This sugar cookie recipe has been a tradition in my family for five decades now. My mother found this recipe in a Betty Crocker recipe book for little girls ( had to start getting them cooking early back in the 50's!) and they are really good.
COMBINE the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and shortening in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the shortening into the flour, sugar, powder and salt. If a pastry blender is not available, you can use two knives, but the pastry blender is highly recommended. Using knives can be daunting and particularly exhausting. This is because the ingredients must be blended until it is full of very fine lumps.
MEASURE the egg into a measuring cup. If the egg does not add up to ¼ of a cup, add water to the egg until it does. Add the egg and vanilla into the dough and beat very well. I recommend using a spoon because the dough is thick and if you use a beater the tongs like to gather the dough and fling it more than blend it together.
BAKE the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375º for about ten minutes. The dough for these cookies is ideal for cookie presses with Christmas-shaped plate molds rather than rolling them and cutting out shapes with cookie cutters. I like to decorate them with green or red sprinkles or tiny multi-colored sugar balls.
This is completely an optional suggestion as well, but make your life a whole lot easier and get the premeasured blocks of shortening, for I find measuring out shortening and scooping it all out of the cup quite daunting and sometimes frustrating.