I am 26 years old and I bought my first brand new couch two days ago. I feel like I should be telling you I bought a new house. At the very least, a new car, which I have also never had. There was the old minivan I got to cruise around in during high school…but it was shared with my younger sister. (Splitting gas on that thing was a nightmare, especially since we blatantly disregarded every attempt my father made at getting us to use Excel) Then, I had a fifteen year old Renault for the last two years that I lived in France. But, why am I telling you this? Because in each place, at different stages of my life and in different geographical locations, I have had different criteria for what will make my house a home.
When I moved to France, I was perfectly content with having a ‘couette’-what I later learned could be translated as a down comforter. Am I that easy to please? No, definitely not. But, lugging my couette from house to house for almost 8 years always made me feel like I had an attachment to something home-like, however small it may have seemed to the complete stranger.
And now, as I age slightly, I want more than that. Perhaps because it’s easier to congregate as a family on a couch, or maybe it the fact that I was forced to stare at the worn edges and saggy cushions on my last couch for two years, but when we got here and faced cracked floors which happened to be fixed with caulk-as in the landlord actually told my coworker that he fixed our broken tiles…with a little caulk that is now a permanent eyesore on my floor, holes in the walls-child safety much, China?, and the shower that wasn’t-including a mystery fishy that showed up on my bathroom floor one morning, I had to do something to maintain a certain level of attachment to my home for the time being. We can’t change apartments this year and I’ll spare you the details as to the why. But buying this couch has finally made my apartment feel like it’s one iota mine.
But a home is not all material either. I mean, otherwise I’d use the word house, right?
And home for me means warmth from the oven and the smell of sugar and cinnamon lingering in the air as you walk through the door and shut out the freezing cold and pull off your boots, trying not to step on the melting snow as you put them away and hop up the stairs for an after-school snack.
I don’t think my mom ever made gingerbread cookies. So it’s only in my adult life that my fondness for ginger has taken root (ba-dum ching).
And even if gingerbread should be made and enjoyed throughout the year, Christmas in China seemed like the perfect time to give this particular recipe a try. I fully intend on spreading a little holiday cheer tomorrow at work, and what Chinese person doesn’t like ginger?!
This particular recipe also calls for a wee bit of oil instead of butter-so my wallet is happier than usual. Three of us can go out for noodles for the same price as a cup of butter, but alas, when stomachs growl…
Anyway, I found this recipe at Brown Eyed Baker, who had made Ina Gartner’s recipe. I adapted it the way I usually adapt any molasses cookie that calls for ginger. See, I use the fresh stuff. Everytime. The original recipe says to use a cup and a half of candied ginger and since I’m not a huge fan of the candied stuff, I just took it out and replaced it with a heaping tablespoon of finely minced fresh stuff. It really is delicious-just like when you have it in savory food and a small bit stays on your tongue for a few seconds and you get this little zip that livens up the dish? Yeah, that! In your cookie!
So, here I am sitting on my new couch in my makeshift home, nibbling away at these gingery, crispy-on-the-outside and chewy-on-the-inside cookies and hoping that based on the surprising amount of cookies my son has gobbled up in the last fifteen minutes (four) after climbing up onto our new couch, that he feels just as at home as I do.
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 heaping tablespoon finely minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- granulated sugar (option, mix with vanilla sugar if you have some) to roll the cookies in before cooking
- Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C
- Whisk the brown sugar, vegetable oil, and molasses together. You can use a mixer if you have one. Then, beat in the egg. Beat until any sugar clumps have dissolved and the liquid is smooth.
- Then in a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients (everything else,except that sugar you'll roll the dough in later). Add them to your wet ones and stir until the dry ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated to the wet ones and you have a thick cookie batter.
- Oil a baking sheet and then use a teaspoon or a melon scoop to form uniform balls and roll them in the bowl of sugar before placing them on the tray and using your thumb to gently flatten the ball just slightly.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the edges are just slightly darker than the middle.