This is a very old recipe dating back to the 1800's. My grandmother, aunts and my mother made these every year for Christmas to decorate with frosting and again for Valentine's Day. Now my sister and I and even my younger brother make them for our families. My father loved these cookies plain with 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds added to the recipe. They were one of the last things I made for him before he died. I love and miss you very much, Daddy.
In a large bowl cream together sugar and shortening. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Then add sour milk.
Sift together in a large mixing bowl all dry ingredients.
Add vanilla to the creamed mixture and gradually add the flour mixture to this.
At this point you can now use this dough to make drop cookies if you wish. I sprinkle them with colored sugar or cinnamon and sugar before I bake them. If you want shaped cookies refrigerate the dough covered for 2 hours. Then roll out on a floured surface to 1/3 inch thick. Do this in small batches as adding too much flour in this step will make the cookies tough and bland.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes on a greased and floured cookie sheet. Cool and frost.