One of my Christmas gifts this year was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.  

The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes.  There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts.  The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era.  This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo” rather than margarine in most recipes and the attention given to oven temperatures.  I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.  

The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake.  That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions.  I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.

This cookie is very typical of the 1940s – a big, fat cookie that is crisp on the outside and somewhat cake-like on the inside with a light orange flavor.  At the writer’s suggestion, I added chocolate chips to the dough and on some of the batches, pressed raisins or a pecan half in each cookie before baking.  They are all good and very satisfying.

I love this McCoy cookie jar I inherited from my mother


  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. orange extract
  • 1 tsp.soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Lightly grease cookie sheets

In large mixer bowl, cream light brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and shortening.  Mix in milk and orange extract.

In separate bowl, whisk together the soda, salt, baking powder, and flour.  Add to creamed mixture, mixing well.

Drop by rounded measuring tablespoon on greased cookie sheet, two inches apart.

Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes @ 350 degrees F until cookies are golden brown.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 48 cookies – 2-½ inch diameter 

Also delicious with raisins….

…and with nuts.