Cream together the shortening and the sugar. Stir in the egg, buttermilk and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir to combine. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. If desired sprinkle tops of cookies with white sugar before baking.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 7 to 9 minutes or until set.