Monday, May 24, 2010

Kelly's Giant Gingerbread Cookies

My mother was a strong woman.  She raised eight children, a lot of the time on her own while my Dad was away during WWII, Korean War, and on "Mediterranean cruises" with the navy.  As I was raised, I've raised our daughters to be strong, but also, kind, generous, forgiving and tolerant and it's these qualities that will help our older daughter Erin and myself go on after Kelly's death on May 14, 2010.  I made promises to Kelly, that I intend to keep, one is going on with this blog.

These cookies were one of Kelly's favorites.  She made a version to send to friends from "The Big Fat Cookie Book" by Elinor Klivans that I gave her one Christmas.  I was reminded by her friend Steven that he looked forward to these cookies as a special treat from Kelly.  I created this version as a memory to our sweet daughter, who always put others first.  They're GIANT because Kelly would say, "if I can only have one cookie...I want it to be Big!"
 Kelly's Giant Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1/2 tsp. Ginger Extract
3 cups All-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Ginger Mini Chips
Sparkling White Sugar

In the KitchenAid bowl, using the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth.  Add the sugars and beat well.  Add the molasses, spices, and extract and beat well again.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together, then, add to butter mixture.  Fold in the crystallized ginger chips.
Use a one-third scoop to measure the dough.  Roll tops in the Sparkling Sugar Crystals.
Place on a parchment-lined (or use a Silpat) baking sheet.  Allowing room for cookies to spread.  I was able to get five on the baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated 350F-degree oven.  Set timer for 7 minutes, then turn the pan and bake another 6 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a rack to cool completely.  

I ate mine with a Diet Coke, but Kelly would have preferred a cup of herbal tea.  Enjoy!

While you're eating your cookie, I'd like to share with you a short story Kelly wrote me for Mother's Day in 2001. It was definitely one of my favorites of her view of the women in our family.  Kelly was a wonderful writer and was recently published in the Spring 2010 Brain Child magazine.  Other narratives can be found on the blog she did with her best friend, Kandyce, Notions & Threads. 

     The bathing suit was pink and purple with stripes that pointed in towards a center seam and formed large V's down my body.  It was last summer's bathing suite, the bathing suit of a ten year old.  At eleven, my body pushed out the fabric and caused the once straight and symmetrical V's to spread and bend in distorted angles.  Panicked, I stepped away from the full length mirror only to shut the door to my bedroom.  I should've tried the suit on earlier I thought, staring again at my reflection.  The pool party was a week away--not enough time to shrink my body down to the straight lines of a year ago.  I was consoled by the fact that my hipbones still protruded quite a bit though they no longer strictly defined my shape.  Instead they were lost in mounds of flesh that curved out from my waist and extended around to my backside.  As I pinched my sides and stretched the skin away from my bones, I thought of the dissected cat I'd seen once while peering into one of the high school classrooms.  Cut open and pinned helplessly to a tray of black hardened tar, the cat's skin had been pulled back so that globs of yellow, stickly fat spilled out.  I pulled my tee-shirt and shorts over the suit and ran down to the basement to search through piles of discarded junk until I found the collapsible stationary bike my mother had bought and never used.  I'd use it, I decided.  I'd use it every day until the offensive yellow globs dissolved away from my beautiful, small bones.
     All that week at school I stared enviously at my best friend's undeveloped body--thin despite the constant intake of junk food.  Her body reminded me of a bird's skeleton.  I imagined I could see through her pale, tissue paper skin to the hollow, weightless bones of a bird.  I felt heavy and awkward around her.   Her thighs were the same width pressed against the seat of a chair as they were when she stood up unlike mine which doubled in size.  When I plopped down cross-legged, half moons unfolded at my sides where my backside met the floor.  It was the thought of this friend and others like her that made me unfold that bike and pedal like hell--like Dorothy frantically trying to escape the wicked witch--every afternoon until the day before the pool party.

*     *     *     *
     Once again in front of the mirror, once again pulling the fat away from the child's body hidden beneath it, I choked on the realization that nothing had changed in seven days.  My body had taken on a new shape and I felt clumsy and stifled in my skin like I had been zipped into a horrible Halloween costume.  The zipper on my costume was stuck; this unrecognizable body was mine to keep.  As I turned away from the mirror to get dressed I began to sob, my shoulders rising and falling with the spastic outpouring of held in tears.  My mother, hearing my outbursts, rushed in to inspect me for wounds.
     "What's wrong? Did you fall? Did you cut yourself?"
     "My bathing suit..." I sputtered. "Look how fat I am! It doesn't fit!" She stood behind me and looked over my shoulder into the mirror.
     "You have hips!" she exclaimed, giving a name to the fat that had overtaken my middle.
     "Hips?" I repeated.  I had been somewhat prepared for the development of breasts...but hips? To me, hips were reserved for grown women who carried bags of groceries while trying to get their car keys out of their purses.  They were the things mothers swung their children up and on when they became too cranky to walk.  When my aunts put their hands on them, it was a warning to stay out of trouble and when, as a small child, my mother pulled me to her, they were what I cradled my head.
     Hips and stomachs and breasts.  Warm, soft places that curve out and hold babies and children and men.  Suddenly the pink and purple suite felt out of place, childish, on my round swing-side-to-side-as-I-walk-down-the-street, hips.  I imagined holding armfuls of brown paper bags while cleverly carrying a ring of keys in my mouth.  I saw myself moving easily with a crying baby balanced on my curved out hip.  I belonged in the kitchen at night with my aunts, sitting around the table smoking cigarettes and sipping creamy coffee while pulling at loose strands of hair.  I would understand their jokes and loud laughter.  I would know what caused small lines to creep around their eyes and mouths and why they always seemed to collapse into their chairs at the end of the day.  All of this I would know and the knowledge would fill out my body and settle in soft hills.  In my stomach, breasts and hips.

Kelly Jo Feinberg
8 October 1972 - 14 May 2010



  1. The three of you girls are gorgeous, I always thought you and Kelly looked so much alike and now I see Erin does too! This recipe will certainly be written into my recipe journal, I am really happy that you posted this. I of course will think of Kelly as I mix the ingredients, pour the batter and smile when I think of my baby holding hips as I eat each bite! : ) Her writing is incredible, I appreciate the honor of reading her work. You have raised strong loving girls Susan!

  2. A lovely read Susan..Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

    Cookies noted and my Brogan will get to work..

    Lots of love

  3. I love this picture of the three of us because it reminds me of the happiest Christmas ever when we were all snowed in and just enjoyed spending time with each other. And thank you for posting the piece Kelly wrote...I hadn't seen that and it's wonderful.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. How devastating. What a wonderful woman Kelly was. My little Kate was born on May 14th and turned two this year. What a special day. Best to you-


  5. Well I just love that photo of the three of your. All so beautiful. I am sorry you lost your wonderful daughter. xox