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.



Medical Alert

by my mother, Lila Steele Judd

I am an old lady and I have lived in an old house practically alone for the past 25 years. Not only am I old, I am also a coward of the dark. I have shivered out a lot of frightening experiences here. It hasn’t bothered my children much until I fainted the other morning and my head knocked a hole in the bedroom wall. Of course, I have fainted before, but never have I left the evidence so plainly marked. This time they were sure I had fainted and it wasn’t another one of my pipe dreams.

My family was pretty worried for fear they would be accused of neglecting their duty, and they got together to decide what to do with me. One of my granddaughter’s husband’s grandmother had just purchased an expensive medical alert system for her, so my family thought that would be the thing to get for me. Here’s where the smooth-tongued salesman comes into the picture.

First, I must tell you about this old house of mine. I have a brother, almost as old as I am. He is a dreamer, but not one that just dreams, he does something about his dreams, much to the exasperation of his wife. Now he wanted to build some storm windows out of plastic, but no way would she let him put these storm windows on her house. I had decided to put storm windows on my windows, and there was his golden opportunity. He decided he would put them on my house. Well, the house was old, and I decided it wouldn’t hurt, so I told him to go ahead. He labored for weeks getting those big frames covered with plastic to fit into my long windows. They fit tight alright, and when it rained it sounded like the natives pounding out a battle cry. Time passed, and we had had very few storms heavy enough to cause any disturbance. I had almost forgotten about the noise.

Now we will go back to the salesman, and what a salesman. He could have sold refrigerators to the Eskimos, and my family were an easier mark than that. Before I knew it they had me fitted out for any occasion. I had a regular alarm system in my bedroom and a chain resembling a dog collar around my neck. The chain was plated with gold no less.

Saturday night the salesman called me and said that everything was set and wanted to know if he could come over and give the system its final try. Well, I was still up, so I thought what the heck, and I told him to come. He came over and brought his little boy for company. Then we went through all the ceremony and checked back with the operator to make sure that I knew what to do. The stage was set, and he left wishing me luck and hoped that I would never have to use it.

Saturday night passed without incident, and I felt so safe and secure that I even wore my gold chain to church, just in case someone should ask me about it. Sunday evening came, and Jeniel came down and visited with me for a while. We got into a discussion about religion, and after she left, I stayed up and read for quite a while. Never felt so safe in all my life.

As usual, I woke up about 3 o’clock to go to the bathroom. At this time I heard a car turn around on the road and the lights flashed through my window. Seconds after this there was a commotion outside, and it sounded like someone was tearing the plastic off my windows. No I thought, this can’t be happening to me so soon after getting the alert system. I stood rooted to the floor wondering what I should do. Then I thought of the System, and I mustered all my courage and the alarm box started to sound off. The sound was very loud, and I thought that will surely scare the intruders off, but the noise continued, so I mustered up enough courage to peek out the window.

To my surprise I found that it was only a storm, mostly hail, pounding on the plastic windows. My kids will kill me getting them out in such a storm, so I hurried and called them. Grant was up and almost dressed and Ira was having a time trying to find his shoes. When I told Gayle about it, she called to Ira and said, “Get back in bed Dear, it was a false alarm,” and then she started to laugh.

I’m a little worried about the System now. Why did it take so long for those two to get down here? I could have been carried away, and my whereabouts would have been just another mystery.

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.


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.