When I first came across the recipe card for “Ute Brownies” in my Grandmother Marcia’s notebook, I immediately wondered: How was she connected to the Ute tribe? And how did the Ute people and brownies have anything in common? That’s what happens when you thumb through recipe cards from a loved one who is no longer here. You have questions, and you hope to find answers.
I asked my mother if she remembered “Ute brownies.” She told me that Ute, pronounced “Ooo-da,” was the daughter of Grandmother Marcia’s friend, Mrs. Partain. I never met Mrs. Partain, but I did meet her recipe for cheese grits—one of my all-time favorite recipes. (I’ll tell you about cheese grits another day.)
Mrs. Partain’s husband used to take my mother and Ute to the local drugstore in Paragould, Arkansas called, “Highway Sundries.” This was the type of place that had an original soda fountain with a marble bar. He’d give the girls a quarter for a coke (which was a lot of money in the 1950s). They’d sip their cokes while seated in the tiny chairs that were popular in soda fountains back in those days.
I’m not sure if my mom and Ute ever nibbled on Mrs. Partain’s brownies while at Highway Sundries, but I’d imagine the brownies would pair well with a fresh coke.
I made the brownies tonight, and let me tell you: Mrs. Partain didn’t disappoint. These brownies are luscious, melt-in-your mouth brownies—the best kind. The recipe requires a few simple ingredients and about 30 minutes of your time. Word of caution: you may be inspired to eat all of the brownies yourself. Be careful.
Recipe by Ute’s mother, Mrs. Partain, my Grandmother Marcia’s friend
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening (soft)
- 2 unbeaten eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup pecans
Preheat over to 350 F.
Put everything in the mixer except pecans and beat on “speed three” for 2 minutes. Put in nuts and beat for one minute.
Bake for 30 minutes in 8 inch pan. Let stand a little while before cutting. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.