OF MICE AND MINESTRONE by Joe R. Lansdale preview: “The Sabine Was High” and “Brer Rabbit Cookies”
Brer Rabbit Cookies
Mama started baking these cookies during the sugar rationing of World War Two, and never stopped. To me, brother rabbit was just that. A rabbit. I’d seen him fight a baby made of tar as a kid, which at the time I accepted as plausible and factual. As I got older, it became clear to me that old Brer Rabbit was the cause of most of his own troubles. He was cunning, all right, but only after he put himself in a piss-poor situation to begin with.
Don’t get me started on Walt Disney. Wasn’t until I was older and heard about Uncle Remus, I realized that Disney had pulled another fast one on me. Another, you might ask? That’s right, I found out the hard way that Mickey was a guy in a suit. I don’t want to talk about it. Anyhow, I digress. If you’re rationing sugar for one reason or another, or you just like the taste of molasses, these cookies are for you. This is the recipe exactly as I remember it on the back of the bottle.
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg (I’m serious about it being large, not giant.)
1⁄4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp clove
1⁄2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp salt
Start by melting your shortening, then let it cool. Seems counterproductive I suppose, but stay with me here. Once things have cooled off, add your sugar, your egg, and then the star of the cookie show, your molasses. Remind me at another time to tell you about the first time I was offered a mole-ass cookie at Christmastime. Neither here nor there . . . Sift the rest of the ingredients together in a different bowl, and once combined, add them all together with the shortening mixture. Beat this mixture well. I mean really get in there. Now that it’s all mixed up, let it chill a few hours, or leave it until tomorrow. When you’re ready, take out the mix and form it into small balls. I’m gonna just keep plowing forward here . . . Roll this mixture in some extra sugar you have set aside (probably should have mentioned that up top) and place them on a greased cookie sheet a few inches apart. I probably should have also told you to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. The small ball thing threw me for a loop. Bake the cookies about 7 minutes. You’re looking for light-as-a-cloud-like on the texture scale.