Cooks' Exchange: Remembering Mother with recipes

Cooks' Exchange: Remembering Mother with recipes


Today is Mother’s birthday. If she were still with us, we’d be celebrating together on Talmadge Street where we lived. If it was the weekend, just a short block up the street we’d cross St. Paul Avenue, walk down a weedy path, cross the railroad tracks and pass through an opening in a wire fence to enter the playground behind St. Bernard’s Church, rectory, convent, and its old two story school built in 1908 on Atwood Avenue. Entering church, she’d make the Sign of the Cross and thank God for blessing us with a good health and happiness. Later, at bedtime, she’d pray the rosary. If we were celebrating Daddy’s birthday three weeks later in December, everything was repeated including a homemade birthday cake dotted with candles.

Sharing those thoughts, Mother arrived here as a small child from Budapest, Hungary, and grew up on Moulton Court near Schenk’s Corners, attended Holy Redeemer School off State Street and finished eleventh grade at East. One day, the owner of a well-known women’s clothing store on the Capitol Square became impressed with her seamstress talent and offered to hire her if she didn’t return to school. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse.

While growing up, she made beautiful clothing for me and exceptional formals we designed together. She was also a good cook and with my thoughts on her birth date, I decided to search for some of our favorite old recipes saved in three small notebooks, but couldn’t remember where. After a few hours, all three were spotted, partially hidden in a far right corner on the top shelf of one of my many bookcases and I reached for them with a smile. Opening the first one was a note in Mother’s beautiful penmanship that read, Thank you for the delicious Thanksgiving meal, Mother and Daddy. On the second page was her 2-crust pie shell recipe using vinegar, the recipe reader Gary F. had recently requested. Sadly, like so many treasured family recipes, no directions were included.

Mother’s pastry

2 cups flour

2/3 cup lard plus 1/3 cup butter

4 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Another reader recently requested an “old-fashioned strawberry shortcake recipe” and Mother’s was “the best.”

Strawberry shortcake

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup shortening

½ cup milk

1 slightly beaten egg

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and egg all at once. Stir mixture until it follows fork around the bowl. Drop on ungreased cookie sheet or... “I use muffin tins”. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Split and spread with butter when ready to serve. Also Jotted down was...”makes 6 to 8, but I’ve gotten 10 small ones out of this recipe.”

There were also were many favorite recipes clipped and removed from Better Homes & Gardens magazines, this one titled as “Cooks’ Round Table of Endorsed Recipes”, described as being a “crisp, thin, old-fashion sugar cookie” from September 1949 that became one of our all-time favorite Christmas cookies. It was submitted by a Mrs. S. W. Huffman, Milan, Tennessee.

Rolled sugar cookies

½ cup shortening

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon grated orange peel

2 cups enriched flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and grated orange peel. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk; mix thoroughly. Roll 1/8-inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with floured 4-inch cookie cutter; sprinkle with sugar. Decorate with raisins. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) 12 minutes. Makes 1 ½ dozen large cookies.

I remember this simple round steak recipe as being one of my favorites.

Mother’s round steak

Round steak


Bacon and onions


½ cup ketchup

½ cup water

Salt and pepper

Pound round steak and coat with flour. Brown bacon and onions in oil. Brown round steak. Add ketchup and water, salt and pepper. Cover skillet and simmer about an hour.

Recent requests for old recipes brought nice responses, this one from Mike Repas describing this dish as being a German grandmother favorite.

Mashed potato and endive salad

2 or 3 starchy potatoes like Russets, peeled and diced

4 slices of bacon, chopped

1 small onion, minced

3 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons white sugar

2 heads of endive, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Add potatoes to a pot of boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. In a large heavy skillet render bacon until browned and crisp. Move bacon to a paper towel, reserving bacon fat in the skillet. When bacon is cool enough, pat it dry. Drain potatoes through a colander and return to the pot. Mash potatoes to desired consistency and cover. Reheat bacon fat until just warm. Remove from the heat and add onions, vinegar and sugar. Uncover potatoes and mix skillet ingredients into the potatoes, then fold in the endive. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle bacon over all. Serve warm.

When fall arrives, Linda Medland enjoys making soup, especially for friends who have been hospitalized or sick and everyone asks for the recipe.


1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 large celery stalk, sliced

¼ small cabbage, thinly sliced

28-ounce can of tomatoes, undrained

10 ½ -ounce can garbanzo beans, undrained

7 ounce can of corn, undrained

1 medium size zucchini, sliced

¾ cup medium shell macaroni

1 ½ teaspoon instant beef bouillon

½ teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoon salt

Cook ground beef, onion, celery and cabbage, stirring carefully so meat stays in chunks, and until all pan juices evaporate and meat and veggies are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, garbanzos, corn and all liquids, zucchini, macaroni, bouillon, basil and 2 ½ cups water. Over very high heat, bring to a boil, stirring to break up tomatoes. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer soup for 8 to 10 minutes until macaroni and veggies are tender. Serves 6

Long time reader Dorothy Kruse decided it was time to make a pie she describes as “a good fall recipe and not one you hear of often.” She has contributed many times with recipes from her own family favorite compilation, “For Batter or Wurst,” published in November 1985.

Sour cream raisin pie

3 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup sour cream

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raisins, washed and drained, patted dry

Baked pie shell

Beat egg yolks; mix sugar, flour and sour cream into eggs. Add raisins and spices. Cook until thickens. Put filling into cooled baked pie shell. Cover with meringue. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Perfect meringue

3 egg whites

¼ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites and salt until frothy. (Room temperature eggs whip fluffier)

Beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff and glossy. When sugar is dissolved and meringue holds a point, it is ready to put on the pie.

This is enough meringue for a 9-inch pie. When putting meringue on a pie, be sure to spread so it touches crust all around edge to seal and prevent shrinking. Bake 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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