Monday, October 25, 2010


Did you smell something?

If you did, it was probably our house. We were clean, as clean as 5 kids and a wringer washer permit. Oh, lets not forget the in-door pets, and the outdoor pets that came inside, on the quiet, so ssshhh!. Things like frogs and snails, left in brown lunch bags. Then there were those polliwogs caught in the creek, so cute swimming around in a bowl on the dresser. At the time, who knew that, after they grew into really cute, tiny frogs, they would almost always escape. There were miniature dust bunnies, hopping everywhere in the house. Mom was not crazy with happiness over that one!

And we ate stinky food. I think my folks were the original foodies. California foodies to be exact, where any and all food could be found, and enjoyed pretty much year round. Of course the term “foodie” had not been coined as yet. We ate so many different kinds of food, rich meat and sausage, tangy cheese, some with blue veins, pickled everything, even food that was "ripe". That is what my Mom said, but to me it was just stinky!  Most people think that other folks like, Alice Waters and James Beard were the original foodies. But no, they were just famous. My folks were the first. Want to guess how I know? Stinky food. Yep, if you eat stinky food, you have got to be a foodie.

Mom could always be found in the kitchen. It almost seemed like she lived there. Her day started there and ended there. But I knew she didn't sleep there, because I did the dishes. She could grow weary from cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week, for our large family. But when Dad brought something home from the city, it was time for a treat. She truly loved to cook up something, just for him. Which city you ask? The one and only, San Francisco, I still love it there.

One time Dad brought home canned turtle meat, Mom made a turtle soup with Sauterne wine. Dad savored every last bite and drop. How about us kids? Are you kidding, we were very OK with not eating turtle soup. As it so happened there was a small glass bowl in the living room. In that bowl was a pet turtle, a rock, some pulled up weeds, oh and a dead fly, if we were quick enough! Eat turtle soup? I don’t think so!

My Dad was a commercial refrigeration repairman, and one of the best. Dad was known for his ability to fix a commercial unit and get things back on track. Done fast, done right. He had a good reputation and his clients had become business friends as well.

Many times when the job was complete, Dad would be handed a wrapped bundle and the grateful owner would say  “here Ken, take this home to the wife and kids”. He would always wait until he got home to see what was in there. He would usually hand the package to Mom, so he could wash up. Then as he poured himself a beer, Mom would have the bundle open and be busy showing off the contents.

Sometimes it would be fresh cooked and chilled crab. When those packages came home, no matter what Mom had cooked for dinner, we ate crab instead. She would take fresh bread, spread on some soft butter, add shredded lettuce, a sprinkle of salt, then the crab. Delicious chilled crab sandwiches. I know the crab would of kept nicely and could of been eaten the next day, but Mom loved those crab sandwiches.

Another time the package might contain a dry cured sausage. Or a bottle of wine. If you were to ask us kids, our favorite was that large box of chocolates that usually came home close to the Holidays. Ah yes, five sets of grubby hands digging for the best piece. You can see it now, can’t you! If we didn’t behave, and there was always one that didn’t, Mom would put that box up, and funny the next day, more were always gone!

On the days that Dad worked in a delicatessen, he would purchase his beloved Limburger cheese. He would come home, take out his pocketknife and cut open the foil wrapper. Then wait for us to gather and start in with the “eeewww, that stinks” talk. Five grubby kids, happy to see Dad and talk some cheese!

One day, a kraut cutter came home. Dad was going to make kraut. Soon after, we found a couple of crocks at the second hand store. With cabbage and salt, we were in business. Since the kitchen was too warm for fermenting, the crocks were set to work in the living room. Yes, among the many pieces of furniture, a big 1960's console TV, five kids and their assorted pets, you would find sauerkraut in one corner, and pickles in another.  

Welcome to, Home Stinky Home, where the kids and the animals roam!

There was never a food or cuisine that went under the radar at our house. We ate just about everything. The sharper the flavor, the better. Especially for my dad. He never left the house without his pocket knife. Sometimes I think he carried that knife so he was always ready to cut open something to eat. That pocketknife cut into a lot of different foods through the years. Of course it also cut some toenails. But as a kid, I just knew Dad had 2 knives, one for toenails and another one for cutting our apples at the park…………………..

My Dad would have liked these Ginger Snaps. A spicy and delicious flavored cookie, containing something a little different. Bacon fat.  Don’t be alarmed; your cookies will not taste anything like a pork chop! 

Ginger Snaps
adapted from: Granny Miller
a two part recipe, make dough and chill, then shape and bake 
375 degree oven

4 1/2 c flour
1 T baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 c ground ginger (powdered)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons pepper 

Combine in a large bowl, stir well to mix completely, set aside.

1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1c butter
1/2 c strained bacon drippings
1/2 c molasses

2 eggs

additional sugar for dipping

In large mixer bowl, beat sugars, fats and molasses until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until creamy.

Mix in dry ingredients, making sure no streaks of wet or dry ingredients remain.

Chill for 2 hours, you may leave in the bowl or place on a piece of waxed paper, wrapping well.

Tonight I am going to use a trick to hurry this chilling process along:

Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking tray, scoop dough onto
paper. Place another sheet of wax paper over top and gently
smash and flatten dough to about one inch in thickness. Place
baking tray in freezer for about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When ready to bake, break off pieces of dough, roll into balls, dip tops of balls in sugar.

This method is good for cookies that are rolled into balls, 
you simply score the dough, roll into balls and dip the tops in sugar.

Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 8 - 10 minutes for chewy cookies, 10 - 13 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool on rakes or towels, or my favorite, brown paper.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies. 

These are delicious. I think for another time I will up the ginger, flatten before baking, when cool sandwich with a tangy lemon butter cream. Ginger Lemon Cremes.

As always, thanks for stopping to visit. I love having company come to call! 

This post is shared with:

Hearth n Soul hop @ a moderate life
by request with:

Whatcha making Wednesdays @ Scrapaddit4sure


Sage Trifle said...

Hooray for stinky food. We love it all-olives, capers, anchovies, feta cheese, smoked fish, garlic, you name it.

I have never used bacon fat for cookies, but sure, why not? I love ginger cookies. Is that 1/4 cup of fresh ground ginger? Or dry ginger?

Melynda said...

Rocquie, that would be powdered/dry ginger. I think that with the popularity of fresh and candied ginger being used in recipes, clarification was due! thanks.

Christy said...

Oh Melynda, I just loved loved this post! My dad was one of 16 stinky kids - and my grandfather was in refrigeration! My dad to this day loves stinky food - I didn't get that gene but I am always excited to try something new and different - and bacon grease in cookies - why not!! thanks for a great hearth and soul hop post!

girlichef said...

You just made me cry...that was so beautiful!!! I am a stinky food afficionado, as well...hoorah! Gingersnaps are one of my favorite types of cookies...these sound delicious. Truly beautiful post, thanks for sharing it with the hearth and soul hop this week, Melynda :)

Miz Helen said...

I love Ginger Snaps they are a great anytime cookie. I really enjoyed your post.
Thank you for sharing your post and your recipe.

April@The 21st Century Housewife said...

What lovely memories! My parents weren't into stinky food, but my husband is. Once we got a brie so runny and stinky our son insisted on calling it "the dead brie" - I must admit my husband had that mostly to himself! Your ginger snaps sound really delicious - I love gingery things, especially this time of year.

Patty said...

How cool! I wish my parents had been more adventurous with foods. I didn't even know what garlic was until I had been out on my own for several years. But I am making up for lost time now. ;-) If we were not gluten and sugar fee, I would definitely use bacon grease to make cookies...what a great idea!

Alea said...

What a lovely post! I love stinky food, but I was raised on sauerkraut and liverwurst! Your recipe sounds wondeful! so nice to find a use for something that many would toss. Confession: Just like my parents, I keep a container to pour my bacon grease so it can be used later. :)

sinfullyspicy said...

Your story was so ice.You poured your heart out abt the way u ve grown and the eating habits.I felt so emotional..yours is one blog where I come for good read and the recipe is secondary to your experience telling.Thanks so much Mylenda...I love you :)

Aurelia said...

My Mom loves ginger snaps, this would be a great thing for me to bake for her as a gift :) What a great recipe!

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment :)

J said...

Gingersnaps are one of my all time favorites!

The rolling technique is good too--I have started using my cookie scoop in the last several years and it's a good time saver as well!

Chef Bee said...

We should all try stinky foods once in awhile. Be a great theme meal.

Plan B

Butterpoweredbike said...

That's too funny, I think I'm going to use the stinky food test from now on, I think you may be onto something...

It must have been a pleasure to be raised by parents who loved to eat.

Is it wrong that I was kind of hoping the cookies would taste like a pork chop?

Thank you for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop :)

Lisa said...

I'm always looking for a nice spicy cookie that will have enough kick to satisfy me. These cookies look like the one.

cheryl@scrapaddict4sure said...

I am so jealous. I need a mixer that big. Please stop by my blog and link up this recipe!

Cook of the House said...

My kids would not eat spaghetti without "stinky cheese" With food, wine and coffee, I am of the "go big or go home" camp. I don't see how you can go wrong with bacon fat in anything. My Mom always had a can of bacon fat under the sink to use as needed and I would too if I didn't know now what I didn't know then. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Katie @ This Chick Cooks said...

These look very yummy! I have never heard of using bacon fat in cookies, but I bet that makes them extra yummy :)

Melynda said...

Christy, Butter & Girlichef, Heart & Soul is a blog hop I enjoy so much, I do spend more time on the post for that one. Thank you for hosting.

Miz Helen, your welcome and thanks for visiting.

April, I have yet to try Brie, but I would probably side with you if it was too strong.

Patty & Alea, thanks for visiting.

sinfullyspicy, you are always so generous with your comments! Thank you.

Aurelia, your welcome, and I do think you will like the cookies.

J, I also love my cookie scoops. I think the grid will work well when I make cookies with my granddaughter, she can follow the pattern and they should be about the same size. thanks for visiting.

Chef Bee & Lisa, thanks for visiting.

Thank you everyone!

Melynda said...

Cook, it seems we all had a mother with a can of bacon fat, somewhere!

Cheryl, will do, and thanks for asking!

Katie, me either, and you do not taste a "meat" flavor. These are very chewy after a couple day rest. Thanks for stopping.

a moderate life said...

Aaahhh Melly!!!! You turned me to jelly AGAIN! What a lovely post and thanks so much for sharing on the hearth and soul hop this week! I know I do it alot, but I cant help sharing this on thoughts on friday link love at a moderate life. Hugs! Alex

Tiffanee said...

Loved this post and I love gingersnaps. They bring back fond memories of my childhood. Thanks for sharing.