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A Batch of Cookies

At the time these were posted to Hope Needham’s column, I imagine a lot of the contributors were, indeed, very lonely, especially if they lived on the prairie, so they viewed Hope as a real friend. However, you couldn’t really talk about how lonely you were, so you found common ground.  In this instance, the common ground was sour cream cookies.  Anything to make a connection!

Mom always had sour cream available because we milked cows.  The milk was run through a separator and the cream was stored in a cream can in the underground cellar.  If a recipe called for sour cream, we just went to the cellar and collected some from the top of the cream in that can in the cellar.  Earlier in my McPherson days and again at the Merrill Ranch, I stored milk in plastic gallon jars.  I skimmed the cream off them and stored it in separate containers.  If I didn’t get the cream used before the next batch of milk came in, the older container of cream was the “sour cream”.  We wouldn’t have used that sour cream for baked potatoes or dip. I mostly used my sour cream for baking purposes.  

This clipping includes four recipes that use sour cream, three for cookies and one for a cake.  The first one is a drop cookie, the second can be either a drop or rolled and cut, the third is a darker, spicier and nuttier cookie.  Most of the recipes from Hope Needham’s column are printed in paragraph form and mostly conversational in tone.  I hadn’t seen one organized in A, B and C sections before as in the second recipe.  I imagine Berniece got that recipe from a really organized person.

For a Batch of Cookies

Dear Hope:  I feel as though you are a real friend, as I have read and enjoyed your column for many years.

I am sending a requested recipe for sour cream cookies which has been in our family many years and with it I send every good (wishes)  to your and yours.

Sour Cream Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup shortening, either vegetable or lard and butter

Cream these together, add:

1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla or lemon extract

and beat well.  Add about:

6 cups flour with
1 teaspoon soda
1 scant teaspoon baking powder. With some flour you need more than others.

Drop from teaspoon onto a greased cookie pan.  bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.  This makes a big batch of cookies. — Bessie M. Stevens, Illinois.

Sour Cream Cookies and Cake

Dear Hope and Friends: I’m sending my two sour cream cookie recipes and a sour cream cake which “Sandhiller” of Nebraska wanted.  These I like very much.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening (I use some butter)

1 cup heavy sour cream
3 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon

Mix and sift !, add B and mix, then add C.  Drop by large teaspoons or roll out on floured board and cut with cookie cutter.  Sprinkle with sugar, place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Sour Cream Cookies

Cream together:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 beaten egg

1/2 cup sour cream

Sift together:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture and lastly add 1.2 cup chopped nuts.  Bake atg 400 degrees until browned.

Sour White Cream Cake

Beat 3 egg whites until stiff, fold in 1 cup whipped thick sour cream.

Sift together 3 times:
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour

Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with 1/2 cup cold water and 1 teaspoon flavoring.  Bake about 35 minutes in 360 degree oven.  Good as loaf, layer or cup cakes. — Berniece, Iowa


Roll Call Answers

Something that played a big part in Mom’s life was Sunflower club.  Here she was welcomed as another Kansas farm wife for the main purpose of just being social and good neighbors.  The club met monthly in one of the ladies’ home, and as hostess she was likely going to serve a light lunch at the end of the meeting consisting of delicate sandwiches, coffee or punch, a dessert and nut cups all on a glass hostess serving tray with cup.  

The meeting was called to order by the president and roll call was conducted by the secretary.  During the announcements at the end of the business meeting the hostess for next month would suggest the roll call question at her house. This was something you might think about during the month so that you could have something really “good” to answer when you name was called.  Where did those ideas come from?  Mom clipped one of Hope Needham’s columns to help come up with ideas when it came her turn.

Ideas for Roll Call Answers

Dear Hope:  Some one asked for roll call ideas.  Here are some:

• What frightens you most?
• The biggest thrill in your life.
• Who has the last word at your house.
• Recipe for ill temper.
• Strange but true.
• A discourtesy often seen in public places.
• Verse from an old valentine.
• Give a new decorating hint.
• Describe your wedding dress.
•A home courtesy.
• A lesson my mother taught me.
• What I can see from my kitchen window.
• My first day of housekeeping.
• How to remember my neighbor,
• My first day at school experience.
•The town I like to shop in and why.
•My most embarrassing moment.
• A person I have I have always admired.
• What I do when I do what I please.

— Mrs. James L Damery, Illinois.

Aren’t these just great conversation starters anyway?  I would love to hear answers to any of these questions.


Strawberry Preserves — from Burden Bearer, Indiana

This clipping is just a variation on the post I made in January 2012 about strawberry preserves.  How are strawberry preserves different from jam?   The preparation of fruit preserves today often involves adding commercial or natural pectin as a gelling agent. Before World War II, fruit preserve recipes did not include pectin, and many artisan jams today are made without pectin. My previous post did not include pectin, either.  Preserves usually incorporate the whole fruit, while jam may be produced from crushed fruit.

Strawberry Preserves

Dear Hope:

I want to give my recipe for strawberry preserves which I have used for several years. We like it best of all.

Pick, wash and stem 4 cups of strawberries, cover with 5 cups of sugar and let stand for 3 hours, or over night.  Then bring to a boil and boil for 8 minutes only.  Remove from heat and add 4 tablespoons lemon juice.  stir this in and return to stove and boil 2 minutes more.  Remove from stove and let stand till cold.  If you stir a little you will absorb the white froth from cooking.  When cold, put into jars and cover with paraffin was and lid.  Use wooden spoon — it goes easier.  I hear this over the radio from somebody’s grandmother — Burden Bearer, Indiana

Cakes for Wedding

There are three separate clipping about wedding cakes.  I’ve never made one, but I did make a cake for my in-law’s 25th anniversary the year after we got married.  It was lopsided though.  Didn’t show if you took the picture straight on, but side photos revealed the angle.

The instruction about doubling the recipe and how to distribute it among three pans is rather muddy.  Although you might distribute the batter from the basic recipe among three eight-inch cake pans, you double it if you are using three separate pans of 6″, 8″ and 10″, all of which are 3″ deep. I would think anyone would be able to fit all three of these in an oven, but  I find the instruction interesting regarding keeping cake batter in fridge until ready to bake.  I understand that baking powder + water causes a reaction (bubbles) and that secondarily, when baking powder is exposed to heat another reaction makes a cake rise.  So, this contributor advises making a double recipe if you’ve got to make a three-tiered cake….I’m just wondering if the second batch you bake will rise the same way as the first.  Just sayin’…….Oh, and do you remember time before plastic wrap?  What did you use?  Apparently waxed paper and elastic bands was one solution.

Dear Hope:

Someone, I forgot who, requested information on bridal cakes.  So, I am sending what I can, hoping it won’t be too long.

First, here is a recipe for bride’s white cake.

3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
6 egg whites

Sift flour, measure, add baking powder and salt and sift again.  Cream shortening, add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk stirring only enough after each addition to blend thoroughly.  Do not beat. Add vanilla.  Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, fold into batter until thoroughly blended.  Pour into greased and floured layer pans.  Bake at 375 degrees about 25 minutes.  This amount makes two nine-inch or three eight-inch layers.

Now to make a three-tiered cake, prepare two times the above recipe and pour batter into three greased and floured cake pans of six, eight or ten-inch diameters, all three inches deep.  Fill each pan about two-thirds full.  Bake the two smaller pans about one hour in a moderate oven, 325 degrees.  The largest pan about one hour and twenty minutes.  If oven is not large enough to bake all three at once, cover pans which must wait with waxed paper and fasten with elastic bands and keep in refrigerator until ready to bake.

Salad Recipes

My mom’s grocery stores were Glynn’s IGA and Welch’s Grocery in Frankfort, KS,  and Schreibers in Westmoreland, KS.  The produce section of any of them couldn’t have been more than 12 feet long.  If you had to buy lettuce, you bought a head of it and it was always iceberg lettuce. No one referred to it as “Iceberg Lettuce”; it was just a “head of lettuce” because that’s the only kind there was.  In the spring, one of the first vegetables to harvest was leaf lettuce which may or may not have had a purple tinge to it.  Mom would make a mayonnaise + sugar + vinegar + cream dressing for it and throw in some green onions.  I didn’t care for it much when I was little.  But now, I really enjoy buying romaine, green leafy lettuce that grows something like romaine, and sometimes another variety simply for the variety.  I think Mom really enjoyed fresh lettuce salads, even though the farm men probably thought it was a waste of time.  I’m sure Dad didn’t bother with it  

Here are two clippings with the title “Salad Recipes” from Hope Needham’s column in the Drovers Telegram.

Image Salad Recipes

Dear Hope:
I have heard of two salads and seen them listed on menus at restaurants which I wish I could get recipes for.  They are Hollywood salad and Chef’s salad. — Evie Lou, Indiana.

There may be many variations of these two salads, but here are basic recipes for them.  Both are really quite simple tossed salads and their charm rests on having the ingredients very crisp and cold.

Hollywood Salad
Prepare 2 cups of crisp croutons by toasting tiny cubes of bread in a slow oven until brown.  Prepare garlic-flavored oil by letting 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, cut, stand in 1 cup oil for several hours, at room temperature.

Have about 3 quarts of salad greens in a large bowl, cut or broken into pieces and very crisp and cold.  Pour over the greens:
1/3 cup of garlic flavored salad oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup blue cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Over all this break 1 raw egg.  Now toss very thoroughly, so that every leaf is coated with the egg, seasonings and cheese.  Dip the croutons into the rest of the garlic-flavored oil and toss them with the salad, and serve at once while the croutons are still crunchy.

For the greens you can use leaf lettuce or any combination you like: watercress, endive, wild greens, raw spinach, romaine, maybe a bit of parsley.  It is oftenest (is that really a word?) made just with iceberg lettuce (see what I mean about iceberg lettuce?).

Chef’s Salad
It may be that each establishment has its own chef’s salad bowl, but usually it is a substantial tossed salad containing meat and hard-cooked eggs.  Here is one recipe:

Tear 1 head of iceberg lettuce into bits (have it very cold and crisp) into a large salad bowl.  Add:

1 cup diced celery
1 cup of strips of cooked meat such as ham, chicken, beef or pork
3 hard-cooked eggs sliced or diced

Add plain French dressing, in the amount needed, and toss to coat all ingredients.  Serve in individual salad bowls and garnish with fresh tomato wedges.  This recipe makes enough for four generous servings for a main course for luncheon or supper. — Hope


Fruit Bouquets

Slice pineapple
Sliced oranges
Sliced bananas

For each serving, place a slice of pineapple on lettuce.  Cover it with a slice of peeled orange topped with 3 slices of banana.  Quarter fresh strawberries and place between banana slices.  Garnish with a whole berry and serve with mayonnaise.


Tossed Salad Bowl

Curly Endive
Sliced radishes
Tomato wedges
Hard-cooked egg wedges
French dressing

For each portion line an individual salad bowl with lettuce, and fill the center with lettuce, curly endive, watercress and sliced radishes.  Garnish with wedges of tomato and hard-cooked egg.  Serve with French dressing,



Chicken Salad Deluxe

1/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 cups cooked diced chicken
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1/4 cup broken pecans
1/4  cup stuffed olives
4 large tomatoes
3/4 tsp salt
Dash pepper

Add gradually the chicken broth to the mayonnaise.  Blend well. Prepare chicken, celery, broken pecans and slice stuffed olives.  Toss together with the mayonnaise mixture, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Peel tomatoes and cut each into 5 sections, almost to sem end.  Place on leaf lettuce, press sections apart and fill with chicken salad.  Garnish with mayonnaise.

Blushing Pear Salad

Pear halves
Cream cheese
French dressing

For each portion put two pear halves together with a filling of cream cheese into which a small amount of milk has been blended.  Rub a drop of pink coloring on each side to pear to simulate fresh fruit.  Place on crisp watercress, serve with French dressing.

Using canned pears to make fake fresh pears.  Gotta love it!


Strawberry Preserves

When I was preschool age, we had a strawberry patch.  It was possible to sometimes have snakes in it.  Mom had a story about me being in the strawberry patch and a snake raising its head to strike and she was scared to death it would get me.  I suppose it was a harmless garter snake, but even so, that’s pretty scary for a mama to see.  My oldest brother and his wife had wild strawberries on their farm and I barely remember picking them once after he’d come home from the Korean War and settled on the farm. I’ve raised strawberries a few times myself.  Once, when we lived in McPherson, KS, I had them in the front of my rose garden by the patio.  We have an empty lot beside ours right now, and I have had strawberries there.  The last two years they haven’t done very well, but a few years ago we had a pretty good crop.  Now, I’m  really not a “picker”.  I’m a “planter” and a “weeder”, but my husband loves the harvest so he usually picks them for me.  My husband’s Aunt Rita, in Michigan, introduced me to freezer jam and it’s quite remarkable in the way it retains more of a fresh flavor.  I still like to make jam when we have an overabundance of them.

Now, when I make jams, jellies and preserves, I always use pectin like Sure-Jell or Pen-Jel.  I think this recipe is before those were commercially available, so to me it’s more like making candy when you cook it to a soft-ball stage or the like.  Perhaps Preserves are different from jams and jellies.  Do you know?

Strawberry Preserves

Combine alternate layers of sugar and fresh berries, using 2 cups of sugar to  quart of berries.  Let the berries stand in sugar overnight, or at least 8 to 10 hours, before cooking.  Or heat the berries and sugar slowly at a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, and then let stand overnight.

If berries have a chance to absorb sugar before the final cooking, the fruit and syrup will be less apt to separate.  Cook 1 quart of berries at a time.  Use a large saucepan, and heat quickly to the boiling point.  Boil from 10 to 15 minutes.

The preserves are done when the syrup falls from the spoon in thick heavy drops.  Place the pan in ice water to cool.  When the preserves are cool, remove the scum.  Pour the preserves into sterilized containers.  Cover with hot paraffin immediately.  Geraldine Acker, Illinois

Swell Fudge!

This clipping was pasted in the margin of one of those entries hand-written in German.  If you are someone who can decipher the script, please let me know what it says.  Meanwhile, I can barely remember when the only way to make fudge was to cook the sugar mixture to the soft-ball stage.  You always ran the risk of it being grainy if you didn’t get it right.  So, this recipe using evaporated milk and marshmallow creme was probably the talk of the Sunflower Club circuit and Mom latched on to this recipe in Hope Needham’s Drover’s Telegram Household column.  At the end is a recipe (ingredients only) for a moist chocolate cake….guess you shouldn’t even have to ask what size pan or what temperature or how long, huh?
Swell Fudge

Dear Hope: Here is a new recipe for fudge that is really swell and very simple.  It makes a large batch.


4 1/2 cups sugar
One 14 1/2 ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter or margarine

Let boil gently five minutes, then pour into a large mixing bowl and beat till blended.  Add:

A 12 1/2 ounce chocolate bar, broken up
A jar of Marshmallow Creme (8 1/2 to 10 oz.)
2 squares (2 ox.) chocolate, shaved
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt, if desired.

Put in large pan and cool till ready to cut.

Chocolate Cake that stays moist

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening, and
2 beaten eggs.

Mix together:

1/2 cup sorghum
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup hot water

Add (to first mixture).  Then add
1 3/4 cups flour
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

–Janet Rauch, Deep River, Iowa

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