A Treat From My Childhood

My grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa

The older I get the more I appreciate the multitude of things I learned from my Grandma Walter. Being an Iowa farm wife with six children, she learned to stretch things as far as she could. For example, a talented gardener, she always had plenty of potatoes. To make her homemade chicken soup go farther, more filling and need less chicken, she served her soup over mashed potatoes. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized this wasn’t how everyone ate their chicken soup.

I remember my grandmother saving Wonder Bread bags and crocheting them into round “rugs” for the porch. She also made the most beautiful dollies. One day I asked her to teach me how to make them. (She’d already taught me to crochet.) But like so many things she did, she simply did them without a pattern or recipe. She explained how she created the intricate design, but I couldn’t keep up. I wish now I’d tried harder and made at least a few notes.

Whenever I was at the farm around my birthday in July, my grandmother would make me an angel food cake. We’d smoosh up fresh strawberries along with sugar. When they became good and juicy, I’d pour spoonfuls over a slice of cake and add a dollop of fresh whipped cream. That’s still my favorite cake today, though with a store bought one, it’s never quite the same.

Today I’m sharing my Grandma Walter’s Lemon Bars recipe. Whenever I’m asked to bring cookies or bars, this is what I make. That way I get to them enjoy them. With the rest of my family being chocolate fiends, lemon bars aren’t their favorites, and if I make them at home, I eat them all myself! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Lemon Bars

2 C flour

½ C powdered sugar

1 C butter

Mix the above ingredients well with pieces of butter being pea size or smaller. I use a fork or a pastry blender. Press evenly into a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

4 eggs slightly beaten

6 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 C sugar

4 Tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking powder


In a bowl mix the sugar, flour and baking powder well. Combine slightly beaten eggs and lemon juice. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Pour this mixture over baked crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.


When cool, sprinkle with more powdered sugar and cut into bars. Refrigerate.

To be entered in the random drawing to win a signed copy of A Cure for the Vet and the Wine makes a good book great glass leave a comment about a dessert or treat you love but your family isn’t crazy about.

Website | + posts

Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

42 thoughts on “A Treat From My Childhood”

  1. I’ll do the opposite. I make a tasty red velvet cake, and everyone in the family loves it–except for me. I don’t like red velvet cake. I do love the old school ermine icing I put on it. That’s the original icing, not cream cheese.

    • You sound like me Denise. I make a lot of things that my family loves, mostly chocolate, that I’m not crazy about. I guess that’s good since I’m trying to cut down on sweets. I’m with you, though. I don’t see what the big deal is with red velvet cake. Thanks for stopping by today, and stay safe!

    • Melanie, my family loves chocolate pie, too! I like it better when it’s not super chocolatey and has lot of fresh whipped cream. I love it when it’s more of a chocolate mouse pie. Of course, my family thinks the more chocolatey the better! Thanks for stopping by today.

  2. I love lemon-flavored desserts and treats, but everyone else in my family dislikes them. I am going to make your Grandma Walter’s Lemon Bars! I won’t have to worry that they will be all eaten up behind my back like the two pans of brownies I baked last week.Thank you for the recipe.

    • Roxanne, it’s so funny that you say that! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made brownies or chocolate chip cookies and had that happen! I’ll be hungry for something sweet and think, oh yeah, I just made brownies. I’ll have one, and sure enough, they’re gone! With 3 boys in the house and my hubby chocolate treats never last more than a day. My youngest is home since his college is finishing the semester online. My middle son was having trouble working from home and living alone. Way too much alone time, so he moved back in during the week and goes back to his apartment on weekends. That means I’m back to not being able to keep food in the house, (both kids are in their 20’s) and baked good vanish almost as fast as I make them.

      Email me and let me know how you like the lemon bars! I’d love to hear what you think!

    • Becky, my husband loves shrimp, but I don’t. Whenever I’d go out of town, he’d make that for himself. I really need to come up with a way to do surf and turf so he can have shrimp more often. I should work on coming up with something for Father’s Day. Thanks for the idea!

      We women don’t treat ourselves enough. I’d been craving my Grandma Walter’s lemon bars, but couldn’t bring myself to make them because no one else likes them. I needed the blog as an excuse. I had to take pictures! I hope you treat yourself to chilled boiled shrimp soon. Take care and stay safe.

  3. Hi, Julie–I really enjoyed your post! My grandmother was a great cook and could also do all types of sewing and needle-crafts. During the Great Depression, she made her own clothing patterns for the family from brown paper bags, made dish towels from flour sacks, canned all types of vegetables grown by grandfather, and she even delivered a few babies in her spare time. My mom’s favorite dessert was the angel food cake and strawberries just like you described. We all loved making hand-cranked vanilla ice cream in the Summer, and it had to be topped with juicy fresh peach slices in sugar syrup. I have a very rich brownie recipe that I created, and it includes all kinds of good things-including coffee. I am the only one who doesn’t think it’s too rich!!! Thank you for the recipe–Best Wishes for all releases!!!

    • Virginia, thank you for your lovely comment. It made me smile. Your grandmother was so like my Grandma Walter! She also did all kinds of canning–tomatoes, pickles and peaches come to mind. More things I wish I’d taken the time to learn. I have a peach canning recipe my mother tried to piece together from what she remembered my grandmother doing, but it never turns out well for me. I loved her canned peaches. I could eat the whole jar! But store canned peaches? I’m not such a fan. Isn’t that odd? I wish I could can tomatoes, but as I can’t get tomatoes to grow in my garden, I guess it’s not a big deal.

      I get my crafting love from my grandma, too. My mother doesn’t have the patience for crafting and always felt she should be doing something “productive.” I enjoy crocheting, making jewelry and cards, though I don’t have much time for it lately because of writing and the rescue work I do. But when I get stressed that’s what I turn to–crafting, refinishing furniture, or home improvement projects. But it has to be something that keeps my hands busy.

      Thank you for stopping by today and reminiscing about our wonderful grandmothers! Take care and stay safe.

    • Charlene, I love bread pudding, too, especially with a good warm whiskey sauce! But I’ve never been able to find a good recipe. Mine always turns out too dry. I think making a good bread pudding is an art. Thank you for stopping by today and for making me crave bread pudding!

  4. That is an easy question. I love my paternal grandmother’s Sugar Cream Pie. I haven’t made it in forever because I am the only one who will eat it. You make a piecrust and bake it until brown. In a large frying pan cook white sugar until it browns. Add butter and cream and cook mixture until a firm soft ball stage. Pour in to prepared crust, sprinkle with chopped walnuts, and let cool. It is so rich. When I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, my Grandmother mailed one to me for Christmas. It took several weeks to get to me but arrived in good shape (she put it in a Danish cookie tin). It was the best thing I ever ate. I need to find the recipe and make one. It should last at least a week, if not more.
    Stay safe and healthy.

    • Patricia, the Sugar Cream Pie sounds so good. I have a funny feeling if I tried to make it I’d end up burning the sugar. I bet that’s the tricky part. How sweet of your grandmother to mail you one, and aren’t tins great for mailing baked goods a long way? When my oldest was deployed, I sent him pumpkin bread and cookies. I’d always put them in a tin. It was a tip my best friend gave me that she learned when she sent a cousin baked goods when he was deployed.

      Thank you for sharing your grandma’s Sugar Cream Pie with us today.

  5. Well they can all eat strawberries that I am allergic to! The chocolate and lemon is what all will eat!!

    • Teresa, thank you for stopping by today to chat. It has to be difficult being allergic to a food everyone else enjoys. Thank goodness you agree on chocolate and lemon! Take care and stay safe.

    • Kim, I love a shortbread cookie for the same reason, because they’re not overly sweet. I’ve worked hard to decrease the amount of sugar I eat. Since I’ve done that, many baked goods I once enjoyed are now too sweet. Cupcakes is one, unless I make them. Shops heap on so much frosting it’s like eating a bad of sugar. My grandmother had Norwegian cookies she made. Unfortunately, none of her children learned to make them, and I never found the time once I wanted to learn. My Grandma Walter made lefse. I’ve learned how to make it, but it takes so much time. I loved eating it with butter and sugar.

      Thanks for stopping by and reminding me of my Norwegian heritage. Take care and stay safe.

  6. One of my favorite treats is ice cream with cherries in it. My husband hates cherries. I luck out as he never touches that ice cream when I have it in the freezer.

    • Janine, thank you so much for your comment. I love cherries, too, but I’ve never thought of making homemade ice cream and adding cherries! I go crazy eating them when they’re in season, which is right now! My youngest son makes a wonderful cherry pie, and the last few years he’s made one for me on Mother’s Day. Since that is this weekend, I need to ask if he’ll make me one. But I think I’ll have to add making homemade ice cream to this weekend’s events. We can split the ice cream. My guys can add chocolate chips or Butterfinger candy bars and I’ll add cherries. Oh dear. This post wasn’t a good idea. With all the great treats everyone has mentioned that I now crave I’m going to put on five pounds. But I’ll enjoy every moment of it!

      Thank you for popping in today and reminding me it’s cherry season! I hope you get to enjoy some soon, too. Take care and stay safe.

      • I hope you get the ice cream made. I also like homemade peach ice cream. My husband is like your guys, liking the candy and chocolate in his. Chocolate chips and cherries are a really good combination too. All the comments had me craving sweets too.

      • Janine, thanks for popping back on. You’ve reminded me I need to ask Nathan, my youngest to help me with the pie, and tell all the guys I want to make homemade ice cream! Got to stock up on cherries.

        I’m not sure my post was such a good idea. I’ve been craving sweets like crazy too!

        Have a blessed day and stay safe!

  7. I have to follow a gluten free diet so anything gluten free, my family acts like I am trying to murder them

    • Debra, with so many people having to do gluten free, there are way more options than there used to be. There are more variations of pasta, and they taste better than when they first came out. Why is it so hard for families to adapt to diet changes? I guess it’s because food are associated with memories. Many of my wonderful memories of my grandmother and the farm are linked to food. Stay tough with the family. They can do gluten free as a gift to you! Stay safe.

  8. I love pecan pie but the family would rather have something else like a brownie or anything chocolate.

    • You’re like my husband. He loves a pecan pie, but no one else in the family goes. I’ve tried making it a couple times, and it’s turned out okay. That’s another baked item, like bread pudding, that requires a little skill.

      Thank you for stopping by today. Stay safe!

    • Alisa, my oldest son wanted lobster for his birthday dinner this year. His girlfriend intended to make it for him. With COVID-19, we didn’t get to see him, but I need to ask how the dinner turned out.

      You’re like me and my husband, but in reverse. He loves seafood, but I’m not a fan. When we go to a restaurant, especially Italian ones, he’ll order a dish with claims, scallops or something such as lobster ravioli. That way he gets his seafood fix without us having to cook 2 separate meals.

      Thanks for popping in to chat. Stay safe!

    • Caryl, avocados are tricky. If they’re ripe, I like adding them to sandwiches or whatever. The tough thing is finding ones that are ripe, but not too ripe. Because of that, I’m reluctant to buy them much.

      Thanks for stopping by today. Take care and stay safe.

  9. Brings back memories for me, too. My grandmother cooked and baked without recipes so as we grew older we had to watch and try to make notes. Nobody ever got the “chocolate sauce” – hot fudge sauce – right, but my sister and I still make a soup we called “G.I. Soup” which stood for Grandma’s invention. Potatoes, ground beef, tomatoes, green beans, whatever was handy. We thought it was a treat but I’m sure it was just to stretch whatever there was. She also crocheted those intricate doilies without a pattern and used to cut out paper dolls for me from brown bags freehand.

    The lemon bars sound tasty, and a good use of some of the flour we are finding a little hard to replace! I also love anything strawberry-rhubarb and bread pudding, but the family won’t join me in those.

    • Sally, your grandmother sounds so like mine! Even to the strawberry-rhubarb stuff. Mine had rhubarb growing behind the old grainery. She would make rhubarb pie. I don’t remember being a fan of it, but a lot of my uncles and aunts loved it. If I remember correctly it had a custardy type base. I do love strawberry rhubarb jam. There used to be a woman at my church who would sell it at the woman’s bazaar every year. She’d bring back rhubarb from Minnesota and make it.

      Thank you for stopping by and bringing up so many pleasant memories. Stay safe!

    • Colleen, that would be a good thing in my house. It would mean no one else would eat the ice cream and I would actually get some.

      Thanks for stopping by today. Take care and stay safe.

  10. I’m granny’s on both side certainly taught me quite a bit about being thrifty and making great things out of what we had around.
    They both quilted and both made all my clothes until I was 6 or 7 years old. My Granny Lucas was a streamstress in a clothing factory.
    Thank you for the lemon square bars recipe. They look delish.

    • Tonya, I wish I could sew better. There are so many more things like clothes I’d like to make. I think our grandparents’ generation had to be frugal. They went through The Depression and knew how quickly everything could be gone. I’m so glad to see people repurposing things today. Too much gets thrown out that could be given a second life, and all we’re doing is clogging up landfills.

      Thank you for coming by to chat. Take care.

  11. Lemon bars are a favorite of mine! I’ll have to try this recipe. My hubby’s grandma is a phenomenal crocheter. She has tried to teach me, but I just can’t comprehend her amazing skills. Such a lost art! (don’t enter me, I already have this amazing book)

    • Susan, if you try the lemon bars, email me and let me know how they turn out. It’s a pretty easy, fool proof recipe. I can crochet, but I’ve never done a good job following a pattern or making anything intricate, but it does relax me.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Take care and stay safe!

    • Glenda, coconut cream pie sounds wonderful. I’ve never been brave enough to try making one, though. Thank you for stopping by today. Stay safe.

  12. Hi, I enjoyed reading your post, Thank you for sharing your lemon bars recipe, they sound delicious. I make Rum Cake every year on New Years Day, my family loves it with the rum and I myself prefer it without the rum, so I usually make one with all the rum the recipe calls for and then I make another one with way less rum then the recipe asks for. It is a delicious cake, I just don’t like it too, too rummy flavored. I prefer my rum in a Cuba Libre. 🙂

    • Alicia, good for you for making a cake the you like it, but goodness, making two cakes is a lot of work. But if you’re like me, if I had to choose, I’d make the one everyone else likes, so I might as well go to the work and get something for myself, too! Thanks for popping in and stay safe.

Comments are closed.