Category Archives: Recipe

Chocolate Drop Cookies, a Vintage Recipe

Chocolate drop cookies with white frosting.

Recently, I posted on Facebook a picture of a loaf of bread that I made with a recipe from Ken’s maternal grandmother, Helen Kohler. Bless Social Media. The picture of the loaf of bread led me to a batch of Chocolate Drop Cookies.

Do you remember the 3-way bread recipe that I published nearly 3 years ago? Check back to see the recipe that can be used for free-form bread, rolls, or coffee cake. Later I used an adaptation of the recipe to make Swiss New Year’s Bread. Last week I used the same recipe to make two loaf pans of bread. So now it is a 5-way recipe! This is still my favorite bread recipe. Thank you Grandma Kohler. And thank you Kay Badertscher Bass for passing the recipe on to me.

And thanks to Facebook for allowing this conversation between Ken’s cousins, reminiscing about their Grandma’s cooking. Someone mentioned Chocolate Drop Cookies that Grandma kept in a big blue enameled pan. Several others remembered them. Then Beth posted the recipe card. She didn’t remember where she got it, but it is labeled “Grandma Kohler,” and meets the criteria that everyone remembered of the Chocolate Drop Cookies that Grandma frosted with confectioners sugar.

Grandma Kohler’s chocolate cookies

I cheated a little on the authenticity of my husband’s cousins’ memories. I frosted half the cookies in a simple confectioner’s sugar white frosting, and half in the same frosting with cocoa powder added. Apologies to Grandma Kohler, but I never get enough chocolate.

Chocolate drop cookies in black and white

In the recipe below, I have expanded on some of the sketchy directions, but stuck to the recipe. They bake up puffy and soft and they are unlike any cookies that I have made before. I am so grateful to Kay for sharing the post on Facebook and thus starting the conversation, and for Beth providing the precious recipe.

Chocolate Drop Cookies Cooling
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Chocolate Drop Cookies, a Vintage Recipe

A favorite cookie of my husband's cousins when they went to Grandma's house, Chocolate Drop Cookies is an authentic vintage recipe.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword cookie, chocolate, vintage recipe, Helen Kohler
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Author Vera Marie Badertscher

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Butter Room temperature
  • 1 Cup Brown sugar Sieved so there are no lumps
  • 1 egg Room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup sour milk Room temperature (See Note)
  • 2 squares chocolate Melted and brought to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 Cup Cake flour (See Note)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line with parchment paper, two cookie pans.
  • Melt chocolate in microwave (See Note for alternate method). Set aside to cool
  • Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and sift together into medium bowl.
  • Cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth
  • Beat egg into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in sour milk, then stir in cooled, melted chocolate.
  • Fold in dry ingredients only until well blended. Do not overbeat.
  • Drop by tablespoon, 1" apart on cookie sheets.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Test by touching top of cookie. It should still be soft but no leave an indentation.
  • Cool on pan for ten minutes and remove to cooling rack.
  • When totally cool, frost with confectioners sugar frosting of your choice.

Notes

When sour milk is called for, you can use regular whole or 2% milk and add vinegar.  For 1/2 cup sour milk, add 1/2 Tablespoon of vinegar to the 1/2 cup milk and let stand 5 minutes.  If you do not want to bother with this, it is perfectly acceptable to substitute 1/2 cup of sour cream or buttermilk. Plain yogurt will work as well. Just be sure it is not flavored.
Melting chocolate. The chocolate will melt more quickly and evenly if you chop it with a large knife before melting. I do not have a microwave so I had to come up with a different way to melt chocolate.  I put the chopped chocolate in a small pyrex dish and set it on top of my electric stove where the hot air from the oven comes through.  This recipe calls for such a small amount of chocolate that it melts very quickly.

Now that I am well stocked with cookies, I need to get back to the complex research of Obadiah Stout and his family’s wanderings through the west. See you next week.

This Cornbread Pudding Use Leftovers

leftover cornbread pudding
Cornbread pudding in baking dish
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I have shared several recipes using cornmeal, because our early ancestors definitely used cornmeal frequently. No doubt the 17th and early 18th century families I am talking about recently ate cornbread–probably frequently. Did our waste-hating grandmothers make cornbread pudding? I don’t know, but it is such a simple recipe that it would not show up in cookbooks of the period.

What did they do with leftover cornbread? Or with families of 10 children maybe they had no such a thing as leftovers. But in today’s smaller families, a full pan of cornbread may not disappear during the first meal where it appears.

Leftover cornbread pudding to the rescue. My husband and I had this for breakfast and it was delicious and filling. Feel free to scatter some fruit over the top, or include bits of meat (crisp bacon, ham) in the mix. I love dishes with the flexibility that this one has. Make it your own. (And let us know how you have adapted it.)

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Cornbread Pudding

Leftover cornbread makes a delish dish for breakfast.
Course Breakfast
Keyword corn bread, leftover, breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • two pieces of cornbread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • dash salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • cinnamon or spice blend

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat eggs, add milk, salt, sugar, and salt and whisk together.
  • Butter inside of oven-proof dish, capacity 2-2 1/2 cups.
  • Break cornbread in bite-size chunks and scatter in bottom of dish.
  • Pour the milk/egg mixture over the cornbread.
  • Sprinkle spices over top.
  • Bake until you can insert a knife and there is no liquid in the center. (About 1/2 hour)

Notes

cornbread pudding

One serving of cornbread pudding

Don’t throw out that almost-stale cornbread!
You can make cornbread pudding for breakfast, or use it for dessert.
This recipe makes two servings of cornbread pudding.  It is simple to multiply the recipe to feed as many as you like–or as much as you can make with your leftover cornbread.  Baking times will depend on the size of the dish that you are using.

Zucchini Apocalypse

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If you are a backyard gardener–like my grandmother was, like my father was, and like I was for a brief time–you know what that title means. The Zucchini Apocalypse is as dreaded among gardeners as a Zombie invasion. Toward the end of summer, those little green monsters are so numerous that you can’t keep them picked off the vine before some of them hide under the leaves and grow to a size worthy of the Guiness Book of World Records. They get so big you don’t know whether to cook them or attach a sail and go exploring the ocean. It is zucchini casserole time, for sure.

But don’t worry, I’ve been there. Before the zuchs get out of control, you can start making zucchini bread, zucchini pickles, stuffed zucchini, zucchini pizza, and a thousand and one other variations. Here’s a recipe that my sister-in-law gave me many, many decades ago, for a very vintage zucchini casserole . I’ve updated it in a couple of ways, but I left the most vintage touch of all–mushroom soup.

Zucchini Casserole from side

The Zucchini Casserole Dish

Size of casserole dishes

This recipe makes a VERY BIG casserole dish full. A word on the size of the bowl. After all, your fancy casserole dishes may not have measurements marked on the the side. I went with a 2 quart Pyrex bowl this time, but it definitely was not big enough. 2 1/2 quarts is ideal.  How do you know what size your bowls are?  Pour measured water into them. Time to return to grade school math class.  Four cups equals one quart.  I have a four-cup measuring cup and the Corning Ware bowl takes two and a half quarts to fill it to the brim.  The Pyrex dish, on the other hand, holds just two quarts.

I recommend a deep rather than a shallow dish. My favorite for the zucchini casserole is this big Corning Ware baking dish. The pictures of the finished casserole show it in a two-quart pyrex dish, which isn’t really big enough. Make two and give one away if you don’t have a big enough dish.

WHOOPS!

Well, we’ve all been there haven’t we? Shut the oven door and notice there is something that did not get included in the dish or pan? I forgot to layer the Ricotta. So I slathered it on top. Didn’t hurt a thing.

Zucchini with afterthought ricotta

Good luck getting rid of all those zucchinis, gardeners!

Zucchini casserole serving
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Zucchini Casserole, Vintage, Adapted

This Zucchini casserole has been updated to make it a wee bit healthier, but retains mushroom soup as a nod to the past.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword casserole, vintage, zucchini
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 12
Author Vera Marie Badertscher

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup brown rice Cook in 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 stalks celery Alternatively, one onion chopped, or a blend of celery and onion.
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano I used Penzy's Greek Seasoning Blend.
  • 1 1/2 pound zucchini sliced in 1/2" pieces
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese or fine cottage cheese
  • 1 cup canned mushroom soup not diluted
  • 1 cup grated cheese eg. cheddar/monterey jack mix

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix rice in boiling water, reduce to simmer and cook until done–about 45 minutes
  • While rice is cooking, chop celery (and/or onions)
  • Brown ground beef in skillet with celery/onions
  • While beef is cooking, slice zucchini and put half in bottom of casserole
  • When rice is cooked through, add to beef in skillet along with garlic and oregano (or preferred seasonings).
  • Layer beef/rice mix over zucchini in casserole, next add ricotta and then rest of zucchini. Spread soup as top layer and scatter cheese on top.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes (less if using two smaller dishes) at 350 degrees.

Notes

I did not recommend adding salt and pepper because there  are LOTS of flavors going on here. There is so much salt in the mushroom soup and also some in cheese. But besides that there is a bit of salt in the spice blend I used.   On the other hand, you have plenty of room to bend the flavors in the direction you wish.  I liked using the Penzy Greek Spice Blend –oregano, lemon, marjoram, garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper. But I could imagine turning the casserole in different directions with spices. French with tarragon and thyme; Mexican with chile, etc.

Before you go, I’d like you to know about a couple of tricks for improving your vegetable cooking skills. One: If you are on Facebook, join the Fearless Fresh Kitchen Ninjas group. It is an amazing, sharing site for home cooks. A few trained cooks and professionals are there, too, so you will get great answers to any questions. Two: Stephanie Stiavetti, who started that Facebook group,also has a series of video lessons and other aids to improving your skills in the kitchen. Her latest series on cooking vegetables is FREE. Go here.

On the other hand, if you’d like to turn back the clock, I wrote some time ago about what Godey’s Lady’s magazine had to say about cooking vegetables back during the Civil War.