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GUEST COLUMN: I still can't forget Miss Kohrt's cookies

GUEST COLUMN: I still can't forget Miss Kohrt's cookies
GUEST COLUMN: I still can't forget Miss Kohrt's cookies

CAROLE LEDBETTER, of Ottawa, a former Write Team columnist, writes: "Many people will remember Miss Mabel Kohrt, who taught home economics in the Ottawa Elementary Schools for many years. I've also included the recipe. I think some people might like to have it to make Christmas cookies."

Once again I pull out the tattered recipe. It’s time to make Miss Kohrt’s cookies.

Nostalgia engulfs me as I recall making the trek across town to Miss Mabel Kohrt's home economics class.

One-half day every week for a semester, eighth-graders from various Ottawa grade schools made the trip to Columbus School, at 400 E. Washington St. — where the Ravlin Congregate Center is now — for classes in home economics for the girls and manual arts for boys.

Kohrt taught home economics from 1925 until her retirement in 1960. She passed away in 1985.  Her class assured that no young woman would leave Ottawa elementary schools without acquiring the basic knowledge required to cook for her future family.

Our work stations were fitted with pots and pans and other cooking supplies, including dishpans. One of our first assignments was learning to wash dishes. We baked cakes and cookies and learned to plan healthy meals that included all the basic food groups. Miss Kohrt often went from desk to desk, thoughtfully sampling our work.

What ever happened to home economics? Some people later saw home economics as anti-intellectual, according to an article titled “Who Killed Home Ec? Here’s The Real Story Behind Its Demise” that appeared in the Huffington Post on Sept. 29, 2014 stated:  “... running one’s home as efficiently as possible in order to make more time for things like, say, education — might be surprising to those who still see home economics as being anti-intellectual ... home economics wasn’t contrary to feminist principles ... Rather it could liberate women from house work.”

The American Home Economics Association was later renamed the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences and still exists today.

Shepherd Middle School, in Ottawa, offered home economics until a year ago when they changed to the STEM lab, where there is still a cooking option.

For those of you who might like to try Miss Kohrt’s cookie recipe, I’ve included it here.


2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup shortening or butter

1/2 cup sour milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon anise

Combine dry ingredients. Add butter. Mix until cornmeal-like consistency. Add other ingredients. Mix and form into ball. Cover and chill, best if overnight.  Roll out on floured board and cut with cutters of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

I think anise is the magic ingredient.

  • CAROLE LEDBETTER, of Ottawa, is a former Write Team member. She is the author of "Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life's Changing Seasons." You may visit her blog at She can be reached through The Times at

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