from Jackie (Witzgall) Holbrook
Jackie shares with us four of Edith’s recipes. Edith wasn’t raised with written recipes. Like all country cooks, it was a handful of this and a pinch of that. However, the following two desert recipes, peanut butter cookies and apple raisin bar, probably were for school cooks, from the government. The third recipe for biscuits she measured out for her daughters. The fourth is recipe for the mixture to sugar-cure a ham.
1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups sifted flour
2 tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Cream the shortening thoroughly. Add sugar gradually then the beaten eggs and peanut butter.
Sift flour, soda and salt. Add gradually to the wet mixture, mixing well.
Shape into balls the size of walnuts. Flatten with fork, bake until brown. 400 degrees. Makes 100 cookies.
Apple Raisin Bar
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda (baking soda)
1 cup rolled oats
Melt butter and blend all together. Put half in greased pan. Pat down.Put in the following filling
2 cups applesauce
1 cup raisins
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup nuts
Cover with the rest of the crumb mixture and bake in a 300 F. oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
Above right Edith as a young woman
1 ½ tsp salt
2 Tbs Baking Powder
1/3 cup Shortening (Crisco)
2 cups Flour
1 ¼ cups Buttermilk (this would have been fresh from the butter churn.)
Edith’s recipe doesn’t include instructions on how to mix or form the biscuits or the temperature and cooking time for them.
Mixture to Sugar-Cure a Ham
1 pint salt (that’s 2 cups)
½ pint brown sugar (that’s 1 cup)
1 Tbs black pepper
¼ tsp saltpeter
1 tsp red pepper
¼ tsp Borax
According to Edith’s grandson Bill Beckner, the mixture is rubbed and packed on the fresh ham. The coated ham is slipped into a feed sack and hung in the meat house. When the juices quit dripping from the ham, the ham is cured. Note that this is not a smoked ham. It is a sugar-cured ham. Although folks in Orlando speak of smoked ham, we have yet to find someone who remembers hams being smoked.
Sonny Wymer recalls that he went to school at the Orlando School from the first to the third grade. He thinks because of overcrowding at Orlando, the Braxton County Board of Education mandated that students who lived in Lewis County would not be allowed to continue attending the Braxton County Orlando School. He and other Lewis County students who had been attending Orlando were then sent to the nearby Walnut Grove School at Peterson Siding by the short yellow bus which looked like a “cheese box.” At that time the Oil Creek road was unpaved and mostly mud. Sonny says, “ I did more walking to school than riding because the bus simply wouldn’t go through the mud.”
Sonny remembers well the school lunches at Walnut Grove School. “Vada Gay was the school cook and she made the best ever mac and cheese.” Her peanut butter cookies were “yum, yum.”
Sonny’s wife Dochie also attended the Walnut Grove School and recalls that Icie Skinner made the best boiled and browned potatoes. “I can still taste it after all these years.”
Sonny recalls that the school lunches at Walnut Grove School were “all good and there was plenty of it.”
Delma Jean (Foster) Skinner of Peterson Siding recalls that her mother-in-law Icie (Gay) Skinner was a cook at the Walnut Grove School for six or seven years during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
“She was just a good all-around cook,” recalls Delma Jean. “Her pies would melt in your mouth. She made all kinds of pies: raisin, pumpkin, berry, and apple; they were so good.” Delma Jean also recalls Wanda Gay telling her that Icie’s potato soup was the “best she ever tasted, and try as hard as she could and as many times as she could, she just never could make it like Icie’s.”
Icie and her husband, Delmer Skinner, lived on Rag Run.
. . . . .
Note: Edith (Skinner) Stutler was the great granddaughter of Alexander and Fibi (Conrad) Skinner, Daniel and Margaret (Shields) Conrad, George T. and Mary (Godfrey) Duvall, George and Patience (Blake) Mathews, Isaac and Mary (Sponaugle) Bennett and other pioneers of what is now central West Virginia.
Right: Alexander and Fibi (Conrad) Skinner