NORTHWOODS COOKS: Vintage cookbooks make unique Christmas gifts

Richly flavored, gingerbread may be served plain or with a vanilla or chocolate icing. Nuts on top are optional. This dessert is delicious served with a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee. Adobe Stock.
Zbigniew Lewczak/zi3000 -
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While countless recipes can be found online, along with accompanying videos, there is something special about an old-fashioned cookbook complete with notes in the margin about favorite recipes and a few stains from fingers sticky with cookie dough.

Such a cookbook came across my path recently at a second-hand store. Published in 1950, the “Cook Book of Tested Recipes” was published by the Ladies of the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis. This cookbook had a first printing of 10,000 copies and 10,000 more in the second and third printings. Here are a few recipes to consider trying this holiday season.

By Mrs. Christ Brodahl



1 cup sugar

3/4 cup molasses

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

Pinch of salt

2 1/2 cups flour

2 level teaspoons soda


1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup raisins

Chopped nuts

Cream butter and sugar. Mix molasses, soda and hot water and add to butter mixture. Sift flour with spices and add to above. Add raisins and beaten egg last. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top after putting in pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven (the recipe does not specify how long to bake this recipe. A similar recipe online recipe says to bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean).

By Mrs. Wesley Harris

Sauce for Gingerbread


1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

1 cup of cream whipped stiff

Flavor with vanilla or sherry and place in ice box.

By Mrs. John Ramstad

Three-Day Buns

Day 1: Mix together 2 cups cold water, 1 yeast cake and a little flour. Let stand overnight.

Day 2: Add 2 cups cold water, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup melted lard, 1 tablespoon salt. Flour enough to make a stiff dough and let rise until evening, then shape into buns and put buns on greased cookie sheets, leaving plenty of space between buns. Let rise until morning.

Day 3: Add raisins and bake (No temperature or time is given, maybe because in those days this was common information because everything was homemade. A similar recipe on says to bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes).

By Mrs. Kenneth Narland

Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Baked Frosting

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

4 tablespoons shortening

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

Sift flour once before measuring. Mix and sift flour, baking powder and sugar. Cut in the shortening. Beat egg and add to milk and dry ingredients. Beat vigorously. Pour into greased pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes in a moderately hot (400-degree) oven.


1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup cut nut meats

1 egg

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Add egg and enough milk or water for spreading consistency. Add nuts and spread on top of coffee cake after it has been in the oven for 15 minutes. The frosting bakes on the cake for the remaining time (15 to 20 minutes).

By Mrs. Elias Rasmussen

Overnight Ginger Cookies

2 cups white sugar

1 cup shortening

2 beaten eggs

1/2 cup molasses

3 level teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, molasses and rest of ingredients. Mold into roll and let stand overnight. In the morning, slice and bake in a 325- to 350-degree oven. Again bake time is not given, but a similar recipe from says to bake 10-12 minutes or until bottoms of cookies begin to brown.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to or by mail to the Park Rapids Enterprise, 203 Henrietta Ave. North, Park Rapids, MN 56470 and they may appear in a future issue.

Vintage cookbooks found in second-hand stores or on eBay make interesting Christmas gifts. A cookbook can also be created by collecting favorite family recipes and photos throughout the year. Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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