I’m reaching way way back to share a recipe from a truly sweet saint of my growing up years, Lizzie Weaver, at my home church, North Goshen Mennonite.
Isn’t she just the cutest? (Some of the older women of the church at that time would have still worn covering strings as shown here, as did my grandmother.)
Lizzie Weaver was the deacon’s wife at North Goshen Mennonite, before my mother became the deacon’s wife. (Wouldn’t The Deacon’s Wife make a lovely title for a novel?) In the first half of the 20 century, a deacon in Mennonite practice was not just a trustee or an elder of the church, but an ordained pastoral assistant in the tradition of I Timothy 3:8.
J.C. Wenger’s history of North Goshen 1936-1986 documents my memory of “Cottage Meetings” held in homes as Wednesday night prayer meetings, and we enjoyed going to Henry and Lizzie Weaver’s home partly because they were both just dears; I’m sure as children we looked forward to the “Coffee Cookies” she served that my mother submitted for the North Goshen Cookbook published sometime during the 60s.
Lizzie lived to the age of 94 and died in 1980–long after my parents moved away from North Goshen. J.C. Wenger also commends the older women of North Goshen for the Pilgrim’s Prayer Circle they convened, which was “a veritable [prayer] power house for the congregation.” It was started by Paul Mininger’s mother Hettie Mininger (Paul served as president of Goshen College for a time). These women, though we as children thought of them as ancient and “cute little old ladies,” were undoubtedly strong matriarchs of the church.
For now, enjoy these old timey, easy-to-make cookies with me, at least vicariously!
Lizzie Weaver’s Coffee Cookies
2 cups sugar (I used white but I bet Lizzie used brown)
½ cup liquid coffee
2 eggs beaten
4 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 cup raisins or nuts or both
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream the sugar and shortening. Add the boiling water. Dissolve the soda in the coffee and add to other ingredients. Add eggs, raisins, and vanilla. Sift the baking powder and flour together and add to the other ingredients. Stir well. Add nuts if desired. Drop on greased cookies sheets with teaspoon and bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes.
These make great dunking cookies–evoking another powerful memory of dunking cookies with my grandma and grandpa–in coffee of course. (I “marked” those with raisins with two extra dots of raisins on top, so that those who don’t like raisins could just enjoy the nutty version with plain old pecans.)
Mildly amusing side story: These cookies were made most famous in our own family because of the time we could not eat them! My oldest sister baked a batch using a half cup of instant coffee as it comes out of the jar—not liquid coffee like you drink. Our family lore became “The cookies so bad even the dog didn’t eat them.” (Note: I changed the above version to specify liquid coffee so no one else would make that mistake.)
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Melodie M. Davis is the author of nine books, most recently, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010). She writes the syndicated column, Another Way, serves as a managing editor for Herald Press, and is also editor of a local family publication, Valley Living. She keeps a blog where she features frequent recipes from her home, family and church life. She is married and the mother of three adult daughters and two grandsons.