Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cooking With Grandma (Filson/Coplen lineage)

We would visit Grandma Grace from time to time, as we were transferred by the Air Force all over the country, but it was not until 1970 when my father was transferred to Korea that he decided to put us on the family farm close to Inwood Indiana. Grandma at that time was living in the town of Plymouth, Indiana with her friend Irene Hendricks. They shared a cute little three bedroom house on the corner of this small town. They lived next to a car wash that had candy vending machines. I would scavenge for empty coke bottles to redeem for a few pennies to use in them. It was close enough to the middle school for me to walk the twenty minutes to her house after school, where I would often stay the night instead of going back to the farm.

I loved the smell of her house. I loved the little telephone table she had in the small foyer. At the time we had moved onto push button phones, but she still had a rotary phone. I would admire her knitting bag that she kept neatly organized next to her chair. She had made a cover for her footstool which was always placed in front of her chair. It was of a country farm scene that was perfectly needle-pointed in shades of brown. She and Irene would spend the evenings knitting and watching television. She tried to teach me to knit, but I was not interested, as I thought it was something only old people did. I regret that decision. I did help her needle point once and I remembered the lesson 10 years later as I cross-stitched teddy bear pictures for my daughter's nursery. My grandma and I would watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, The Andy Griffith Show, along with other shows. We would play Gin Rummy and put together puzzles. I would go there after school and arrive to the smell of Irene making Mashed Potatoes Donut Holes, which I thought were so amazing because they would stay fresh for a week. She would let me help fry them in a small deep fryer, I loved to push them down into the oil and watch them pop up and then when they are still hot, sprinkle them with sugar and watch the sugar melt to a glaze. Yummy!

But of course, the best treats were my grandma’s sugar cookies, that is one of those tastes I will never forget and just the thought of them brings back the taste to the tip of my tongue. My great grandma Katherine also made them, so I am not sure who would claim fame to the recipe. I am sure this is the same recipe millions of grandmas’ claim, but to me it is my grandma's recipe.

She would roll them out on a floured cutting board and with the lid of a Ball canning jar, cut out perfect circles that she would then bake to a perfect golden color. They were soft but crispy and the perfect combination of sweet and buttery.

My grandma was also known for her green beans cooked with bacon and her chicken and biscuits, which comprised of a layer of mashed potatoes, topped with a layer of freshly made thick egg noodles, topped with a gravy which contained large pieces of chicken, carrots and peas, carbohydrate heaven. I would eat then want to take a nap.

In later years I would find my Grandma’s recipe in a church cookbook compiled by our church in Inwood, Indiana. It reads:

Source: Country Cookbook, Inwood United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship,
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies by Grace Filson

 3 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp lemon extract

1/3 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 c shortening

Shift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut shortening into it as pie dough. Sprinkle on the lemon extract. In another bowl mix:

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp milk

Beat eggs and add the sugar and the milk while beating. Pour this mixture over the dry mixture. Mix just until it holds together good, put out on floured board; roll without working anymore than necessary. They should be 1/4 inch in diameter. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 degrees until done. These will rise nice and are delicious for children to dunk in milk (will not crumble).

Note: I retyped this recipe the way it is in the book, but I feel there is an error in the original printing. Instead of the cookies being 1/4 in diameter, I know she meant 1/4 inch thick. I know these were not cookies where the dough was put into a ball, as I remember her letting me roll the dough and use the lid of a Ball jar to cut the cookies. Also, not mentioned in the recipe was the sugar we sprinkled over the top before baking. Church cookbooks are not well edited and have many errors in them, but they are a great resource for family recipes!

I will also include here the recipe for Irene’s Mashed Potatoes Donut Holes, I hope you enjoy.
A picture of Grace Coplen Filson and Irene Hendricks

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed your post and I included it on my weekly Favorites list:

    Thanks for sharing it!