Cook\'s Exchange: Keep Cookie Jar Filled With After School Treats

Back in 1942, when I was four going on five, my address was 201 Toy St. It wasn’t where I lived, but instead where I sat in kindergarten class at Lowell School. The heavy, square oak tables, low to the floor, accommodated two children along each of its four sides with short chairs for little children with different addresses to sit in proper and comfortable fashion.

I was happy and contented on Toy Street where a year of tender loving care prepared me for the years that followed, yet wish pictures had been taken of us sitting at those large tables, wearing our best smiles to paste in a scrapbook to remember through the years where it all began.

After completing third grade at Lowell, about six blocks from my real home on Talmadge Street, I enrolled at St. Bernard’s School just a short walk up the street, across St. Paul Avenue, down a weedy hill, across the tracks and through a dirt lot where every nun is remembered like the back of my hand. Our days started by attending Mass every morning. If we received Communion during Mass, we’d fast from midnight which meant carrying a small breakfast item from home in a tiny brown bag to later fill that hunger gap at our desks. Mine usually was a scrambled egg sandwich, but as an occasional treat, I was able to purchase a 4-cent frosted doughnut from Sainer’s Bakery across the street from church.

Good memories nourish us through life and one of mine is the freshly baked banana bread, still warm, waiting to be sliced and slathered with butter when we arrived home from school. More often we were greeted by Smiley the Pig, a cookie jar filled with cookies to grab before books were set on the dining room table, then again to munch on when we went outside to play. I know. I know. Apples, oranges, celery and carrots would have been healthier choices, but there’s something about a good cookie or two that wakens the taste buds and soothes the soul.

Here are a few cookie recipes, shared by readers, to keep your own cookie jars filled to the brim. Remember that the cook needs to sample at least a few to make sure they are good enough for the family.

Here is one all the way from Spooner, in Washburn County, for a 100 cookie recipe. It was submitted in 1994 by Roxanne Emerson for the “Cooking Together for 25 Years” book with up north favorites from past and present members of Faith Lutheran Church. Although the book sold out, in 2006 the church ladies published another cookbook, “Fruit of the Spirit,” with more treasured family favorites. For more information, send a note to

One hundred good cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup coconut

1 cup Rice Krispies

1 cup quick oatmeal

1 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter, oil and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients that have been sifted together. Stir in remaining ingredients and make a ball of teaspoonfuls of dough. Press down with a fork and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Longtime Madisonians will remember Louella Mortenson, a Madison icon whose cooking show filled requests on WKOW radio. Local reader Dorothy Kruse, author of For Batter or Wurst of favorite family recipes, worked for Mortenson in 1948 during Kruse’s senior year in high school and included in her book, Mortenson’s most requested recipe. Kruse made a few of her own adjustments and describes these as being “tasty, moist, cake-like cookies that freeze very well.”

Sour cream oatmeal cookies

1 cup shortening

2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sour cream

2 cups quick oatmeal

1 ½ cups raisins

½ cup chopped nuts, optional

Before assembling your ingredients, place raisins in hot water to cover and allow them to set until ready to use after draining well and patting dry with paper towel.

Cream shortening and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs, beating well. Add sour cream alternately with sifted dry ingredients; then add oatmeal, nuts and drained raisins. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until done.

Betty Viney is proud of her favorite recipes, and this is one of many. Not quite something you’d grab and eat outside, they are delicious at the kitchen table with a tall glass of milk.

Frosted ginger bars

1 ¼ cup sifted flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter

¼ cup water

½ cup molasses

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Sift together flour, soda, spices and salt. Heat butter and water together until butter melts. Pour into mixing bowl. Stir in molasses and brown sugar.

Beat in eggs. Add sifted dry ingredients and blend well. Pour into buttered 12- x 9-x 2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until done. Cool to luke warm and frost. Cut into bars when cool.


2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons half & half

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Cream butter: stir in powdered sugar, half & half and lemon rind. Beat until smooth and spread over bars before cutting.

A few months ago, Celeste Robins described a fruit cake she tasted many years ago in Connecticut that brought a huge response. Unable to print all of them at one time, the first response was featured a few months ago with a promise to include others in future columns. Here is fruit cake recipe #2 to consider before the holidays set in. Shared by Helen Navarre, it belonged to her mother-in-law as being “a fruit cake for people who don’t like fruit cake.”

Marie Navarre’s nut loaf

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 pounds whole pitted dates

2 pounds shelled walnut halves

1 pound shelled whole brazil nuts

8-ounce jar whole maraschino cherries, drained

5 large eggs, well beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together first four ingredients. To this, add dates, nuts and cherries followed by beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix well and spoon into 3 prepared bread pans. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. When cooled, wrap nut cake in wine-soaked cloth. The cake also freezes well.

Note: Helen suggests using whole nuts and dried fruits, if desired. The batter can also be spooned into 2 loaf pans or a 10-inch tube pan and baked at 325 degrees for approximately 1 ½ hours, with time varying on your oven, type of pan, and ingredients. She doesn’t wrap the cakes in wine-soaked cloth, instead storing them in plastic freezer bags after they’ve cooled.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708, or by e-mail to When requesting a recipe from an out-of-town restaurant, please include the restaurant address and phone number. Because of the volume of mail, not all requests can be answered.

[Editor's note: The amounts of some ingredients have been corrected.]

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