MARY CULLEN’S COTTAGE WAS A DAILY COLUMN IN PORTLAND’S “OREGON JOURNAL”, THE AFTERNOON PAPER FROM 1902 UNTIL 1982. OVER 80 YEARS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAD THEIR DOMESTIC QUESTIONS ANSWERED, INCLUDING HOW TO BAKE COOKIES! HERE ARE RECIPES FOR REFRIGERATOR COOKIES.
Americans eat billions of cookies every year and why shouldn’t we? What could be better than a little handful of sweetness. And they come in every flavor imaginable, as long as it’s sweetly delightful. There are so many, many kinds of cookies, brownies with black beans or chili peppers. Cookies with fruit, cookies with chocolate, cookies with spices. Bar cookies, drop cookies, filled cookies. We eat them alone, we eat them with ice cream, we dip them in coffee and we dip them in milk. We crumble them into sundaes, and we crush them into pie crusts. We politely sample them at parties and we eat a handful when we think no one is looking. After all, if no one sees you eating a cookie, there are no calories in it. They are easy to pack up to take with you. A couple of cookies make a brown bag lunch a treat. You can buy cookies one at a time, or you can buy them by the bag and boxful. Or, you can make them.
Baking cookies is one of the most delightful experiences any of us can have. We bake cookies by the dozen during the holidays because it makes us happy. They make the house smell wonderful and if we don’t sneak-eat too many of them, they are so much fun to take to parties and give to friends.
I was raised with a couple of great cookie bakers in my family, and have never been intimidated by mixing up some flour, sugar and butter to make up some sort of confection. Cookies, cakes, pies, breads, I will want to mix it up and put it in the oven. Biscuits at midnight? I’m your woman. Cinnamon rolls for lunch. I’m there, as was my grandmother before me.
I was going through my family recipe box recently, looking at the cookie recipes and I was amazed at how cookies have evolved over the years. We buy and eat such fancy cookies these days. White chocolate macadamia, cardamom spice, turbinado sugar, evaporated cane juice. They sound wonderful, and they are, but my old-fashioned recipes rely on more mundane ingredients. Foods we now call “superfoods.” Oatmeal, berries, walnuts, dried fruits.
Vintage cookies were created from whatever the cook had on hand and what was in season. White sugar and brown sugar were used heavily, as was white flour. But flour, sugar and butter were mixed with all kinds of things depending on how creative the cook could be. And those ladies shared their recipes like the treasures they were.
In Oregon, The Portland Oregon Journal had an extensive department serving to aid the homemaker. They published recipes, patterns, sewing hints, knitting techniques, and answers for readers seeking advice far beyond just cooking, such as party tips, laundry problems, appliance and etiquette questions, gardening and anything else that helped Oregonians run their homes efficiently and deliciously. One of the columns was called “Mary Cullen’s Cottage”. The Journal really did own the cottage that housed the advice column, but there was really no “Mary Cullen.” The founder of the column was named Mary Elizabeth Tobin, and the Cullen part was a take on culinary. The column was taken over by Catherine Lawton who was a cohort of James Beard, assisting him in editing duties.
I found a copy of one of Mary Cullen’s column’s in my grandma’s recipe box, lately, and guess what it’s about? Cookies! So I am going to share some of these wonderful old recipes with you. Mary Cullen’s cookie column is a virtual encyclopedia of cookie recipes: refrigerator cookies, drop cookies, roll cookies, snaps, brownies and filled cookies.
1 cup butter margarine
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups sifted all-purpose four
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Soften the butter or margarine in a warm bowl. Beat with a slotted spoon or with a pastry blender, or cream at low-speed in an electric mixer. Add the sugar a little at a time, and cream into the fat. Turn up the speed on an electric mixer to do this. Add the vanilla any time during this creaming. When very fluffy add the eggs, one at a time and beat in well. Sift and measure the flour, sift again several times with salt and baking powder. Mix into the first mixtures a little at a time. If using the electric mixer dump the flour in and turn the speed low so that it will not flip the flour out of bowl. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl.
When the mixture is well blended, scrape from bowl into refrigerator trays lined with wax paper or onto a wax paper lined loaf cake pan. Chill until firm. Then remove the dough from the pan. Take off the wax paper. The dough in the average refrigerator and the bread pans is better to manage if cut through the long way, then sliced. Keep the dough that is not sliced in a cold place until ready to use it.
Slice refrigerator cookies about one-third inch thick using a thin bladed knife, preferably a “butcher” knife. Place each cookie individually on a greased cookie sheet, ½ to ¾ inch between each cookie, for they will expand during cooking. Bake in a moderate oven 375° for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned.
BUTTERSCOTCH REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Use 1 ½ cups brown sugar instead of the white sugar in the refrigerator cookie recipe
ORANGE REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Use 1 tbsp. of grated orange rind instead of the vanilla to flavor the cookies. Add 1 tbsp. orange juice to the batter if you wish.
LEMON REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Add 1 tbsp. of grated lemon rind and 1 tbsp. lemon juice instead of vanilla to flavor the cookies.
NUT REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Add ½ cup of very finely chopped nuts to any of the refrigerator cookie recipes. The nuts must be chopped very fine or even put through a food chopper so they will not crumble when cut.
CHOCOLATE REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Sift 1/3 cup ground chocolate with the dry ingredients for refrigerator cookies and omit 3 tbsp. of the flour.
FILLED REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Pat standard cookie dough to ¼ inch thickness in rectangle, 3 to 4 inches wide on heavy wax paper. Spread with fruit or jam filling or other desired filling, making sure that ingredients in filling are fine enough that dough can be easily sliced. Roll crosswise like jelly roll, wrap in wax paper and chill until firm. Cut in ¼ to 1/3 inch slices and bake on greased and floured cookie sheets for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven 375°.
PINWHEEL REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Make one half recipe of chocolate refrigerator cookie dough and one half recipe standard dough. Roll each to ¼ inch thickness in rectangle 3 to 4 inches wide. Place one on top of the other and roll crosswise for the jelly roll, making roll about 2 or 2 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper, shill until firm, slice and bake as for refrigerator cookies.
ROLL REFRIGERATOR COOKIES
Chill dough until firm and easy to handle. Roll only a small portion of the dough one at a time. Cut and bake as for sliced refrigerator cookies.