Don’t Knock It ‘Til You Try It

A recipe column by Lanessa Murphy Spagnuola

Sponsored by Shinnston Shop ‘n Save

Ever had a recipe that you shared with someone that was a bit different than most? The other person might have looked at you strangely or even questioned you… This week’s recipe is one of those. It is one that many people in my family and around the area have made at some time or the other over the years, but really is not as well-known as it used to be.
This week’s recipe for Baker’s Ammonia cookies is one that has gotten me some odd looks– including from my own husband who was new to the notion. For those of you reading this who have never heard of such a thing, let me explain. First and foremost, yes, you can eat them and no, they won’t kill you. That is because the ammonia used in these cookies is Baker’s Ammonia, NOT cleaning ammonia. I remember telling a teacher once about these and her response was, “What?! You can’t eat ammonia!” Well not the kind she was thinking of, that’s for sure!
Baker’s Ammonia is a powder ingredient that can only be found at locally owned drug stores – if you don’t believe me, just ask the kind folks at ProCare Pharmacy in Shinnston. But seriously, it isn’t a drug and you most certainly can bake with it. And, while you are picking up your baker’s ammonia at the pharmacy, you will also need to pick up six tiny bottles of oil of lemon.
Now, don’t ask me where these cookies originated or what the ammonia does for the cookies because I don’t know. But I do know this; my grandma, great-grandma, and aunts made them for years and years. Others in the area have too. I think I mentioned before how my Grandma Cline was the sentimental type and often had multiple copies of recipes in her cookbook. This one had at least 12 copies! These cookies were a big deal! But one this is true – have your bushel basket ready because there will be a bunch – which will be perfect for your Christmas gatherings and cookie trays. And if you are wondering what they taste like, they are kind of a cross between a sugar cookie and a lemon cookie – very good!
My mom and I got together last weekend to make some, which we hadn’t had a chance to do since long before my grandmother passed away several years ago. We had a ball making these and of course, we passed them around to friends and family. You can mix the ingredients by hand or you can cheat like we did and use the dough hook on the Kitchen Aid Mixer. We laughed and said my grandma would be in the ‘height of her glory’ using the mixer on these cookies as opposed to the old way, but then again, she would probably insist on the old way just because.
So here it is, as odd as it sounds – Baker’s Ammonia Cookies.
3 eggs
3 cups sugar
2 cups lard (or pound)
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 oz. Baker’s Ammonia
1 pint milk
1\2 pint warm water
6 little bottles Oil of Lemon
At least 9 cups all-purpose flour – you may need more.
Dissolve ammonia in warm water. Beat eggs until fluffy. Add lard. Continue adding all ingredients. Add flour until dough is stiff. Mix like biscuit dough. Roll out and cut with cookie cutter. Bake in 450 to 475 degree oven until done. (About 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.)
For whatever reason, my Grandma always stuck a raisin in the middle – for decoration I guess, but it isn’t necessary.
I hope you will take the time to try these – you will have cookies for months. The good thing is, you can freeze them. Just please make sure you get the powder ammonia from the drug store and NOT the liquid cleaning solution.
Make time for each other this Christmas season. Go the extra mile and take time to spend with the ones you love – whether it is baking cookies, simply visiting neighbors, watching a Christmas movie, or checking out the neighborhood Christmas lights. Don’t hurry through it so you can get it over with and clean up the mess because the mess isn’t what you or your family will remember years from now, but the time you had together making memories.
Most importantly, though, don’t forget the true meaning of the season and that is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)
Don’t forget to stop by Shinnston Shop N’ Save for the ingredients for this week’s recipe and all your cooking needs.
Until next time, happy cooking. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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