Grandma Johnston’s Recipes

A young Mason and Grace Johnston pose in front of their Alexander Park home.
A young Mason and Grace Johnston pose in front of their Alexander Park home.

Grandma’s Recipes

Of all the blessings that have come down to me through life, nothing compares like a grandmother named Grace Johnston.

Grandma knitted blankets of love around my soul, and made me feel like a special individual.  The 11 am Sunday church service at Craddock Presbyterian became the center of my universe, and the tradition that followed felt like fireworks: a formally arranged fried chicken meal whereupon the whole family gathered around a dinner table loaded with fixins’.

These abundant goodies consisted of mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans fresh from the backyard garden, and out-of-the-oven biscuits with gobs of soft butter.  Yes, Sunday dinner was the centerpiece of family life in the modest but well-appointed home of Mason and Grace Johnston.  And more times than not, Sunday dinner was served at Uncle Eddie and Grace Wiley McCormick’s nearby home.

Yesterday, I received a lovely Christmas card from cousin Barbara Savage.  Enclosed were recipes written by Grandma Grace Johnston in longhand.  After my self-indulgent post of yesterday, I decided to pay penance by typing up each one and posting them on this website.  This way, Barbara’s gift can be shared with family and friends, causing Grandma’s recipes to live a longer life, thanks to the electronic marvels of today’s Internet world.

Only one recipe – the Chocolate Poundcake – was printed from a cookbook (except her idea for improving the icing); all the rest were in Grandma’s handwriting.  Be sure to try her method for getting rid of cockroaches (Grandma hated roaches)!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

(l-r) Eddie McCormick, Alice Reedhead, Grace Wiley McCormick, Grandma Johnston, Gladys Reedhead
(l-r) Eddie McCormick, Alice Reedhead, Grace Wiley McCormick, Grandma Johnston, Gladys Reedhead


Chocolate Poundcake

½ pound butter
½ cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Cream together the butter and shortening.  Add sugar and eggs.  Sift dry ingredients together, and add vanilla.  Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture.  Bake in 9- or 10-inch tube pan at 325° for about 80 minutes.

A good icing for the chocolate pound cake Grandma likes

¼ lb. butter (or margarine)
2 squares chocolate
1 lb. box confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cream (as needed)

Melt butter (or margarine) and chocolate; add sugar and vanilla.  Use cream as needed for spreading consistency.

Lemon Chess Pie

3 whole eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 lemon, grated rind and juice
heaping tablespoon melted butter (or margarine)

Beat eggs thoroughly, but do not overbeat.  Add sugar, lemon juice and rind, and melted fat.  Stir just until ingredients are blended.  Turn into 8- or 9-inch unbaked pastry-lined pie pan.  Place on bottom rack of a preheated 400° oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for 20 minutes.  (Grandma mixed whipping cream by hand.)

Buttermilk Pound Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt, adding buttermilk alternately to cream mixture.  Add vanilla.  Bake in well-greased and floured tube cake pan.  Bake at 325° for 1¼ hours.

Martha’s Golden Pound Cake
(Martha was Grandpa Johnston’s sister)

1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1-2/3 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon almond extract
1½ tablespoons lemon juice

Throughly cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.  Beat well after each addition.  Add lemon juice and almond extract.  Heat well, add sifted dry ingredients.  Bake in wax-paper-lined pan in moderate oven, 325° for 1 hour.

Grandma and my Uncle Bill shared a sense of humor.
Grandma and my Uncle Bill shared a sense of humor.


Grandma’s Sure Cure to Get Rid of Roaches

(Grandma hated roaches)

1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon borax
1 teaspoon sugar
cold water

Mix dry ingredients together.  Add only enough water to make a stiff paste.  Mix thoroughly.  Make into small balls and set them out for roaches to munch on.


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