Lydia's Junior Cookies small batch

Sunday 28 June 2020

Growing up we were always aware of my mother's cousins in the states Lydia McNayr. I think she was probably my mother's second cousin, first cousin to my maternal Grandmother. 

She and her husband Austin had been very good to my mother's family during the great depression. They (like a lot of Maritimers) had moved down to the New England States of America to find work and had been able to prosper there.  

She and her husband used to ship home boxes of clothing and other things to my mother's family which they were most appreciative of.

Once mom got married and had a family Lydia continued to send gifts to us children every year.  They were highly unsual things. 

One year it was glow in the dark pictures of the Lords Prayer.  This picture hung over my bed and watched me during my sleep the whole of my childhood.

Another time it was crepe paper butterflies made with clothespins and pipecleaners.  They decorated the curtains in my sister and my bedroom for a long time. 

There was also pin cushions that looked like chairs, made from tin cans, all cut and twisted and painted to look incredibly ornate. These simple gifts meant the world to us to say the least.

We never got to meet her or her husband but we always felt that we knew them, partly from the gifts that she would send and also through the stories my mother would share of her.  

I wish I had written some of them down. There is an old, old photograph of she and her husband visiting way back when.  

Family photo

Its black and white and not very clear.   She is the first lady on the left in the back row, standing next to my maternal grandmother.  I wonder what she would think of me baking her cookies all these years later?

This is cousin Lydia's cookie recipe. It goes back many years.  The original recipe was shared to my grandmother and then to my mother and was handwritten on the back of an envelope.  No instructions, just ingredients. 

That's how recipes came to you in those days.  It was taken for granted most women knew basic skills like cooking and baking.

Lydia's Junior Cookies

Mom never baked homemade cookies very often, but when she did sometimes it was these.  They are wholesome and old fashioned  . . .  almost like little cakes.  

Not greasy and filled with the homey flavours of warm baking spices  . . .

Cinnamon, ginger  . . .  nutmeg  . . .

They are also flavoured with molasses and brown sugar and studded with lots of raisins and toasted nuts.  

I had not made them in a very long time.  The original recipe made a LOT of cookies.

Today I small-batched the recipe and made just two dozen and even that is a lot for us.  But what a wonderful taste of my childhood!

These are the kind of cookies you would enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk, or if you are a tea drinking person, a hot cuppa!

Like Lydia, I too flew far away from my Nova Scotia roots. Every so often I do like to enjoy one of these old fashioned family recipes. 

Eating one of these cookies is like having a warm hug from the past  . . .

They are old fashioned  . . . the country cousin of the toll house I expect . . .  made from simple ingredients that most cooks might have had in their larders in the old days.

The original recipe called for the use of shortening.  Today I used butter instead of shortening as we are trying to stick to more natural fats when we can.

The house smells so homey and beautiful when you bake these cake-like cookie treats!  Today, these were a most enjoyable taste from the past.

Lydia's Junior Cookies (small batch)

Lydia's Junior Cookies (small batch)
Yield: 24
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 10 Mtotal time: 20 M
These delicious old fashioned cookie are filled with lovely warm baking spice flavours and lots of raisins and nuts.  Sweetened with down home molasses and brown sugar. You just know these are comfort food cookies.


  • 275g plain flour (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp ginger
  • 60g butter, softened (1/4 cup)
  • 75g soft light brown sugar (1/3 cup, packed)
  • 60ml molasses (1/4 cup)
  • 1 large free range egg yolk
  • 60ml milk (1/4 cup)
  • 75g raisins (1/2 cup)
  • 60g chopped toasted walnuts (1/2 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C/ 350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.  Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Cream the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolk and the molasses.  Beat in the milk and then stir in the flour mixture to give you a nice stiff batter.
  4. Drop by heaped TBS onto the baking sheets, leaving two inches between each cookie.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, until set and just beginning to brown.
  6. Scoop off onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container.
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I think you will enjoy these cookies if you decide to bake them.  They  are old fashioned and comforting. If you would like the full size recipe just message me and I will oblidge!  

I really do wonder what Lydia would think of her recipe being baked on the other side of the ocean all these years later?  

I wonder  . . . . or even that some thirty odd years after her death, a little girl who was comforted all of her childhood by a glow in the dark Jesus would still be enjoying them and thinking of her while she did.

Lydia's Junior Cookies

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  1. They look a bit like our Rock Cakes. The recipe for these have a different ingredients though. I will give these a try too. I love a cake/cookie

    Julie xxxx

    1. They do look a bit like rock cakes Julie, but are not crumbly like rock cakes. They have a moister texture. I hope you enjoy them! xoxo

  2. Here is the link for our Rock Cakes, they have a history too. A rock cake, also called a rock bun, is a small cake with a rough surface resembling a rock. They were promoted by the Ministry of Food during the Second World War since they require fewer eggs and less sugar than ordinary cakes, an important savings in a time of strict rationing.

    Julie xxx

    1. Hi Julie! I have made rock cakes many times adn they are lovely! Here is the link to one of my recipes:

      I've made Jaffa ones as well!

    2. I've made Yorkshire ones as well!

  3. These look so good. Is there something you can substitute for The molasses? Thanks

    1. Hi Jacqueline! Many thanks for your question. When I am out of molasses (and it is a very difficult ingredient to come by here in the UK) I combine equal parts of golden syrup and dark treacle! I hope this helps. That would be 30ml (1/8 cup) of each. xo

  4. The spices in here make these sound especially delicious. I love that combo.

    1. Thanks Jeanie! They are very old fashioned! xoxo

  5. What a sweet story! She would love that you are still baking her cookie recipe. They look delicious!

  6. Well i have never seen these types of cookies before but just to tell you it looks like a kind of "Pakoda" in Indian food. It really looks tasty surely i will give it a try soon. Thank you for sharing this recipe Marie :)

    1. You are very welcome! I hope that you enjoy them! xo

  7. Yes i absolutely enjoyed them and it taste so good :)

  8. These look like lassy mogs and the ingredients resemble them as well. President's Choice had produced lassy mogs a few years back but have since discontinued them, or maybe my grocery store just doesn't carry them. I had found a recipe online and made them and they were delicious, but I never found the recipe again. I will try these to see how they compare.


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