Cooking With The Little Colonel

Cooking with the Little Colonel
Seven delicious recipes for you to try

As a young child, Hattie Cochran Dick was the inspiration for Annie Fellows Johnson’s Little Colonel series of books for girls. Later in life, she also became a popular hostess, known for serving delicious, regional foods.

The story below, copied from a newspaper article that appeared in the Louisville Times, date unknown, tells how the books got started and also provides four of the Little Colonel’s favorite recipes. 

‘The Little Colonel’ Gives Old Family Recipes
By Helen Leopold, Louisville Times Women’s Editor 

            “This forlorn thing,” said Mrs. Albert C. Dick, beloved as the original Little Colonel, as she thumbed through an old yellowed cookbook.  The paper was torn, pages stained with age, lots of pages loose and most writing very pale.  It belonged to her mother, Mrs. John Hoadley Cochran. 

            “This hasn’t been used for years,” said Mrs. Dick, “and I hope I can find the recipes I’m looking for.  We use most of them from memory.” 

            Hattie Cochran Dick has for several decades been known throughout the English-speaking world as the child who inspired Mrs. Annie Fellows Johnston’s series of books for girls. 

            To her friends now, she is a pretty, charming, witty, soft-spoken lady with two married sons.  She also sets “one of the best tables in Louisville.” 

Serves Regional Food

            Guests of Mr. and Mrs. Dick say that “there never was better food.”  It is not pretentious.  It is regional and it is “perfectly prepared.”

             As a friend explained, “Hattie has had several cooks in her married life, but her food always tastes the same.  You know she keeps her hand in somehow, though she’s never really cooked – even if it’s just to see that a pinch of this or that is added.” 

            The other day when Mrs. Dick was hunting up recipes for us to use she realized that Mrs. Johnston got the idea for the first Little Colonel book when she, then Hattie Cochran, was five years old. 

            “Our family was spending the summer at Pewee Valley, which used to be sort of a Louisville summer resort.  Mrs. Johnston’s home was there.” 

Was Like Old Colonel

            “I was so much like my (maternal) grandfather, Colonel George Weissinger (he was an imperious, peppery sort of man) that it amused Mrs. Johnston.  She always called me the Little Colonel, even before the book was started. 

            “She used to watch me ride in the saddle with my grandfather on his horse, Maggie Boy, and she’d see me carry my polly parrot around on a broom handle and wheel Fritz, my dog, in a doll carriage.” 

            The original book is true to life except for the fact that the Little Colonel’s father and grandfather didn’t speak until the happy ending.  Actually, Colonel Weissinger was very fond of his son-in-law, John Hoadley Cochran. 

            What inspired the book’s tour de force is that Colonel Weissinger was an unreconstructed Rebel straight out of the Civil War and Mrs. Archie Cochran, the paternal grandmother, was a Yankee, born in Pittsfield, MA. 

            “Neither grandparent ever changed views,” said Mrs. Dick, “and they couldn’t even sit in the same room with each other.” 

            Then she returned to the cookbook, murmuring, “This couldn’t be the best recipe.  It’s too easy to read.”  She checked for a more crumpled page with pale handwriting. 

            “This veal loaf’s really right good,” she said modestly. 

Veal Loaf

  • 1-1/2 lbs. finely grained ground veal (cutlets work well)
  • ½ finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T cream
  • ½ C dry bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter for basting

Combine egg yolks, cream and bread crumbs. Blend with meat.  Add seasonings, green pepper and onion.  Mix well. 

Bake in a mold or pan no more than 2 inches high as you don’t want to cook the meat too long.  Dot and baste with butter.  Bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) for about an hour.  Serve with mushroom sauce or olive and tomato sauce.

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce
(This is the only recipe not out of the old family album, but was adopted when a friend brought it back from Hollywood.) 

  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ bottle chili sauce
  • ½ bottle ketchup
  • 3 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t Tabasco sauce
  • 1 t chopped chives
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of soda
  • ½ cup thick cream

 Beat ingredients (except soda and cream) thoroughly , then let stand in refrigerator until chilled.  At last minute, add a pinch of soda and the thick cream.  Pour over shrimp cocktail.

Rice and Curry Croquettes

Famous are Mrs. Dick’s rice and curry croquettes.

Boil 2 cups rice (“and it must be very dry and fluffy rice”).  Prepare it a day ahead so it’s really dry.  Keep in refrigerator.

Then put in a bowl and drop in the yolks of 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons cream, salt and a dash of Tabasco sauce.  Add curry to taste, starting out with ¼ spoonful.  Add more according to taste.

(“The reason some people don’t like curry is that they use too much and it’s also an inferior brand.  It must be the best brand you can get, else it tastes like cheap perfume.”)

           Blend mixture with hands until it is very compact and firm.  Press down in bowl and put in refrigerator until chilled.

           Then form into croquettes and roll in bread crumbs.  Fry in deep fat. 

           "We serve these with lamb chops, lamb roast, broiled chicken and broiled sweetbreads with mushroom sauce,” says Mrs. Dick.

Corn Muffins
            This simple fare is ambrosia at the Albert Dick table.

             To 1 rounded pint of sifted (pearl) corn meal, add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 pint boiling water.  Stir vigorously and allow to cool.

            Add 1 rounded teaspoon of lard, 1 egg, ½ pint milk, 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder.  Stir until ingredients are blended.  Just before baking, grease muffin pans with hot grease.  Bake about 20 minutes in a hot (400 degree) oven.

The following recipes are from “Out of Kentucky Kitchens,” a cookbook written in 1949 by Marion Flexner. The book, which also includes recipes for Benedictine, Hot Browns, burgoo,  and other traditional Kentucky fare,  is still available through the University Press of Kentucky in Lexington and can be ordered online at or by calling 800-839-6855.

Little Colonel’s Christmas Crullers
(Raggedy Britches)
(6 1/2 dozen crullers)

 This is the recipe of the original Little Colonel – Hattie Cochran (Mrs. Albert Dick).  It is with her permission that I give it here, and I would add that it makes the most delicious crullers I’ve ever eaten.  In my opinion, they are the perfect accompaniment for eggnog, and are equally good with hot chocolate or coffee for Sunday brunch or afternoon tea.  These crullers keep for a long time, too, if you put in a sealed tin box  -- but who could keep them!

1 C. butter, softened but not melted

2 C. granulated sugar

6 egg yolks

6 C. flour, measured after sifting

6 egg whites

2 whole nutmegs, grated

Grated rind of 2 lemons (yellow part  only) or 1 t. vanilla if you prefer that

Powdered sugar for dusting

 Cream butter and sugar.  Add slowly the egg yolks, grated nutmeg, grated lemon rind (or vanilla).  Stir the butter-egg mixture into the flour.  Fold in the well-beaten whites.  The dough is soft, but can be handled.  If too soft, put in a covered bowl in the icebox for several hours before using.  Roll small amounts at a time, although more flour may have to be added.  The cruller dough should be rolled thin – about ¼ inch thick.  Cut into strips 1 inch wide by 6 inches long.  Use or knife, or a pastry wheel if you own one.  Fold these strips in half and twist together.  Fry until golden brown in deep hot melted lard or vegetable shortening (375 degrees).  As soon as the crullers are golden brown, lift out of the fat with a skimmer and drain on absorbent paper, and dust heavily with powdered sugar.

 Another way to shape the crullers is to cut them into 1 ½ inch squares.  Make 3 gashes in the center and pinch each end gash with the center one.  This will make 2 slits to help fry the crullers evenly.  Cook as above.

Hattie Dick’s Stuffed Cucumbers
(4 servings)

2 medium-sized cucumbers, as fresh as possible

1 T green pepper, seeded

1 small onion, peeled

1 T chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of nutmeg

4 T breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top of cucumbers

1 T butter

 Cut the cucumbers in halves lengthwise, allowing a half to each person.  Do not peel.  Using a silver spoon, scoop out the centers of the cucumbers, leaving the shells.  Grind the scooped-out pulp with the green pepper, onion and parsley and add the seasonings.  Stuff this filling back into the cucumber shells.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs over each half.  Dot each half with 1 teaspoon or a little more of butter.  Set the cucumbers in a greased pyrex baking dish.  Put ½ cup water in the pan to keep the cucumber shells from sticking.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 35 minutes to 1 hour, or until cucumbers are tender and crumbs brown and crisp.  Serve with fried chicken, country ham or other meat.

Hattie Dick’s Eggnog Sauce for Ice Cream or Puddings

3 egg yolks

3 T sugar

1 C double cream

3 jiggers (3 oz. or 6 T) bourbon whiskey

F.G. salt

Nutmeg, if desired

Beat yolks lights.  Add sugar and salt and beat again.  Add whiskey and mix well.  Fold in whipped cream.  Dust with nutmeg, if desired.  This is also wonderful on steamed plum or fig pudding, gingerbread or, heated over steamed fruit cake.

page by Donna Russell