Etta’s Eats: Mother’s Ginger Cookies

Welcome to the launch of a new series on the site! Among the many family recipes we have, I came across a recipe box belonging to my great-grandma Etta McCallum.These recipes are unfamiliar to my mom and I, so I have decided to make them all!


recipe box
The recipe box of Etta Moore McCallum.


(Maybe make them all.) There are some interesting ones (to say the least), but I wanted to start a recipe that probably meant something to Etta: a recipe titled Mother’s Ginger Cookies.

Etta was ten years old when her mother died in 1884. The recipe card is dated 1882, with the initials C.M. Her mother’s name was Catherine Moore.


ginger cookies with card
Ginger Cookies.


This recipe, like many in the box, was partially there. Some words were illegible while other key details, like baking time and temperature, were left off. But off I went, and the cookies ended up being really good!


2 cups flour

1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup molasses

3 Tablespoons ginger


Cream butter and sugar together. Add molasses.

In a seperate bowl, mix dry ingredients.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix until incorporated.

To Bake:

Spoon tablespoon-size lumps onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Leave room as the cookies spread! I did about 8 on a sheet to get them not to run into each other.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, 8 minutes if you want a softer cookie. At 10 minutes the middle is soft but the edges have a nice crisp. (12 minutes will burn and not make the cookie crisp.)

The recipe called for rolling the dough thin, but it was really wet, so I just dolloped it on the tray. They came out thin, but soft and flavorful!

The verdict: they were delicious! The cookies got high marks from my mom, nephew Colton, and niece Kaydence. (My niece London tried one bite and was disappointed they were not chocolate chip.)

Would I make them again?: YES. They were a nice treat with few ingredients. Very appropriate for autumn.


Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Growing up, my parents would plant a large garden in our yard, and during the summer we would partake in various fresh vegetables. But like all gardens, it always seemed like we had an abundance of zucchini. I remember being sent to our neighbors, zucchini in hand, sharing our harvest.

We used to eat a lot of squash for dinner, but my mom would also bake delectable desserts, including the one I want to share today: Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

IMG_2507This is the easiest cake to make, and the pop of zucchini makes it so moist. Even my nephew, the pickiest eater I know, scarfs down pieces of this cake.


And even though I put in four cups of grated zucchini, you can barely see it in the cake. This photo has the tiniest bit of zucchini present.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake


1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cup flour

4 Tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoons salt

2 or 3 cups zucchini (I used 4 cups — this recipe is very forgiving)


Cream butter, oil, and sugar.

Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Continue beating.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add to moist ingredients.

Add grated zucchini.

Bake in a greased 9×13 pan, 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

The original recipe calls for topping with chocolate chips or nuts, or ice with chocolate icing. I top with canned chocolate icing, as my mom did. Tastes like my childhood summers!

This is a moist cake, and oh so good.

I hope you enjoy!

52 Ancestors: Valentine


Okay, I am posting this 52 Ancestors post early…

BUT, it’s because it includes a recipe! And since Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday, I wanted to give people time to make these delicious cookies.

My mom has a cookie for every holiday. As a holiday approached, us kids would come home from school to cookies laid out across the counter. So when I thought about this week’s prompt – Valentine – I immediately thought of her cookies.

This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book. The copy we have was actually my  maternal grandma’s, given to her by her mother on January 2, 1964, in honor of her 47th birthday. My mom says she first made these in high school.

Betty Crocker Cooky Bookbetty crocker cooky book inscription

The recipe used is not specifically meant for Valentine’s Day, but my mom would cut them into hearts and top them with pink icing. They are light and flavorful, and one of my all-time favorite cookies.

Valentine's Day Cookies

AUSTRIAN CREAM COOKIES: (makes about 4 dozen, we usually double the batch and make bigger cookies)


2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

Beat eggs until light. Add sugar gradually; blend in cream. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt. Chill for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out cookies 1/4 to 3/8 inches thick (I like a nice thick cookie). Bake 10-13 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Top with icing recipe (below).


Fun fact, my dad had this rolling pin when my parents got married! It belonged to his paternal grandma, Cora.

If your oven runs hot, you will need less baking time. I baked mine for 8 minutes for the large ones (as pictured), and 7 minutes for smaller ones. They need to be pale brown on the top and will turn dark faster, so keep on eye on them.

Austrian Cream Cookies recipe

I love the comment of “Good!” in my mom’s handwriting, and the doubled measurements in my sister’s. This is a well-loved cookbook!

Once you have them mixed, chilled, baked, and cooled, you can ice them. The icing is easy and oh-so-good. But the cookies are delicious without them as well, if you are impatient.


1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoon cream (I used more, it needs to be spreadable)

Blend sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add cream and mix. You can add more cream if it is too thick. Add a drop or two of food coloring, if desired. Ice on cooled cookies.



And enjoy! They keep best in an air-tight container.

Valentine's Day cookies

So pretty, served on my great-grandma Etta’s china.

Thanks for reading all about our little Valentine tradition! I hope you make these cookies, they are wonderful!

You can find all my 52 Ancestors post through the tag below.

As always, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also email me: familyhistoryfood [at]

You can also sign up for our newsletter:

I also have a vintage site:

Until next time,