbird I am still outraged anew every time I read it again.

Grace said...

to kill a mockingbird is a truly great read, and your cookies look stellar. how sad am i that your cookie week is over? very, very sad.

Natashya said...

This was a classic, I haven't read it in, um, 25 years!
I love ginger cookies with herbal tea. Mmmmm.
And the shout out to Sherlock - I have the complete collection!

Emily Rose said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is the best! I've read it about four times- but reading your review makes me want to read it again!! Harper Lee received an honorary degree from my university when I was a freshman and I was so upset when I discovered that I'd have to miss it for a Biology lab! Also, I love, love, love ginger! I even loved gingerbread when I was little! I cannot wait to try these out!

Marie said...

Ohh Erin, you have ended the week with both my favourite cookie and my favourite book, not to mention one of my abolute favourite movies of all time! Well done! I'm not fussy on hard ginger cookies myself. I prefer the soft ones for sure.

Anna M. said...

I love soft ginger cookies...nothing better in the fall...well, maybe they tie with pumpkin cookies. The book is one of my favorites and I enjoy the movie too...thanks for reminding me about it! I'm off to make the cookies...and read a book! =)

Suzie said...

will definitely re-read Mockingbird. I haven't read itin years but it is definitely on my all time favourite list. Thanks for such a great selection of biscuits and books....and please think about keeping on doing this. I have just loved every post.

junkmel1 said...

I've only been reding you a few weeks, but I'm loving your recipes. I made these ginger cookies last night for a Cub Scout bake sale today. Oh. My. They are wonderful!!!

My husband and I hid a dozen to keep for ourselves, and we are quickly making our way through them as we speak. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing.

Matt said...

To Kill a Mockingbird was the first "grown up" novel I read. I was thirteen, very shy, bookish, and my seventh grade language arts teacher, Mrs. Lenz, took me aside and recommended it. I loved it, and I really do feel that its message of the destructiveness of racism sank into my being. One of the things I'm passionate about is teaching others about the need to search out and challenge the biases in our lives. I've become a diversity trainer for my school district and can trace some of this passion back to books such as this.

By the way, I love Truman Capote's short stories, especially A Christmas Memory. All of your posts this week have reminded me of how much reading has meant to me. Great food and food for thought... your blog is wonderful!

Birdie said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is on my all time favorite books and movie lists. I think I fell in love with Gregory Peck watching that film.

I love the Ginger cookies too!

Prudy said...

Matt:
I love Capote's A Christmas Memory. It is one of the sweetest stories ever told. The tender relationship he has with his childlike aunt is truly unforgettable. I'm so glad you enjoyed cookie bookie. I loved what you had to say about To Kill a Mockingbird. It is one powerful read! Kudos to you for using your passion for good.

Matt said...

Martha Stewart has, in her Baking Handbook, a recipe for fruitcake I've been longing to try. Your "Cookie Bookie" week has my head spinning about all of the literary culinary connections to be made. Capote's A Christmas Memory and fruitcake, any of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books with their descriptions of pioneer dishes, Dickens, Austen or, as I watched The Way We Were for the umpteenth time, some of the cinematic culinary connections. Katie says to Hubbel her arms full of grocery bags, "You can't go yet, I've got steaks and baked potatoes and sour cream and chives and fresh baked pie. I would have made a pot roast, I make a terrific pot roast..."

I too easily succumb to the power of suggestion. After watching that scene, I immediately started thinking about steaks and potatoes...

Srivalli said...

What a beautiful blog you have!..the cookies look delish!

Mags said...

no book better than harper lee's classic! this is my favorite food site! thanks for the fab recipes.

Lore said...

You know what your description of this time of year reminded me of? Louis' Armstrong "Oh yeah" from "What A Wonderful World" :). And of course you gotta have some cookies involved in such happiness and these sound just perfect! Using oil instead of butter definitely makes them healthier. My taste buds asked me to mention that they love the idea of adding a bit of pepper ;)

hot garlic said...

Delicious! I can't resist one of these, during the autumn and winter months especially. And you're right, I didn't escape HS without reading that book.

Made your Vegetarian Southwest burgers tonite! SUPERB!

The Blonde Duck said...

I have a surprise for you on my blog! Come read Saturday's post!

Prudent Homemaker said...

Your recipe makes me want to try making yogurt again (from Powdered milk) so that I can make these. I have everything else in my pantry.

Prudy said...

Prudent Homemaker:
Thanks and welcome! I haven't made yogurt in ages so thanks for reminding me!

Prudy said...

Leslie:
You silly woman! I treasure all of my comments. Regardless of their number. :)

Allie said...

Those cookies look divine!!

Melanie Anne said...

Yes! Thanks for posting these. My hubby loves Gingersnaps--and I have been looking for a recipe that does not include shortening--yuk! I will make these tonight for FHE!

Rosie said...

A great way to end the week with your Spicy Ginger Cookies!

Rosie x

CECIL said...

I read this book maybe hm..half a dozen times! I have to admit that I have never made soft ginger cookies before. I am making a list of cookies to make as gifts (yeap, for somebody who doesn't bake much, this is quite a stretch!! ;) and this ginger cookies sound super!

n.o.e said...

Prudy, I'm guessing you're still on your trip, but I just HAVE to tell you how fabulous these cookies are. I just pulled out the first cookie sheet-full and boy, I am in love. Black pepper + ginger are a favorite combination of mine and these really deliver. A one-bowl cookie that is inexpensive and delicious! Thanks!!
Nancy

Jen said...

Thanks for a fantastic idea! I baked up a variation to get me through finals week, and linked back to this page on my blog (hope you don't mind?). I shared the love with my classmates, and everyone commented on the delightful texture.