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Back to Grandma’s Basics and Handwritten Recipes with Wendy Doornink

Great Grandma Emma Riemer on a red Farmall tractor in February 1967

Have you thought about who you’ll pass down your handwritten recipes to? If you’re like Wendy Doornink and me, you have a mix of handwritten recipe cards from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and of course, yourself.

It’s not like they’re scribed on stone tablets, but I’m on a mission to preserve as many handwritten recipes in the world as we can. Because doesn’t it feel more special when you’re in the kitchen gathering ingredients, reading your grandma’s handwriting as you bake her beloved white cookies? Not looking at a phone screen.

New Podcast Episode

On this week’s Funeral Potatoes & Wool Mittens podcast episode, Wendy Doornink talks about recipes she has from her grandmas.

Even how her great grandma Emma Riemer (pictured below and on the tractor above) wrote her recipes in English phonetically because she emigrated from Germany to the Dakotas and that’s how she learned to write.

vintage photo of Great Grandma Emma Riemer with her husband
Great Grandma Emma Riemer

You can see it on the back of her zucchini bread recipe card below.

handwritten recipe zucchini bread
handwritten recipe zucchini bread back of card

Listen to Funeral Potatoes & Wool Mittens season 2 episode 20 wherever you listen to podcasts, including YouTube (audio). In addition to grandmothers, we talk about the correlation between going back to the food basics and mental health, treasuring handwritten recipes, treats on the cold porch, head cheese, pasties, caramel rolls, printed photos, and are there really raisins in the sheep pasture?

You’ll also learn how her grandma packed cookies to send to Wendy in college (popcorn), and what to add to jam to keep it from foaming when it’s boiling (butter).

Wendy gave us her grandma Vienna’s (Grandma N) pasty crust recipe, which Wendy also uses for pie crust. See her note below. Grandma Vienna is Wendy’s dad’s mom.

pasty crust recipe

I need to get busy making breakfast pasties. Although, I’ll never make them as delicious as King’s Pasties in Lead, South Dakota.

From Wendy

I use this [pasty crust] recipe for pie crust and to make the crust for pasties.  For pie crust, I use it as a pre-baked crust (for something like a french silk pie) and also as a crust for pies where it is baked with the filling, (like an apple pie).  For pasties, the process is similar, except for pasties, I divide the dough into smaller rounds and fill with hamburger, potatoes, onions, S&P, fold over and pinch and bake.”

We also talk about Wendy’s mom’s mother, Olga VanDeBruggen (pictured below). During the Great Depression, grandma Olga moved from the Dakotas to Wisconsin. Even with a job outside the home, she baked fresh bread every day because her husband loved it.

Grandma Olga VanDeBruggen

Also in this Episode

Wendy shares the sweet yeast dough recipe that she uses to make caramel rolls for their annual family Christmas get-together. Three or four pans of them disappear.

handwritten recipe for sweet yeast dough recipe for caramel or cinnamon rolls
Back of Caramel Rolls Recipe Card

She uses her friend Jenny’s caramel sauce on her caramel rolls.

handwritten recipe for caramel sauce

Wendy uses this crustless coconut pie and canned dilly beans as currency in her family.

handwritten recipe for coconut pie

There’s also the 1973 cookbook Wendy’s elementary school class made for Mother’s Day. We like how the ladies take on their husband’s name, like Mrs. Jason Mergenthal. That’s me!

1973 cookbook created by students in elementary school
Recipes in 1973 cookbook made in elementary school

I mentioned my hummus recipe in this podcast episode. Here’s one of my recipes.

Wendy’s First Episode

You may remember Wendy, color services manager at Hirshfield’s, from her first podcast episode with me, Painting Personality and Vibes into Your Kitchen with Wendy Doornink—Season 2, Episode 15 released on February 9, 2024.

Wendy Doornik
Wendy Doornink

A big thank you to Wendy for sharing these sweet memories and special recipes from her family. Be sure to tune in to her podcast episode.

Sweet wishes,


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