Ginger Snaps and slime molds

Last time I walked in the woods, I found a slender tree with shelves of thin brown bracket fungi that looked ever so much like ginger snap cookies thrown by ninjas into its trunk. Sznap! Snzap! Distracted by the hope of cooler weather and fragrant cookies, and wary of the star-throwing ninjas, I forgot to snap that fungus photo on the Caddo Trail.

Once again I've given up on understanding fungi, lichens, mushrooms, and slime molds and the decomposition cycle. It's so beautiful and bizarre, enormous and minuscule, hidden and showy, beneficial and parasitic, deadly and essential that my tiny human brain can't comprehend it. Last year I bought a thousand page book on mushrooms, and lasted one chapter.

I can see it now. I'll be standing there deceased and wearing only a sheet, and the angel in charge, looking like the night clerk at the police station, will give me a jaded look and write down in the log, "Higher Power = slime mold."

Circularly, my curiosity about fungus caught the tail of a theory that ginger snap cookies were devised to cover the taste of wheat tainted by fungus. This from the Wisconsin Mycological Society NEWSLETTER Volume 31 Number 1 Spring 2014:

There were many interesting tidbits along the way – such as how ginger snaps, with their strong flavorings, were created to make use of bunted wheat, which is wheat that has been infected by a smut fungus and has an off-flavor and smell.

Didn't Aldous Huxley have a theory about rye smut fungus, ergot, being used by early humans to induce psychedelic visions? Or was that the Oracle of Delphi? No, I'm pretty sure the Oracle ate Oreos before her ambiguous prophecies.

So, life is good. Autumn will arrive eventually, and we can preheat our ovens and bake cookies once again.

Fritzi's Molasses Sugar Cookie Recipe
Makes 4 dozen

3/4 c shortening
1 c sugar
1/4 c molasses
1 egg
2 t baking soda
2 c sifted flour
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t ginger
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt

Melt shortening in a 3 qt. pan over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Add sugar, molasses, egg. Beat well. Sift together flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, & salt. Add to first mixture. Mix well & chill thorougly. Form in 1" balls; roll in granulated sugar, & place on greased cookie sheets 2" apart. Bake in 375 degree oven 8-10 minutes. (Do not try to roll & cut with cookie cutters!)

© 2014-2015 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Debra said...

Yum! I love ginger in just about anything. I can't believe your posts haven't been making it to my reader. Just on whim I typed in your blog address and found all these great things I've been missing. grrr argh