My ankle kept me from baking much for a couple of weeks. Well, not directly. Truth is, the hassle, pain, awkwardness and general tedious bother of moving around with it, or not and just sitting still with it elevated, makes everything a bit of an ordeal. Even sitting and writing at the computer, which I still can’t manage for very long. But I had two assignments to finish up early on in this rather stupid and annoying little odyssey of mangled-foot-living, and so sit at the computer I did. Often those sessions were just long enough to get my head into the work only to be interrupted either by an appointment, pain or some family member needing something that did not involve sitting at the computer and writing.
And so, once the writing was done, the first recipe I decided to try involved working in stages, like a woman with a severe attention deficit disorder, or someone who really shouldn’t be standing for too long at a time. I toasted walnuts early in the day on Christmas Eve, and gathered ingredients over the course of the day — a cup of raisins here, a couple of tablespoons of instant coffee there, and dry ingredients measured out and sifted — finally mixing everything together in the evening. The dough has to chill overnight to firm up for baking and to let the spices mellow. And mellow they did. Ginger married molasses, nutmeg and cinnamon, and then got it on a bit with strong coffee. The raisins plumped up a bit, and the walnuts relaxed. Or something.
The next evening, Christmas Day, I baked them, and the smell warmed the kitchen almost as much as the oven did. Nothing like the fresh scent of gingerbread when the air is heavy with snow. Excellent therapy after a long winter day.
According to Sharon Tyler Herbst these can be modified a couple of ways: chopped dried apricots instead of raisins, or double the flavor with finely diced crystallized ginger. Both sound nearly as delicious as these are just as is.