Marilyn Ostermiller Presents: Recipes That Stood the Test of Time Part 2.

When my Great Grandma Caroline learned to bake as a child in Denmark during the 1860s, her specialty was Danish Cookies. She’d grab a couple handfuls of sugar, add heaping scoops of lard, an egg and cream it all together with a wooden spoon, before she tossed in a several handfuls of flour, pinches of baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and a few drops of vanilla.

I never met Great Grandma Caroline — she passed away before I was born — but every December, I roll her sweet, rich dough into balls the size of shooter marbles for a Christmas Eve treat.

I love following in her culinary footsteps, something I couldn’t do without my aunt’s foresight.
Aunt Helen sat down with Great Grandma and a set of measuring cups and spoons, pen and paper. When Caroline grabbed just enough lard, Helen asked her put it in a measuring cup. She repeated that with each ingredient to capture the recipe for posterity.

***
Danish Cookies
1 cup granulated sugar    2 cups flour                1 cup butter            1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg                1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla            1/2 tsp. salt    

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. Roll out the dough into small balls, flatten with a fork and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake at 350 degrees 10-15 minutes.

recipe-box
Handing down favored family recipes is a time-honored tradition around the world. Some families gather every Sunday night to feast on Nonna’s tomato sauce and meatballs. For other families, a bowl of Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup is guaranteed to chase away a cold or sore throat. And, in another time-honored tradition, some cooks add a different ingredient or leave out one when someone asks for their recipe. I substitute butter for lard, when I make Great Grandma’s cookies.

Another factor that brought more recipes into our homes over the years was the popularity of packaged foods imprinted with a recipe on the back of the box.

cookbook

“The Back of the Box Gourmet,” written by Michael McLaughlin, is a compendium of dozens of recipes from packaged foods, ranging from “Lipton California Onion Dip” to the “Classic Green Bean Bake,” starring Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup. It’s a recipe I’m quite familiar with because my husband gets nostalgic for it every year around Thanksgiving. I bought that cookbook years ago because it has page after page of favorite foods from my childhood. My all-time favorite is the recipe on the back of Marshmallow Fluff jars for “Never-Fail Fudge.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1933069.Back_of_the_Box_Gourmet. How sweet it is!

What “Back of the Box” recipes are your favorite?

Marilyn Ostermiller
Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.

6 thoughts on “Marilyn Ostermiller Presents: Recipes That Stood the Test of Time Part 2.

  1. My family will forever make the mac’n cheese recipe clipped off a Mueller’s elbow macaroni box. We tweak the cheeses, but the basic recipe is one of the first we learned. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. I’m curious as to whether this cookie is like those from the tins of Danish Cookies that my parents and their friends liked to pass around at Christmas. I love those cookies (and it always struck me as weird how dirt cheap they were to buy in stores). I’m going to try making these for sure because home-baked is always better than store-bought!

  3. I love cooking and cookbooks. I’ve collected a lot down thru the years. I like them so much that I published one – Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances. I wanted to put in print family recipes and remembrances I had of them. There’s no fancy recipes in it. The main one I wanted to put in it was Grandmas Applesauce Stack Cake. It’s the only cake I remember her making and to my knowledge she never had a written-down recipe, so I had to do a little experimenting. Your recipe sounds good, I’m so glad your aunt got the recipe from her. The Back of the Box Cookbook sounds like a good one. I think my banana bread recipe came from the back of a brown sugar box.

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