Thanks to a stranger in California, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church members are receiving homemade cookies, delivered to their doors by church staff.

The Rev. Betty Glover and Jessica Ives, the church administrator, received a package from a thoughtful San Diego woman who purchased a 75-year-old St. Matthew’s cookbook at a rummage sale. She bought the book and mailed it to the Fairbanks church.

While the women perused the aged book, they discovered intriguing cookie recipes and decided to start baking once a week. They whipped up so many cookies they decided to share them. After packaging them into small colorful boxes, they made deliveries to parishioners.

“St. Matthew’s is all about feeding, and I’m all about hospitality,” Glover said. “It seemed like a good match and an example of Christian hospitality.”

“Favorite Recipes, Fairbanks, Alaska” is the name of the cookbook, with each recipe attributed to the person who submitted it, usually in the manner of “Mrs. John Smith.” The inside cover says the book was compiled and edited by St. Matthew’s Guild. The original price was $1.75.

“This book contains only practical, home-tested recipes which Fairbanks housewives have been generous enough to share,” the inscription says. The book is in such fragile condition it’s being stored in the church safe.

The collection is peppered with advertisements from long-gone establishments like Piggly Wiggly.

“I love the ads as much as the recipes,” Glover said. “One of the ads mentioned a telephone party line, which Jessica had never heard of.”

The recipes are simple, containing simple ingredients and sometime lacking oven temperature or baking times.

“Apparently shortbread was popular in 1944,” Ives said. She liked the project so much she made labels for the cookie containers. They say, “A box full of cookie love for you from your St. Matthew’s family.”

Recipients have welcomed the deliveries with wonder and joy, Glover said. “It’s such a little thing. People don’t always take the time to bake cookies so they really appreciate it.”

Each box contains six cookies wrapped in festive paper. “It’s not about the cookies; it’s about hospitality,” Glover said.

Lori Gorsline, who volunteers to help sometimes, said, “I love making cookies and I like the togetherness in the kitchen.”

Glover said she hopes to continue the program but may have to ask for contributions for supplies. “I would love for everybody to get a cookie but we are using so much butter and flour.”

Nancy Tarnai, a local freelance writer, loves to bake, share and eat cookies. She can be reached at njtarnai@gmail.com.

Spirit Cookies

1/2 pound butter

2/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

2¼ cups flour

almond extract

Cream butter and sugar, add beaten yolks, extract and flour. Put through a cookie press and bake in a hot oven.

Prince Edward Island Porcupines

1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 whole eggs, dropped in and beaten

1 cup coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

2 cups dates

vanilla

Mix, place in refrigerator for a few hours Break off small pieces, roll into balls, then roll the balls in coconut and bake in a slow oven for 25 minutes. Makes 70.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup shortening, softened

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon baking powder 

Cream sugar, peanut butter and shortening together. Beat in the egg. Add sifted dry ingredients. Break off bits of cookie dough the size of your thumb. Place on a greased sheet and pat out with a fork. Leave tine marks on the surface.

Bake until golden brown at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from the pan. Yields about 6 dozen cookies.