Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 40 Issue 19 • Sept. 9-15, 2010
now in our 40th season

At Home Cooking

by Jenn Farmer
Chef, Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm 

My son and I made a journey back to the heartland this week.  We went to Iowa for a 90th birthday party (Happy Birthday Grandma!).  I was excited to see all my family, and to be home for such a wonderful celebration (who doesn't love a great party!).  One of the first days we had a pre-celebration get togther, and had a great meal of beef stew, with garden vegetables, cornbread with basil and fresh sweet corn kernels, tuna antipasti salad, and pie.  We had two types of wonderful pie.  The first was my mother's pear pie.  My son and I went out to my grandmother's orchard and picked some of the sweetest, juiciest pears I have ever tasted.  I love eating fresh pears, since they are a lot less mealy in texture than the ones that are shipped in from all  over the place.  My son ate several, and we ended up with very few. I was about to suggest mixing them with apples for the recipe my mother was making, but we were fortunately saved.  My aunt, uncles and grandmother had a sack of pears that they had already picked, and were willing to give us.  That made my mother happy, which in return made the rest of us happy, too.  Not to mention her pie was delicious. 

The other pie we had was my favorite of all time, oatmeal or "mock pecan" pie.  I know it sounds odd, but it is outstanding and I would proudly serve this pie at any celebration.  It is also nice because it streches the dollar a little further, since pecans can be a bit pricey.  At the end of our meal there was not one shred of grandma's oatmeal pie left, and everyone was asking for the recipe.  Luckily for you (and me) she kindly gave it to me.   

Grandmother's Mock Pecan Pie Filling

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp.  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients well. pour into pie shell, bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Yields one 9 inch pie

Mrs. Vanorny's No Fail Pie crust

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 5 T. ice water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Mix flour and lard until coarse and crumbly.  Add egg, vinegar, water, and salt.  Work with your hands, until rolling consistency, then roll out for pie crusts. Yields three 9 inch bottom crusts.

While I was visiting, I had a difficult time adjusting to the time zone change, and was a little jet lagged in general.  I was awake at odd hours, and while the rest of the family slept, I was browsing the old cookbooks, and found recipe card index.  It was a treat looking through the recipes clipped from the paper, and jotted down on scraps of paper.  Some recipes were quite detailed and on nice cards, others were a mere few ingredients with no method, and sometimes no ratios or measurements.  I especially found it funny when I would run across the same recipe multiple times, in different formats.  Creme de Menthe balls, date cookies, and miracle cake had several separate cards and clippings dedacated to them.  There was also an over abundance of gelatin molds and gelatin salads (which are still a staple on many mid-west celebration or holiday tables).  I think many recipes were clipped by mother when she was in 4H, and the rest seemed to be from my grandmother.  Since most recipes from the paper were clipped out, I had no date or time period to associate with them, but based on the men in suits with crew cuts, beehive hairdos, I would suspect many were 60s era.  There was a recipe from the white house, Lyndon B. Johnson era that confirms this theory.  I really loved looking at the notepad headers, and other scraps of paper that the recipes were jotted on.  Most were on paper from gas stations, or seed purveyors.  My favorite was on the back of a sheet of paper.  One side was obviously hand typed.  It was from a local sheriff's office, and had information on "safe conduct" or stranger danger.  The opposite side had a recipe was for a bridge snack mix, lost amongst a shopping list for buttons, brown spice, hair coloring, and a couple addresses for people.  The recipe stood out for me, since it contained on half cup bacon fat, and one and a half cups butter—in bridge mix!  Boy times they are a changing. 

I also finally found a recipe I have been trying to find for a while.  It is for my favorite cookie, the Snickerdoodle.  For those of you unfortunate enough to never have eaten a snickerdoodle, it is a very flavorful sugar cookie.  Not just any sugar cookie, but one with an exceptional texture, and flavor.  The cookie is also rolled in cinnamon sugar prior to baking.  They are so good.

Snickerdoodle Cookies 

  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening or oleo (oleo is margarine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cup all pourpose flour
  • 2 tsp.  cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cream together 1 1/2 cups sugar, shortening or oleo, and eggs.  Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt.  Fold the creamed mixture with the flour mixture and incorporate together well.  Chill the dough for 1 hour or more, and roll the cookies into balls.  The balls must be rolled into the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Bake them for about 8 to 10 min.  Remove from cookie sheet and onto wire racks to cool, and enjoy.


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