Passed Down from Grandma Red

Burns is a company built on the legacy of a family who has chosen to work hard and dedicate themselves to the craft of leatherwork.  Each generation has successfully written a different chapter in the Burns story.  Grandma Red, as she is known throughout the company, still makes all of us smile with her anecdotes and quick wit.  Here is a bit of her story and one of our favorite recipes from her collection–which is a prize all by itself.

Fourth-generation, Dan Burns and his wife, Donna, bought Burns from Vern Burns in 1969 and began marketing their creation, the Indian Blanket-type seat covers, in 1971. Donna had spent time making saddle blankets and employed her creativity to use that same material for vehicle seat covers.  The demand to manufacture seat covers was such that Dan moved the saddlery portion of the business to a building next door and converted the two story building into a manufacturing and shipping business.  Donna oversaw production and shipping for forty years, retiring from the business in 2011.  Her ingenuity, dedication, and hard work embody the pioneering spirit that started the first Burns Saddlery in 1876.


Yields 4 dozen

Preheat oven to 350°


4 cups flour, 8 tablespoons Hershey cocoa, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed, ¾ cup white sugar, 1 cup Crisco shortening, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 4 eggs, 1 cup whipping cream or buttermilk, 1-2 cups chopped walnuts, if desired.


1. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Once sifted, stir with a whisk to fully blend. 2. Cream sugars, Crisco, and vanilla together in mixer or large mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat until smooth. 3. Alternate whipping cream or buttermilk with flour mixture into creamed mixture. Do this until all ingredients are mixed together. 4. If desired, fold walnuts into cookie dough. 5. Drop or scoop cookie dough onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until tester is clean when removed from center of cookie.


1 cube softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, powdered sugar, milk, 1 ½ cups coconut


1. In a medium sized bowl, combine butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with a spoon. DO NOT USE A MIXER. 2. Add small amount of milk then stir. 3. Add sugar and milk, alternating until icing is thick & creamy. 4. Add coconut to mixture. 5. Ice cookies after they have cooled.

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