Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ginger Molasses Cookies and kitchen meditations

Ginger Molasses Cookies

I baked a cookie and it took me to the other side of the world to a dry lake bed in Sossusvlei, Namibia. That's some cookie.


Food often triggers memories of loved ones, childhood, or far off places through its scent and flavor. The act of cooking itself can be meditative.  Sometimes I focus solely on my hands. Other times, my mind wanders to its depths and I revisit a special time or place in my life.  With a little imagination, the foods I create can take me anywhere I want with a little game of visual association.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Seeing the cracked appearance of these ginger molasses cookies instantly made me recall the parched earth at the bottom of the world's biggest sand dune.  So I thought I'd tell you about it, and give you the recipe so you can experience it for yourself.


It was a cold morning in remote Southern Namibia when we set out with a guide to climb the dune known as Big Daddy. It was a quiet hike, our feet sliding into the iron rich sand as we advanced steadily to the top.  It felt like what I imagine it would be like to walk on Mars, with the alien landscape and the hue of the red sand.  We were so small in the face of the mammoth dunes that stretched and curved like dinosaur spines as far as the eye could see. Was this nature imitating art or the other way around, we asked ourselves.

IMG_0680 - Version 2

Then, from the top, we ran down the side of the 380 meter (1,246 feet) dune, breathless and unafraid of falling.


So why not let a cookie be more than just a sweet indulgence? Put on your hiking boots and take a bite.


Ginger Molasses Cookies
Make sure your spices are very fresh and these fragrant cookies will truly liven your senses.

About 50 large cookies

4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound brown sugar
1-1/2 cups shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
granulated sugar

Sift the flour with the soda, spices and salt.

Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in molasses, stir in sifted ingredients. (Note: for some reason I had to knead the dough together with my hands, but they still came out fine.)

Drop by rounded tablespoons into a bowl of sugar. Place on baking sheet,  (greased, or lined with parchment or a silpat) sugar side up, about 2 inches apart.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven 11 - 13 minutes.  Cool on racks.


  1. What a wondrous tale you weave... now I have to go make that cookie!

  2. Stunning photographs. I can only imagine what it feels like walking onto those dunes. What an amazing experience it must have been.

    The texture of your cookies looks perfect Nicole!

  3. I would really love to be far away right now running down a huge dune. Such freedom! I guess I'll have to settle for the cookie right now, which by the way looks lovely.

  4. I love these photos; this extraordinary trip is reminding me of my trip to Iraq and the Marsh Lands decades ago, seeing landscapes that were out of this world.

  5. What a lovely connection. I'm glad your cookies are much more than sweet indulgences.

  6. Ladies: Thanks so much for reading and for your comments! They keep me going :)

  7. Fantastic photos. Love the cookies too!

  8. Nicole: i love how your mind works...your associations to your travels are wondrous

  9. terrific cookies!

    what remarkable travels you've had; I always enjoy your photographs of these exotic places. I'm amazed-and pleased-by the things that trigger our memories.

    (I have made cleaved cakes that reminded me of the Great Rift Valley----)

  10. Oh, how I've missed your post Nicole! Sorry I've been MIA! Your blog posts ALWAYS have such depth and meaning to this post!!!!

  11. These look just right--I love your comparison of the crinkly surface of the cookies with travel pics. Are you using regular molasses or blackstrap?

  12. Oh my word, you were in Sossusvlei? We lived in Namibia, such a unbelievable place The people are amazing! Great finding your blog and Twitter handle!!

  13. Hello Nina!
    We loved Namibia, we visited 4 camps on a fly-in safari.
    I also wrote about the Skeleton Coast here :
    Absolutely magnificent country, as is South Africa!
    Glad you found my blog. I am now following you on Twitter.

  14. I sail on dry lakes. One day, my aunt brought over some cookies, and they had the appearance of a dry lake bed, and I told her that. Afterwards, she called them Dry Lake Cookies. On a whim tonight, I Googled Dry Lake Cookies, and found this page.


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