Dad and Leroy grew up a half mile apart along the Namekagon River. He and his wife Bert were good friends of my parents. Our families went to the same little Lutheran church in the country, we kids went to the same one-room school and played together and we got together for dinners and picnics from time to time.
Later when I was in my teens, Dad and I, Uncle Harold and their friend Pete met for breakfast on the opening day of deer season at Bert and Leroy’s. After a big breakfast we would cross the river in the dark on a rickety plank footbridge that Leroy had built across the stream. Most years it was icy and treacherous on those single planks, but I remember only once that someone slipped in, and that was when we were bringing a deer home from the hills.
Bert hunted too, and Leroy had found her a great place for a stand, stocked it with firewood and gallon jugs of water and built her a comfortable bench and gun rest. Bert would build a fire, fill the big coffee pot with water and have hot coffee for us as we wandered in from our deer stands. Once or twice, she had the first deer of the season dressed out by the time we showed up for lunch.
In the summers we had lots of fun together too. One particularly memorable event was the snipe hunt that one of the older boys and I organized for the girls in the south pasture. When our sisters came home crying and bitten by mosquitos, our sniggers soon changed to yelps as Leroy and Dad “taught us a lesson.” It hardly seemed fair, since they had told us about snipe hunts earlier that summer.
Bert and Mom often got together for coffee and conversation. They both believed in setting out fresh baked goods when someone stopped in. Bert’s Jumbo Raisin Cookies are delicious and stay soft and chewy. They impressed Mom so much that she made a copy of the recipe, and here it is.
2 cups raisins
1 cup water
1 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. vanilla
Put two cups of raisins and a cup of cold water into a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the raisins to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350º
Cream the sugar and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Beat the eggs until lemon colored and mix them thoroughly into the creamed sugar.
Measure the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice into a sifter. Sift about three cups of the flour and spices into the liquid ingredients, stirring thoroughly after each cup of flour is added. Stir in the vanilla and raisins and the final cup of flour and mix well.
Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto a well-greased cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned, eleven to twelve minutes.
NOTES: Don’t drain the raisins. This recipe makes about five dozen cookies. If you like soft and chewy cookies, this is a recipe you really should try.