Cooking from the 1930′s IV

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Refrigerator Cookies

First order of business: It’s time for another Giveaway, don’t you think? Mother’s Day is coming soon and I’m thinkin’ some mother should get a tea package to celebrate her special day!! And so, starting today and through May 4th, leave a comment and your name will be thrown into the hat for a drawing on May 5th. The winner will receive the package pictured below: A Tea-For-Two teapot, a cute tin of one of our signature teas with tea infuser and a package of our wonderful Victorian House Scones. Sound good? Great! Start commenting on posts and enter early and often.



Second order of business: Patrice Lewis over at the Rural Revolution, who has so kindly linked to this blog, has produced a series of E-books on canning and country living that are handy indeed. Since they are only $1.50 each, they are so affordable and since they are around 20 pages each, are easy to print off to keep at your fingertips. You can order Patrice’s booklets here.


OK, so for a past number of posts, I have been sharing handwritten recipes, from my grandmother, that are recorded in a 1931 edition of the Rumford Cookbook which was put out by the Rumford Baking Powder company. This week, I tried another one of those recipes and Mr. Fix-It gave a big thumbs up. As usual, my grandmother only wrote down the ingredients with a few mixing instructions, but this time she did give a baking time and the instructions to use a “moderate” oven. I figured that would be around 350º. My figuring was correct!


I have also been including some exerpts from a book that my father wrote, called Sailing Down The River Of Memories which is about his growing up years in the 1930′s and 1940′s. The following exerpt, I thought, would be fun for those of you with children. It seems that in today’s fast-paced, technology-permeated world, we’ve forgotten some of the simple games of the last century. And I will say that some of those games were pretty rough!

Flying Dutchman – Players held hands in a circle while one couple who was IT walked counterclockwise outside the circle. When they hit the joined hands of two players, both IT an the other couple then ran in opposite directions around the circle trying to be the first back to the opening in the circle. The losers became IT. When I was about seven, Treva Scott, who was older than I, and I were tagged. She got ahead of me as we ran and the heel of her shoe hit me in the mouth, knocking four front teeth loose. Fortunately, they were baby teeth. I’ve heard of a person “putting his foot in his mouth” but never of someone else doing it.
Mumble Peg – A knife with a long and a short blade opened on one end was needed. The knife was opened with the short blade out straight and the long blade at a 90-degree angle. The player put the long blade touching the ground and fipped the knife into the air. The game was played two ways. In one, points were given when the short blade stuck into the ground, the long blade stuck or both blades stuck. In the other, the winner had to stick the knife all three ways – long blade into the ground, long and short blade into the ground and the short blade in with the base of the knife resting on the ground making a triangle. Sometimes, we flipped the knife off of our wrist or hand.
Leap Frog-One boy leaned over with his hands on his knees while a second boy ran up and putting his hands on the bent back, vaulted over him. Sometimes several boys would line up about three feet apart and the jumper tried to jump all without stopping or breaking rhythm. The real challenge was to vault over two or three boys who leaned over one another.
Indoor Games-We played many indoor party games such as “poor pussy”, “heavy, heavy hangs over your head,” “odd or even,” “I see something you don’t see” and “hot or cold”…
Dropping Clothes Pins into the Milk Bottle-Milk came in long-necked quart milk bottles with the opening about one inch in diameter. We took three straight clothes pins, stood above the milk bottle and tried to drop the pins into the bottle.
Just like Me-This game was popular with adults who liked to pull it on a young child. Interesting enough, some children liked to play it over and over again.
Leader: You have to say, “Just like me” after anything I say. Ready?
I went upstairs.
Child: Just like me
Leader: I walked down the hall
Child: Just like me
Leader: I came to a door
Child: Just like me
Leader: I went in the room
Child: Just like me
Leader: I looked in the mirror
Child: Just like me
Leader: I saw a monkey
Child: Just like me
No adults needed-I guess one thing that made our play “ours” was that it was something WE did. No adult was needed. We made a lot of the things we played with such as kites, boats, stilts, balls. When we wanted to play baseball, we got enough boys together, found a ball and bat and played. We didn’t need a coach to teach us how to hit or pitch. We learned by playing. No adult stood on the sideline shouting at us for making an error or for not hitting a home run. Playing with friends was the main thing.

Update:I have to add a note that was sent to me from my cousin – daughter of my father’s sister. It was just too neat not to share:
“I’ve enjoyed reading your take on Grandmother’s cookbook. I remember the recipe on back of the letter, but I never even thought of trying it-or the red devil’s food, even though I know Mom made it bunches of times. She said she started making it at age 12 and that became her specialty for Hightower family gatherings. Last night she said sometimes she would make it and a white cake, then marble the two batters in a tube pan. She said it was always a hit when she did that and that it made a very large cake!

Your mention of the letter with the recipe on the back reminds me Mom said that when Granddad was self-employed or looking for employment, Grandmother would type his letters. She taught herself to type with an instruction book like Mom used in high school that she got from Aunt Helen. She always kept a dictionary handy because she was so concerned that she would misspell something. Our grandmother was a hard worker! I don’t know how old she was when the was cashier at Aunt Ruth’s store in Pittsburg but I know she wasn’t young. Mom said Grandmother worked wherever they moved. I do remember her working in a candy store in Indianapolis. That would be the one I would remember!! Also from your dad’s writing, the Just Like Me rhyme reminds me of her. I can still hear us laughing when she did it with me. Just last week, I was reading a nursery rhyme book to Ben and that was in there. So I played it with him the way our grandparents did with us, and we laughed ourselves silly. He wanted to do it over and over.”

So, on to making cookies that would have satisfied that crew of busy boys! Grandmother T. only has “Refrigerator Cookies” written in the corner of the paper on which she recorded this recipe. The fun part is that it is on the back of a letter that my grandfather had written to some company, applying for a construction foreman’s postition. Back then, a resume was just a list of past postitions in a one page letter! I think that you will like these cookies and the only addition I can see making is chocolate chips! I know. With me, it’s always chocolate! But they really would be good in the cookies.

Old-Fashioned Refrigerator Cookies

1 cup shortening (I used 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 well-beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
3 cus quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup choped nuts

Printable Recipe


Add shortening or shortening and butter to a large mixing bowl.


Add brown sugar


And the granulated sugar


Thoroughly cream shortening and sugars. Add beaten eggs.


And vanilla and mix well


Add flour and mix


Add oatmeal. We roll our own oats so I used that even though it calls for “quick cooking” oats. It worked great.


Add nuts. Of course, I had to use my grandmother’s nut chopper from her vintage kitchen!


Shape the dough into rolls. I made the dough into two rolls, but I suggest making three. The cookies were really, really big with the two rolls.


Wrap the rolls in wax paper and chill thoroughly or overnight.


Slice cookies about 1/4″ thick and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes.


Just a note: Leave LOTS of space between your cookies. Otherwise, you get a sheet of cookies!!


The second batch worked much better!! I used parchment paper on my cookie sheet and put plenty of space between the cookies. They came out perfect. Yummy! I’ll be adding the chocolate chips next time!

Happy Baking!

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40 Responses to “

Cooking from the 1930′s IV

  1. gail says:

    thanks for this giveaway!

  2. You are welcome, Gail and you are entered.

  3. Penny says:

    I love your giveaways, thank you for offering this one for Mother’s Day…I love your facebook page too.

  4. Thanks, Penny! Good luck! You are entered.

  5. Carol Thompson says:

    These look yummy! Thanks for the post!

  6. Judy Gammill says:

    my mom used to make something like this, only she used Post Toasties instead of oatmeal, then she used her thumb to put a dent in the top and put half a marachino cherry in it and called them cherry winks. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Thanks Carol. You are on the list!

  8. Judy, how cute are those!? You are entered.

  9. Laurie Dimino says:

    HI MaryBeth,
    Love your blog. You always have such interesting posts! How lucky ar you that you have your grandma’s handwritten recipes! What a treasure! Thanks too for the link to Patrice’s e books- that really is reasonable! Lastly, I am hoping that you will enter me in your Mothers Day giveaway- I adore tea (and scones too!), and would LOVE to win!
    Farmgirl Hugs,

  10. Well, Laurie, you are definitely entered! Thank you so much for reading the blog!! I hope it is beneficial to you.

  11. Micheala Johanson says:

    I have a load of antique cookbooks including the Rumford. I also have a very old Watkins cookbook. Also in my collection is appliance leaflets from the early days of gas and electric appliances. Oh how they promised to free up women’s workdays. Ya right. Many years later with even better appliances we still never have enough time.

  12. Ryan says:

    I have got to get me a pastry cloth! Would love to make this recipe and have some cookie cutters I’ve been itching to use but have been avoiding making the mess!

  13. Janet Doran says:

    What a wonderful give away. It would be so nice to win this one and have all those great goodies. A new teapot!!!!! How great!!!!

  14. Tricia says:

    Thanks for the giveaway. My birthday is May 4th, so I would be willing to win this giveaway for you.

  15. i says:

    I have been a fan of yours on facebook for a while now, very, very nice! Thanks for offering this giveaway!

  16. Brenda says:

    How do you roll your oats? I have a few buckets of oats and I haven’t even thought about how I would process them! I have a very nice wheat grinder. Can I use that or would a special roller be better? Thanks!

  17. Micheala, yep, technology has always been supposed to free us up but I’m afraid that we are busier than ever!! You are entered.

  18. Ryan, yes you do!! :-) You will wonder how you ever did without one. You are entered.

  19. Well, Janet, good luck! You are entered. Thanks for coming to the blog

  20. Why, thank you for your sacrifice Tricia!! How nice of you. :-) Let’s see how that works because you are entered. And happy birthday early.

  21. Thanks, i, for following on FB and now on the blog! You are entered.

  22. Brenda, an oat roller is needed. If you will go to the blog post at you can see our oat roller. It is a Marga and I think you can find them online. I will email you will some info. You are entered!

  23. Oh that all looks so beautiful, delicate and comforting. Thank you for the contest.

    -missy- aka hennypenny

  24. Good luck, Missy!!! Thanks for hopping over

  25. Kristen says:

    Love these vintage cooking posts and great giveaway – thank you! :)

  26. Thanks Kristen. And you are entered!

  27. frankie says:

    i have a recipe for the refrigerator cookies, but we call them cowboy bob’s. we put in butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and chopped nuts…..okay, they really aren’t like yours, just kinda. lol. so glad to see that all has settled down weather wise for you!

  28. Ha Ha, Frankie. I’ll be adding those chocolate chips next time!! Thanks for the weather wishes. :-) You are entered.

  29. Natalie says:

    I bought Patrice’s e-booklet on home business! It’s really been helpful so far :)

    I’m going to have to try these cookies out sometime soon. Thanks for doing the giveaway, Mary Beth!


  30. Great, Natalie! And thanks for reading the blog. You are entered.

  31. sue feely says:

    I reaaly like that little nut grinder!

  32. Sue, it is cute isn’t it? You are entered.

  33. Jennifer says:

    So would you replace the nuts with the chocolate chips? Or add chips?? I like the combination of brown and granulated sugars. Jennifer in western NC

  34. Barbara Luther says:

    I remember a recipe (or receipt,as she called them) my Grandmother had ,for a cookie similar to this except she put chopped up candy bars ( Butterfinger or Baby Ruth) in the dough. Guess that’s why I’m fat.
    I loved the games . Oh if only our young ones would turn of the TV and
    I-pads and go out and play these games.Fun!Fun! Fun!
    Just looking at the picture of your giveaway makes me hungry and thirsty.

  35. Jennifer, I’d add both! Gotta have nuts and chocolate both!! :-) You are entered.

  36. Barbara, ok, now THAT sounds good. Forget the chocolate chips and get out the candy bars!! You are entered too.

  37. Deborah Floyd says:

    I have a nutcracker I will never part with. Mine isn’t that old. They are great. Thats a handy way to store cookie dough.

  38. Great, Deborah. And you are entered!

  39. manda says:

    Great giveaway. I am a native Oklahoman who is living in Kentucky while my husband goes to school. Love seeing articles about the great state I miss soooo much!

  40. Thanks for hopping over here, Manda! always good to have fellow Okies. And good luck. You are entered