When Mary Gordon started cooking as a young girl, she learned how important it was to follow recipes closely. “My first cake when I was very young – I didn’t know that you used both columns of the recipe. It didn’t come out very well.”

She’s certainly learned since then. Her advice for less-experienced cooks: “Don’t be discouraged and don’t be afraid to experiment.”

Gordon got many of her cooking skills from her mother.

“I’m one of 10 children. Feeding 10 children with not a lot of money, it was a challenge. The need to stretch and make it taste good seemed to come natural to her. She passed that talent on to me.”

Her mother is still an inspiration for her. “Some of my [recipe] ideas came from my mother, some from old cookbooks and others by experimenting with different ideas and ingredients.”

New England specialties, like doughnuts, baked beans, dynamite sandwiches, pickles, mincemeat, whoopie pies and cream puffs, are among Gordon’s favorite things to make in the kitchen. However, there is one recipe that does test this experienced and fearless cook. Gordon admits, “Pie crust is my challenge. It’s either hit or miss.”

Gordon keeps her kitchen well-stocked, saying that cinnamon, nutmeg and bouillon are must-haves that she needs on hand for many of her recipes. She also claims to have “a secret ingredient.” Needless to say, Gordon is very protective of it and wouldn’t divulge any further information about it. Another necessity in her kitchen is her wooden spoons.

Gordon lives in Jay and works at International Paper. She has five children and eight grandchildren. In addition to cooking, she enjoys canning, reading and spending time with her family. Cooking, though, is one of her favorite activities because it’s “relaxing and fun for me and a joy for others. The best thing about cooking is sharing with family, friends and co-workers.”

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder
3½ cups flour
Beat sugar and butter. Beat in eggs. Add buttermilk or sour milk. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Cover, place in refrigerator two hours or overnight. Roll out, then hand shape or use doughnut cutter.

Deep fry at 350 degrees for about 1½ minutes on each side. Makes about two dozen, depending on the size of the cutter.
5 pounds of venison, cooked and then ground

2 quarts chopped apples

1 pound suet

4 oranges, ground, peel and all.

4 lemons, ground, peel and all

2 to 3 small cans crushed pineapple (or one large can)

½ cup vinegar or coffee

¼ cup coffee

3 pounds brown sugar

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon allspice

1 tablespoon nutmeg

½ tablespoon cloves

1 tablespoon salt
1½ pounds of raisins
Mix all ingredients together and cook on slow heat until tender, about two hours. This needs to be monitored and stirred from time to time. Recipe makes approximately 10 quarts, which can be frozen or processed in canning jars.
Mary’s note:
This recipe also can be made with green tomatoes in place of venison.

(3 quarts green tomatoes, chopped and drained two hours, then cooked for 45 minutes and drained overnight)
Mincemeat cookies
¾ cup shortening

1½ cups sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

3 cups flour

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1½ to 2 cups mincemeat

3 tablespoons water (if needed)
Nuts are optional
Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, mix well. Add dry ingredients. Stir in mincemeat; if mixture is dry, add a bit of water. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

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