A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson

I remember how the older aunts and grandmothers in my family always had sweet foods stocked in their pantries. If they had learned lots of lessons about storing sweets, they never gave me an inkling of those lessons.  I thought they just knew how to take care of things.

My Grandmother Barnes had a “summer” pantry that always held homemade bread, cookies, cakes and pies. It was located on the north side of the house near the kitchen door. In the summer Gram could be found making her bread out there in the pantry.  She believed that no meal was complete without a piece of bread.  Even with boiled dinner, she always had bread on the table. 

My mother could make good bread too, but outside work made it more difficult so we had the kind of bread we bought at the store.  My father called it “fog”. She could make great egg rolls and even when she was older, she made those egg rolls for my nephew when she knew he would be visiting.  She also made sugar cookies, and she did not have any trouble storing them although I have to admit they did not last very long.

Aunt Kathleen, known in the family as Aunty Mum, had a small pantry off her kitchen. She did most of her cooking in there although sometimes she used the kitchen table or the cupboard’s sideboard. She cut her rolled molasses cookies with the top of a coffee can.  They were huge. She kept them in a cookie jar on the cupboard and always offered a cookie to anyone who came through the door.  She too made lots of pies, cakes and bread in her early days and continued to make those great treats well into her 90s.

Aunty had a big pantry on the Ridge.  The Jones’ house in its early days also had a summer kitchen, but when the house was made over in the early 50s, Aunty insisted on a larger pantry with sideboards on three sides and tall cupboards on two sides. She also had a flour barrel on a hinge beneath one of the cupboards.  This barrel held 100 pounds of flour and could be swung out for easy access.  Aunty took her cooking very seriously.

When she made pies on the weekends, she made enough crust for five pies. She also made a big batch of bread and we had bread all week for sandwiches and whatever else we wanted. The sandwiches I took to school or work put together on homemade bread were really a lot better than the “fog” we had at home.

Aunty had a cookie jar that usually had molasses cookies in it.  She also had a bread tin with a roll cover that kept her ginger bread and regular bread.  The pies just sat on the sideboard until it was time to put them in the refrigerator.

This past week I was going through some of my mother’s newspaper cutout and found this information on storing cookies.  It may have come from an old “Grit”. This is what it said about storing cookies. “When cookies are stored, make sure soft cookies remain soft; crisp cookies keep crisp.  The two types cannot be stored together.”

“Store soft cookies in a container with a tight cover.  Bar cookies may be stored right in a baking pan, tightly covered.  Tuck in an apple wedge if they begin drying out.”

“Crisp cookies should be stored in a container with a loose-fitting cover.  If they soften-as they tend to do in humid weather-pop them in a preheated 300 degree oven for five minutes before serving.”

“Most cookies freeze well, either baked or unbaked.  But freezing dough is simpler and requires less freezer space.”


Now that we have these tips on storing our cookies that survive the first round of cookie eaters, let’s look at a recipe from the Maine Rebekahs’ Cookbook of 1969. This recipe is for ginger snaps.



Two cups sifted all-purpose flour

One teaspoon ginger   /  Two teaspoons soda

One teaspoon cinnamon  /  One-half teaspoon salt

Three-fourths cup shortening

One cup sugar

One egg /  One-fourth cup molasses


Measure flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon and salt into the sifter.

Cream shortening, gradually adding sugar in a large bowl.

Beat in eggs and molasses. Sift ingredients from sifter over creamed mixture, blend well. Form teaspoons of dough into balls, and roll dough balls in granulated sugar.

Place two inches apart on cookie sheet and bake at 350

 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.


These cookies should be crisp cookies and stored as such.