Simmer raisins and water in a small saucepan over low heat until raisins are plump, 20-30 minutes. Drain raisin liquid into measuring cup and add enough water to make 1/2 cup. Preheat oven to 400.
Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir in raisin liquid.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; stir in to shortening mixture.
Add rolled oats, raisins, and nuts if desired. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and cool.