Pioneer Potluck: About my Mom's birthday

Born Dec. 19, 1915,
Fort Collins, Colorado


Died Feb 3, 1999,
Fort Collins, Colorado


As you can see, our mother spent most of her life in the same area.

This is what my mother wrote in her tiny hand writing in what I call my Heritage Book:

“Loretta Edith Cogswell grew up near Wellington, Colorado with her parents on a farm. She attended school near Wellington and studied piano for several years by a teacher at the school... When the instructor was no longer available she studied by correspondence with the American College of Music in Kansas City, Missouri. Following two years of high school in Wellington she moved with her parents to a fruit orchard near Fort Collins. She assisted her father with the care and harvest of the fruit and worked various jobs around and in Fort Collins. On August 28, 1936 Loretta and John Melvin McClure were married in Greeley, Colorado. John formerly of Westfall, Kansas, came to Colorado from Kansas in 1934, working for various area farmers. After spending a month in Kansas following their marriage, John and Loretta return to Colorado, where John was employed by a farmer and sheepherder. The following year February 1937 they rented an irrigation farm east of Fort Collins and one mile from the orchard where Loretta’s parents resided. The owner of the farm Sam Kamp was well known as a producer of Japanese popcorn. He wished to retire. The corn was marketed as KempKorn which he canned and sold to Safeway Stores.” (Dad continued to grow corn for Safeway for a few years.)

That is all I know about my mother growing up. I never heard her play the piano. She did see to it that Elaine, Ginger and I received piano lessons for many years from Kathryn Sutherland. I inherited my dad’s tin ear and monotone voice. Playing the piano and keeping rhythm and timing were very difficult for me. Once in a while my mom would poke her head through the door while I was practicing and say “Ann start over – or can you play something different?” I played Christmas carols all year long, just so I could get them perfect at Christmas. I am sure my mother tolerated more than I know!

My first recollection of celebrating my mother’s birthday probably was when I was six or seven. Mom always baked her own birthday cake, chocolate angel food cake, and dad would give her a small present. One year he gave it to me to wrap, which I did with utmost care and great honor. I found real pretty wrapping paper and took a long time wrapping it. Those were the days of no Scotch tape, so it had to be tied with ribbon. I was so proud to hand it to her. Dad even said “that’s real pretty, Ann.” As I gave her the present, she looked at me a little sideways, her chin down and her eyebrow up, and said “This is Christmas wrapping paper; I guess I have to wait till Christmas.” Dad and I both convinced her it was a birthday present and that she could open it now. So on every birthday, I would remember this and always look for the prettiest birthday paper I could find in the middle of December. In later years she was emphatic about “If you wrap my birthday present in Christmas paper I WILL NOT open it until December 25th!”

In earlier years she fried chicken, mashed potatoes, made gravy and made her own biscuits for her own birthday dinner. I do not remember Dad ever taking her out to eat, which she probably would have declined anyway. And in later years he bought her flowers, they did not have to be wrapped

We had many birthday parties for her through the years and she was always a little embarrassed at all the fuss. AND we never knew exactly how old she was. AND she never told either!

If my mom was known for anything it was baking cookies. She baked cookies all year round. Bake tons of cookies for Christmas. Susan recalls when we moved to Alaska, she would send us baggies full of cookies, wrapped tightly with twist ties. Packing was crumpled newspaper, which we smoothed out and read. Then the shipping box was wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. Still no Scotch tape. How did we ever do without Scotch tape? She would ship us cookies throughout the year.

Mom loved flowers and spent many, many hours irrigating her yard full of Lily of the Valley, cosmos, Iris, marigolds, pansies and tending to the big lilac bush. As I have mentioned before she always carried a hoe everywhere to clean out the little irrigation ditches but most of all just case she saw a snake. Then she would do her “snake dance,” chop that little water snake into little bitty pieces, dig a little bitty ditch and scrape the remains of the little snake into the ditch. She would scrape some soil over the top of it tamp it down with the bottom of the hoe and then finish by stomping it with her feet. I still smile with this image.

Mom loved Christmas and she worked hard for us to have a beautiful Christmas tree, thoughtful presents, wonderful dinners and most of all her cookies. She would start the first of November making cookies and continue to bake them after Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas. She stored them gently and carefully in her big freezer. She doled them out carefully, and when the tray was down to crumbs, magically she would fill it again.

Her Christmas dinners were spectacular after the remodeling of the farm house. She worked even harder at her dinners and her baking. I can honestly say her most satisfying moments must have been when everyone seated at the dinner table, complimented her on her dinners and her baking. She planned her life around baking and cooking,

My mom’s favorite cookbook was “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book” written by Fannie Farmer. I have this cookbook plus I have collected three more, one just recently.

During World War II, Mom helped Dad in the fields and then cooked meals. She sewed for us, washed clothes in her ringer washing machine in the basement, and carried the wet clothes in the basket up the stairs, out to the clothes line. They were hung on the clothes line in her orderly fashion so the occasional neighbors would not see our underclothes. We would wait for the gentle Colorado breezes to dry them. She taught me how to carefully fold and place them in the basket. After we carried them in the house, we put the towels, sheets and pillowcases away and the underclothes. Then the clothes that were to be ironed were laid out on the table and we sprinkle them with warm water, folded them back to so they could be ironed the next day. That was done every Monday and Tuesday. Mom taught me how to iron so as not to have one wrinkle because “what would the neighbors think” if we had one wrinkle in our nicely starched clothes.

I find myself doing more and more things like my mother did however I do not iron clothes because my neighbors do not care if I have wrinkles in my clothes and neither do I. We have a simpler life compared to how it was in the olden days. I am not so sure it’s the best


December 19, in memory of the Loretta Edith McClure. Happy Birthday Mom! I bet she is in God’s kitchen baking cookies! 


here is a recipe that is going around.

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teas baking powder

3/4 cup soften butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg white

1/2 teas vanilla

2 - three oz pkg of Jell-O of your choice. Christmas - Lime for green and rasberry, cherry or strawberry for red.

NOTE DOUBLE THIS AND it would require 4 plkg of Jell-O

Beat butter and sugar together. add the egg white and vanilla. In a small boel mic the flour and baking powder and combine with the butter mixture. divid the dough in half and knead one box of JelO into each half. Shape into balls and flatten on a ungreaded cookie sheet 2 inches apart with a spoon,fork or glass bottom dipped in sugar. Bake 350 for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for a couple minutes and remove to rack to cool. I think my Mother would have tried these - so this mother is gong to try them today!! I do know Bob will be happy I baked him sugar cookies - he does not care what color they are!!



Peel and slice into large bowl, enough apples to generously fill a 9 inch pie pan. This will take 5 to 6 tart apples,


1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix into sliced apples. Let set while you prepare the pie crusts.

Pour apples into lined pie plate and dot with butter. Place top crust, crump, cut vents and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 425% for 10 minutes and turn down heat to 350% and bake 40 to 45 minutes. Be sure and place pie on foil lined cookie sheet to catch bubbling drips of apple filling.


Grandma and grandpa lived in the middle of a cherry and apple orchard. She canned her own cherries and apples. For a 9 inch pie.

1 quart cherries or 2 cans red cherries. (Or cheat, use cherry pie filling.)

Drain cherry juice into sauce pan and add:

1 cup sugar

Stir in:

6 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat juice slowly and cook until thick and clear stirring constantly. Add drained cherries and mix. Pour into prepared pie crust. Dot with butter and place top crust, vented, crimp to seal and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on foil lined cookie sheet at 425% for 10 min. Turn heat down and bake 30 to 40 min. until top crust is browned.



1 pound beef roast

1 pound venison

1/2 pound beef suet

Cover with water and cook meat until tender in large pot about two hours. Cool and grind in meat grinder with a coarse blade. While the meat is cooking prepare the following.

4 tart apples diced

3/4 cup sugar-I used brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 pint apple cider (I use 1/2 pint apple cider vinegar and 1/2 pint Apple juice.

1 pound raisins

3/4 pound dried currents

Put ground meat in the above ingredients in a large heavy bottomed kettle and cook very slowly stirring often. I put my mine in the oven or the crock pot and cook for two hours until apples are tender.

While the mixture is hot add:

1 cup apple juice-or good brandy

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon mace

1 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Stir until everything is mixed very well. Pack in pint jars and pressure cook according to the directions in your pressure cooker book. It differs for different altitudes.

This is not Mom’s recipe as I think she had hers head, but is similar.

To use the mincemeat for pie: Peel and dice four tart apples and stir in 1 pint mincemeat. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar. Place the mixture in unbaked 9 inch pie shell, dot with butter, and cover with top piecrust, vent and crimp. Sprinkle with sugar with a touch cinnamon. Bake at 425% for 10 min. Turn heat down and bake 40 to 45 min. until top crust is browned.


This is similar to my mothers.

2 pounds moose meat cooked until tender. I use the neck meat and roast and add half pound of beef suet. Cover with water and simmer slowly for two hours. Use the crock pot for this. Strain in colander, pick out bones and keep 1 cup of meat stock. Grind moose meat in grinder. Place in large glass or enamel kettle and add the following:

The one cup of meat stock

2 packages fresh cranberries-grind them with moose meat.

3 pounds tart apples peeled, cored and diced

3 cups raisins or Craisins or currents or a combination of the three

Bring to boil and simmer one hours stirring to keep from burning. Again use the crock pot. Mixture will be thick.

While the mixture is hot add the following

1 cup apple juice

1 cup cranberry juice

½ cup water

1 teaspoon mace

2 teaspoons cloves

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup dark molasses

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup vinegar

Mix all ingredients in bring to boil, simmer 10 min. pack and sterilize canning jars and process according to your canner book. Usually process at 10 pounds pressure for 30 min. in Alaska.

To make mincemeat pie, 1 pint mince meat, three tart peeled apples, sliced. Mix and place in unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter and top with pie crust and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 350 degrees 35 to 40 minutes.


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