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My granddad worked as a foreman on the Budge Ranch during the summer to earn tuition for school in winter. My grandmother’s girlfriend was the daughter of the family who owned the ranch and she obtained a job one summer as a cook. It was there that many of her cookie recipes were created. As a child I loved her Peanut Icebox Cookies and her Mahogany Cookies.

Anyway, the ranch foreman was intrigued with grandma. (Those cookies were a definite plus.) He began to court her.

One day he joined her on a weekend home to Montpelier. It was THE weekend where he planned to have THE talk with my grandma’s daddy.

During the visit, the family climbed into the back of the buckboard wagon and drove up a local canyon to pick huckleberries. The horses picked their way around the holes, but the wheels bounced behind through the ruts. Granddad rehearsed in his mind the right words, “Sir, I would like to ask you if you would consider giving me your daughter’s hand. . .” The words jumbled in his mind. He wiped his brow with a hanky.

They had a good morning with laughter, sunshine, stained fingers and baskets filled with berries. Returning home, my granddad rode up front on the narrow seat with my grandma’s father. Great-granddad Crane was a sheep rancher with ten children. A no-nonsense man. He knew the young man next to him was courting his oldest daughter. He was not pleased that granddad worked at a cattle ranch. It had been hard enough when his daughter had gone there for a summer. And then too, granddad was becoming a city man—after all he attended college in Logan. Still, Great-granddad liked him.

“How would you like to take some of these berries home with you?” Great-granddad asked.

My granddad thanked him politely. And then without considering, blurted out what came to mind. “Sir, while you are disposed to giving things away, how would like to give me your daughter?”

When budgets are tight, some things, like family stories remain priceless, and free.

Grandma Miller’s
Mahogany Cookies (Chocolate)
350° 11-12 minutes

½ C. margarine
1 C. sugar ¼ C. cocoa (1/2 C. optional)
2 egg ¼ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. vanilla ¼ tsp. baking powder
1½ C. flour ¼ tsp. baking soda

Grandma usually frosted her cookies with chocolate and centered half a walnut on top of each. The walnuts came at Chirstmas and granddad spent much of his winter evenings shelling them and the other nuts grandma put in her fudge and candies.