Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Grandma’s Ginger Cookies (for 3baid)


This is a very soft dough. It is easier to work with if you chill it before rolling, but even then the rolling pin and rolling board should be well floured, and you need to work fast, before the dough gets too soft again.

Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C

1 cup molasses (Brer Rabbit Green Label)
1 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups flour

Add hot water to molasses, sugar and shortening. When well mixed, and cool, stir in sifted dry ingredients.

Roll out to 3/8″ thick, sprinkle with sugar and cut with cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet.

If you are making gingerbread boys and girls, use raisins or small hard decorations for eyes and buttons, and a small slice of candied cherry for the mouth.

(Grandma said use Brer Rabbit Green Lable Molasses, but here in Kuwait, use whatever molasses you can find! I have seen some honey-molasses that looks like it would make a good gingerbread cookie.

Pop in the oven, bake for 10 minutes – maybe a little longer if your cookies are thick. They should be soft and chewy, but cooked through.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Kuwait, Recipes, Relationships | 14 Comments

She Did Everything Right

When I was a little girl growing up in Alaska, we had neighbors who lived just across the creek. Our neighbors had a daughter 6 years older than me; she was my first babysitter. Growing up, those six years made all the difference – we didn’t know one another as friends, the gap was too great. Our families were very close, however, and when my parents would go to parties at her parents house, they would take us and put us to bed in her bed.

I saw her now and then through the years, but our lives were in different places. When I was just getting married, she had big boys, by the time my son was a teenager, hers were getting married and going to college. We reconnected in Florida, of all places, where we both ended up at the same time due to our husband’s jobs.

Having our Alaska childhood in common, having grown up together and knowing each other’s family through all the years created a strong bond. We saw each other often; she was like a big sister to me.

She always had it all together. She had a group that bicycled together every morning, and then had outings later in the day. She was a fitness buff, and ran in the mornings before she bicycled. She kept herself thin, and she loved to cook, but she could eat what she wanted because she exercised it all off.

She was a reader, and would pass along the really good books to me. She and her husband were also news buffs, so when we would get together with our husbands, there was never a dull moment at the dinner table.

She and her husband were sent to Egypt, and to Rumallah, and to China, and they made the most of every minute. They loved traveling, they loved their sailing boat, they loved their family. They would come to visit us in our places of the world, and we would have great reunions. They were so alive.

She could be annoying. She would chide me about not exercising enough. She would comment on how much food people ate. She always knew the latest in medical research to back herself up. She kept her mind active, and she kept her weight down. She exercised, she travelled, she took care of her parents, she did good works for others. She did everything right.

A couple years ago, we joined her and her husband for dinner. She hadn’t combed her hair. She weighed about 20 lbs more, and didn’t seem to notice. She couldn’t remember the last book she had read, and she couldn’t remember her recent trip to Mexico, or an earlier one to Spain.

It’s been downhill since then. Her loving husband is strong and able to care for her, this once-beautiful, sprite-like, spirited woman. I think she still knew me, when I saw her last summer, but she can no longer really express what she is thinking. She is restless, up and down from the table, and not able to participate in the conversation.

I am haunted. I am so much like her; I tried to live up to all that she has taught me. A part of me wants to scream at God “This isn’t fair! She did everything right!”

Perhaps doing everything right gave her a few extra years, and I am just not seeing things from the right perspective. Meanwhile, I get no answers, and my heart breaks when I think of her.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | Alaska, Biography, Family Issues, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Relationships | 12 Comments