Cooking and Memories

I was asked to bring a dessert to a football watching party this evening.  I immediately went to my collection of "old, but tried and true" recipes.  A few years ago, I got industrious and organized my favorites in an album with plastic sleeves to protect the original copies of cherished concoction secrets.  Many were already stained by spills, but were still readable.  In the dessert section, I found myself walking down memory lane because the recipes included the names of those who shared them with me.

My mom was a great cook and never used convenience products.  I have a vivid memory of watching her "singe" a chicken over a gas flame to rid it of the pinfeathers missed during the plucking stage of preparation.  One of my siblings used to quip that she didn't know you could buy ready made cookies and cakes until she got married and started doing the grocery shopping for her family.  Our generation, however, has learned to embrace cake mixes and foods that just need a little help to become your own.

In perusing my album, I found names of recipes attached to the names of people who had an impact on me. There is Ruth Sylvest's Orange Chiffon Cake."  Ruth was my graduate school major professor.  I also saw Pam Janousek's "Fruit Cake Drops."  Pam was a yankee who came to LSU to earn her master's degree in Journalism when my husband was also a candidate for that degree.  I haven't seen her since 1970, but I remember her fondly each time I see her name on the page and I often wonder what happened to her after she left Louisiana.  Too bad we didn't keep in touch.  We didn't have Facebook and email then.  The most advanced technology we had then was an electric typewriter.  By the way, My husband typed his own thesis on a manual typewriter.  He also used carbon paper, because he had to have a copy of it for the LSU Library.  We have the original still.  Sorry about the digression!

When we were young marrieds with a limited income and small dwellings and apartments we often had potluck dinner parties as entertainment for weekend nights when there wasn't a football game to attend.  Susan Atherton made the best Chocolate Pie I have ever tasted and I have kept that recipe, too.  Its main ingredient is Hershey bars!  Skipping ahead to more recent years, I found Priscilla Brewers's "Apple Cake" and Lenora Brown's "Christmas Rum Cake."  I also found a delectable "Bread and Butter Pudding" from a beloved former neighbor, Ruth Firesheets.  I still use that recipe, but add a whiskey sauce.  Miss Ruth would never have poured sugared alcohol over her pudding.  Those who know her would agree that she didn't keep that kind of spirits in her home!  

A recipe written by hand on an old envelope by my husband's Grandmother, Hortense, is a treasure.  It's her rendition of "Divinity Fudge".  I loved eating it when we visited her during the holidays.  I watched her make it and she wrote the directions for me.  It's probably the trickiest recipe  I have ever tried.  She verbally told me to make sure the weather was cool and dry if attempting Divinity Fudge.  The humidity has a lot to do with the success in candy making.

The dessert that I chose  was based more on what I had in my pantry today in the way of ingredients.  It's Jean Stockner's "Sock-It-To-Me Pound Cake."  Jean was a substitute teacher when I taught at Kenilworth Middle School in the 70's.  She often brought delicious cakes to share with the faculty.  We taught her kids and she was wonderful about filling in for me at a moment's notice.  Those of you old enough to remember the "Laugh In" television variety show of the early 70's will know the origin of the name of the cake.  I changed the ingredients just a little and added a maple flavored glaze to the cake, but here is the recipe:

Sock-It-To-Me Pound Cake (in Jean's words)

1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 cup oil
1/2 pint sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 T brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

1.  Mix the first four ingredients, then add eggs one at a time beating well.
2.  Mix the brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon.
3.  Grease and flour Bundt pan.
4.  Pour a layer of cake mixture, top with brown sugar mixture, and pour remaining cake batter on top of this.  Then sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top being careful not to let brown sugar touch sides of pan.
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  (I must add my cake was done at 45 minutes)

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