10 May 2010

Family recipe Monday: cookies

Cookies were almost as important a test of one's kitchen skills as pies and cakes for my grandmother's generation. They were always kept on hand for visitors, hungry children and social events. During the Depression and WWII, cookies stretched a rationed pantry's contents farther than more elaborate desserts could do. They were also a handy way to send a little sweetness back out to the field after dinner, which was of course at noon, the main meal of the day. Here are a few older classics from the files.

Lacy cookies

½ cup oleo
1 cup quick oats
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
4 T flour
1 egg

Melt oleo. Add other ingredients and stir well. Use 1/2 tsp. for each cookie. Bake on foil for 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool and they will peel off.
--Opal Winstead, Vada Brooks Johnson

Forgotten Cookies are essentially little meringues that are allowed to set slowly in a cooling oven. The result is a very crisp, light cookie. The egg whites need to be beaten to the stiff-peak stage for this to work.

Forgotten cookies

To 3 beaten egg whites, add 1 cup sugar gradually. Add 1 cup each chocolate chips and nuts, folding into egg mixture. Drop by teaspoons on cookie sheet that has been lined with brown paper {or cooking parchment}. Heat oven to 350* F and turn off. Put cookies in oven and leave overnight.
--Gladys Brooks Strickland

Francis cookies are bar cookies, good for taking to socials and quilting bees. "Francis" was Mrs. D. M. Davis, a friend of our grandmother's. One of us, no names mentioned, but a major hater of coconut, loved and ate these for years without realizing that there was coconut in it, according to Shirley. These are best baked in a 9x13" baking pan.

Francis cookies

½ cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup white Karo syrup
½ cup sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ cup raisins
1 cup nuts
¼ cup coconut

Grease and flour pan. Bake 20 minutes at 340* F. Glaze while hot with 1/2 box powdered sugar and canned milk.
 --Vada Brooks Johnson

No one in my grandmother's generation ever referred to a refrigerator as anything but an ice box, long after the iceman had gone the way of the Edison wax cylinder and the horse-drawn carriage. What's strange is that I occasionally hear myself calling it an ice box, too. I have no explanation for this. Chilling this dough before baking allows the cookies to keep their shape in spite of their high butter-shortening content. This does go back to actual ice box days.

  Ice box cookies

4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
½ cup shortening other than butter
½ cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup nuts

Sift flour, measure and sift with baking powder and soda. Cream shortening and butter, add sugar gradually, blend well. Add eggs, mix well. Stir in flour and nut meats.

Work into 2 rolls, wrap in waxed paper, and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Slice about ¼” thick and bake on ungreased cookie sheet about 8 minutes at 400*F. Makes 9 dozen.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Don't let them burn and be sure to share them. Happy Monday.

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