Photographs to accompany After the West
(YNP = Yellowstone National Park)
(YNP = Yosemite National Park)
GTNP = Grand Teton National Park
YNP = Yellowstone National Park
My grandmother, Gladys Warner, was a formidable woman. She raised a family of six while working as a cook in a logging camp in the Adirondacks. When she made pies, she made them by the dozen. She nursed her sister's twins at the same time as one of her own. She hunted and fished. She grew most of her own food, canning lots of it even after getting huge freezer chests. She could knit a pair of mittens in an evening. And she made the best molasses cookies I have ever had.
This recipe makes 8-9 dozen, so make sure you have about 3 hours. Note that it doesn't use eggs, dairy products, or nuts, so it's a handy recipe if you have to worry about food allergies.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream together the brown sugar and shortening.
Add the molasses, honey, applesauce, salt, and spices and mix well.
Mix the baking soda into about 4 cups of flour, and add to the mixture. Stir until smooth.
Continue to add flour, mixing well, until the dough is very stiff. (The exact amount can vary based on humidity and who knows what else.)
Drop large spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. (Bigger than a walnut, but smaller than an apricot.)
Butter the bottom of a glass and dip it in sugar. Use it to flatten the drops to between 1/3" and 1/2".
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they bounce back when tapped with a finger. If they brown, you've kept them in too long.
Dark, non-stick cookie sheets do not work well: the cookies tend to burn on the bottom. Ordinary greased metal sheets work fine; they won't stick at all if you let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.
If stored in an air-tight container, these cookies are purported to last indefinitely without refrigeration. (But I've never been able to test this - they get eaten too fast!)