30806411044_a09e0ca11d_zDay 5 – My dad’s sister Inga never had kids. I was the closest thing to it, and a girl to boot, so she was extra nice to me. She had African violets and baby tears in an east window, she tatted in the evenings while her husband read the papers and Farm Journal. She washed all their clothes in a wringer washer in the basement, hanging them to dry on lines strung across the room in winter, and ironed everything after it dried. She and her husband started farming in the hardscrabble Depression years. I was a kid so I’m not sure about this, but I don’t think they ever owned land or a house. They moved three times in the years that I can remember, the last time to a house in the tiny village close to us. The year I was in 7th grade we had a particularly snowy winter. Mom and I went to stay with them in town when Dad gave up keeping the driveway cleared (that’s our driveway in the picture). I clearly remember coming home when most of the snow had melted in April, after six weeks in town, and planting myself on a rock in the pasture to watch the little rivers made by the melting snow. It sealed my fate as a country girl to the bone.

During that six weeks at Inga’s house we did a little baking to entertain ourselves. This recipe was one of her standbys, and the influence of Depression years is reflected in the name and sparse ingredients. But I loved these simple cookies and went home with the recipe on a card in my girlish handwriting. It isn’t necessarily a Christmas cookie, but it’s a buttery, tender cookie that can act as a counterpoint to all the rich, frosted, filled confections at the sweets table.

– Joan, 7 December 2018


Scotch Shortbread

  • Servings: 2-3 dozen cookies
  • Print

  • IMG_49261-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup cool butter

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Blend flour and cornstarch. Cream butter with powdered sugar, then add flour and cornstarch.  It will appear a little dry, as in the photo at right. Roll out dough 1/8″-1/4″ thick and cut as desired. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets 6-8 minutes, depending on thickness, just until edges begin to brown. Cool completely before storing or freezing.



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