Tasting the Past

Although I generally try not to hold by son back too much, I have tried to keep him from working ahead in our Classical Conversations work, so that he can be fully engaged each week as we encounter new material. But the kid is a sponge. And unbeknownst to me, he had worked ahead and memorized the Presidents (or at least gotten pretty far along), before I could stop him.

With the upcoming presidential election, there is an added element of interest, with questions like, “How long till we know who is President?” And “So I guess there were no debates when Washington became President, because there weren’t 2 parties yet.” For the State elections I took him with me to watch me fill out the ballot, so he could see how the process works. The fact that his uncle was running for office gave us another reason to focus on politics. Unfortunately, we learned that people running for office can be ruthless and cruel; but that too has been part of the learning process.

My son has been pretty interested in George Washington, since he was the first President, so this past week I decided to make Marth Washington’s Ginger Cookies. We got the recipe from a Constitution Island cookbook, when my sister and I were homeschooled in New York. We used to work as volunteers at the island, working with groups of school kids who would come in for field trips. We would make the cookies, and serve them on the boat, on the way over to the island.

It’s always a beautiful thing when you can experience the past – whether by seeing it’s historical markers in person, or even tasting a piece of years gone by. There’s a reason this recipe has stood the test of time. I highly recommend it!

* Martha Washington’s Ginger Cookie Recipe *

(Makes 100 cookies)

3/4 cup soft butter
3/4 cup lard (I just do all butter, no lard)
2 3/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses

  • Mix first 5 ingredients together; beat well.

4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. each ginger, cinnamon & ground cloves

  • Stir dry ingredients to combine. Add dry to wet ingredients until well mixed. Dough will be soft. Chill briefly.
  • Roll into 1-inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and press into balls with the bottom of a glass.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes.
  • Note: I sometimes half this recipe because of the quantity of cookies… but I usually end up regretting it.