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.

Love, Lorna

Butterscotch Cookies
1 cup oleo,* that's shortening for you young uns.
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
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.


Debbie said...

What a wonderful letter! Thank you for sharing it with the recipe.

La Vida Dulce said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. How amazing that something so simple as a cookie recipe can be such a beautiful and touching memory. I will proudly add this one to my collection in her honor.

Ellie said...

That's a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing those wonderful memories and the cookie recipe :)

wheresmymind said...

What a great guy your husband is :D I know I would love stealing one of your cookays!!

mooncrazy said...

Jeff, he is a great guy and he loves the chocolate-chip cookays, too.

Grandma Poppi said...

Your cookies sent me to my recipe box to find my Mom's recipe for similar cookies. She called them Ice Box Cookies and only difference is that she used 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown. They were my husbands favorite cookies and whenever he was around her house you could always find those little rolls in her refrig ready to make him fresh cookie and boy they did smell good. She always wrapped her little rolls in wax paper. No wonder he loved my Mom so much!!