Pioneer Potluck: About memories of Grandpa and Grandma Cogswell

Grandma Freda Cogswell was my mother’s Mom. She was born in 1895 and died in 1976. Her birthday was the 15th of September, which brings back so many wonderful memories. She was a very kind, soft spoken, happy Grandma. She taught me how to make bread, doughnuts, applebutter, cherry and apple pies (although I cheat now with the crust that she made from lard and I buy the frozen crust). I think they are almost as good as Grandma’s and Mom’s and does not take an hour to mix and roll out.

She also taught me to crochet and knit and to quilt by hand from a frame that Grandpa made from wood. The quilt was then pulled and sewed to the frame. After a big wonderful Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that Grandma made, and after all the dishes were done, I spent many hours underneath the quilting frame while all my relatives, aunts and cousins sitting around on chairs, poking the little needles through the fabric to quilt it.

I heard lots of gossip too!

When they were finished, it was a beautiful handmade quilt. Grandma was very, very patient with this little gal with two left hands trying to take tiny stitches like her Grandma because if I didn’t, she, in her calm voice, would say we have to take those out and start over. I was given a crocheted tablecloth for my high school graduation. It is cherished.

I also learned about how to kill, behead and take the feathers off the Thanksgiving (or Christmas) turkey from Grandpa. It was a matter-of-fact way of life. If you wanted to eat, you raised your meals until it came time for the meal. We also butchered our cattle on the farm. Lots and lots of work, before you ever sat down at the dinner table.

Grandpa also raised lots of chickens for eggs until fall time and then the chickens had to be beheaded and plucked for the market in Fort Collins. That was part of Grandpa’s income. Mom, me and my brother, John, got in on the work. Ginger was too young to help. Sister Elaine and brother Jim came along much later, and never got the see the whole operation. I can remember to this day how much work it was!

My daughter, Susan, so carefully crafted a memory book for my 80th birthday. The memories and the kind words that were shared and written down by my relatives and friends is overwhelming. I read it often, and today it is a book of history that I refer to for this article. I am so grateful to have such love and memories. Thank you! In the book is an article I wrote about Grandpa and Grandma Cogswell, which follows.

Grandpa and Grandma Cogswell lived one mile from our farm in Northern Colorado — about 6 miles east of Fort Collins. They lived in a basement house in the middle of a cherry and apple orchard. I have very fond memories of all the times we visited in various seasons of the year. In the spring, the cherry and apple trees were blooming. I could not get enough of the sweet smell of all the blooming trees. Mom always came home with a big bouquet of beautiful cherry and apple blossoms to put in her pretty vases. There fragrance filled the farmhouse for days!

Which brings me to the smells in Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandma’s apple and cherry pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her sugar cookies. Her home-baked bread. The sardines in a can that Grandpa loved. The horseradish he loved to smear on his fried eggs. And intermingled with all these wonderful smells was kerosene.

Grandma’s cooking stove was fueled by kerosene. So when she cooked, the smell of the kerosene filled the little basement house among the smells of whatever she took out of the kerosene oven.

I ALWAYS thought her cookies were delicious and did not know the difference between the buttery cookie taste and the slight taste of kerosene. Her pies and bread had that “Grandma taste.” My mother Loretta, Grandma’s oldest daughter, was a wonderful baker of cookies, but I just thought she baked different than Grandma. There was no kerosene taste in Mom’s cooking.

AND that is not all kerosene was used for. If you had a cold, a scratch, a sliver, a hangnail, a sore throat, measles, mumps, chickenox, bruises or bumps, scrapes, lumps — all received the same treatment. Kerosene mixed with whatever was suited for the ailment you had at the time. Sore throats got honey, lemon juice and a couple drops of kerosene. I can hear Grandma and Grandpa coaxing me to open my mouth “Now, Edith Ann, gargles and this will make you throat feel better.” Grandpa would hold me and Grandma would administer the dosage. I tried my very hardest but always swallowed some of the potent stuff. If you have had or do have a chest cold, I now have the remedy neatly written in my Grandma’s handwriting. She mixed it up like a chemist in a lab!


20 grams of camphor

1/2 ounce of peppermint oil

Put both in a 1/2 pint bottle and when the peppermint oil cuts the camphor, fill the bottle with Kerosene. Rub on chest for colds. Wrap the chest in flannel or a wool sock of your Dads. Attach it with a safety pin.

YUP! You either got well or SAID you got well, to avoid another application of that horrible smelling medicine. This was also rubbed on bumps, bruises and slivers. I slid down our farm chicken coop roof one time after crawling to the top getting away from Dad’s big Shorthorn bull that had gotten out of the coral. When he finally got the bull back in the corral, which I can remember took forever, I slid down the old wood-shingle roof on my behind. I collected every sliver of wood sticking up in my path all the way to the ground! I did not say a word for about two days until all those slivers festered and needed tended to. I was so miserable! Out came the kerosene, soaked on a piece of cotton and rubbed onto my slivered behind. Then the needle dipped in kerosene to clean it and the pick and pull of those sliver with a tweezers. It took a long time, and when Mom and Grandma were through, more kerosene was dabbed on the open sores. I can honestly tell you I healed very fast, but I was avoided because of my very distinct smell.

Later, when I was married and lived in Poudre Canyon in Colorado with three little kids, I had a guest cabin that I fixed up for Grandma to come and visit for a week. Grandpa had passed away and I wanted to spend some time with Grandma, so I went to Pierce, Colorado and took Grandma up the canyon to see the sights and our little house. We had such a good time that day, talking and baking bread. Come time for sleep, I took Grandma to her little cute cabin that I had so proudly cleaned and fixed up just for her. We said goodnight, I gave her hugs and went back to my own little house to get the kids to bed. I slept good that night planning what we were going to do the next day.

The next morning, I got up early and made muffins and put on a pot of coffee. I took a muffin and a big cup of coffee down to Grandma, (actually wondering why she had not come up the my house.) There she was in the middle of the mattress that had fallen through the slats on the old type bed, and she could not get out of the bed. She started to laugh at my total shock.

She said in quiet calm voice “just give me a hand and get me out of here!” She told me she had slept there all night on the mattress on the floor. She had gotten into bed, was all settled and the mattress went “ker-pluck” (her words.) At first she tried to get out (the bed was one of the high-rise beds, like all old fashioned beds were) and decided she was to tired and wrapped the blankets around her, found her pillow and went sound to sleep on the floor, until I came down with the muffin and cup of coffee.

We laughed all day about the bed, but most of all Grandma laughed the longest and hardest. She thought it was the funniest things that happened to her. Every time I saw her, which sadly, was not often enough, we would laugh hysterically all over again.

This story and many others have visited me again and again with the help of the many wonderful memories that my relatives and friends took the time to write down. Susan compiled them and put them in a “Memory Book Full of Love.” It is cherished, it gets read and re-read. It makes me smile at all the stories. I am so grateful. I am lucky and I feel very loved.


This recipe declares “that during the War Years” — I am not sure which one. I assume WWII.


During the darkness of the War Years, articles were being written on how to cook tempting side dishes without spending money on things like butter and cream if you lived in the city. The butterless cake devised at that very time to help people all over the country come up with a bit of magic when there did not seem to be any stardust during those bleak years.

In a bowl:

1 egg separated, beat yolk until light.


2/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

Beat until well mixed.


2 cups flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

Beat egg white until stiff.

Fold in dry ingredients into the yolk mixture and fold in

the beaten egg white.

Pour into a well greased 8-x-8 pan and bake in hot oven of 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Let cool and ice with the following:

2 tablespoon evaporated milk

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teas lemon extract

Mix and add food coloring if you like. Ice and serve.


This is a suggestion from 1925: Clean the rust and residue from the top of your cooking stove by brushing it well with a steel wire brush dipped in (what else?) kerosene! Let it stand for an hour. Rub and wipe with soft cloth. Give it a second application and let stand for 4 hours. Rub down with steel wool. (Do you know how that smells when it is hot!!?) Aren’t you grateful for modern stoves??


1928 is when this recipe was popular.

1 pound fresh mushrooms sliced

3 tablespoon butter

Additional 4 tablespoon butter

4 tablespoon flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth or milk

1 egg slightly beaten

1 teas Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teas each salt and paprika

Strips of green and red bell pepper


Stuffed olives

Slice mushrooms and sauté in 3 tablespoon butter for about 10 minutes. Make the white sauce by melting the 4 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. Blend well. Add the chicken broth or milk stirring with a whisk or fork constantly. Cook until smooth. Temper the slightly beaten egg with two tablespoon of hot milk sauce and then stir into the sauce, stirring constantly.


Worcestershire sauce, salt and paprika and the sautéed mushrooms. Spoon over toast triangles, rice or mashed potatoes. Garnish with the green and red bell pepper strips, the olives and the parsley. This could be called the best mushroom soup!!


To stretch the meals in hard times of 1943 during WWII, the bean sandwich was very popular.

1 cup baked beans

1/4 cup walnuts chopped

1/4 cup celery chopped

2 tablespoon onion minced

1/4 teas salt

1 tablespoon or more of sweet pickle chopped

2 tablespoon ketchup

Buttered bread

Combine everything except the bread. Mix well.

Spread on the buttered bread and enjoy!

My Bob likes bean sandwiches!

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