Tag Archives: cookies

Swedish Ice Box Cookies

My mother, Audrey, originally got the recipe for Swedish ice box cookies from her friend, Mathilde. The two of them were friends since kindergarten (circa 1921, by my reckoning) and through the years mom got several of our family’s favorite recipes from Mathilde. This recipe’s name shows its own age: It has been a long time since that kitchen machine was called an “ice box.”

My brothers and I baked and ate our share of chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin cookies, but I think these cookies might have been our favorites. Like so many of my mother’s recipes ( see New Orleans Pralines ) Swedish ice box cookies are easy, but delicious. Here’s the recipe from my mom’s index card:

Swedish Ice Box Cookies*


1 C. white sugar

1 C. brown sugar

1 C. shortening (my mom used margarine, I use butter)

2 eggs added to above

Add to above

1t. salt

1t. soda

½ c. nuts (Mom and I use pecans)

2 T. hot water

Flour to stiffen—about 3 cups

Bake 10 – 12 min. in 375° oven

May be dropped on cookie sheet immediately after mixing & baked. Or form half into a roll & held in refrig. Several days – Large recipe—-Usually I make half a recipe.

I hope you enjoy making and eating these easy cookies. I wish I were eating them with my mom and dad and brothers. I wish I had some on a plate next to my tea and computer on this rainy afternoon, far in time and place from Milford, MI. So, if you make these cookies, I hope you have someone dear to share them with.

No photos: I don’t usually make cookies anymore (because my husband and I want to eat them–all of them–but we are trying to hold the line).

*I think my brothers and I called them Swedish nut cookies.

Grandma in Idaho’s Raisin Cookies (I think)

I’m pretty sure the recipe below is my husband’s grandma’s recipe for filled raisin cookies. It certainly sounds like the hearty recipe (7 cups of flour!) that I remember. I am just a little bit concerned because this recipe mentions a food processor and Tom’s grandma was definitely from the pre-food processor era.  Still, I found this recipe in my document, recipes1v2, so I am going with it.

Tom’s grandmother, Alta May Walters, was born in 1896.  She grew up on a ranch in Southeastern Idaho near Blackfoot. Blackfoot is not far from the western border of Yellowstone National Park.  I loved the breezy way Grandma in Idaho (as we named her for our children) called Yellowstone, “the park” and I love the photo of her and her horse, Scout, up in the ponderosas at Island Park, Idaho when she was a little girl. Idaho is not for the faint-hearted.  In Blackfoot, summer would usually finally show up in June and—I swear and I have seen and felt it myself—winter could start closing back in at the end of August or early September.  In any case, Idaho seemed to be a place for two-fisted cookies— I remember no little meringues, no madeleines.   These cookies, like everything Grandma made, were delicious and seemed to just appear out of nowhere with no apparent effort on her part.  I’ve known my share of good cooks, but Grandma was the most efficient cook I’ve ever seen.

In the short time I knew Grandma she and I got along very well.  We both had four brothers and no sisters and liked it that way.  We sealed our relationship early on when Grandma asked me if I liked washing dishes.  I said yes, and, to keep myself honest, I‘ve liked washing dishes ever since.

It’s all I can do to keep from going into the kitchen and making a batch of raisin cookies right now.  What would I do with them, though?  Tom and I have (mostly) sworn off sweets except for weekends.  Even if today were Saturday, what would we do with all the cookies this recipe would make?  It sounds like a recipe that would make enough for the cowboys down in the bunkhouse. Here, it’s just Tom and I, our young friend Jenny who is staying with us, and the parrot, who isn’t allowed to eat sweets even on the weekend. 

Bakery of Desire One of Tom and my favorite fantasies is the one about opening a little bakery in our retirement.  Not likely unless we win the lottery and we never play.  In our bakery you could walk in and get a raisin cookie, a meringue or a madeleine, or perhaps a doughnut or a gluten-free peanut butter cookie.  In the meantime, maybe you can make this recipe yourself and get a taste of the old days.

Filled Raisin Cookies

1 C sugar
1 C vegetable shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1 C milk
7 C flour
4 t. cream of tartar
1T baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t vanilla

2 C chopped or ground raisins
1C sugar
2 t flour
1C water
½ C chopped walnuts

Preparation: Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Stir in eggs, milk, flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Roil dough thin. Cut round 2 ½ inch cookies and place on lightly greased baking sheets.

Put 1 teaspoon filling (directions below) on each cookie round and cover with another cookie round. Seal edges with a fork.  Make a small slit in top of each. Bake raisin cookies at 325º for 10 minutes. Store raisin cookies in tightly covered container.

To make filling:
Chop raisins in food processor or put through a grinder. Combine 2 cups chopped or ground raisins, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons floor and 1 cup water in saucepan.  Cook until raisin mixture is thick. Let mixture cools then add ½ cup chopped nuts.

Cookies on the North Rim

Canyon Storm

“Canyon Storm” oil on canvas by Sally Hall

In the summer of 1971 I worked in the kitchen of the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Less than a week after I got to the rim, I fell in love with a handsome young cook. He was the one who was always seemed to be cutting his hands and the one who actually washed his hands. (I’m not compulsive about hand-washing, but you might be amazed at how rarely I saw food preparers wash their hands).  He worked at night. I’ll tell you his name: Tom. It’s easy to remember his name because he has been my husband for most of these last forty years. At night, Tom prepared the box lunches for the dudes who the following morning would ride the mules down the North Kaibab Trail to Roaring Springs. He also prepped food for the next day’s cooking and did general kitchen clean up. I worked during the day, but, besotted with him—just friends I said to everyone—I stayed up late talking with Tom while he worked. To have a more practical reason/cover for being in the kitchen, I decided to make cookies for the help.  As kids, my brothers and I had made lots of cookies (dream bars, hermits, Swedish nut cookies, brownies and more), so I thought I knew what to do.  I just had to figure out how to make cookies for, I’m guessing, fifty or more employees.  I did figure how and I remember I made the old standards like oatmeal or peanut butter. Later on, other friends got into making the cookies. Maybe this was partly because we were young and homesick even up there with the wind in the ponderosas and with all our brand-new friends from everywhere.  People would make runs off the rim for the chocolate chips and that was no mean feat. At least back then, there didn’t seem to be chocolate chips in Fredonia, Arizona (73 miles away), so usually people went to Kanab (80 miles away, i.e., 160 miles round trip for a few packages of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels).  On occasion, people picked up the goods in Cedar City, Utah 168 miles away.

The bottom-line on the cookies The other workers liked the cookies. Most of the workers were high school and college students, who were energetic and open to making new friends.  Many of our co-workers were Mormons and cookies and milk seemed right up their alley.  There were also a few older workers at the rim, too.  One kindly, capable woman—my roommate’s aunt—managed the curio shop. Another older woman (I call her older now, not old, because I have now attained the age she was then) from Goshen, Utah supervised the housekeepers and one friendly older guy ran the gas station.  There was one dour old man—the night watchman.  I was a little scared of him. He seemed so scrawny, old, and wizened and his skin was mahogany (or something) from his years as a sheepherder.  Being the little Midwestern rube that I was, the man seemed exotic, but I didn’t seem to be able to connect with him.  Then along came those cookies, made in the romantic (but chaste) night kitchen. When the cookies were served, the sheepherder loosened up.  It was a long time ago now, but I think he smiled.  My lessons: cookies almost always work—there is something to that sharing food thing. There is something else I often still forget even now, so far down the road from that summer. All those clues we think we get from a person’s exterior (book/cover) aren’t true.

Tomorrow: Ain’t No Reason to Go in a Wagon to Town

Dream Bars

For almost three years now, I have been discarding books, clothes, papers and other relics of my life so far. I believe during this process I have been trying to discard physical bits while retaining the stories behind the things. I am just now finishing up a book about this process. My husband says the book is about mortality. I don’t know.  You can read that book when or if it gets published.  Today, though, I just wanted to go through the one remaining bag of books, magazines, recipes, and other oddments.  I’m going to start with a packet of my mother’s recipes.

Dream Bars
½ C shortening
½ C brown sugar
1 C flour
Mix to a crumbly mass and pat into a shallow pan, 8 x 12 inch
Bake in a mod. oven (375°) for 10 min
Remove mixture from oven & spread on top a mixture of
1C brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ C shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons flour
1 C nutmeats
Bake 20 more minutes
Cool slightly & cut in barsHermits
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 ½ cups pastry flour (sift before measuring)
1 tsp soda
¾ tsp cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt
¼ tsp cloves
¾ cup butter or shortening melted
1 cup seed raisins
Beat eggs, add sugar, lemon juice. Mix flour & dry ingredients, sift
into egg mixture & beat until well blended. Add butter and raisins.
Drop by tsp on baking sheet
Bake at 375° 10 to 12 minutes.Date Nut Bread
2/3 cups boiling water
1 pkg pitted dates
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 ¾ cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup walnuts
Put dates, butter, sugar in bowl, pour water over—add flour, nuts
line with wax paper Boston bread pans: 4 in diameter, 3 in deep,
5 in long
350° i hr.

making cookies

I’m quite sure that the dream bar recipe was written on the index card in my mother’s hand and with her recipe-writing narrative style, but I think the hermit recipe might be written by my aunt.  When my aunt died a few years ago, my sister-in-law gave me my aunt’s recipe collection.  I think through these years of winnowing, reorganizing, and moving, maybe I’ve inadvertently mixed some piles together.  Like all the ladies from way back in the last century, both my mother and my aunt wrote a fine hand, but I think my aunt was probably more likely to have used a fountain pen than my mom was. (Another clue is the recipe for Normandie Cake I see in the pile. If my mother ever made Normandie cake, I missed it, and that would never have happened).  I don’t think it matters and what am I doing writing to you about cookies anyway?

Note: Like some others of my own generation, I am somewhat uncomfortable providing certain specific types of information on the Internet. So, I just deleted my aunt’s and my sister-in-law’s names from this text. It reads better with their names, but, at least until I am more comfortable with this format, I’m going with general terms. I seem to want to spill my guts for the world to read, but, at the same time, remain vaguely anonymous.

I want to throw away these remaining scraps of paper, but I do not move It is another day and I plan on throwing away all of the index card recipes except for the one for dream bars.  I’ll do that on yet another day, maybe.  I also seem to be having a little issue throwing away the old-fashioned pickle recipes. I think that my mom and I made the nine day pickles one summer. Now that I’ve told you that, I am going to throw away the recipes right here at the Starbucks (Second and Fillmore, Cherry Creek, Denver 8.29.12) Days later: I still have the pickle recipe card sitting on the table next to me.

Where’s this story heading? See Cookies at the North Rim, coming soon.