|½ cup||Vegetable shortening|
|½ cup||Cold water|
|2 teaspoons||Baking soda|
|1 cup||Sorghum or molasses|
|All-purpose flour (5-6 cups)|
|1 teaspoon||Ground cinnamon|
|½ teaspoon||Ground cloves|
Preparation time: 30 minutes Chilling time: Overnight Baking time: 10 minutes
1. Cream shortening and sugar in mixing bowl, beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix water and baking soda in small bowl until dissolved. Add baking soda mixture and sorghum to butter mixture. Sift 5½ cups of the flour, the spices and salt together. Blend into dough. Divide dough into 4 balls. Wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten and refrigerate overnight.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll 1 portion of dough out at a time on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on a greased cookie sheet until puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake.
3. When cool, decorate with buttercream frosting and/or candies as desired. Sorghum gives these cookies a special flavor, but molasses can be used as a substitute.
Ann Smith of Plainfield won second place, and described how her gingerbread men left Bohemia in 1872 and immigrated to the United States. Smith's great-grandmother, "Babicka" Novak, lived in a small Czech-American town in South Dakota where Smith's mother grew up in the 1920s. At Christmas time, her great-grandma would give her neighbors Old World gingerbread men, reindeer and rocking horses.
"One year when Great-grandma delivered the cookies, she brought along her teenaged grandson, who was visiting from a small ethnic Czech community in Nebraska," Smith wrote.
"Introductions made that day over the watchful eyes of the gingerbread men eventually lead to wedding bells for my parents a decade later. Great-grandma Novak probably had planned this all along!" from the Chicago Tribune second annual Food Guide Holiday Cookie Contest December 14, 1989
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