When I was a kid I spent my summers in southwestern North Dakota with my grandparents. My mother taught school in West Virginia and had summers off so once school was out either by car or by train we'd book to ND.
My grandmother was an excellent cook and baker and cranked out foods the like of which I've had nowhere else. Creamed peas, creamed corn, creamed potatoes made with real cream straight from cows from the ranches of friends and vegetables from my grandfather's garden. There is nothing like FRESH! Even to the eggs and chickens from my grandfather's chicken coop. Imagine if you will mashed potatoes made with real cream and real butter that never saw a commercial dairy.
One thing that my grandmother made religiously were her sugar cookies which have been immortalized within the family as Grandma Erickson Cookies. She made 12 dozen a week and my grandfather finished every meal of the day with at least one cookie. Kinda tough to be a young kid eating breakfast and watching grandpa munching a cookie and knowing there is no point in asking. <grin> My mother once estimated that her mother had baked over 449,280 of these cookies.
12 dozen a week for 60 years of marriage. At that doesn't count the ones devoured by the carpenters working on the ranch who ate the ones intended for the threshing crew who were harvesting their wheat, that she had to replace. Not to mention the extras that had to be made to compensate for hungry grand- children.
Grandma Erickson at 96 with my mother
My mother made these at Christmas time and lamented the absence of "real butter" and "real sour cream." She made them in the style of her mother..rolled thin and dusted with granulated sugar. She was a little upset with me when I told her I frosted them with butter cream frosting. Something about 'gilding the lily', but I like em and never had much luck with a rolling pin.
Another family favorite was Yulekage...a Norwegian Christmas bread. That I do make just about every Christmas since I left home. Mom made it with candied fruit and I do also. If you don't like candied fruit you won't like this bread, although I once made a batch using raisins which worked out ok but had a totally different taste. Apparently there is a Yulekage Song but I haven't heard it yet. Guess I'm just culturally deprived.
Grandma Erickson Cookies
Recipe dates from the 1880's.
2 cups sugar 1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream 2 eggs
1 tsp. soda 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt Flour (about 4 cups)
Beat eggs, cream in separate bowl butter and sugar, add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Blend well. Mix flour, salt, soda and add to creamed mixture. My mother reports that the amount of flour is hard to pin down but will be too soft to handle well when first mixed. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, take small portions, roll out, cut, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned about 10-12 minutes. Back when raw eggs were considered safe the raw dough was a nice snack but leaving fingerprints in the dough was a certain giveaway. Took me awhile to figure that one out....How did she always know???