Ice Box Cookies

I made a lot of cookies growing up.  My dad often mentioned Ice Box Cookies, but for some reason, I don’t remember ever making them.  I suppose I thought they must be difficult to make since they were something my grandmother made.  I knew she was a good cook, so I must have assumed they would be too difficult for me if she made them a lot.  So, when I decided to try Ice Box Cookies, I was pleasantly surprised to find they were simple to make and tasted as good as my dad had described. I found the recipe for Ice Box Cookies in my mom’s recipe box.  I could tell that it was one of the recipes she had copied down, probably as my grandmother quoted the ingredients from memory.  There was not a lot of detail in the instructions (as has been the case in many of these recipes).

Ice Box Recipe

Ice Box Cookies Recipe

Ice Box Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nut meats

Form in rolls.  Place in ice-box for 24 hours.  Slice thin, and bake in 400 degree oven on greased tin. I creamed the shortening and brown sugar, then added the eggs and mixed well.  I then added the dry ingredients.

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Ice Box Cookie Dough

My dad said his mom always made them without the nuts because he didn’t like nuts.  So, I decided to make them this way. (Although, I think the nuts would be a nice addition.)  I also made a half recipe because as my sister said, “With all these dessert recipes we are trying, we’re going to have to go on a family wide, major exercise plan!”  I formed the dough into a roll.  I asked my dad about how big around it should be and he held up his hands to show me a size of about 3 inches in diameter.  It was quite soft when I wrapped it in saran wrap and put it in the refrigerator.  However, when the 24 hours were up, I found the dough was very firm and sliced easily with a sharp knife. The recipe said 400 degrees, but didn’t indicate a time.  For the first tray, I tried five minutes, but found that they were too brown.  I turned the heat down to 375 degrees and at that temperature I found that five to seven minutes was just right for these thin and tasty cookies.

Ice Box Cookies

Ice Box Cookies

I also found a recipe in the box for peanut butter ice box cookies.  I haven’t tried these yet, but thought I’d share the recipe in case you are a peanut butter lover.  It doesn’t have any directions, just a list of ingredients.  But, I’m sure you can make them the same way you would make the other recipe.

Mrs. Van’s Peanut Butter Ice Box Cookies

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

I like ice box cookies because you can make up the dough one day, put them in the refrigerator, and then take them out the next day and bake.  It was a very simple recipe and everyone in the family liked them.  I hope your family enjoys them as well.

Happy Baking!


Johnny Cake


My dad with his grandma on the front porch of the farm house.

There are several recipes that my dad will sometimes talk about as being his favorites from childhood:  cinnamon rolls, ice box cookies, steam pudding and date filled cookies to name a few.  Johnny Cake is another one he will mention.  So, when I found the recipe, I thought I should pull it out and try it.

Johnny Cake Typed Recipe

Original Johnny Cake Recipe

The first recipe I found was typed on a card.  It listed ingredients, but had little by way of instructions.  The instructions it did have were quite vague (for instance, 3/4 cup flour and corn meal to make a good batter).  So, I looked in my mom’s recipe box, and sure enough, she had copied down the recipe.  It still didn’t have any baking instructions, but it was more clear in its detail.

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Johnny Cake Recipe

Johnny Cake printed2

Johnny Cake Recipe (back)

Johnny Cake

  • 1 cup sour milk (I used 1 tablespoon lemon juice and then filled the cup the rest of the way with milk.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon soda

Mix flour, sugar and corn meal, salt, baking powder and soda.  Put in eggs, melted butter, milk, etc.  Mix.

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Johnny Cake Batter

The recipe was simple to put together.  I decided to put it in a greased two quart baking dish.  I looked up other recipes for corn bread and saw that they usually baked at about 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  I followed those directions and the Johnny Cake came out a nice golden brown.

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Johnny Cake fresh out of the oven.

I asked my dad if it tasted like the Johnny Cake he remembered from his childhood and he said it did.  Then, to prove his point he ate a large serving.  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as he did.  It is a simple side dish to prepare.

Johnny Cake

Johnny Cake ready to eat.

Happy Baking!


Ella’s Lemon Pie

Ella must have been one of my Grandma’s good friends, because she has quite a few recipes in her box with a note on the side saying she had copied it from her.  I imagine that a lot of time with friends was spent discussing and copying recipes.  Maybe something that they had made and brought to a church potluck or served when a family came over for dinner.

After whipping up “Pearl Curtis’ Pie Crust,” I had a beautiful crust, but no pie.  I flipped through Grandma Dora’s recipe box and found “Ella’s Lemon Pie.”  It sounded simple enough, plus, my husband loves all things lemon, so I figured it would be a win-win.

Lemon pie recipe

I pulled out all of the ingredients and got started.

Lemon Pie Ingredients

I started out by measuring a cup of sugar and putting it into a saucepan with a pinch of salt.  I then measured one cup of water and poured it into the saucepan and whisked it together.  I turned the burner onto medium heat and added three Tablespoons of corn starch while whisking continually until it heated up and thickened.

Lemon Pie Filling Cooking

I heated it to a boil and timed it for one minute.  Then I removed it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.

Lemons grated

While the sugar mixture was cooling, I washed and grated the rind of one lemon.

Lemons Juicing

I needed to juice the lemon, so I borrowed an older juicer from my mom.  It actually belonged to my other grandma, her mom, who lived in Florida with a yard full of fruit trees.  I remember her juicing oranges and lemons when we would visit her house a couple times a year.  My son jumped at the chance to help with this.  What boy can resist a kitchen appliance that makes noise, rotates and squeezes the juice out of something?! He juiced the lemon and I added the juice, rind and eggs to the saucepan.

Lemon Rinds in Pan

I whisked it continually and brought it back up to a boil.  Then I timed it for one minute until it thickened again.  Next I poured it into my prepared crust, covered it with saran wrap and put it in the fridge to set.  This can take 4-5 hours, but I left mine overnight.

The recipe as I made it was as follows:

Ella’s Lemon Pie

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of corn starch – heaping
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Juice of one lemon – If using lemon juice from concentrate, use 2 1/2 Tablespoons
  • 1 grated lemon rind – If not using rind, put in 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice from concentrate

Combine sugar, water and salt in a saucepan.  Stir in corn starch and whisk continually.  Bring mixture to a boil and time for one minute.  Mixture should be thick.  Take off of the heat to cool slightly.  Add in butter, eggs, lemon juice and rind.  Put back on heat and continue whisking.  Bring back to a boil.  Time one minute.  Again mixture should be thick.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Chill in fridge until set.  4-5 hours or overnight.

Ella's Lemon Pie

Lemon Pie Slice

The next day, I garnished the pie with cool whip before serving and dished this out for my family who was over for dinner.  It got rave reviews!  It is a cool, creamy lemon filling that isn’t overpowering.  It’s “just the right amount of lemon, not too much and not too little” was my mom’s response.  It’s a perfect summertime pie!

Happy Baking!





Pearl Curtis’ Pie Crust

Pies are beautiful.  They are a work of art.  Each one is different, unique, a creation.  My mom tells stories of learning how to bake with Grandma Dora, her mother-in-law.  She remembers a time when they decided to bake a pie together.  She volunteered for the easy part, cutting up the fruit for the inside.  She decided to let Grandma take charge of what she did best, the crust.  Grandma Dora tossed in a few ingredients, her hands flew and moments later, a beautiful crust just appeared.  My mom said it was incredible to watch.  Grandma was a true master of the art of pie making.

After hearing this story, I decided I had to try the pie crust recipe that I found when I was looking through Grandma’s recipe box. It came from her friend, Pearl Curtis.  I knew it had to be good because I found two copies of it.  One that she had written on a scrap piece of paper and the other that she had written out on a recipe card to save, though she had saved both. Pearl Curtis' Pie Crust1

Pearl Curtis’ Pie Crust

  • Sift together – 2 cups flour – salt
  • Take out :
  • 1/3 cup flour and salt mixture and mix with 1/4 cup water.
  • Cut into remaining flour, 2/3 cup shortening.
  • Combine 2 mixtures.
Pie Cutter

The old and the new. Grandma Dora’s pastry cutter and my Kitchenaid.

As I was getting out the ingredients and supplies to start putting the dough together, I got out my pastry cutter, which just happens to be Grandma Dora’s.  Then I remembered a tip from my sister Amy.  Always use the Kitchenaid to mix up your pie dough.  It’s so much easier!  I felt kind of guilty, making a pie crust in the Kitchenaid, with my Grandma’s pastry cutter sitting there on the counter, but if she were still alive, I’m sure she’d be making it that way too!





I started out by measuring the flour and salt into the Kitchenaid bowl.  I mixed it together and then pulled out 1/3 cup and put it into a small bowl.  I added 1/4 cup of water to the bowl and set it aside. Four and water

Then I measured out 2/3 cups of shortening and cut it into the flour mixture that was left in the Kitchenaid bowl. Pie Crust Bowl

After that was complete, I combined the mixtures into the Kitchenaid and turned it on.  I found that the 1/4 cup of water wasn’t enough.  The dough was still quite dry.  So, I slowly added more, a little at a time, until it was a good consistency.  I ended up adding quite a bit more water, probably 4-5 Tablespoons, till I was able to form it into a ball with my hands and it held together. Pie Crust Dough

Once it was in a ball, I divided it in half.  While the recipe doesn’t say it, it’s enough dough for two crusts.  One top and a bottom or two bottoms.  The pie that I was making didn’t require a top crust, so I wrapped one of the two balls of dough in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for a different pie on a different day.  Then I started the process of rolling out the dough that I had left out.

Rolled out Dough
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so pie crusts are difficult for me. (Deep breath!)  I want them to look like a magazine cover or what you see in a bakery, uniform and perfect.  But I needed to remind myself that each homemade pie should look unique.  That’s the beauty of it and the difference in each one is what makes it special.

Dough in plate2

Once I was finished, I pricked the crust with a fork so it wouldn’t bubble up and popped it into the oven at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, until I started to see some browning around the edges.  Because the pie recipe I was making had a filling that needed to be added to a baked crust, I had to bake it first.  Other recipes, for fruit pies with a top and bottom crust, wouldn’t be baked until they were all put together.

The recipe as I made it, was as follows:

Pearl Curtis’ Pie Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 water – plus more as needed
  • 2/3 cup shortening

Combine flour and salt. Remove 1/3 cup of the flour/salt mixture and combine with water in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Cut shortening into the remaining flour/salt mixture in Kitchenaid. Combine two mixtures.  Add more cold water if necessary, till dough forms a ball in your hands, that stays together.  Divide dough in half. Roll dough out thin, big enough to lay over the top edge of pie dish with enough extra to pinch top edges.  Prick with fork.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown.  Cool and fill with pie filling of your choice.

Yields: 2 pie crusts

Ella's Lemon Pie

I finished the pie off with a lemon filling, one out of my Grandma’s recipe box called “Ella’s Lemon Pie.”  The crust was light, but strong enough that it didn’t crumble when you cut it and served it onto a plate.  In the words of my husband, the crust was, “delightful!”

Happy Baking!


Orange Ice – A Summer Treat

Orange Ice is a treat I remember having often on summer days when I was young.  I found this recipe in my mom’s recipe box.  It is one she copied down from my Grandma Dora on one of her visits down the road to her house. 88 Amy and Becky playing, mom and Grandma Wichterman cutting out Sunday School material My mom was a city girl, but when she married my dad, she fell in love with my dad’s parents and their country life too.  My mom knew very little about “farm things.”  She has fond memories of sitting in the backyard with my grandma and great-grandma learning to shell peas or cutting out crafts for Sunday School and asking questions about everything.  She said she remembers looking over at my great-grandma and seeing a twinkle in her bright blue eyes as she listened.

Orange Ice 003

Sugar, lemon juice and orange juice.

Orange Ice is a simple recipe as it only requires 3 ingredients besides water. The recipe for Orange Ice is as follows: 237 Orange Ice

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 grated orange rinds
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Make syrup of water and sugar, cooking 10 minutes after coming to boil.  Add fruit juices and grated rind (if using).  Let stand 15 minutes.  Strain out orange rind (if using), cool and pour in tray and freeze.


Orange Ice

I usually put this in a casserole dish and then cut it out in chunks to serve.  I think it would also work well in popsicle molds for kid friendly fare.  I hope you try it out and let me know what you think!

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Orange Ice ready to be enjoyed!

Happy Cooking!  Amy

43 Mom and Amy on Tractor

My mom and I on my grandpa’s tractor.

Scalloped (Baked) Corn

35 Wichterman Garden

Grandma Dora, my sister Becky, my mom and I in my grandparents’ garden.

My grandparents were dairy farmers when my dad was young.  They had a 155 acre farm and they always had a big garden out behind the house.  So, when I found this recipe for scalloped corn, I imagined my Grandma Dora using corn from her garden to make this recipe.

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Corn off the cob

I had corn on the cob, so I decided to try it.  The recipe was very simple to make.  You can use canned or even frozen corn just as easily as fresh.

Scalloped Corn1

Scalloped Corn2

The recipe is as follows:

Scalloped (Baked) Corn

  • 2 tablespoons Crisco
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cooked or canned corn
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs

Melt Crisco;  add flour and mix well.  Add milk gradually and bring to the boiling point, stirring constantly.  Add corn, sugar, salt and pepper and heat thoroughly.  Remove from fire, add well beaten eggs and pour into a greased baking dish.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 25 minutes or until corn is firm.

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Scalloped (Baked) Corn

I can imagine that maybe my grandma took this dish to a church potluck or maybe served it to the farmhands at harvest time.  It would also be great for family reunions and other summer gatherings.  I made meatloaf and baked potatoes and served it alongside.

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I have my own garden this summer, but it isn’t nearly as impressive as my grandparents’ looked.  It’s still fun though, to see what I can grow.  I think my grandparents would be happy to know that I’m enjoying gardening like they did.

Happy Baking!  Amy

34 Amy in Wichterman Garden

Me in my grandparents’ garden.


Hermit Cookies


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Hermit cookies

I am planning a trip to my older sister’s house.  Her twin boys are turning 9 years old.  Most of the cousins will be there for the party.  I’m sure we will have cake in the evening, but I decided to dig through the recipe boxes for a kid friendly recipe that the cousins (and everyone else) might enjoy.  I have heard my dad talk about Hermits and I remember my mom making them a few times when we were little.  So, when I came upon that recipe, I decided it might be just the thing.

Grandma Dora's typewriter.

Grandma Dora’s typewriter.

My grandmother was a secretary to a lawyer before she got married and became a farmer’s wife. She never learned how to drive, so she walked a mile to work each day, a mile home for lunch, a mile back after lunch and then a mile home at the end of the day.  She had an old typewriter, maybe from her days in the office.  The recipe for hermits is typed, but very brief. It was probably typed on that typewriter.  It says:


  • 1/12 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sweet milk
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • cinnamon (under this in pencil is written 1 teaspoon)
  • cloves (under this in pencil is written 1/2 teaspoon)
  • flour

There are no more directions than that.

Hermits Typed

For one week after my mom first married my dad, my parents lived “up the road” from the farm house in the “brown house” that my grandmother’s parents had built.  It was empty because my great grandmother had moved into the farm house with my grandparents after my great grandfather died.  So every morning that first week of my mom’s married life, she would walk up the road to the farm house while my dad went to work.  She would spend time visiting my grandmother and great grandmother and copy down recipes that my grandmother would tell her.  So, I decided to look in my mother’s recipe box and sure enough, I found the same recipe for Hermits, but this one was written in my mother’s handwriting and had a few more details.  The new recipe was as follows:




  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • Enough flour so isn’t sticky (use as little as possible) – in pencil above this is written 3 or 4 cups
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons sweet milk
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • Roll mixture out – 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutter and sugar top.

In pencil on the front, she had later added “375 degrees.”  There was still no mention of cook time.

Organic non-hydrogenated shortening

Organic non-hydrogenated shortening

Before I started making this recipe, I noticed that many of the recipes in our grandmother’s recipe boxes call for shortening.  I don’t usually cook with shortening, so it is not something I have on hand.  A couple of years ago I had attended a pie baking class and learned about an organic shortening that is non-hydrogenated.  I decided to buy this to use in my grandmother’s recipes.  I wasn’t sure exactly what sweet milk was referring to, but after a little research, I found that it is another name for whole milk.

I put the ingredients together and mixed them up in my Kitchenaid (all the while imagining the work it would have taken to stir all of this by hand).  I started out putting in 3 cups of flour, but found that it was too sticky and used a total of 4 cups in the end.

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Rolled out cookie dough

My Grandma Dora’s rolling pin that she used all the time only had a handle on one end.  She said she just liked it that way, but she really didn’t want to spend money on a new one.  My mother has an old jar, that she remembered my grandmother using the lid of to cut out the cookies.  I found the jar and used the lid for my batch.

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Putting sugar on top.

I then sprinkled them with sugar and baked them in the oven that had been preheated to 375 degrees.  I found that 9-10 minutes worked well to have the cookies come out of the oven nice and puffy.

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Hermit cookies on the cooling rack.

So, here is the recipe, one more time, in its completed form.


  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 to 4 cups of flour until dough is no longer sticky (use as little as possible)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons sweet milk (or whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll mixture out to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut with a cookie cutter and sprinkle sugar over the tops of the cookies.  Transfer to ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 9 to 10 minutes until cookies puff up and begin to brown slightly.

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Hermit cookies on Grandma Dora’s china plate.

I sampled one and found it to be delicious.  I think my nieces and nephews will enjoy this party treat.  I hope you make a batch yourself and enjoy the old time flavor of Hermit cookies.

Happy Baking!