Saturday, October 07, 2006
Here's a crock
This crock, my now cookie jar, was my grandmother, Emily Prucilla's and it served her well for decades. I inherited it when my mom passed away because it was always my favorite. I nearly had a breakdown when I dropped the lid and it broke in two pieces but darling husband, to the rescue, patched it up.
I try to keep it full of cookies, these are Alton Browns chocolate chip (just for you, Jeff) but what I really want to make is a recipe of Grandma's that I recently rediscovered. She called them "scutterbotch" and each generation loved them. Along with the recipe was the following letter my mom sent to her family and friends after her mother's passing in 1991.
The time is fall of 1931. The people knew by then that the country was in serious trouble. Unemployment, failed banks, and closed factories plagued he towns and cities but in Monroeville, Indiana a small farming community close to the Ohio border, poor farmers were still poor farmers. My father, an engineer, moved his family to a farm to soften the blow of the depression. I was nine, my sisters Mary Alice and Marcella were seven and five. Our little brother Tom was two; Joseph was yet to be born.
As was typical of the day the big white farm house had a large kitchen with a wood burning cook stove. Here mother Emily would bake the most wonderful butterscotch cookies. At night she would mix up a batch and then early in the morning she would bake them. The smell of those cookies would walk us girls up and on those mornings we would waste no time getting ready. The smell always meant there would be cookies for breakfast and some in our lunch.
As time went by we sold the farm and moved to the city. Our brother Joseph was born and six weeks later, Daddy Tom died. He left Emily to raise the five children alone. Times were hard. Emily had to work to support her family but she always found time to make us a batch of butterscotch cookies. Mother died May 13, 1991. At that time I had two dozen cookies in the freezer. I had made them under her directions some weeks before her passing.
This morning, as I write you this letter, I am having butterscotch cookies with my coffee; the smell of cookies still lingers on.
1 cup oleo,* that's shortening for you young uns.
2 cups brown sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup chopped nuts
*you could use butter and they would be delicious; they just wouldn't taste like Grandma's.
Mix sugar, eggs, and oleo. Add flour salt and soda; mix well. Add nuts. Divide into two rolls and wrap in wax paper (plastic wrap is fine). Chill overnight. Cut 1/4 inch and bake 8-10 minutes at 375 until lightly browned. Do not overbake.
Note: Her rolls were never round they were flat on the sides producing an oblong cookie but I always made them that way, too.