Food on Fridays: Grandma Cookies

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Here at the Food on Fridays carnival, any post remotely related to food is welcome—though we love to try new dishes, your post doesn’t have to be a recipe.If you want, you could simply tell us if you’re going to fast from anything for Lent or share what food would be hardest to give up. Or you could take a picture of your fruit bowl. Basically we’re pretty relaxed over here. Posts that tell stories involving food are as welcome as menus and recipes.When your Food on Fridays contribution is ready, just grab the broccoli button (the big one above or smaller option at the bottom) to paste at the top of your post. It ties us together visually.Then link to Simply Linked.

Food on Fridays with Ann

In Thursday’s post, I described my grandma’s kitchen:

I remember the back door of Grandma’s house swinging open. I can still hear the spring stretching, squeaking and pulling the door shut with a solid thunk. I can see the porcelain kitchen sink, the linoleum floor and the baker’s cabinet where she stored all that she needed to make noodles or cookies…I can still see it all.

As I reminisced a bit, I mentioned her sugar cookies known to me simply as “Grandma Cookies”:

When we arrived, she pulled out her sugar cookies. Instead of rolling them out and cutting them into shapes, she would drop them onto the cookie sheet and sprinkle some colored sugar on top or stick a gumdrop in the middle, or a piece of pecan. She stored them in a green pan, a vintage roasting pan. As soon as we arrived, my brother and I wanted some “Grandma cookies.” I hunted for the ones with gumdrops or sprinkles.

These cookies were not typical Christmas cut-out sugar cookies. They were fluffier, with a lighter texture and flavor than those I make for the kids to decorate with red and green icing. But they were delicious chased down with a glass of milk.I ended yesterday’s piece with this:

I want to hold onto the wooden door that thunked shut, and the pansies, and the grape arbor, and the baker’s cabinet, and the green pan and the sugar cookies with the gumdrops stuck in the center.Grandma passed away in 1987, and the house is gone now. The wooden door, the pansies, and the arbor—all gone.But I do have the recipe for Grandma’s sugar cookies.And the green pan in which to store them.

When I was a teen, Grandma showed me how she made her famous cookies, and I was pleased when my mom told me that my solo attempts at home were very close to Grandma’s.But it’s been years since I’ve attempted to mix up a batch. After all this time, I’m out of practice and don’t know if I’ll be able to replicate them.At any rate, it’s my pleasure to provide you with the recipe for Grandma’s Cookies.Unfortunately, I don’t have time to make them before needing to publish this post. Besides, I don’t have any gumdrops. So I shall leave you wondering what they look like. Lord willing, I’ll make them soon and snap some photographs in order to post photos for next week’s Food on Fridays.“Grandma Cookies”Ingredients:

  • 1 C shortening (oleo or oleo and part butter) [Note: I have no idea what I would substitute to get the same effect—maybe 3/4 C butter and 1/4 C cooking oil?]
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C sour milk [Note: to make "sour milk," stir in just a teaspoon or so of vinegar to make it curdle]
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t vanilla
  • about 4 cups of flour or more as needed

Directions: Cream shortening and sugar, and beat in eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with milk to egg mixture. [Note: I recall that alternating the dry and wet mixtures was key to success.]I have this note on the recipe from Grandma: “I used to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters. Now I drop by teaspoons right on the cookie sheet to bake.”And my mom added this:  “She would put a half-walnut or pecan, or gumdrop in the middle.” [Note: Mmmmm......gumdrops.]Typical of an old-fashioned recipe, the recipe stops there, providing only the ingredients. When I come across older cookbooks and handwritten recipes (or “receipts,” as they used to be called), they seem to assume that anyone who’s planning to make cookies already knows what to do with the dough once it’s mixed together. Why risk insulting the cook by scribbling out the obvious final steps? My grandma only added that she switched to dropping them “by teaspoons right on the cookie sheet” to explain why she no longer rolled them out.So…to finish off the recipe for the modern cook accustomed to more detail:Drop by teaspoons on cookie sheet. In the middle of each teaspoonful of dough, stick a piece of walnut or pecan, or sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until done. [Note: I can't remember how long they took to bake, but anyone who's made cookies knows that 10-12 minutes is about right, and that every cookbook tacks on the phrase "or until done" to the end of recipes to avoid lawsuits.]Check back next week for cookie photos.

Photos of my grandma’s “cookie pan,” by Ann Kroeker.

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  • Comments

    1. This sounds similar to my Grandmothers Sugar Cookie recipe. I have considered purchasing some shortening, as there is something about it that makes cookies taste better. Your suggestion to use part butter and 1/4 cup oil would probably be a good choice. Rolling out the dough and cutting with cookie cutters is more fun, but dropping them on the cookie sheet is time saving. I loved your Grandmothers green cookie pan!

    2. What a great post….it brought back so many memories of cooking and baking with my great-grandma….there was always something going on in her kitchen…day and night!

      Thanks for hosting and I will be back to see the finished cookies.

    3. When I get home, I want to make those cookies! They sound wonderful, and I loved your post from yesterday – it was beautiful. I could hear the screen door, and it reminded me of some screen doors from my past – and really brought back memories!

    4. My Grandmother made potato candy, from real potatoes. I have a recipe from my aunt, her daughter. But I’ve never been able to perfect it like Grandma.

      Now, off to check on some bread rising in the oven. Maybe I’ll have that down enough one day to pass along to my own children (and grandchildren one day in the far far future).

    5. What a fun post, Ann. Grandma cookies are the best. My husband’s grandma always had 7-layer cookies or some other treat whenever we’d stop by. It’s a wonderful grandma tradition :)

    6. I love old recipes, especially the handwriting and the grease stains. And I love words like oleo and chocolate bits. Things we have to translate from a slower time. I would love to try to make these Grandma cookies. I don’t make sugar cookies often, but nothing beats a good one.

    7. I love recipes handed down from past generations. The tradition, the memories are all wrapped up in the taste. It’s more about the memories, the loved ones, the family gathered together than the recipe–although it’s important to make it taste at least close to what that person made.
      The squeak of the screen door brings back lots of memories. Can still hear it as you described it.
      My post this week is also family related and links in all those memories of our sweet Aunt who taught me how to make these enchiladas.
      Will copy your recipe and hope you enjoy mine!
      Blessings,
      Janis

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    3. [...] I made “Grandma Cookies” on Wednesday. The recipe makes quite a few cookies, so we’ve been eating one or two [...]

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