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.

I cut this recipe in half and then increased the  flour so the dough would be easier to handle.  This recipe gave me a good opportunity to use my vintage hatchet cookie cutter just in time for Washington’s Birthday.

These cookies are like so many from that era – plain, good, inexpensive and easy to make.


  • Servings: Approx. 3 doz. cookies, depending on size of cutter and thickness of dough
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  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sour milk*
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • Colored sugar for sprinkling on top

*To make sour milk:  Place ½ Tblsp. white vinegar in a one-cup measure.  Add milk to make ½ cup.  Let stand 5 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream shortening, sugar, egg, sour milk and vanilla.  Whisk together salt, flour and soda.  Add gradually to creamed mixture, blending well.

Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured board and cut out with desired cookie cutter.

Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the thickness and size of cutter. 

I’m displaying the cookies on a handkerchief commemorating Washington’s Birthday in 1932 – the year I was born.