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Recipe: Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies

August 9, 2017


Thinking of Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies on the 105th Anniversary of Her Birth


(Lydia Avenatti:  August 9, 1912-March 2, 2006)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



As these warm days become shorter and more precious, I have been thinking of past summers.  One of my pleasant summer memories focuses on my Aunt Lydia, one of my mother’s older sisters.  Of my seven aunts who have blessed my life, only my Aunt Lydia did not work outside her home.  Living on the farm throughout her married life, Aunt Lydia was always busy as a farmer’s wife and mother of three children; nevertheless, I remember that each time we went to the farm for a summer’s day or evening visit, she welcomed us with a big glass pitcher of homemade lemonade, in which were floating lemon halves, whose juice and pulp had been squeezed away to make one of my favorite summer beverages.  Additionally, Aunt Lydia always had a cookie jar filled with homemade sugar cookies which , I thought, made the trip to the farm worthwhile.  Yes, we saw the chickens, pigs, cattle, rich farmland, expansive garden, and a circular patch of asparagus; we sat on the swing or gathered around the kitchen table.  We enjoyed the sharing of news and laughter or played cards; however, her special cookies were a highlight of the visit—a wonderful and memorable treat.


Although I have made my Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookie recipe more times than I could count and although they always turned out very well, the cookies that I made never quite tasted the same as hers.  To honor the memory of my dear Aunt Lydia on the 105th anniversary of her birth, I share with you her basic, versatile, delicious, and memory-filled recipe.



Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies


  1. Preheat oven to 375 or 400 degrees.


  1. Cream together one-fourth cup shortening, one-fourth cup softened (or, my preference, melted) margarine, and three-fourths cup sugar.


  1. Add one egg, one tablespoon milk, and one-half or one teaspoon vanilla to creamed mixture. (Variations:  You may substitute almond extract, peppermint extract, anise extract, or other flavorings for the vanilla.)


  1. Gradually add one and three-fourths cups flour, three-fourths teaspoon cream of tartar, three-fourths teaspoon baking soda, and one-fourth teaspoon salt.


  1. Using a tablespoon of dough, roll dough into a ball (about the size of a walnut) and place on an ungreased baking sheet.


  1. After balls of dough are evenly spaced on the cookie sheet, use a fork to create a

crisscross pattern on each ball of dough to result in a slightly flattened shape.


  1. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees for eight to ten minutes (until edges are slightly browned).


  1. After removing the cookie sheet from the oven, let the cookies stand on the baking sheet for one to two minutes until cookies are no longer soft; then, move the cookies to a flat tray. Enjoy!


HOLIDAY VARIATION:  Instead of rolling each tablespoon of dough into a ball, roll each portion of dough into a four-inch log.  After placing each log on an ungreased baking sheet, gently turn one end to form a candy-cane shape.  Brush each candy cane with milk; then, top with red sprinkles.  Bake as noted above.



Happy baking!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 9, 2017, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Thanks, Alice for another recipe. I just might try the candy cane version this Christmas, even though I’m not much of a baker. So nice of you to remember your aunt.–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–Please let me know if you make the cookies as candy canes in December. I wish all the family members of my aunt’s generation had made cookbooks for the younger generations.

      Enjoy the weekend–Alice and Willow

  2. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    I also have very fond memories of our visits to the farm and of Aunt Lydia’s gracious hospitality. Her sugar cookies and lemonade were a delicious summer treat, and at Christmas time the divinity that she made was truly a heavenly food to me! During this “State Fair” time of year, Aunt Lydia’s bread and butter pickles would surely have won a Blue Ribbon at the Edgar County Fair. Those pickles were the best I have ever tasted in my life! Thanks for the memories of one of our very special and talented aunts.
    Love to you and Willow,

    • Mary–Oh, yes, I remember the divinity of both Aunt Lydia and Aunt Kathy. Perhaps, we need a family tree of recipes.

      Thanks for your addition to this post–Alice and Willow

  3. Carole permalink

    Thanks for sharing Aunt Lydia’s cookie recipe and the special memories of visiting the farm and family. The beauty of the surrounding fields and the animals in the pastures made the trip seem far from home.

    • Carole–Thanks for adding your comment.  I always like the little rolling hills of Blanford more than the very flat land in nearby Illinois where the farm was.

      Talk with you soon–Alice and Willow

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