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My Grandmother Clara's Recipes

More Heirloom Family Recipes




Linda Larsen
My paternal grandmother, Clara Johnson, was a fabulous cook. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't get her pot roast recipe before she died. It was unbelievably flavorful and tender, cooked entirely on the stovetop. I can't figure out how she did it!

Both she and my grandfather Stanley were first generation Norwegian. They had large and complicated families, mostly concentrated in the upper Midwest. Good food and comfort were the focus of their homes.

It's interesting how families are so different. My mother just told me the other day that when she first ate dinner at her soon-to-be in-law's home, she was surprised that everyone critiqued the food, and talked about how it was made and where the ingredients were purchased. In her family, everyone just ate, and discussed other events. That, of course, reminded me of Laurie Colwin, whose family not only discussed the food, but talked about what they were going to eat at the next meal!

One of the most important things you can do is to talk to older relatives and make sure that you have family recipes written down, and with precise instructions! So many old recipes just list ingredients and give an oven temperature, leaving most of us at a loss. In fact, a collection of family recipes is a great project for your kids for a Christmas gift to the rest of the family.

Some of these recipes were passed on to me by my aunt, Carol Sue. Enjoy these recipes and cherish your relatives and family traditions.

My Grandmother Clara's Recipes

  • Rosettes
    If you've never had a Rosette, you're in for a treat. These are delicate fried pastries, or cookies; I've never been quite sure which. They're light, crunchy, and melt in your mouth. After they are fried on a special iron, the cookies (or pastries) are covered in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. They're a Scandinavian treat!
  • Mrs. Tenney's Dark Bread
    I have no idea who Mrs. Tenney was, but this bread is really wonderful. You can vary the proportion of whole wheat and rye flours to white flour, but the bread really should have some white flour for best texture.
  • Chocolate Drop Cookies
    These tender cookies with the smooth frosting are my dad's favorite. They always make me think of my Grandmother.
  • Cinnamon Apples
    This unusual side salad recipe poaches apples with cinnamon red-hot candies, then when the apples are cool, stuffs them with a cream cheese and date filling. Wow!
  • White Cake with Fudge Frosting
    You will not believe how fabulous this combination is. The Fudge Frosting is actually cooked fudge, cooked to a slightly lower temperature than the fudge recipe so the frosting is easier to work with. Yum!
  • Best Truffles
    I have been looking for this recipe for 30 years; I was overjoyed when my sister Laura found it! I remember making it as a child; the unusual method makes the most velvety truffles ever.
  • Moist Brownies
    Hershey's syrup is the key to these easy and rich brownies. I love the simple frosting recipe, which doesn't use powdered sugar; it will become one of your favorites too.
  • Norwegian Pancakes
    These large, super thin pancakes are rolled around sliced strawberries and served with lots of powdered sugar. Yum.
  • Strawberry Bread
    Frozen strawberries are the secret ingredient in this unusual, delicious bread. Use leftovers to make French Toast!
  • Apple Nut Squares
    I love this recipe because it uses oil instead of solid shortening, and the result is so moist and flavorful. I like to frost it with a Cream Cheese Frosting.
  • Oatmeal Butter Cookies
    This simple recipe makes very buttery and crisp cookies. You'll love them!
  • Crabmeat Dip
    I love this appetizer recipe; it's an unusual layered dip so you really taste the crabmeat. Be sure you use real lump crab meat in this recipe for best results.

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