In a small saucepan, bring the raisins, water, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to a boil. Remove from heat, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Drain the raisins and stir them into the mixture.
Put the 3 tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and roll the balls in the sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, cookies should be firm.