Most people would think having a stash of more than 20 batches of varieties of homemade cookies and candies nine days before Christmas was amazing, maybe even impossible, but not Pat Gebhard. This is how she rolls, not just at Christmas, but year-round.
"I go through magazines constantly and am always looking for something that is attractive and colorful," she said. "I often change them a bit. I usually have two women at work that want cookie trays and others who want Danish.
"I create a lot of my own recipes," she continued. "I want a certain flour, and I want a certain chocolate. I would not buy cocoa from the grocery store if my life depended on it. I get a deep, dark, rich cocoa powder from the Amish and only buy my flour from the Amish. It is high in gluten and sifted like a million times."
Pat Gebhard has made more than 20 varieties of cookies and candies for friends, co-workers and family to enjoy during the Christmas holiday.
Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland
Even though she loves baking Christmas treats, she also enjoys other types of cooking and baking and does canning, as well.
"I like to do different things such as making different varieties of bread," she said.
She tells about the spaghetti bread she enjoys making with spaghetti sauce, herbs and parmesan and cheddar cheeses. She saves the water in which she cooks potatoes for the liquid in bread-making and all juices from fruit for her Danish in an effort to add more nutritious ingredients.
After being convinced by the late Alice Goodrich, she entered food in the Cattaraugus County Fair, once competing against a woman who had told of paying $100 for a brownie recipe.
"I won first prize," she said. "The last year I entered I took first place in everything I took (to the fair), so I stopped entering. There was no challenge."
She began her life-long passion in the kitchen after her father left her mother to raise eight children.
"My mom had to work, and I was the oldest girl. From the time I was 13 I cooked and baked," she said. "After I married, my husband's mother, who was an excellent German cook, taught me so much. I could live in the kitchen. I don't have to have another room in the house. Paul made all of my cupboards so I have a lot of them."
"My basement is chock-full of food. I have 500 quarts of food and juice down there," she said matter -of-factly. "I have three freezers packed full. We did 170 gallons of cider this fall."
She has two stoves for heavy-duty cooking and baking. When she bakes pies, Gebhard is serious about making not 8 or 9-inch pies, but 10 and even 12-inch pies.
"I've made enough pies to wrap around the world," she said. "I use hot water in the crust, not the ice water that most recipes call for. I don't roll the crust out on a floured board, but between two sheets of waxed paper. Corn flake liners are the best to roll them out on."
She and her husband, Paul, have lived on their Randolph farm for 35 years where they have 2 acres of blueberries and put in a small apple orchard years ago. They have used one of the kitchen door casings as their grandchildrens' growth chart. The couple's three children and four grandchildren live within shouting distance. Well, almost. They live between and 1 mile from where they grew up.
"This is Gebhardville."
While on the topic of her children, she said, "I wanted them to all know how to cook and bake. My oldest, Robert, made an apple pie when he was 12 and entered it in the (county) fair. He won first prize. I was so proud of him."
Mrs. Gebhard has worked as a nurse's aide in WCA Hospital's medical rehab unit.
"It's the best place to work," she said, fondly. "I love working with the older patients."
She has enjoyed working alongside her husband over the years.
"I love building. When Paul and I first got married we built barns, our shed and a section onto our house," she said. "We've just done all kinds of things and are both quite active. I'm pretty adventurous. I like to try different things."
She went on to say that she helps on the farm where she can and helped with the haying for many years.
"But I would rather be four-wheeling or riding my motor scooter," she said.
The Gebhards are members of Randolph Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The Peanut Butter No-Bakes was her mother's recipe. Mrs. Gebhard has never made fudge, as she wants to remember that as her mother's job "because that was a special thing."
"I've been making Santa's Whiskers forever," she said. "My son Robert loves them, but he only gets them once a year."
She chooses to make a drop cookie with her daughter's Sour Cream Cookie recipe, a favorite of her oldest grandchildren. She "had" to have the recipe after her girlfriend brought the Toffee Bars to her home 25 years ago.
"My husband loved his grandmother's Pecan Sandies, but she was gone," she said. "I researched and found a recipe that I changed and he said it tasted exactly like his grandmother's."
Pat Gebhard hopes you will enjoy these recipes as much as she does.
Straight from the kitchen
1 cup softened butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 tbsp. instant coffee, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, semisweet chocolate, melted, finely chopped pecans. Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Stir together flour, coffee, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt; slowly blend into creamed mixture. Using a star plate, force through cookie press in 3 inch strips on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes. Cool. Dip one end of each cookie in chocolate, then coat with nuts. Makes 6 1/2 dozen.
MAGIC COOKIE BARS
Preheat oven to350 F. In a 13x9 glass dish melt 1 stick butter, add 1 pkg. crushed graham crackers. Mix well and press down. Layer on top, 1 cup chocolate chips,1 cup chopped nuts,1 1/3 cups coconut flakes, drizzle on top 1 can sweetened condensed milk. Bake for 25 minutes, cool 15 minutes and cut into squares.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 11x17 jelly roll pan with foil and lightly grease. Next line the pan with saltine crackers. In a sauce pan melt 1 cup butter with 1 cup brown sugar. bring to boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. (Important). Pour over crackers. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Melt 12 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate chips and spread over toffee. Refrigerate over night and cut into squares.
Preheat oven to 350 F. 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup softened butter, cream together, add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cream tarter, 1 tsp. vanilla, mix well, add 2 cups cornflakes (not crushed) mix well. Bake 10-12 minutes.
PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
2 1/2 cups conf. sugar, 1 cup smooth peanut butter,1/2 cup softened butter. Mix together shape into 1 inch balls. Dip into melted chocolate. Dark chocolate wafers are what I use.
In a sauce pan combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup milk,1 /4 cup light corn syrup. cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, to soft ball stage (236 F). Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1 tsp. vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups quick oats and 1 cup coconut flakes. Drop quickly onto wax paper. Cool. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.
1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup chopped red candied cherries, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 3/4 cup flaked coconut. In a mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar; blend in milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, chopped candied cherries, and chopped pecans. Form dough into two 8-inch rolls. Roll in flaked coconut to coat outside. Wrap in waxed paper; chill thoroughly. Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F till edges are golden, about 10-12 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.
Mix together thoroughly ... 1 cup butter flavored Crisco, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 eggs. Sift together and stir in ... 2 3/4 cups flour, 2 tsp. cream tarter, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt. Chill dough. Roll into walnut size balls. Dip in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Place about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 F 8-10 minutes until lightly browned ... but still soft. (These cookies will puff up at first ... then flatten out with crinkled tops.) Makes 5 dozen 2" cookies.
SOUR CREAM COOKIES
1 cup sugar, 1 cup sour cream, 1 tsp. almond flavoring, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 cup softened butter, 2 eggs, 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda. Mix all ingredients. (except flour and butter) in a bowl with electric mixer. When all mixed, add flour and mix, then add butter and mix for 3 minutes. Dough will be sticky. Cover dough and chill for 10 hours. drop by tsp. full onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes. Frost and decorate.
1 cup softened butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg. Mix well and add 3 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3/4 cup chopped pecans. Roll into walnut size balls and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 350 F 8-10 minutes Makes about 3 dozen.
Mix together 1/3 cup soft butter flavored Crisco, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups molasses, stir in 1/2 cup cold water. Sift together and stir in 6 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. each of ginger, allspice, cloves, cinnamon. Stir in 2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 3 tbsp. cold water. Chill dough. Roll out very thick, cut out desired shape. Bake at 350 F 15-18 minutes.
ROLLED SUGAR COOKIES
Mix together 1 cup soft butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp., vanilla. Add 3 cups flour. Chill 1 hour. Roll out and cut out desired shape and decorate.
CREAM CHEESE MINTS
4 oz. softened cream cheese, 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract, 3 cups conf. sugar. Mix well, refrigerate for 1 hour. Shape into bite size balls and flatten with a fork crosswise. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.