Grandma’s Cookies

“Whether things were ever simpler than they are now, or better if they were, we can’t know. We do know that people have always found ways to eat and live well, whether on boiling water or bread or beans, and that some of our best eating hasn’t been our most foreign or expensive or elaborate, but quite plain and quite familiar. And knowing that is probably the best way to cook, and certainly the best way to live.” – Tamar Alder, An Everlasting Meal

Ahhh… living in the past. Even an imagined one, makes all of us feel nostalgic. It always sounds like it was so good in the past. People spent more time together. Family members generally lived closer to each other. The idyllic scene of a family eating together at Grandma’s on Sundays. That is what I always picture in my head. Of course, I had none of those things myself. All of those visions are things I have glommed onto from TV and other sources. Even now, as I watch my weekly food porn (i.e. food TV), they are constantly referring to something they learned from their ancestors.

So just who are my ancestors? Well, I can’t really say – just yet at least. I have yet to find time to talk food with my mom. Sad, but true. So I have taken it upon myself to start my research on a local level. I figured the best place to start was “the box”. The box is the 70’s green recipe box that I have inherited. It is stuffed with mostly hand-written recipes. A lot of them are attributed to various people – none of whom I know, of course. I once asked my mom which ones she recognized and the percentage was pretty low. We figured they were neighbors, friends of my grandmother’s, my grandmother’s neighbors, etc. Then I asked how many of them she remembered making. There were a few more of these, so I made note. I gave a couple that appealed to me a whirl. Sadly, a lot of the recipes were the kind that started with a boxed cake mix or the like. That is just not the way I cook. The kids only liked about half of what I made anyway.

On the upside, my Grandma Esther’s sour cream jumbles were a big hit. These were also a great way for me to use up the cup of sour cream that I had languishing in the fridge. To top it off, literally, my littlest one loved sprinkling the cinnamon and sugar all over the hot cookies. What can be better than that?

So while I may not have a ton of clearly defined history to work with, I hope that I can give my own kids something to build from. We will have a history yet – one cookie at a time!


I have added the recipe per the request of Terry Chernysh. Hope you get a chance to make them. They are DELISH!

Grandma Esther’s Sour Cream Jumble Cookies

1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs – beaten
1 c. thick sour cream
1 t. vanilla extract
3.5 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 c. sugar + 1 t. cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425.

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add egg, mix well. Shift together flour, salt and soda. Add to wet ingredients, alternating with sour cream and mix well. Blend in vanilla. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, 2″ apart. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake for 1-3 minutes longer. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.


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