Mom’s Oatmeal Cookies

Lila Steele Judd

Oatmeal cookies would have been a fall or winter treat, as no one in their right mind would build a fire in the cook stove and heat up the kitchen when the temperature was already hot.


When Mom made these oatmeal cookies she did not have a mixer or a modern electric or gas cook stove.  Mixing was done by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  On the farm there were no cabinets other than a few shelves for dishes, so  the kitchen table served as the work space.

One may think four eggs would be too many, but eggs were one food we had in abundance, since Dad was raising chickens.  And the skim milk was not the same as the skim milk we know today.  Since our milk was not pasteurized, the cream would rise to the top and could be skimmed off and used to make butter, or better yet, to make ice cream or fudge!  No chocolate chips either, but we did have raisins.

The cookies were baked in the oven of the coal cook stove.  The only way to know if the oven was the right temperature was by feel.  Mom would open the oven door and quickly wave her hand to check the temperature.  She always baked one or two test cookies, which she broke in half to check the doneness.  If you were lucky you got to sample a test cookie.    There was no kitchen timer, so she had to watch the clock or go by how they smelled to know when to take them out of the oven.

Mom’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup skim milk
3 cups regular rolled oats
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups raisins

Wash raisins in hot water and drain. Cream shortening with sugar, then add eggs and vanilla. Combine rolled oats, flour, soda, baking powder and salt and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in raisins. Drop on greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Yield: About 5 dozen cookies.



Bread Pudding

This is a good way to use up odd-shaped slices or bread that is dry and crumbly, but catch it before it molds!

4 cups stale white homemade bread
1/2 cup raisins
3 cups scalded milk
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Scald raw, unpasteurized milk by heating it in a saucepan until a “skin” forms on top. Set aside to cool. Cut stale bread (two to three days old) into cubes.    Place bread cubes in a buttered baking pan. Sprinkle with raisins. Beat together eggs, sugar, hot milk, salt and vanilla. Pour over bread and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Do not over-cook or pudding will separate and weep.

Cool.  Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream if you have it.  Refrigerate leftovers if there are any.

If you need to use fresh bread, cut it into cubes, spread it in a shallow baking pan and let it air dry overnight.

Fern’s Rolls

Fern was Mom's oldest sister, the first-born of 12 children.  You might say she was a second mother to the younger children in the family.  This recipe is how Hilga remembers Mom making these rolls.  Hilga remembers Dad saying, "If these rolls are so good, how come we can't have them more often than just the holiday?"  Remember, practice makes perfect, so make these often.

Fern's Rolls
Charlotte: This is the recipe that Mom gave me when I left home.

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1/3 cup sugar

Let yeast start to work.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Mix well and add:
1/2 cup liquid shortening
enough flour to clean the bowl

Let rise 30 minutes, knead, roll and cut, let raise double and bake in preheated 375 degree oven.

Hilga's Revised Version

1-1/2 cups warm/hot water
1 yeast cake
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
3 eggs
3 cups flour plus enough to make a stiff dough

Melt the butter in the water in the microwave,  add to  dry ingredients and stir a bit.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Add additional flour as needed to make a stiff dough.  Let raise until doubled in bulk.  Roll out dough to about 1 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter.  Melt some shortening in the baking pan.  Dip each roll in the shortening to coat the top and place close together in the pan.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 12-15 min.



Mom would have used all-purpose white flour which she bought in a 50 pound bags.  This was emptied into the flour bin that was built into the lower part of the kitchen cabinet.  (Yes, the whole 50 pounds fit in the bin!)  This wooden bin was thoroughly cleaned before adding new flour to keep the weevil out.  If there happened to be a few weevils in the almost-empty bin, the remaining flour was not wasted, but carefully sifted to remove the little buggers before using it. The higher-protein bread flour we know today was not available.

The yeast would have been the moist yeast cake which was purchased in 1-tablespoon-sized wrappers or as a 1-pound block.

The shortening was likely the Crisco brand, but since there was always ample milk on the farm, she could have made these rolls with butter or shortening.  If she used shortening, she would have melted it in a baking pan in the oven or on top of the coal cook stove.  We didn't vegetable oil back then, although this could be used in place of the shortening.

Mixing and kneading:  Mom had a large bowl-shaped "bread pan" she used to mix the dough in.  The warm water, yeast and sugar would go in the bowl first and allowed to "work" (ferment) for a few minutes to make sure it was active.  Next add the eggs, salt and 2 cups of flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon or beat the eggs before adding.  Continue stirring and adding additional flour until the dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl.  Sift a little flour on top of the dough and knead the dough by hand until it is soft and pliable.  When it is kneaded enough, little bubbles can be seen under the surface of the dough.  Take a little shortening with the fingers and lightly grease the ball of dough, so it won't dry out while it is raising.
Shaping:  Let rise until double in bulk.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface, roll it out to about 3/4 to 1 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter.   Melt some shortening in the baking pan.  Dip each roll in the shortening to coat the top and place the rolls touching each other, so they rise up during baking rather than spread out.  Let rise again until double in bulk before taking.
Baking:  Baking temperatures in a coal cook stove may not be exact.  These rolls would bake somewhere between 375 and 425 degrees for about 15 to 30 minutes.  Place the pan on the center oven rack and take them out when they smell good and are nicely browned.

My Father

by daughter Hilga

My first recollection of my father came about the time I was five years of age. One spring morning as I teetered on a box near the pantry door, Dad called me to come to breakfast. I ignored him and continued to teeter. Upon his second request, I smartly answered, “I won’t do it.” To my utter amazement, Dad selected an appropriate shingle from behind the stove, and thus instructed me to never use that phrase to him again.

Dad was very busy and had very little time for us children except to discipline us as was needed. He arose early every morning to milk the cows and went to bed before nine at night. Often we children would come in at dusk on a long summer evening to find Dad already asleep in bed.

Long winter evenings were a bit of comfort to us. Dad listened to the radio and would occasionally play games with us. Very often I was sent for a pan of apples which he would peel for all of us with his sharp pocket knife. Even today whenever I peel an apple, I think of a cozy winter evening on the farm, and Dad in his rocking chair by the pot-bellied heater.

Dad was a man of genuine character. He said what he thought, but seldom passed a compliment even if it had been earned. When questioned about a new dress, he would say, “If it suits you, it suits me.”

He was very honest and therefore easily skunked on a horse trade. He made many horse trades in an effort to match a pulling team, but finally had to admit defeat and buy a tractor. I don’t believe any one was ever able to beat him in a cow trade, for he could always pick the best cow of any herd. Mom often said, “If I had been a cow, I’d have been you Dad’s pride and joy, with my long neck, narrow shoulders and broad hips.”

Visiting was one of the things that Dad greatly enjoyed. He would load us all in the car on Sunday afternoon, and he would go trading. He loved to talk to people, and often in the summer we visited relatives after church. Uncle Tom was our favorite; he raised watermelons, and we loved to eat them. Jeniel could eat more watermelon than any of us, and Uncle Tom loved to see her eat to her limit. Other visits included those to Uncle Parley’s in town, and to some of Mother’s cousins.

Dad was a very exacting man, no job was too insignificant for his best. It often seemed to others that he was real slow in his work but each job showed his fine workmanship. “If it isn’t worth doing right, don’t do it at all.” “If you don’t intend to do it right, get out and let someone else do it who will do it right.” If it didn’t fit right, he did it over. He never left a job until he felt satisfied about it within himself.

Dad taught us many of the fundamental principles such as respect for our elders, honesty, and to give a full day’s work for our pay. He had worked hard all of his life, and he taught us to be proud of our ability to do a good job. To show disrespect for our mother or to sass was a great sin in his eyes, and we were punished accordingly.

Reading was his favorite pastime. He read whenever he could, and all subjects available. He seldom read novels or cheap literature; he read on all the political issues and current events, history and church works. He was always on a quest for the knowledge he had been unable to attain as a child and a young man. He was eager to learn from anyone, and although he may not have agreed with your views, he always listened.

He died December 23, 1957 while working on the ward chapel. He was happy in his work, and we were glad that he did not have to go back to bed for an extended stay. He had said a few weeks before that he didn’t know if he could stand another winter cooped up in the house. He was a good father in his own way, and we are ever grateful for all that he was able to teach us, and for the love he gave us.


by Hilga July 23, 2014

How did you keep food cool on the farm when refrigerators were not available???

In the 1930s we did not have refrigeration on the farm, yet the family ran a dairy farm and had to keep milk cold until it was bottled and sold. There was a cement building with two small rooms that was called the milk house. The back room had a trough across the west end that had two levels of depth for water. The north end was deep enough to hold a ten-gallon can of milk. The water covered the can up to it’s neck. The other end of the trough was deep enough for one-gallon cans or bottles. I think there was a shelf above where crocks could be kept for butter or cream, etc. The water was cold all year long because it came from a well deep in the ground. Each night the milk was strained and put in the cans to spend the night in the cold water. It was bottled the next day to be delivered to the folks in town.

The house did not have any refrigeration, so all the food cooked for each meal was eaten, or stored in the milk house. (Most of the time there were no leftovers.) One year Dad built a cooler for Mom to keep vegetables in. It was a box-like structure. There were corner boards and supports around the top and bottom. Chicken wire covered the structure to keep the cats and birds out and the vegetables in. This was then covered with burlap sacks and a method to let water run slowly down over the burlap during the day. It was just a very early swamp cooler for food. It was a lot of trouble to keep the water running just right, and I don’t think it was used more than that one year. The milk house did a better job.

When the family moved to town, we did not have a refrigerator there either. We followed much the same routine, no leftovers. We had a cow and Mom would bottle up each milking and store it in the basement. The basement was under the bath and bedrooms and had only a dirt floor and one very small window for light. It was quite cool down there most of the time. Summers got a little warm. We drank a lot of warm milk. Sometimes we made ice cream on Sunday, but it all had to be eaten before the ice melted, so we always invited company to come and help out.

Hilga graduated from Nurses Training in 1948. When she got her first check from working, she went home for the weekend. The bus stopped at the drug store, and they had a refrigerator on sale. She decided that the family should buy it for their mother. She went home and secured the help of Helen and Ira. They got together enough money for a down payment on the fridge. They made arrangements to have it delivered that night. So much excitement, they could hardly wait for the surprise they had for their mother. I don’t remember how long that fridge lasted, but it was great. Now we had cold milk to drink, ice cubes and cold water. Mom could cook more and have leftovers. Life was looking up. Hilga made payments on the fridge for the next year.

A couple of years later, Helen and Ira arranged to buy an electric stove for Mom. Dad arranged for the wiring and bought a water heater to go with the stove. This family now was modern. Since the house had no furnace, they had used the coal cook stove for heat in the kitchen, and a large Heaterola in the living room to heat the rest of the house. You could open the door to the bedroom and the hall so the heat could go upstairs to the bedrooms. (The bedrooms were very cold in the winter and VERY hot in the summer.) I don’t remember how long before Dad broke down and put in a furnace.  Afterwards he complained that he froze all the time and really missed the stove to back up to when he came in from outside. Modern changes are very hard on the oldest at that time. The older we are the harder it is to adapt.

It is hard for me to realize that I have lived through so many changes. Refrigerators are now huge or tiny according to the need. Now a small family has a huge two-door unit with a freezer on the bottom and two big doors on top. Just think that on a very hot day you could almost climb right in and enjoy the cold air! Thanks to all for refrigeration.

Personal History of Hilga

Written by herself, November 2001

I was born in Delta, Utah, in 1927. I was the first child of my parents.  I spent the first two years of my life on a small farm in Sutherland, a small farm community near Delta. This was just a few miles west of where my grandparents lived. My brother Ira was born just a year after me, 26 Apr 1928. The family moved to Provo in 1929 to a farm of about 50 acres. The land was only fair-to-poor for raising crops, so Dad bought a small herd of dairy cows and started a door-to-door milk route in Provo. He milked about 20 head (by hand) for about 15 years. Through the years he raised such crops as sugar beets, grain and hay. He even tried celery one year, but it must not have paid off, because he did not try it again the next year. I think it must have been very labor intensive, and he had only some small kids to help him.

My earliest memories seem to be of hay hauling time. I believe I was about seven when it became my duty to help tromp the load. Dad would climb up at intervals to help square up the load for me. As I became older, this job was passed on to Helen and Ira, and I started to help pitch the hay on the load. Dad even found a smaller pitch fork for me, and I still have it. Ira learned to drive the tractor as he got older, but I never mastered the skill. I remember when I was twelve and wanted to drive the car to pull up the hay fork into the barn. Dad finally relented when he got tired of listening to me whine, and took me for a trial run. He told me to back the car up to the middle of the corral, and when I heard the word, I was to gun the car and then let it coast up to the barn. I put my foot down on the gas and did not take it off until I hit the post that held up the shed. Dad did not say a word, but the look on his face indicated that I had failed the test, and should return to the barn and continue to tromp and pitch the hay as it was dumped from the big hay fork. Ira resumed the easy job of driving the car. I decided that I would never be able to drive, so I never asked again.

Beet thinning time was always the worst time of the year for me. It meant long hours of crawling down even longer rows of little sugar beets. Dad would block the row with a hoe, and we would then thin each clump of beets to just one plant. Many were the trousers that had no knees at the end of the day. Burlap sacks were sometimes used to make pads for our poor sore knees. I always managed to tear out more beets by dragging the sac than I did with my fingers. I remember that the four of us, Ira, Helen, Jeniel and I worked for about two years for a bike. (It was still in use in 1955.) Ira laid claim to the bike, and of course the girls all gave into him. It afforded him the transportation that he needed to get him far enough away that he was not always available to help with the chores.

I think threshing time stands out as the most exciting time of all. The grain would be hauled into the yard and stacked in large round stacks. Threshing was a community effort. Dad would go to the neighbors and help them, and then they would come to help him. The threshing machine would pull into the yard the night before the big day, and it would be set up so that they would get an early start the next day. The crew arrived early, started the big machine, and the straw and chaff would begin to fly. There would be straw chaff all over everything; we kids would be covered thick with it. The fine, nice wheat would pour into the bins in the granary, or into sacks for hauling away. We loved to play in the grain and bury ourselves in the bins. I think that the most impressive thing about the day was the large crowd of men and all the big machinery. Mom would cook a big meal for the menfolk, and it was a wonderful time. When I got older, it was not as much fun, because I would have to stay in the house and help Mom cook the meal, and then wash up the dishes.

I learned to milk cows when I was about eight years old. At first I just milked at night and only one or two cows who were about ready to dry up, so I could not do too much damage to them. Later I had to get up and milk in the morning before I could go to school. Since the bus came about 7:30, that meant EARLY. I hated going to school with my hands smelling like a cow, but I could sure arm wrestle the boys because of my strong hands and arms.

I started school at the age of 6, attending LV Elementary. This was a two-room school, so the first, second and third grades shared one room and one teacher. I spent most of my time listening to what was going on in the other grades. I did very well and was a good student. I would bring my little books home and read to the other kids. The next year LV was closed, and we were bused twelve miles to the Spencer Elementary. The long ride was often hard. In the winter we would have to sit on our feet to keep them warm. We were one of the first to get on the bus and it was cold. We also had to walk about a half mile to catch the bus. Some days in the winter the snow would drift over the road, and we would have a real struggle getting to the bus stop. Sometimes we were wet to our knees by the time the bus got us to the school.

I had measles in the first grade, but managed not to miss a day of school from the second grade to the sixth, even though I had all the regular childhood diseases. I did have to stay home when I had the mumps in the sixth grade. By the time I got back to school, half of the class was out with the mumps. We even managed to give them to Mom. I remember seeing her try to hang wallpaper. She had a rag tied under shin to hold the mumps up, and she would hang one piece of paper and then lay down for a while. We all lay on our beds and watched her.

My close friends were LaRue Paquin who lived with her grandmother in a very small house on the main road and by the Provo River. Jean Jorgensen lived by the beet factory just across the main road at the head of our road. I did not get to visit them much because it was almost a mile to their houses. We did spend a lot of time together at school. We stayed at Spencer until we finished the 8th grade.

Lincoln High School was across the street from Spencer, and I went to the 9th grade there. I sang a solo in the school operetta that year. I don’’t remember the name of the play, only that I sang “Beautiful Dreamer.” I was so afraid when I sang at the matinee that I was so far off key that the piano had to stop and let me go on alone. The next performance was better, that was when my parents came to see me perform. I was not able to participate in after-school activities since we lived so far away, and I had to catch the bus home. I had to get home to wash milk bottles, then milk cows and do other chores. I spent as much time as I was allowed with my nose in a book. I often read about four books a week. I knew every book in the school library, and I always had some checked out. All of this reading helped me with my reading and spelling skills, but I never did do well in math.

About this time in my life Dad had his first heart attack. I don’’t think I even knew that he was sick. He could no longer take the long hours on the milk route and the care of the dairy cows plus the crops, so he sold the cows and turned the barn into a chicken coop. He raised pullets to sell for laying hens. The chickens were hard to raise, and many of them died, so needless to say, he made no money on them. Even the laying hens did not lay enough eggs to pay for their feed. Times were a little rough about then. It was about 1940, and the Government wanted to build a steel plant away from the sea shores. They decided to build it in Vineyard. That was the best farming ground in the county, but it was close to Utah Lake and to the railroad. So the Government bought out those farmers, and they were looking for other farms to buy. Dad was able to sell his equity in the farm for enough to buy a house in PG and have it paid for. Then he could go ahead and die and Mom and the kids would at least have a place to live. There was an acre or more of ground and two large chicken coops on it. We did bring some chickens and a cow with us. I was assigned the task of milking the cow, because I knew how. The other girls never did learn to milk. (When I graduated and left home, Dad sold the cow!!)

I remember the day we moved. The neighbor brought over his large hay wagon, and we loaded everything on it. I think there was also a truck, and a trailer behind the car. Some of us kids wanted to ride on top of the load of furniture. I can just imagine what the neighbors must have thought when they saw us coming. Talk about “Oakies.” We could hardly wait to get down to survey the place. The house was brick and had one bedroom, a kitchen, large living room and a BATHROOM!!! on the main floor. There was a second floor (without a floor) with a small, steep stairway up to it. We all had to try out the toilet; we had never had indoor plumbing like that before.

Well, you might guess that five kids did not fit well into that limited space. The rooms were all large with very high ceilings. Mom and Dad and the baby (Ileen) slept in the bedroom, and the rest of us slept in the front room with all the furniture we did not have room for in the other rooms. Dad had brought some flooring or barn siding from the farm, so it was not too long before he laid down a floor upstairs over the kitchen; that way we would get some heat from the chimney from the coal cook stove in the kitchen. We had a folding bed that he was able to get up the narrow stairway. Jeniel and I were the ones who stayed up there. It was June 1942 when we moved, and it did not take long to find some friends in the neighborhood. Ira met the three Jackson boys whose grandmother lived across the street north of us. Ora Jense became my friend, as she lived across the street to the west of us. Ardell Peterson lived down the street from her, so I had some one to help me get acquainted. Mom took a calling in the MIA and found many friends at church. Dad worked for a short time at the steel plant building some of the buildings. He could not stand the way supplies and materials were wasted, so he quit. He found other work with a carpenter who was building houses on the north edge of town. He was able to work on a contract basis doing finish carpentry. That way he could work when he felt up to it, and to go home if he had any chest pain. He had a good boss, and did very good work, so he was able to do this for several years.

I started tenth grade at Pleasant Grove High School. The kids there were rather clannish, so I did not mix with them socially. I concentrated on my studies, and continued to read lots of books. I maintained an A grade and graduated in the top ten of my class of 80. I had decided that I wanted to be a nurse, so I took all of the science and math classes that I could get so I would qualify for Nurses Training. The War was in full swing, and they needed nurses at the front. The Government was offering the Cadet Nurse Corps, started in 1943, to encourage women to become nurses. The program paid tuition and uniforms, plus a stipend of $10 per month. I was accepted into the program; my good grades had paid off for me in that way. I went into training in June of 1945 and the war ended in August of the same year. I was able to finish my training at the Government’’s expense. That was real lucky for me, because I would never have gotten an education except in that way.

Now back to school days at Pleasant Grove High. My favorite teacher was Estelle Fenton. She taught English and literature. She was single and very heavy, she was also very stern, but you could learn from her if you were willing to study.

During the summers we would work in the fruit. We picked strawberries, raspberries, apricots, beans, tomatoes, peaches and finished up the season with apples. It kept us busy and gave us pocket money for such events as Strawberry Days carnival, movies, ice cream, and finally school clothes. I remember when I bought my first skirt and patent leather shoes with my earnings. I was so proud of myself, and I felt so elegant in those shoes. When I turned sixteen I was able to work in the cannery doing apricots. I made $36 that first check. I was so proud, and I took it right home and asked my Dad if he would build me a room of my own upstairs. I am sure that it cost more than what I had given him to build it, but boy was I glad to have a place of my own. My bed was a mattress on a board over two saw horses. I could now read all night if I wanted to, and Jeniel would not holler at me. Dad then went ahead and finished off the rest of the bedrooms, so we now had three bedrooms upstairs and a cubby hole where extra things could be stored. We were living in class. Dad later moved the door of the bathroom from the kitchen to the rear hall. It was always bad if you were in the bathroom and there was company come to call, and you could be stuck in the bathroom. We always had to make sure that we had that part of getting ready for a date done as soon as possible.