Baking Up Memories, Creating Family Traditions

To celebrate Latham Hi-Tech Seeds’ 65th anniversary in 2012, we printed some of Evelyn Latham’s favorite recipes. She and Willard lived in the house that today serves as company headquarters. In fact, my office is where their kitchen once was.

Evelyn was known for her gracious hospitality and for a smile that reached her eyes. She was always sure to invite family, friends, neighbors and customers to sit down at the table and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and plate full of homemade cookies. It’s no wonder she was named Master Farm Homemaker in 1962 by Wallaces Farmer!

Blue RibbonLittle did we know then that one of our family traditions would spark a tradition for one of our seed dealer’s families. Earlier this summer Kathi Johnson of Odebolt, Iowa, sent me e-mail saying how excited her oldest daughter was because her Monster Cookies had been selected to advance from the county competition to the Iowa State Fair. This Monster Cookie recipe was one of Evelyn’s favorites!

I can only imagine how delighted Evelyn would have been, knowing this 4-H member and her mother are creating great memories in their kitchen. Some of my favorite childhood memories were formed as I stood on a chair to reach the countertop, so I could cut homemade noodles in my great grandma’s kitchen. My great grandma had a way of making me feel like I was such a great helper! She even made me a pint-sized apron with a small doll in the pocket. I had to leave the apron at her house, so I could wear it on baking day. Just thinking about Grandma Fowler’s delicious homemade chicken and noodles puts a smile on my face!

Treasured memories of baking with her grandma inspired Cristen Clark of Runnells, Iowa, to develop award-winning recipes. She started the Food and Swine blog to capture those recipes for her children, as well as to help consumers understand the care that goes into raising crops and livestock.

Cristen started baking with her children when they were just tots. One great thing about baking with family is that duties can be assigned based on a child’s age. Youngsters can pour pre-measured ingredients into a bowl, help stir and press cookie cutters into dough. Older kids can measure the ingredients. (Honestly, I credit measuring cups for helping me understand how to add fractions.) People of all ages can help decorate. Colored frosting, sprinkles and other toppings can spark creativity.

Watching her mom and grandma bake inspired 11-year-old Jaci Johnson to learn how to bake, too. She’s in her second year as a member of the Richland Robins 4-H Club, but 2017 was the first time she exhibited baked goods at the Sac County Fair. Success is sweet for 4-H members who have the honor of taking baked goods to the state fair.

“It’s an awesome honor to have my cookies selected to go to state,” says Jaci. “I was not expecting this since it’s my first year exhibiting 4-H projects at the fair.”

Every good home cook knows that using quality ingredients is the first step to creating delicious food items. Not everyone has the knack for mixing the dough just so or baking it to the proper doneness. It appears that Jaci has the knack!

Special thanks to Jaci for helping us celebrate the 70th anniversary of Latham Seeds today by sharing her Iowa State Fair blue ribbon winning recipe!

Monster Cookies



1 cup margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

A pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 cup peanut butter

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup chopped peanuts




Mix all ingredients together.

Drop onto greased cookie sheet

Can be made large or small

Bake about 10 minutes at 350o