Baking Through History: Ginger Cookies

I think I get my love of baking (and gardening) from my great grandma. She was a great baker and always had something sweet to eat when I visited her home in Herried, South Dakota.

Ginger Cookies from Laura Berreth

My great grandma, Laura Vossler Berreth, lived to be 95 years old. Her family was part of a group called “Germans from Russia” who started arriving in the U.S. in the 1870s.

I remember my great grandma fondly, and I love the recipes she passed down to my grandma and my aunt, who then passed them to me.

According to her obituary, she was born in 1915 on the family homestead near Terry, Montana. When she was quite young her parents moved back to the Vossler homestead, located northeast of Zeeland, North Dakota. They lived in a sod house, which her grandparents built when they homesteaded the land.

She led quite the interesting life painting, working, crafting, growing roses and irises and even moving to Lodi, California for a time before coming back to the North Dakota/South Dakota area.

One note in her obituary that made me smile was this: “She will always be remembered for her kuchen and gingersnap cookies.”

I’ll be making her kuchen (German for cake) in an upcoming video. 

My grandma, Carol, shared this ginger cookie recipe with me recently. She said it was one of her favorites that her mother made – along with Peppernut cookies (a post on that also coming soon.)

The recipe is below – and in the video, I scaled down the recipe by half so I wouldn’t have quite as many cookies to eat.

Ginger Cookies or Ginger Snaps
By Laura Berreth

  • 1 cup (201g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (143g) shortening
  • 1 egg (50g)
  • 1 cup (280) molasses, I use light
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (420g) flour

Mix everything but the flour with a mixer, then add the flour and mix by hand, as it gets too thick for the mixer to handle.  Lightly form balls the size of a walnut, dip in sugar and put on a cookie sheet. 
Bake at 325 degrees about 13 minutes for a soft cookie like Mom used to make, also how I make them. If you bake them longer they will get hard, more like Ginger Snaps.

After baking these cookies, I’d have to say, they’re quite tasty. They are an acquired taste, however. You either love them or you don’t.
The cookies were soft in the middle and crunch on the sides right after baking. After sitting out, covered, for a few hours, they got more chewy.
If you’re not expecting that, it can be different. However, it is how I remember them when I had them at my grandma’s.

Baking Through History series:

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Baking Through History: Fudge Nut Cookies

Fudge Nut Cookies

Baking is sharing. A three layer cake, a pecan pie, a dozen cookies – each calls for sharing. Someone could eat a dozen or two dozen cookies, but why keep them for yourself?

But when did desserts become a thing? Food historian Deborah Krohn said in a Food & Wine article from June 2018 that the first cookbook for desserts didn’t surface until the seventeenth century, when the idea of having a separate course for sweets first came into existence.

“Up until the seventeenth century, sweet and savory dishes were put out on tables indistinguishable from each other,” she said to Maria Yagoda, who wrote the article for Food & Wine.

Recipes and home cookbooks are passed down from generation to generation, and favorite recipes are shared with friends. This is why old church cookbooks and centennial cookbooks for a community are created – people want to share their recipes.

Wyoming Centennial Cookbook

My mom recently sent me an entire box of old cookbooks. There is one from our old church in Glenburn, N.D. and one from her home state of Wyoming.

In the “Wyoming Centennial Cookbook (1890-1990)” published by the Johnson County Extension Homemakers Council, dozens of people shared their favorite recipes.

The book even has recipes from lawmakers from the time, including from former First Lady Barbara Bush, who submitted “Mexican Mound – a Great Bush Favorite!” This recipe is for a walking taco with corn chips, taco meat, cheese and toppings.

Former Wyoming First Lady Jane Sullivan submitted two recipes – Ambassador Black Bottom Pie and World’s Finest Chocolate Gateau, which has raisins and Scotch in it. Marilyn Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, shared her mother’s “fried biscuit” recipe. I love that the homemakers council reached out to them for recipes – and that they responded.

There are quite a few I plan to bake, but I’ll start first with Fudge Nut Cookies. It is unique because it uses cottage cheese!

It was submitted by a woman named Helen Rinker. From my research, she was a basketball player, a teacher, a past president of the Johnson County Homemaker’s Club and met her husband at a country dance. She passed away in February 2013 at age 91. She was noted in her obituary as a “great wife, mom and grandmother and loved spending time with her family.”

Her recipe for Fudge Nut Cookies makes 9 dozen cookies. I am not sure how many people were in her family – but that is a ton of cookies! The original recipe is below, but for my video I’ve scaled it down by one third, to make it more manageable. 

Fudge Nut Cookies
By Helen Rinker

  • 1-½ cup (307.5) shortening
  • 3-½ cup (703g) sugar
  • 4 eggs (200g)
  • 2 cup (324g) cottage cheese
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 5-½ cup (660g) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (100g) cocoa
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, cottage cheese, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, soda, cocoa, salt. Add nuts and/or chocolate chips.

Cover bowl and chill dough for 1 hour in the refrigerator. After chilling, form into balls. Roll in powdered sugar

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes (depending on size of cookies.) Makes 9 dozen cookies.

After baking these cookies, I think I need to add more chocolate!! The bites without the chocolate chips were good, but the ones with them were excellent. I could also add a chocolate drizzle to the top to really bump up the flavor.

If you bake these, let me know! I’d love to hear how they went for you.

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Enjoy the video below to see how I made them and how they turned out.


Baking Through History: A Series of Stories From Vintage Recipes

Vintage is all the rage right now. Whether vintage to you means the 90s or the 60s, bringing back what was once old is in.

First Baptist Church in Glenburn, N.D. Cookbook

From butterfly clips and bell bottom pants to your grandma’s Pyrex and bake ware, vintage is here to stay.

But what about vintage recipes? You know, the ones found in the church cookbooks that someone’s great aunt or grandma made.

What about those cookies, cakes and pies that bring a sense of nostalgia?

The Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden

I’m bringing those back. And, I’m going to document it all with video and blog posts.

I love to read old recipes. Cookies, cakes, pies … you name it. I read them not only to see if I’m interested in baking it – or tweaking it to sell in my home-based bakery, but also for fun.

I have quite a few old cookbooks already – ones from church groups, ones found at antique shops and old recipes passed down from my great-grandma and grandma. I’ll be pulling from those and from the books my mother-in-law, who also likes to bake and cook, has in her library and from friends who have volunteered their old books.

Favorite Recipes from Lutheran Brotherhood

Those old family recipes shared in simple books are stories. Stories that tell not only of the time in which they were created, but of the place they were created and of the people enjoying them.

So, in addition to baking and blogging, I’ll be researching to find the origin of those recipes to honor them and tell the story. Of course, you’ll get to see the book where I found the recipes – and get the recipe itself as well.

I hope to post one video/blog post per week as I make my way through vintage recipes. And I’d love to hear from you and share some of your old family recipes and the stories behind them. You can share them with me via email at pigdogfarms@gmail.com. You can send pictures of the recipe and then tell me of the memories you have with that recipe.

My first video and blog post is here! READ HERE

Baking through History series:

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Pre-order your holiday cookie box!

Ultimate Cookie Box

It is time to start planning for the holidays! This year, I’ll be offering holiday cookie boxes that are perfect to give as a gift or to enjoy with family and friends.

These boxes feature some of my best-selling items. You can put in your order now and pick a date for delivery or pickup. For custom orders, text Heather at 843-957-1195.

For $20, you can choose between two boxes. (See photos of cookies below)

The Ultimate Cookie Box: ($20) ORDER HERE

  • 4 cinnamon roll cookies with cream cheese frosting
  • 4 peanut butter cookies
  • 4 french vanilla madeleines
  • 4 lemon cream cheese cookies
  • 2 pecan meltaways

The Traditional Cookie Box: ($20) ORDER HERE

  • 4 chocolate chip cookies
  • 4 glazed pumpkin cookies (with chocolate chip or plain)
  • 4 monster cookies
  • 4 peanut butter cookies

ORDER HERE

If you have a favorite cookie that isn’t listed in the box, let me know! We can add them to the box for just a little extra.
If you’d like to create a special order, please reach out and we can come up with the perfect box for you. My email is pigdogfarms@gmail.com or you can text me at 843-957-1195. *Payment types accepted include: cash, check, Paypal and Venmo.

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Trying something new – opening an etsy shop

Good evening! It has been a hot minute since I posted, but that happens sometimes. Times get busy, ideas for blog posts don’t come and sometimes inspiration is hard to find.

But! This past week, I’ve been inspired to do more to help people who want to start gardening themselves.

And, in order to help you get started, I’ve created by first garden planner and record keeper.

It is available in my newly-opened Etsy shop: CLICK LINK HERE.

As I have the time, I plan on adding other items to the Etsy shop, so stay tuned!



Sugar overload – oops!

Strawberry cookies

Sugar. Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.

That is running through my head right now at full speed. Know why? …… I just ate six cookies.

One thing I knew when I started Pig Dog Farm & Bakery was that I’d have to try any new recipe – and old ones just to make sure the quality is still there. What I don’t think I fully realized is that because there are a variety of ways to make a cookie – that I’d have to eat each variation to find the perfect one.

Today, I wanted to try out a strawberry cookie idea and also a St. Patrick’s Day idea. I started with my base sugar cookie recipe and divided it. The first 12 were for a snickerdoodle order for today – but I had the other 12 to play with.

So, I took half (six cookies) and added strawberry puree. The other half (another six cookies) I added green food coloring.

St. Patrick’s Day cookies

I am very happy with the strawberry cookie – though I think it could have a stronger strawberry flavor. The green cookies – were great because they were the normal recipe, just green.

Then, came the frosting dilemma. Do I use buttercream? Nah, too sweet… Cream cheese? Maybe… Plain? People don’t want a plain cookie… Lemon glaze? Ohhh… are we on to something?

Either way though…in order to know which is best…you have to taste them. Hence me eating six cookies already today.

I still have not decided which cookie combination is the best – so I’m going to make my husband be the guinea pig when he gets home.

Have an idea for the frosting? Let me know! Comment below.


Making cookies…in a jumbo muffin tin?

What?! You don’t have to bake cookies on a cookie sheet?

Nope. You don’t. Shocking, I know.

In my quest to create the best peanut butter cookie a home cook can make, I decided to try baking them in a jumbo muffin tin! (turns out other people have thought of this, too…)

Surprisingly…or not surprisingly…these make really delicious cookies that don’t spread out too much.

My peanut butter cookie recipe has no butter. Just peanut butter, sugars, an egg, vanilla, baking soda and a teensy bit of flour. So, in the science of it, these are very likely to spread.

The muffin tin keeps them from spreading and helps the baking soda rise even more. It is amazing.

If you’ve never used a jumbo muffin tin to bake…I highly recommend you try it. You will have to check, check and triple check your cookies as they bake so you don’t burn them – or make them over browned on the bottom. But, let me tell you… it works.

Chat with ya next time on the next new baking hack I discover!

(Also, thank you to my mother-in-law who got me the jumbo muffin tin. Love ya!)


Spring flowers getting ready for full bloom

Yellow daffodil

Spring is my favorite season. Everything gradually wakes up from the winter nap and pops of color fill the world. Around this time in South Carolina, some early flowers start to bloom – giving a peek as to what is ahead.

Right now, in my yard, I have calendula, petunias and daffodils.

Spring flowers getting big!

Soon, there will be tulips, irises and Hyacinth. I can’t wait for them to pop.

I’ve also got some seeds started for late spring/summer flowers including multiple kinds of sunflowers, a variety of zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and strawflowers. This will be my first year with strawflowers and I can’t wait to see how they’ll do. I also have an abundance of lilies and dahlias that I am looking forward to this year.

So, I ask, what are your favorite flowers? Have you had success in growing them? Let me know.


Potting up plants – what does that even mean?

Good Sunday morning!!! I’ve been busy already today potting up tomatoes and eggplant.

But what exactly does potting up mean?

When you start seeds in a smaller seed tray, the plants can only get so big and stay happy for a short time. Just as kids grow and need bigger shoes, plants grow and need a bigger space for their roots.

That’s why gardeners have so many plastic or biodegradable pots around. As the seedlings grow out of their first home, we “pot them up” to the next size.

For tomatoes, this also helps strengthen the stem. If you’ve ever noticed, there are what look like tiny hairs all over the tomato stem/stalk. When put in the dirt, those “hairs” create roots and help make the plant stronger. That’s why when you pot up or plant out tomatoes, you bury them deep, so those hairs help the plant grow strong.

There are some plants, like squash, however that you don’t want to start in a small seed cell. You want to keep the roots in tact until you plant them in the ground. Many people don’t pre-start squash plants because their roots are so finicky but I’m trying to out run the squash vine borer this year, so I started them early and am hoping for the best.

Some plants, you don’t want to start early in cells at all. Those include carrots and, for me, nasturtium. Both like to be direct sown and left alone to flourish.

Got any questions about starting seeds and potting them up? Drop me a note or comment below.