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Moving Schipka Laurel for Rhododendron 'Loderi King George'

Picture it - a 6 ft. tall Schipka Laurel used to stand here (I forgot to take a "before" shot and don't feel like searching for one).  I knew when I planted it that it was probably a bad idea but thought it would be good for a fast-growing screen along the back fence-row. I'm sure all gardeners do this, especially if you have a new garden and are eager for greenery. In all fairness to the laurel, it is a useful plant and I would argue even a beautiful one when nicely maintained. Before I dug this one up, I stood back and admired it and felt the guilt pangs stabbing at my heart.  I removed a much larger laurel than this a few years ago and they are not the easiest plant to dig out. I was determined to save this one and I believe I was successful.  Here is a thought and you can take this to the bank - the pot you choose to hold a plant that you dig up will ALWAYS be too small. Always!  So, after finding the largest pot I could, here it is, after being cut back pretty dr

Sugar-Topped Molasses Cookies

I think molasses cookies are one of those things that you either love or hate. Michael doesn't like them and our neighbor's husband doesn't either. I find that they would not be my first choice if I had several types to choose from but once I eat one, I want another and another... I think they are a great cookie for this time of year when it starts to get colder. 

I have been on such a Maida Heatter kick for the past decade that I have neglected many of my other cookbooks. I pulled Dorie Greenspan's baking book from the shelf and was browsing through it when I came across this recipe. I haven't made many recipes from her book and I really should remedy that. It is a large, beautiful book and the recipes that I have tried in the past have been wonderful. This one is no exception.

Sugar-Topped Molasses Cookies (from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 TBS.) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg

1/2 cup sugar, for rolling the cookies

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and pepper. 

Beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Add the egg and beat an additional minute. 

Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture and mix until the flour streaks disappear.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or freeze. (You can keep the dough refrigerated for up to 4 days).

Baking the Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 with the rack in the center position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Work with one batch of dough at a time. Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and roll it in the sugar.  Dip the bottom of a glass in the sugar and press the balls down until they are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Place on the baking sheet.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes or until the tops feel set to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet with a spatula and transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I can tell it is getting colder, you are back to baking. I am sort of like that with molasses cookies. I think a few each fall/winter are good. Molasses is a flavor that reminds me of colder weather.
    Do you watch the British baking show? I don't even bake and it has captured my imagination. Even my DB watches with me now.


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