Molasses Cookies – A 1940s Recipe

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.  

The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes.  There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts.  The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era.  This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo” rather than margarine in most recipes and the attention given to oven temperatures.  I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.  

The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake.  That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions.  I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.

The woman who wrote down the recipes in this book liked quick, easy recipes for flavorful, family-friendly food.  These Molasses Cookies are a good example.  They go together very quickly and a 2-½ inch cookie cutter produces a big 3-½ inch cookie – one is enough in most cases.  The recipe below is one-half of the original.  I really liked this cookie – it is crisp, spicy and very satisfying.


  • Servings: 2-3 doz., depending on size of cutter and thickness of dough
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  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Have ungreased cookie sheets at hand and cookie cutter (I used a 2-½ inch diameter cutter)

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar and molasses.  Add the egg and beat well.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon.

Add the flour mixture gradually to the shortening mixture and mix well.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured board.  This is a nice dough to handle.

Roll 1/8 to ¼ inch thick and cut with a floured cookie cutter.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes until cookies are golden brown on top.

Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Yield:  2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size. 

Ginger Pear Muffins

pears-02Twenty years ago, I bought a cookbook that specialized in all kinds of muffins to give my daughter-in-law in St. Louis for her birthday.  I don’t recall the name of the book, but before I put it in the mail, I copied a lot of interesting muffin recipes.   This is one of them, a family favorite for over 20 years.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (Canola)
  • 3 Tblsp. molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, diced pears (or one 15 oz. can pears, drained and diced)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin, BOTTOMS ONLY (to allow muffins to “dome”)

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

whiskIn a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, molasses and egg.  Pour all at once into the flour mixture and stir just until flour mixture is incorporated.

enplaceGently stir in the diced pears and chopped walnuts.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.  Bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

tinRemove muffins from tins and place on a wire rack.  Serve warm.  These muffins freeze well. 


Tropical Pork Chops


This recipe is adapted from one by Robyne on  The dish is really good, flavorful, filling and just fun to eat.  The grilled bananas are wonderful.


  • 2 firm bananas
  • 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 lean pork loin chops (1/2″ thick)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 tsp honey mustard (Woeber’s Reserve)
  • 1 cup water

Cut bananas in half crosswise, then lengthwise.  Cook bananas in 2 tsp. olive oil in non-stick skillet.  If necessary, add 1/2 tsp. additional oil to keep bananas from sticking.  Remove browned bananas to a warm plate and place in a 170 degree F oven to keep warm.

Rub the pork chops with garlic, sprinkle with ginger.

Add remaining olive oil to skillet.  Brown chops on both sides, remove chops to warm platter.

Melt honey in skillet; add mustard and water, stirring to blend.

Return chops to skillet; spoon sauce over them.  Cover, simmer about 10 minutes or until chops are thoroughly cooked.

Remove chops to dinner plates; top with bananas.  Spoon remaining sauce from skillet over chops.

Yield:  4 servings

I served the chops with rice plus steamed broccoli.  Asparagus would also go nicely with this dish.

For dessert, we had a favorite – chocolate pudding (a low fat version that is delicious).

This made a very nice Sunday dinner.


Really Good Ginger Beef

I discovered this recipe in our community newspaper and made a few changes to suit our tastes.  This makes good use of an economy cut of beef which is baked for a long, slow time and comes out of the oven juicy, tender and flavorful.  I like to serve this with seasoned brown rice and a broccoli/carrot/garlic sauté.


1-1/2# chuck or round steak, cut into cubes

¼ cup hot water

Approx 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

½ Tblsp. minced garlic

¼ cup teriyaki sauce

1 large onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Brown beef in a small amount of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet.  Add water, ginger, garlic and teriyaki sauce, mixing well.  Spread sliced onions over the top of the beef mixture and bake covered @ about 300 degrees for 3-4 hours.  If meat is getting done beforehand, reduce heat and keep warm.  A small amount of water can be added if needed.

Yield:  4 dinner-sized portions