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There were tins of cookies, 4-inch discs stacked on top of each other.  Peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and dunkers.  I would rifle through the freezer in my grandparents’ garage looking for the containers a few hours before dinner, setting them on the counter to defrost before we sat down to eat. I was still a picky eater then, when steamed green beans were adventurous.  My family would finish eating whatever they had — maybe pork chops with apples followed by a big salad — while I would sit, waiting.  Eventually (finally!) I could clear the plates and rush bowls and spoons to the table.  Grandpa would produce a few quarts of ice cream and the tins of cookies sat at the center of the table.  I pawed through them, tossing peanut butter and oatmeal aside.  Dunkers were my grandmother’s specialty and have become a staple for me this time of year.  Cooking them is a kind of living memorial, an active remembrance of her sass and care.  I first found the recipe for them in a weathered cigar box of my father’s, written on a scrap of paper that could have slipped away.  I make a batch every Christmas that disappears in the night, consumed by hungry foragers.  In college, a couple dozen would inaugurate the onset of fall. They are regular ginger-molasses cookies: chewy and spiced.  The recipe below is how it appears on that scrap of paper, written down in a rush. I often play with the spice quantities and spices — some white pepper here is great, also a dash of cayenne.


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar

beat it.

4 tbsp molasses +/-
1 beaten egg


2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon

sift and add.

bake at 350 or 325 until done.