I fumble around for a light switch as I walk softly in my skull printed Vans into the dark, cool reception room of a VFW Lodge. I find one, and suddenly spots of light float about the still dark room. Was this place alive once? It must have been, as old pictures of numerous past commanders run along the walls.
These men were once young, and grow older in visual records as time races forward. Fewer new faces come, and most of the old ones are gone now, giving the wispy ghost-like darkness a haunted feeling. I trail down the wall to the 1940s, my favorite era in time.
Young men, and many just home from the war, but I want to slide back just a bit further than these old photographs. I want to visit the time when these men were off fighting in foreign countries, and their wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and neighbors were taking responsibility for daily living. They did all this, all the while worrying about how they were going to make it, and how and if their loved ones would return home. Between newly acquired production line jobs and food rationing, women had to simplify their baking. Everyone was united in this war effort, either begrudgingly or wholeheartedly, but united nonetheless.
During this time, “Betty Crocker” printed a recipe for Caramel Refrigerator Cookies, which soon became an American favorite. These cookies were easy enough, stored quite well in the refrigerator until you needed them, and used brown sugar instead of precious rationed granulated sugar. They were also straightforward and not too sweet. Just the way I like my cookies.
I am in awe of the women who made it through this difficult time. They truly lived, good and bad, for better and worse. And after, they coped, celebrated, and had children. They moved forward, promoted service and veterans organizations, and changed the world. What an amazing time to be alive.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Caramel Refrigerator Cookies
½ cup shortening. (part butter or shortening)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups Gold Medal Flour
½ teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix shortening, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir flour, soda, and salt together; stir in. Form in roll 2 ½” across. Wrap in wax paper. Chill until firm.
Heat oven to 400° (mod. hot). Cut in 1/8th” slices. Place slices a little apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 min., or until lightly browned. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
1. Lay a piece of wax paper on top of the cookies and place a piece of bread on the paper. This will keep the cookies fresh longer.
2. I doubled the recipe, and used half shortening and half unsalted butter.
3. I changed the vanilla to 1 Tablespoon for the double batch.
4. I froze the cookie logs for easier slicing.
5. I baked the cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
6. Soda in this recipe means baking soda.
Recipe in its original form from “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book”. Write-up and pictures by Laura Flowers.