When my first daughter Madeleine was little, she used to sit on the corner of the kitchen counter while I made dinner. She’d hand me ingredients from her perch and stir things. She was my partner, not out of some idea that kids should cook with their parents, but of necessity seeing as I was the primary babysitter at the time. But as she has gotten older, I still love to have her in the kitchen. Sure, making dinner with a 5,6, or 7 year old is a little bit slower than doing it alone, but it’s a lot more fun. Now she can peel carrots, stir pancake batter, crack eggs, and even chop simple things like red peppers and celery. She even has her own knife! Of course sometimes her knife skills leave something to be desired but, then again, she’s only seven. I’m hoping that when she grows up she’ll love to cook like I do. I have dreams of us cooking together when she comes home to visit from college, and maybe even when she has kids of her own, we can have three generations assembled in the kitchen. But whether she learns to love cooking or not isn’t really important. What I like about cooking with her is spending a little time together, chatting about the school day or her latest soccer game, relinquishing some of the grown-up responsibility to her, and teaching her something that matters to me.
One of Maddie’s favorite recipes to make together is molasses cookies. The recipe comes from my great-grandmother Wright by way of my mother. For some reason they called them New England Ginger Snaps, but they are really soft molasses cookies. They are great cookies any time of the year, but the taste of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg seem particularly apt for the holiday season. Maddie’s favorite part is forming the dough into little balls and rolling them in sugar before baking. We might lose one or two cookies in the process to quality control, but seeing as I am the sous-chef in this relationship, I just smile and say “yes, chef.”
Grandma Wright’s Molasses Cookies
¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup dark molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
2 cups flour
Sugar for rolling.
- Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the molasses and mix.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients.
- Form small balls (I use a 1 oz. scoop) and roll them in the sugar.
- Bake until small cracks start to form on top of the cookies. Remove from the oven and sprinkle a little more sugar on top. Transfer to a cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.