|Katie Hooker's Klutz-proof
also called "Aunt Kate's Cookies"
and "Miles Beard's Grandma's Cookies"
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, lard, margarine, or solid shortening
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon flavoring (vanilla, nutmeg, or lemon)
- Cream sugar and
- Stir soda into
buttermilk; add to creamed sugar and butter.
- Sift flour and
baking powder together; add to above
- Add flavoring to
- Mix well!
- Refrigerate for 30
minutes to firm up the cookie dough.
- Drop by spoon onto
greased baking sheet or onto baking parchment
- If you want to use
cookie cutters, add more flour, roll, and cut
- Bake in 350-degree
oven on middle rack about 12 minutes. (Ovens
vary. Determine exact time with first sheet of
- When you take the cookies out of
the oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Let the cookies cool before
removing them from the cookie sheet or parchment
paper; otherwise, the cookies will
- Store in a tight
container to keep soft.
- Sift the flour even
if it was pre-sifted. Remember: Sift BEFORE
- For a different
flavor & texture, you can use whole wheat
- You can use butter,
lard, margarine, or solid shortening, or any
combination to make up the cup of fat. However,
do NOT use liquid shortening or oil! Lard adds
some special texture and flakiness; butter adds
flavor. Katie Hooker used 100% lard; her
school-teacher daughter-in-law used half lard and
- By using parchment
paper rather than greased cookie sheets, you
avoid adding more fat to the recipe, and it
already has plenty of fat! Also by using
parchment paper, you can take more of an
assembly-line approach to making lots of cookies.
- For creaming the
sugar and butter, clean hands work fine! That's
especially good to remember when children or
someone with poor hand/wrist
coordination is helping with the recipe.
- You can tell that
the cookies are done when they are light golden
with little "air holes" on the top, and
a little darker golden edge around the cookies.
Some folks like the cookies a little
crispier. If you bake them just a bit too
long, so long as they're not burnt, powdered
sugar evens out everything for appearances.
- If you want to make
more than one batch at a time, don't double the
recipe. Make as many batches as you want, one at
a time; then combine them all and mix together.
That will even out any minor mis-measurement you
might have made.
- Baking two sheets at
a time just doesn't work. What works is one sheet
at a time, right in the middle of the oven.
- The cookie dough can
be stored in the refrigerator, for freshly
baked cookies whenever you want.
To get the real
feel of how Katie Hooker prepared this recipe, you'd need
to have obtained the sugar, baking powder, and flavoring
by trading chicken eggs on a buggy trip into town; you'd
need to have churned the butter from milk you got from
your cow that you'd nursed thru sickness; and you'd need
to use flour made from winter wheat that your husband had
grown and that you'd taken to the local miller to grind.
You'd need to bake the cookies in a wood burning stove
fueled by wood that one of your sons had cut as part of
his chores. If it were summer, you'd be doing the baking
in your "summer kitchen," an airy and open area
just outside the house proper. And when you got done with
all the baking, you'd have to clean up with water that
you had carried to the house from the well.
Katie's recipe is forgiving enough that even a child will
feel like a success. Katie was my great-grandma. I met
her only once. I had to have been less than 17 months old
when I met her in the home of my Grandma Beard. A kind man looked down
and said, "This is Grandma Beard." He meant, of
course, that the woman was HIS "Grandma Beard,"
making her my great-grandma, but it confused me because
my Grandma Beard was standing three feet away and still
existed. I managed to communicate my confusion:
"Grandma's mommy?" And the answer was,
"No." At my young age, I could not figure out
how this tiny lady fit into the family, but she stood
there so small and so polite and held out a plate of
cookies for me. COOKIES! The cookies were good enough
that she won my heart.
The recipe came to me in a moment of genealogy
serendipity. I had stopped in to see an older woman, my
father's second cousin, because it seemed the polite
thing to do as I began a genealogy hunt in the small,
rural area where my grandfather had been born and reared.
The lady not only was gracious, she didn't seem
"old." I'd expected only a social call;
instead, I was given two treasures: First, she gave me my
grandfather's baby picture; she'd acquired it from her
mother, who'd likely acquired it from her mother, who'd
likely been handed the photo by my great-grandma. Second,
she gave me the cookie recipe that she called, "Aunt
Katie was born in 1871, married her childhood sweetheart
in 1891, and birthed their first child a proper ten
months after their wedding. She died in 1952, and people
still remember that she was kind and that she offered
kindness when others did not.
For Katie's picture and a step into my world of
genealogy, check this page: Jesse Beard &
Sarah Catherine Hooker
Other cookie recipes at Alice's
Simon's Hungarian keflies
Fire candy cookies
cookies: a parent & child recipe
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