my maw maw grew up as the only girl in a family with three brothers. her mother didn't cook and someone had to feed them, so she taught herself how to feed those hungry boys. she got married at 16 and had three sons. she spent the rest of her life cooking for others until she could no longer find her way around the kitchen.
her sons finally gifted her with some grand-daughters and she filled our bellies and spoiled us rotten our entire childhoods. i would beg to stay at her house and cry everytime i had to leave. she would plop me on the kitchen counter and teach me how take the yucky white parts off the yolks with a fork before she scrambled them with a very generous "pat" of butter. she would make me jelly toast (again with the butter) with the crusts cut off and squeeze me into a high chair in front of sesame street even when i was way too big and old to be a) in a high chair and b) watching sesame street. she would draw me bubble baths and afterwards wrap me up in a towel and carry me to her bed to dry me off. she saved all of her ring boxes for me to play with, "lights, camera, action....SNAP!" i could spend hours sniffing her perfume or playing in her silky night gowns. she would pat my back and sing me songs until i went to sleep.
she was so little and cute and had a way of mispronouncing words that made her even more adorable.
ofree winfree = oprah winfrey
oher-doers = hour d'ourves
hi-dee = hello
eye-talian = italian
sundee, mundee, toosdee = the days of the week
she would serve my sister bowls of ice cream topped with approximately one million marichino cherries. she drank tab. she could peel an apple with a knife and the skin would coil and never break. she wore purple wind-suits. she chewed blue extra. her hobby was ironing. she always wore lipstick. she was a mall-walker.
she was always "worried" about her weight, yet she had an insatiable sweet tooth and ate a bowl of ice cream every night up until the end. when alzheimers took everything else from her, it left her sweet tooth behind. when she was well, she was famous for her peach cobbler (ohmyword, the very best) and her strawberry cake. the cake was requested by everyone for their birthday and still is to this day even by my relatives from the other side of the family. it's her legacy and i am so glad we are able to keep her memory alive when we bake it. (now the peach cobbler is another story. she must've taken that recipe to the grave). she was sick for so many years and as the illness continued to steal her away from us, it became harder and harder for me to remember her before. but when i bake the cake, i feel her with me. i do.
some of you have requested the recipe, so here it is! (warning: it's so sweet that your teeth might fall striaght out of your head upon first bite...or let's be honest...upon the first lick from the batter bowl). but that's how she rolled, the sweeter the better.
maw maw's strawberry cake
1 box of duncan hines white cake mix
1 large box of strawberry jello
1 tub of frozen sliced strawberries, in juice/syrup, thawed
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
4 eggs, seperated
combine cake mix, jello, 3/4 of the strawberries and juice/syrup, oil and water. beat well. add egg yolks and mix until incorporated. in a seperate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. fold the eggs whites gently into the batter. pour into a greased cake pan (i use a bundt pan) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick test is clean. let it cool completely before icing.
powdered sugar (an ungodly amount)
1/4 of the strawberries and juice/syrup
1/2 stick of butter softened
1/2 t. vanilla
blend softened butter and powdered sugar together. i used half of a large bag of powdered sugar and it wasn't enough (my icing broke). just keep adding until you feel a toothache. once incorporated, add the strawberries and vanilla and mix well. pour over the cake. as much as you can tolerate.
do not share this recipe with your dentist.
do you have a recipe that makes you feel close to a loved one? if so, i would love to know about it.
p.s. while on the topic of family legacies, below are pictures of my precious ninety-one-year-old paw paw and my peony blooms from one of the gazillion plants he has given me over the years for my yard. this plant started from his and i'll treasure it forever.