Country Cooking – February 26

Sunshine, the snow is melting, Whoops! there is a breeze that freezes your fingers if you’re outside very long at a time without your gloves on. Almost every morning as I go to the office, first I have to scrape the frost off the windows of the car then as I prepare to drive and the steering wheel is so cold. Complain, complain but aren’t we fortunate to live in Minnesota with the variable seasons. I have heard people say when the days don’t vary much that it is easy to put off chores, jobs, meetings, etc. until another day as the weather will still be good. Of course, they sometimes have to put up with hurricanes, rain or other acts of nature.  Just the other day we were visiting about how we as children dressed for the weather. Remember the long stockings held up with a garter belt, brown ones for the weekdays and white ones for Sunday. It was also long underwear that had to be folded just right so the stockings would go over them and not be bunched up. Snow pants were the norm for going to school but not in the classroom. Wool coats, scarves, maybe even two pairs of mittens and overshoes that may or may not have zippers but buckles that didn’t always want to come undone as the ice held them together. It was important to get them off as quickly as possible before the snow that came over the top melted and got your stockings wet. 

Our lunches were carried in a pail or bucket and consisted mostly of cold sandwiches and a cookie for dessert. Once in a while, the kids would bring a soup or stew that they would put on top of the stove to be warm for their noon meal. I only went to country school for the first and second grade but I still remember walking through the neighbor’s pasture as it was only a half-mile instead of around on the road that was more like two miles. I certainly didn’t like the cattle in the pasture especially the bull. Only one time I decided to walk home as I got out earlier than the boys. I got home about the same time as they did but it was a long walk on the road and I only did it once as I recall. After that, I waited outside for the boys to get done with their classes.  There are many more remembrances of country school such as what is the difference between kittenball or softball. We probably didn’t have so many rules to follow with kitten ball. 

Chewy Brownie Cookies

2/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon water

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, water, and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts if desired.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375º for 7-9 minutes, do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool further. Yield: 3 dozen

Apricot Coconut Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup cold butter

1 egg

1 tablespoons milk

1 cup apricot preserves


1 egg, lightly beaten

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flaked coconut

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, beat egg and milk; stir into flour mixture.

Spread in a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Spread preserves over crust. Combine topping ingredients; carefully drop by tablespoonfuls over apricot layer. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack; cut into bars.

Apple Bread

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, (beaten)

1 cup peeled apple, chopped

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon  baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 tablespoons sour milk

1/2 cup nutmeats

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream sugar and shortening; add eggs. Beat together. Add flour and salt. Mix soda in sour milk. Add to other ingredients and beat. Add vanilla and chopped apples. Pour into bread pan and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350º.  

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