This Christmas I decided to bake cookies with a history. That’s dining out with history, at home.
I found endless recipes from my historic cookbook collection and there are many Living History Sites to visit that celebrate the history of baking cookies from whatever ingredients our ancestors had available. Here is a touching story about a popular Christmas cookie.
Abraham Lincoln wrote this story about his mother’s gingerbread cookies.
“When we lived in Indiana,” Lincoln said, “once in a while my mother used to get some sorghum and ginger and make some gingerbread. It wasn’t often and it was our biggest treat. One day I smelled the gingerbread and came into the house to get my share while it was it was still hot. My mother had baked me three gingerbread men. I took them out under a hickory tree to eat them.
There was a family neat us poorer than we were and their boy came along as I sat down. ‘Abe,’ he said, “gimme a man.’ I gave hime one. He crammed it into his mouth in two bits and looked at me while I was biting the legs off my first one. ‘Abe, gimme that other’n.’ I wanted it myself, but I gave it to him and as it followed the first, I said to him,’You seem to like gingerbread.’ ‘Abe,’ he said, ‘I don’t s’pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better’n I do- and gets less’n I do ….” From “The Prairie Years” by Carl Sandburg
Here is an old Gingerbread Cookie recipe to try. I left my cookies unadorned as I supposed Abraham Lincoln’s mother would not have iced her cookies.
Orange Gingerbread from Cook Not Mad, Kingston,1831
Two pounds and a quarter fine flour, a pound and three quarters molasses, twelve ounces of sugar, three ouces un-dried orange peel chopped fine, one ounce each of ginger and allspice, melt twelve ounces of butter, mix the whole together, lay it by for twelve hours, roll it out with as little flour as possible, cut it in pieces three inches wide, mark them in the form of checkers, with the back of a knife, roll them over with a yelk of an egg, beat with a teacup of milk, when done wash them again with the egg.