Article first published as Politically Correct Gingerbread on Blogcritics.
I had fun doing research for this article. My entire ten minutes was wasted, however, as I’m writing about the hot and spicy root plant called ginger, and not Ginger, the hot and spicy castaway from Gilligan’s Island.
Be that as it may, I did discover I’m somewhat in the minority. It seems Mary Ann consistently outpolls Ginger in which-one-do-you-prefer competitions. In support of Ginger, let me just refer you to this wonderful 1957 recording of Tina Louise singing It’s Been a Long Time.
Chinese love ginger. I also think some of them may get a perverse pleasure out of tricking me into sucking on a mouthful of it. My first experience was on a bus during a school field trip to the China countryside. Somebody was passing around a bag of ginger candy and WOWEE! Chunks of ginger are not really candy.
What ginger is good at is adding zing. It is extremely versatile and can be used with everything from fish and meat to soft drinks and cookies. However, like dynamite, a little ginger goes a long way.
A former Chinese girlfriend used to make an amazing cough and cold remedy by combining honey, ginger and hot water. I think she put in brown sugar, too. I should have had her write it down before she left me. If you are interested in the medical applications of this versatile tuber, there’s a ton of information on Wikipedia. Seriously, check it out.
Remember the family cookbook I mentioned in my rhubarb article? Well, I found my little sister Linda’s recipe for politically correct Gingerbread People. Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Person. Anyway, here it is.
1 ½ cup dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix molasses, brown sugar, water and shortening. Mix in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough ¼ inch thick on floured surface. Cut with floured gingerbread cutter or other shaped cookie cutters. Place about 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until no indentation remains when touched, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool. Decorate as desired. Store in a covered cookie tin or plastic container.
Sister Linda adds: Every Christmas, it’s a tradition for Jennifer, Sara and me to make these gingerbread cookies. We always leave one or two of the most special ones for Santa on Christmas Eve. He seems to enjoy them, along with the glass of beer that the neighbors leave for him at their house!
Shh… I think she’s talking about my brother-in-law, Ed.
Warmest wishes for the Holiday Season.