Yesterday, I received an email from a friend and my brother-in-law's cousin, Judy. This recipe was sent to her by someone named Darlene and I can only imagine that MomMaw is/was her grandmother (or even great grandmother) because in the note to me, Judy mentioned this recipe is over 100 years old. Judy lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, but also stays in Parsons, where her mother lived and my brother-in-law is from.
Parsons' is the county seat of Tucker County with a population of 1,463 (at the 2000 Census). It was named for Ward Parsons, who either once owned the land on which the town was built or was just an aged wilderness pioneer in the area. It lies in the Northeast section of West Virginia and I've only visited there once with my sister, Barbara and my mother, but was so taken by the friendliness of the people and their dedication to their town that I would love to go back one day.
One of the ingredients that was listed in the recipe was Oleo, which I know from baking with my mother and grandmother. Oleo, short for oleomargarine is a butter substitute discovered in the 1800s. With World War I approaching, margarine consumption increased enormously and after World War II, households all over the world were cooking, eating, and baking with it. I chose to stay true to the recipe and actually bought Imperial margarine to make the cookies.
It gave me a chance to see how the recipe would turn out and when (or if) I substitute butter, I'll see the difference. However, these turned out just like I imagined they would--big, soft pillows of cookies dotted with sweet raisins and I may not ever try it butter.
MomMaw's Brown Sugar Cookies
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup Oleo(margarine)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup raisins (I did soak the raisins in boiling water for 30 minutes, then, drained)
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)*
* I didn't add nuts
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the oleo and sugars. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the sugar mixture. Beat to combine well. Add the vanilla and mix on medium speed, 1 or 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Remove the paddle attachment and stir in the dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the raisins (and nuts if using) to the batter.
Use a 1/4-cup scoop to measure out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake cookies for approximately 12 minutes--I rotated the pan after 6 minutes to ensure even baking.
Let cool a few minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 24--3" cookies.
I love getting recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Baking defines me in that sense with memories of my childhood, as I know it does for all of you. If these cookies bring back memories that maybe your MomMaw, Grammy, Grandmother, or Grandma made, I'd love to hear about it. For me, I'm going to enjoy this wonderfully, simple cookie while I finish a book a dear friend sent me. Enjoy!!