Bakery recipes with home made, fresh baked, muffins, yeast breads, and biscuits
recipes from the 50's, 60's, and 70''s.
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|The Mystery of the Missing Cookie Jar was written by Robin L. Wallace, more commonly
known as PenVampyre.
Karen wrote after a visit to our site,
"Did I forget to mention that one of the things endearing about "your little kitchen" is the
pictures and stories and such and, rather than being one of those "stainless steel type
kitchens", yours comes across as one with a window, plants hanging and sitting in the
window, homey, an inviting ambience and the smell of fresh coffee brewing and of course,
always the smell of something being baked ready to come out of the oven..." Thank you,
Karen W. for those kind and thoughtful sentiments.
Come, sit. Join Robin at the kitchen window as she spins a tale for you........
Robin L. Wallace First North American Serial Rights
Copyright © 11/26/07
One of the things that comes to mind when thinking about Christmas is the delicious smells
that used to fill the houses around this time of year as Gram Irwin and Great Grandma
Wallace and Auntie Julia did their holiday baking. Some people think back to the smells of
pumpkin or apple pies perfuming the air as they bake in the oven, but for me it was always
the smells of cinnamon, mincemeat, molasses and buttermilk, among others, as the cookies
were baked to perfection in the old wood stove at the homestead where I first learned to
bake as a youngster, or in Gram Irwinâ€™s more modern kitchen where a vent right over
the stove opened directly into the upstairs bathroom and would soon have the entire
upstairs smelling of baked heaven as I played or did homework in my bedroom.
Gram Irwin, Great Grandma Wallace and Auntie Julia would all start in around the weekend
after Thanksgiving planning out their holiday baked goods giving and trying to figure out
who was to get what delicacies based on taste preferences and need. Great Grandma and
Auntie Julia always made the oatmeal and buttermilk cookies that they were famous for as
the main staples of their gifting arsenal (you can find the oatmeal cookie and rolled
buttermilk cookies recipes elsewhere on this site). They also made an incredible dark soft
molasses gingerbread cookie that came out in bite sized balls that they rolled in powdered
sugar as well as a delightful soft pfefferneusse, but, alas, those two recipes were lost to the
antiques dealer who made off with multiple boxes of period family documents when Uncle
Harry eventually sold off the farm.
Unlike Great Grandma Wallace, who could be very forthright and businesslike, brooking no
nonsense when she set to work, I think Auntie Julia was always willing to gladly endure my
help during the cookie baking process. Any time they had the spare minutes (which
somehow always managed to correspond with our visits to the homestead during the
holidays) were spent in baking huge batches of cookies and packaging them up on beautiful
platters that would either be cleared into the neighbors' own storage containers and given
back on the day the goodies were delivered or returned to the two after the beginning of the
new year and the holidays had ended. I don't think they ever lost a one of the platters they
sent out with the cookies (talk about trust!) since any that were forgotten usually were
returned later in the year containing a multi-layered cake or other baked delight sent almost
as an apology for neglecting to return the dishware sooner.
When I wasn't allowed to help mix the cookie batter (any of you with kids knows what kind
of mess can decorate the walls when a four year old helps mix flour or other messy
components), I was always set to work choosing the various cutters used to make Auntie
Julia's rolled-out cookies. In addition to being farmers, the uncles were skilled blacksmiths
and tinsmiths and made a good deal of the cookie cutters and other kitchen implements
used in their daily cooking. Dependent upon the uncles' whims, Great Grandma and Auntie
Julia eventually ended up with an eclectic assortment of cookie cutter shapes in a huge
variety of sizes. There were stars, diamonds, snowmen and women, wreaths, bells, candy
canes, and leaves, along with the other usual shapes to be found in cookie cutters used
especially for the holidays. There was also a huge selection of farm animals like pigs, cows,
turkeys, chickens, and wildlife like deer, raccoons, rabbits and squirrels, long before such
shapes became popular at specialty cooking stores. We even had one shaped like a beaver
and an opossum, neither of which I have ever encountered in the intervening years while
shopping for replacements after the old tin box and the cache of precious cutters were sold
with the farm. If Auntie Julia ever minded that the wreaths more often than not ended up
with a star or little bird-shaped hole in the middle instead of the proper scalloped cut-out
shape, she never mentioned it, and my contributions to the vast selection were dutifully
frosted and decorated with precious colored sugar crystals, silvered balls or other
decorations like jimmies or hot cinnamon candies and added to those sent out with the
platters as gifts. The number of their neighbors and friends who would be the recipients of
the delectable cookies varied from year to year, but the cookies were usually delivered the
week of Christmas Eve to be enjoyed with glasses of fresh, creamy, homemade eggnog
made from the milk and eggs their farms produced.
Unlike Great Grandma and Auntie Julia, Gram Irwin belonged to innumerable social and
charitable organizations which always benefited from her baking efforts. She never seemed
to need a recipe for the cookies she baked (keeping a great number of them in her head to
be recalled as needed), and I always was sorry that she never apparently wrote down the
recipes.. Most of her cookie creations were measured out by the handful or whatever
amount looked good to her eye (I still measure like this to this day, much to the disgust of
my younger sister who learned exacting, precise measuring techniques from the Cordon
Bleu-trained Frenchwoman who first taught her), and frequently contained whatever goodies
came under her fingers. The only recipes she ever measured out were those she got from
other sources. One of my all-time favorites of hers was a butterscotch-like oatmeal
concoction that frequently contained coconut, hickory nuts and, of all things, coffee or dark
As good as Gram Irwin's creations were (she was always being asked to provide baked
goods during the holidays for such organizations as the Eastern Star, the Grange, her
church's women's organization, the 4-H, Farm Home Bureau, etc.), she would be the first to
tell you that her cookies and baked goods couldn't hold a candle to those made by her
sister-in-law, Agnes. Grandpa Irwin's mother, Mary Servis, came from a long line of bakers
who owned a fancy tea house in the port city of Cork before she emigrated from Ireland,
and Aunt Agnes had inherited her mother's magic touch when it came to baking. I can
remember the few times that I visited her house her dining room table was covered with
pans of fresh-made dinner rolls, loaves of fresh baked breads and other sweet rolls and
cookies that she made. She had a booming business selling these goods to her neighbors
and others to supplement her household income. I was told that before I was born, Gram's
egg customers often ordered baked goods that Gram delivered on her usual Saturday
morning egg runs to her customers.
|NOTE :The following directions are for people skilled at canning. Gram and Aunt Agnes were both old hands at
it both for putting up home-canned fruits and jellies and jams, something which I never picked up on. Since I
can't vouch for this part, you may have to experiment a little with this process to be successful.
Pour mincemeat into sterilized jars to within one inch of the top. Put on cap, screw lid band firmly into place
until tight. Process for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. Let the canner cool and unlock before removing
Makes around 12 quarts
Although I have never tried it this way, I have heard from other family members that around 6 pounds of 75%
ground beef cooked over low heat will produce similar results. The trick here is to crumble the hamburger meat
up as finely as possible while cooking without letting it brown at all. Drain the meat of excess grease after
cooking and set aside in a bowl, but do not drain it further on paper towels. A certain part of the fat is needed
to insure the recipe comes out properly. This also insures that the mixture will be a little easier to grind than
regular beef would be to get out any lumps.
Because citron or candied lemon may be hard to find, you might try using an equivalent amount of orange or
lemon essence chopped prunes or other dried fruit of your choice plus 2 teaspoons of lemon extract. I
stopped using citron to avoid preservatives, which I have problems with.
Boil the meat and suet together until tender, then drain and cool it. Force it through a food grinder (or if you
don't have one, you can quickly pulse it in a food processor. Be sure you don't make a paste out of the meat).
In a large pot, mix all the remaining ingredients together, except the brandy, and add the ground or pulsed
meat mixture and cook all together for 90 minutes or until fruit is soft and tender.
Add the brandy to the warm mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Fill one quart-sized freezer bags and
let the mixture cool before freezing.
| What follows is a recipe for mincemeat which I believe to be the one Gram Irwin and Aunt Agnes
originally used. The writing is a little faded, so I had to make my best educated guess for amounts in a
couple of instances (feel free to experiment until you find proportions that suit you). In later years as
prepared mincemeat became more readily available, the two used that kind more and more often out of
convenience. I have heard rumors recently that Borden Foods, maker of the None-Such brands they
preferred has ceased production, so I include this here for your convenience.
|Â§I have heard that an equivalent amount of broken pecan or roughly chopped toasted walnut pieces will make a great
substitute if you don't have hickory or black walnut meat pieces. As much of a resourceful hunter as farmer, Grandpa Irwin
knew the location of every source of nature's bounties from wild-growing red and black raspberries, the sheep pastures that
provided the tastiest wild mushrooms and puffballs and fields that yielded almost limitless supplies of hickory nuts and black
walnuts. I can remember many a crisp fall afternoon gathering the hickory nuts from the trees that surrounded the pastures
where Uncle Sammy kept his yearling heifers from his milk cow herd. When not gathering the nuts, it was my job to shoo off
the curious cattle who came over to see what we were up to. Often we had to fight the local squirrel population for the
delightful little nuts. Grandpa would then spend hours throughout the winter sitting in the kitchen next to the window that
overlooked the huge west lawn of the property (at almost an acre in size by itself, the only way it can be mowed in the
summer is on a riding lawn tractor - a simple riding mower could never get through it), cracking the tough little nuts with a
ball peen hammer on a cement cinder block specially designated for the work and which he usually kept balanced on his
knees. He used it for so long that it developed a little divot on one side in it which perfectly captured the nut in just the right
position so he could best crack it to preserve the meats which resemble little pecan halves. It was then my job to pry out
the meats and place them in the little Maxwell House coffee jars with the red lids that Gram always saved for just this purpose.
Â¥ Aunt Agnes was the queen of spices so the extra amounts listed here may be a little too strong for the modern palate,
especially if the jarred variety of mincemeat is used. You might want to experiment with this to see if it suits your tastes
before just tossing them in.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheets or spray with a non-stick cooking spray before use.
Crumble mincemeat in a large bowl and cover with favorite flavor of tea or weak coffee and let steep until
totally moistened. Drain before adding to cookie mixture.
In large mixer bowl, beat shortening/butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beat well. Stir
together the flour, salt, and baking soda and optional spices (see note). Gradually add to shortening
mixture. Gradually add in oatmeal. Add soaked mincemeat. Fold in nut pieces. If the mixture is too
dry, add buttermilk or sour cream in ½ tablespoon amounts until the mixture is cohesive.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 12
minutes or until slightly browned. Be careful as this is easy to overshoot. Let the cookies set on the
sheet for several minutes before removing from pan. NOTE: If you like a softer cookie never bake them
until brown. For a more cake like cookie use 1 1/3 cups to 1½ cups of jarred or ready-to-use Nonesuch
mincemeat. Frost or garnish as desired.
Quick Frosting Recipe:
In small bowl, beat 3 cups confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons softened butter or margarine and 3
tablespoons milk or buttermilk until well blended.
Makes about 6 1/2 dozen.
|Leona Irwin's Homemade Eggnog
2 cups regular milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream*
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 large eggs**
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons sugar
Rum or rum extract (to taste if desired)
Place eggs in blender and pulse until mixed. Add remaining ingredients except rum or rum extract and blend well. Chill and serve with a
dollop of whipped cream and dash of powdered cinnamon on top.
You can substitute light whipping cream if you find the taste of the heavy cream too thick, but do not substitute skim or 2% for the
whole milk. A certain amount of fat is needed in the milk for the recipe to work properly.
This recipe was developed long before the salmonella issue came up with eggs. You can use a like amount of pasteurized egg substitute if
you have raw egg concerns. I have heard that the raw egg mixture can be heated a little over a double boiler to kill off germs before
adding the milk, cream and other ingredients, but I have never tried to make it this way.
Gram Irwin was never a drinker (the only alcohol kept in the house was an ancient bottle of scotch whisky to be added to hot, homemade
lemonade by the tablespoonful as a home cure for pneumonia), so she would add rum extract at about a ½ teaspoonful per 8 oz cup full
to accommodate those who did. The ruse must have worked because I never heard any complaints from those who did imbibe, and jugs
of her eggnog often accompanied her cookies during the holiday season.
|Recipes and notes:
As I noted above, you can find Auntie Julia and Great Grandma's cookie recipes elsewhere on this site (The Muenster Town Historian
recently contacted me and has included Auntie Julia's cookie recipe in their Brass Tavern Inn cookbook because it was a close period
approximation of the one their town ancestress Julia Brass used to serve to revive the weary travelers who stopped off at her inn riding
on the stagecoach - you can read about it at Munster History. In later years as we, ourselves, made the recipes, we redacted and
changed them a little to be more useful to modern cooks.
Notes on Auntie Julia's Buttermilk Cookies: The original recipe, long since lost, originally called for the cookies to be started off at a
higher temperature and in a hotter oven. The baking was then done at a lower temperature to finish them off until done. In the
updated version I have shared, this step has been omitted, but the cookies turn out better if you refrigerate the dough for at least four
hours (I have found overnight to work the best) before you attempt to roll them out. They are an especially tender dough, and Auntie
Julia often dusted the rolling surface, rolling pin and cutters with 10x powdered sugar to keep them from getting too tough in the
rolling/cutting process. She said they made a more tender cookie that way and preferred that method over Great Grandma Wallace's
method of using flour. Be sure to watch them carefully during baking so that the bottom is just a light golden brown and the tops
appear to be just dry and set. Much longer than that and the cookies will be over baked and too dry.
We also learned that the cookie dough could be tinted and formed into shapes much like Play-Doh. The trick is to remember to keep all
of the dough the same thickness so that it bakes evenly.
If you find out that the cookies have dried out in the storage container, you can moisten them back up by adding a slice of white bread
in with the cookies.
Being a more pragmatic type who thought homemade gifts far outweighed anything
bought at the store, Aunt Agnes would come right around the week before Christmas
when her holiday baking activities were at their zenith and make off with the old cookie
jar. Since she never made any kind of grand announcement that she would be taking it,
she managed to get the jar past him almost every time.
And since she usually visited in the afternoon, Grandpa would never notice the missing
cookie jar until the next day when he went to raid a couple of cookies for his afternoon
pick-me-up. After a couple of minutes' noisy and fruitless rummaging in the kitchen, the
house soon rang out with his frustrated calls of: Lona, Lona, where's my cookie jar,
woman? I need my afternoon cookies for strength! You lose it? How can you lose a
cookie jar that big?
With an exasperated, 'Oh, Bubbles!' Gram would go out into the kitchen to fetch him a
couple of cookies out of the cupboard before he insisted that he would faint away from
hunger. This little tableau usually went on for the duration of the time Aunt Agnes had
custody of the missing cookie jar.
|The Mystery of the Missing Cookie Jar
Dedication: To Gloria, for the beautiful gift she sent to keep
warm when she needed it the most.
There must be some special angel who knew that there would come a time when I would want and need Grandma Irwin's recipe for
molasses cookies. When I lost the cook book put out by the local Grange chapter in the mid-1970s, I figured that the recipe was
gone forever, being the only place I ever found it written down. As I have explained in other places, Grandma was one of the kinds of
old-fashioned cooks who kept that sort of information all in her head. Like those old-time cooks, she was able to call that knowledge
forth whenever she needed it, unlike all us nonprofessional cooks who have to rely on cook books or other recipes we have written
down to make our creations.
I can remember a time several years ago when I was interested in using the computer to convert everything I loved from those little 3
x 5 index cards (so damnably hard to read, even though my tiny handwriting was so neat) into regular sized 8.5 x 11 inch pages that
could be stored in a notebook, removed as needed, and placed in a clear page protector for easy cleanup when used in the kitchen. If
the recipe was stored in the computer, it could be printed out again as needed when the original had gotten too dirty or stained to
use again. Ah, those innocent, carefree days before I realized the foibles of trying to store data on drives or diskettes that would
regularly crash, making everything that I had saved irretrievable in the event I changed machine types or even upgraded from one
model to the next. After having lost several pieces of writing in this manner, I had it in my head to start making hard copies as often
as I could to preserve the precious work.
Somewhere along the line, I must have copied the recipes I liked the best from whatever source, be it cookbook, handwritten cards or
paper, or even coupon fliers. Unremembered by me, I must have pulled the recipes I liked the best out of the Grange cookbook with
the idea of making a master cookbook of my own, and through the years had misplaced the printout I had so scrupulously made.
Wonder of wonders! When my roommate was going through some of my papers while cleaning recently, she found Grandma's cookie
recipe as was mentioned in this article. And so, to make sure that it never gets lost again, I offer it here for your enjoyment. I know
that Grandma Irwin would be proud to know that her cookies are bringing pleasure to those who use the recipe and enjoy the results.
So what follows (with millions of thanks to my hardworking roommate for finding it in the first place!) I offer the recipe here for your
Preheat oven to 350Â°F. Cream sugar and shortening until fluffy. Mix in molasses and spices. Sift flour with
baking powder, soda, and salt. Alternate the flour mixture with the liquid and add to the sugar mixture,
beginning with flour and ending with flour. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator. Roll out or drop on a
greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until just done.
Notes: This was Gram Irwin's basic recipe for molasses cookies. This recipe makes great cookies that could
stand on their own.
Depending on what struck her fancy, she often added such goodies as one half cup shredded coconut, one
half cup roughly chopped nuts (this could be walnuts, hickory nuts, pecans, black walnuts or even the
occasional butternut that Grandpa Irwin found and brought home to her) or even raisins that had been boiled
until they were plump. In those cases, Grandma Irwin might mix half a cup of coffee with a half a cup of the
liquid that the raisins were boiled in to make up the cupful of liquid required for the recipe.
In other cases, she would mix a cup of buttermilk with the baking soda and add that in place of the coffee.
To boil the raisins, measure out the amount you need for your recipe and place it in a saucepan. Put in just
enough water to cover the raisins, and allow them to boil over medium heat at a full boil for six to eight
minutes, or until tender and plump. Take the raisins off the heat to cool, and when cool strain them carefully.
Depending on what you want to do, you can reserve some or all of the liquid to use in your recipe.
Since molasses can be somewhat difficult to get out of the measuring cup completely, immerse the measuring
cup and molasses into a hot water bath that does not go over the rim of the measuring cup to liquefy the
molasses. I suggest that you soak it like this for at least 10 minutes before it is needed for use.
My all-time favorite using this recipe was when she added in shredded coconut and nuts. Feel free to
experiment until you find ingredients that suit your taste.
These cookies store well in an airtight container. They also can be frozen in freezer bags for up to three
months. If you find the cookies have gotten dry in the storage container, you can soften them up by adding a
slice of white bread in with them.
This is one cookie that Grandpa Irwin used to love to dunk in his tea after lunch or dinner. I've also found
them to be good with flavored coffees, hot chocolate, homemade eggnog and even just plain milk instead of
eating a doughnut for breakfast.
On Christmas Eve Aunt Agnes would appear as if by magic and deliver the newly washed cookie jar filled up to the very top
with layers of every kind of cookie conceivable. There were tender, pressed cookies in every hue, shape and flavor, soft
peanut butter cookies, the likes of which I have never been able to duplicate, mincemeat cookies, a chocolate thumbprint
cookie that had something which resembled a pastel-colored, peppermint-flavored Hersheyâ€™s kissâ„¢ melted into the
middle of it, almond and lemony shortbread, soft, dark molasses cookies, the traditional real thumbprints containing either
the black raspberry or red currant jams that Gram had made and cut out sugar cookies that had been iced with a spice or
almond frosting and decorated with some of the crushed nutmeats he had gathered and shared with her. There was also a
spiced chocolate chip variety sporting no less than three kinds of nuts, and an oatmeal creation soft and chewy with
coconut and pecans, having a very buttery butterscotch tang to them.
Grandpa would immediately dive into the stash and haul out a cut out
gingerbread man that Aunt Agnes had purposefully placed on top and
start a contented munching. This was his way of telling her thank you for
her bounty. The actual spoken words he left up to Gram Irwin as she
ushered Aunt Agnes out the front door. They were usually followed by a
hushed, I'm so glad you brought the cookie jar back. I swear I would
have gone mad if he accused me of losing it for one more day!
Of course Aunt Agnes would tease him the next time she saw him because she had gotten the jar out the door without him
ever noticing. And it didnâ€™t end there, either. Sometimes I swear she thoroughly enjoyed this method of getting the
better of my grandfather because she would remind him of her caper for months afterward whenever she came over to the
house to visit him.
I hope that as the season progresses you have some happy memories to warm you as you prepare for your own
celebrations, too. As for me, well, I have a cup of homemade eggnog and an oatmeal cookie waiting for me. Happy holidays to
Agnes Beach's Mincemeat Cookie Recipe
1 cup vegetable shortening or butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups unsifted whole wheat or all purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking oats (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 oz.) package Nonesuch or other condensed
¾ cup of broken hickory nut or black walnut pieces,
½ tablespoon sour cream or buttermilk
2 cups tea or weak coffee
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
|Original Mincemeat recipe
4 pounds beef, diced
2 pounds beef suet
2 pounds granulated sugar
2 pounds seedless raisins, chopped
1 pound dried currants
4 pounds apples, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 pound citron, minced
1/2 pound candied lemon peel, minced
1 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons powdered or grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup orange juice (from the oranges you grated)
1/2 cup lemon juice (from the lemons you grated)
4 cups hard alcoholic cider (the alcohol will cook off in your pies
or other baking, leaving the just the flavor behind)
2 cups brandy (same per above)
|Leona Irwin's Molasses Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 scant cup molasses
1 cup coffee
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
| In later years as we made these cookies for our own gift giving, we tried experimenting with different
flavors in the cookie dough. Our favorite was the addition of a teaspoon of peppermint extract to each
cookie batch. Other flavors which worked well were orange extract, lemon extract and almond extract in
addition to the vanilla. We'd also use a little bit of food coloring to tint the various flavors to help tell
them apart - pink for peppermint, orange for orange, yellow for lemon and green for almond. All these
were usually frosted with a white frosting to highlight any decorations against the background.
These cookies are especially good for dipping in eggnog, regular or chocolate milk, and usually freeze
well when separated in layers by waxed paper or aluminum foil.
Christmas Spice Nuts - Recipe found in a tin recipe box.
"These are deliciously crisp...and they're crisp all the way through.", she wrote on the card.
2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
2/3 cup melted shortening
1 cup chopped seedless raisins
Sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt, 1/2 cup sugar and baking soda. Beat eggs; add molasses; combine with dry
ingredients, mixing smooth. Add shortening; mix well. Add raisins. Shape into long roll 3/4" in diameter. Cut into 3/4" pieces;
roll in balls. Roll each in sugar; place on greased baking sheet. Bake in moderately hot oven, 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Makes about 90 cookies
1 T. Gelatin
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
add cold water to gelatin. Let stand until all water is absorbed. then add boiling water, sugar, and salt.
Stir. When dissolved, add to lemon juice. Then sit aside to cool. Beat the egg whites stiff. When gelatin
mixture begins to stiffen, beat until it becomes frothy. Then add the egg whites and continue beating until
it begins to stiffen. Turn into a mold and set in a cool place. Serve with chilled custard sauce.
Like Gram, Aunt Agnes' baking was always requested at her church for their holiday bake sales and functions. Since her husband, Harry,
was a worker at the area dairy co-op, she also managed to obtain scads of the milk sugar that was discarded from the milk runs to use in
her multitude of creations. Whether it was a lifetime of practice, the quality and quantity of fresh milk and butter that she got from her
little brother, Sammy's, dairy farm or the fresh eggs she got from Gram and Grandpa Irwin, I don't know, but she could have put many
commercial bakeries to shame.
Up until well after Gram had passed in 1989, there was an old, glass jar that had a metal screw-on lid and wire bale that had served as a
cookie jar all during the time I was growing up. I don't remember now if it held 2½ or 5 gallons, but it sat in a place of honor on the back
of the work space to the right side of the stove in the kitchen for as long as she lived. Any time there were cookies in the house, be they
homemade or store bought, into the jar they went where my grandfather could go and raid one or two of whatever was there anytime he
wanted one or had tea to drink.
It was always impossible to figure out what to get Grandpa Irwin for Christmas. Whether he was just naturally thrifty or had learned it
from bitter experience during the Great Depression and rationing trials of World War II, I don't know, but I can remember my mom and
dad buying him tools year after year for Christmas, trying to replace old or worn-out implements long past their prime . In the 10 years or
so after he had passed away, they would find perfectly new tools they had bought for him over multiple decades, most still in the original
packaging, secreted in odd little cubbies all over the garage and in the cellar, waiting for a time when HE considered the original too far
gone to use. Later on, they filled up three full toolboxes with the pliers, screwdriver sets, etc., they had so carefully bought for him over
the years (I still have one of them to this day which formed the basis of my own tool collection used in general household repairs).