Joan Shaw’s holiday recipe for Molasses Moose Cookies |

Joan Shaw’s holiday recipe for Molasses Moose Cookies

Susan Stone
Highland Foodie
Fraser, Colorado

We’ve heard the phrase, “You could get hit by a truck tomorrow…” but most of us haven’t experienced it.

At the tender age of 5, in her hometown of Buffalo, NY, Joan Shaw was struck by a hit and run driver. The experience set in motion the course of her life.

Confined to a wheelchair for months with a broken leg, she missed kindergarten. Joan’s mother rolled the chair to the piano and taught her daughter to play.

“I haven’t quit playing,” Joan said.

A sign on the door of her Fraser Valley home reads, “An old moose lives here and the one he makes moosic with.” The old moose, Joan’s handsome husband Roger, is a retired physicist and member of the all-male Grand Chorale.

With Becky Shaw on flute, Joan on viola and Roger on cello, the Alpine Classic Music trio play at weddings, dinner parties, fundraisers and other special events.

Joan wasn’t just playing music at those weddings. She was taking mental notes and she amassed a storehouse of mountain wedding stories.

Her book, “Mountain I DOs,” categorizes the stories by dress incidents, weather, minister, location, music, and vows. It is humorous, touching and points out the bizarre events that result when couples follow their dream of a wedding in the mountains.

“Mountain I Dos” is available just in time for Christmas at Fraser 1-Hour Photo, Snow Mountain Ranch, SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch, at Cascades Cabin in Cooper Creek Square and on the Web site

Also in time for Christmas is another event born of fate. While living in St. Louis before becoming a full time Grand County resident, Joan bought a box filled with music for $2 at a garage sale.

She said, “I had no idea why, but I packed this box and moved it with us to the mountains. When we finally settled in, I knew what to do. I invited the community to participate and made it a happening. With no rehearsals, people show up at the appointed hour and sing from the music I bought at that sale – George Frederick Handel’s ‘Messiah’.”

Mountain Messiah volunteers help in any number of ways. Call Joan or Roger Shaw at (970) 726-4626 to find out how you can help. To join the Mountain Messiah “happening,” go to The Chapel of Snow Mountain Ranch at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27. Bring cookies to share at the Afterglow party.

In high school, Joan loved all musical instruments and sought a means to use them productively. She happened upon a magazine article about music therapy, which set the stage for Joan becoming a pioneer in the field, then in its infancy. Joan published two books on the subject. “Joy of Music in Maturity” is in its fourth printing.

She and Roger have two Christmas traditions. Each person lights two candles on their wooden candle tree to honor someone, living or dead.

“I can’t tell you how powerful it is,” she said. “Sending energy to that person is so moving.”

At 8 p.m. MST on Christmas Eve, they invite everyone on their Christmas card list to stop what they are doing and join them as they share moments of silence. According to Joan, “It is a time to put the brakes on for inner and outer peace.”

Joan’s early years in New York made her love winter, “I’m used to it!” She also loves the forest, but she and Roger have single-handedly cleared pine-beetle killed trees from their property over the past few summers. They are now enjoying the new views.

The active couple participates in hiking, backpacking and camping.

“I love nature, so that is the best part of living here…the air, the water, the sky and the pace of life are all natural,” she said.

Joan quilts, knits, reads and sorts books for the library used book sales. She is a mother of three and grandmother to six delightful people. She really enjoys playing piano at Gasthaus Eichler, as she said, “playing melodies people know and love.”

Joan also makes fabulous Molasses Moose Cookies and shares her recipe with us.

“These cookies represent me and my home in the mountains – and I love molasses,” she said.

Molasses Moose Cookies

Adjusted for 8500 ft

The cookie mix base:

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 Tbs plus 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 Tbs salt

2 cups butter

2 cups sugar

Combine the above flour, baking powder and salt. Sift together and add butter and sugar; mix well (a lot). Keep this cookie mix base in the refrigerator until ready to use. (Makes 6 cups.)

Cookie ingredients:

4 cups of the cookie mix

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 extra large egg

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend cookie ingredients together. Refrigerate dough for 60 minute. Roll chilled dough on pastry cloth topped with wax paper to keep any extra flour off the brown moose. Use cookie cutters, small and large. Place cookies on greased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Frost as desired. Makes 1 dozen large full moose, plus 14 to 16 moose heads. If you want to use the remaining cookie mix base, add it to a half recipe of the cookies ingredients, substituting one small egg for the large egg.

Contact Susan Stone at 970-531-1952 or

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