Archive for May, 2009

Dear Readers,

The other day I gave you a “recession recipe”.  Well, now here’s a recipe for a “Depression Cake”.  It’s quite tasty and makes a sweet snack with a cup of coffee!

Depression Cake

2 cups sugar

2 cups strong coffee, water or apple juice

1/2 cup shortening

2 cups dark raisins or diced pitted prunes

1 medium apple, peeled and shredded

2 cups unsifted flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans

In a medium saucepan, simmer sugar, coffee, shortening, raisins and apple together for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cool 10 minutes.

In large bowl,mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, all the spices and walnuts.  Pour cooled sugar-raisin mixture into dry ingredients; mix well.

Pour batter into greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until center of cake springs back when lightly pressed with finger.  Cut into squares when cool.  This is a moist cake, it keeps well and can be frozen.  Makes 12 squares.

Note: this is an old-fashioned recipe from the Depression days of the 30’s.  It contains no eggs.

Mimi Note:  I guess eggs were very expensive during the Depression but I would also think that nuts were also pricey in the 30’s!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Let me begin by wishing my daughter-in-law a very Happy Birthday.  I wish all good things for you today and always.

Speaking of birthdays, a tennis buddy gave me a great idea for a birthday present for my kids.  On her daughter’s 40th birthday, she compiled a photo album of her childhood pictures.  Sounded like a great idea to me.  After all, my daughter’s birthday was in April and her brother’s followed a month after, in May.  I could go through all the family pictures and collect those from memorable events in their lives.

It was quite an undertaking!  It took many hours sifting through hundreds of photos.  But what I wasn’t prepared for was how emotionally draining this task was.  Oh sure, there were feelings of joy and pride in the accomplishments of my children.  But there was also sorrow when I viewed pictures of my parents with their grandchildren, knowing that some were the last ones recorded before they died.  Was also keenly aware of how time just seemed to zoom by from one birthday to another, from one Christmas to another.

All of us smile and put our best forward on family photos.  And they seem to make the perfect portrait.  But underneath this facade, we may be tired or angry, nervous or not feeling well.  None of these feelings are displayed.  I guess what I’m trying to  say is that a camera captures part of us but a picture doesn’t say it all!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

We’re in a recession and the Wall Street Journal says it may last for quite some time.  Consequently, there’s currently quite a big interest in cost-saving recipes.  Well, Mimi has a great one, “Beans, Rice and Tomatoes”.  It’s a favorite from my husband’s grandmother, who prepared meals for 10 children and her husband in Paragould, Arkansas, during the Great Depression.

Beans Rice and Tomatoes

Prepare 1 cup rice with 2 cups water or chicken broth according to package directions.  Drain and rinse 1 – 15 oz. can black beans and add to rice along with 1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice and 1 teaspoon cumin.

Pour rice mixture into a 2 quart casserole and top with l cup (4 oz.) grated pepper jack cheese.  Heat casserole in microwave until hot about 3 or 4 minutes.

Serve over hot cornbread and add a green tossed salad for a healthy, nutritious and inexpensive meal.

You could also prepare an Italian version using kidney beans, 2 – 14 oz. cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oregano and top with mozzarella or provolone cheese.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Love A Rainy Day

Dear Readers,

When you live 6 months a year in the southern California desert, rain is not something you take for granted.  It’s a refreshing, welcome relief from so many sunny days.  (I guess you can have too much of a good thing!)

Upon returning to North Carolina, I joyfully anticipate a rainy day!  Now, of course, there are a couple of kinds of rainy days.  The first one is the all day, gentle steady rain; the type of precipitation that prompts you to sleep in a little longer and snuggle under the blankets.  It beckons you to prepare a big pot of warm, hearty vegetable soup.  It’s also the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a favorite book and have a cup of hot tea nearby – so soothing, so relaxing.

Then there’s the summer rain storm.  It can blow up in a matter of minutes and exit in the same fashion.  Watching the sky darken from blue to light purple, then dark purple to almost black is very exciting.  The zigzag of white lightning slicing through these clouds is quite exhiliarating, as long as the strikes are far away.  The loud crashes of accompanying thunder contributes to the excitement.  Then the sky opens up and rain pours down like a waterfall.

Observing these raindrops plop and then bounce up as they hit the sidewalk is intriguing.  The summer rain cleans everything it falls upon – streets, sidewalks, even the leaves on the trees. There is nothing more invigorating than the crisp, clean smell of the air after a storm.  Yes, I guess you might say that Mimi loves a rainy day!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Had a wonderfully exciting visit yesterday afternoon to the Bain Project.  This is an art exhibition in an old abandoned water treatment facility just outside of downtown Raleigh.  It wasn’t the usual showing of artwork covering the walls as seen in an art gallery.  The building itself was a major part of the exhibition.  Certain areas were enhanced by artistic arrangements of artifacts found around the building.  One staging I particularly enjoyed was a “mini” apartment set up in a former employee bathroom.  There was a bed, floor lamp and even toothpaste in an old glass atop the wash bowl.  A bathrobe was carelessly thrown over the shower door; all the comforts of home.  Then there was the room full of bathtubs all sporting a layer of live, growing grass in the bottom; truly unique.

The highlight of the tour was the 10 minute sound performance.  This compact concert was performed by 10 or 12 “employees” dressed in long white lab coats.  The audience gathered on a 15 foot catwalk overlooking the big network of huge pipes employed in the treatment of water.  The “employees” walked down ladders to their positions near the numerous pipes and rusty wheels.  They “banged” on the pipes and slowly rotated the large squeaky high-pitched wheels in concert, much like musicians in an orchestra.  The resulting music was very unusual and entertaining in an eerie sort of way; somewhat akin to the industrial sounds of the actual working water treatent system but with a definite rhythm and beat.

Creativity is a God-given gift and I marvel at how it was displayed on a rainy, Sunday afternoon in a beautiful old abandoned building!

Keep smilin’!

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Eat Your Veggies!

Dear Readers,

This is probably the cardinal rule of  “motherly tips” and that is to always remind your family to eat their veggies.  After all they are so healthy and so good for you, honest!  Here’s a couple of recipes that are sure to perk up the veggie portion of your meals.  Hope you enjoy them.

The first recipe came from DeeDee Meyer of Manheim, PA.

Barbecued Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pound green beans, whole or cut in 1″ lengths

Cook bacon and onions until onion soften.  Add ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Add beans, mix and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until beans are tender.  Makes 6 servings.

Creole Lima Beans

1 – 8 ounce can stewed tomatoes

1 – 10 ounce package frozen lima beans

2/3 cup thinly sliced celery

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat tomatoes to boiling.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Return to boiling; separate beans with fork.  Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer until beans are tender, 5 minutes.

Remember, you are what you eat!!!

Keep Smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

So many times we get caught up in the world’s measure of success.  Is my house big enough?  Is my car fast enough?  Is my paycheck large enough?  None of these things mean anything to the precious little ones in our lives.  They just want our love, our time and our guidance.

Read a poem by Martin Buxbaum in a “Dear Abby” column that sums up sucess very well.


You can use most any measure

When you’re speaking of success

You can measure it in fancy home,

Expensive car or dress.

But the measure of your real success

Is the one you cannot spend.

It’s the way your kids describe you

When they’re talking to a friend.”

Wise words!

Keep Smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Happened to read an article by Susan Selasky of the Detroit Free Press entitled “Building the Perfect Cupcake”.  I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “perfect” cupcake, only Martha Stewart would know for sure.  Here are some tips from Ms. Selasky’s article.

“Don’t overfill the tins.  If you do, the batter could spill over.

An ice cream scoop works well to ladle the batter into the tins.  Or use a 1/4 cup measuring cup so the cupcakes are the same size.  Spray the scoop with nonstick spray so the batter pours out easily.

When frosting, cover the top completely.  The frosting keeps the cupcake from drying out.

Use paper liners for easier cleanup.  You can find decorative liners at cake and candy supply stores.”

Hope you find this info helpful.  You never know when you’ll be asked to contribute to a bake sale or even send birthday cupcakes into school.  Who knows, maybe you will be the one to create the “perfect” cupcake!!!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

My Mom died May 5, 1989, 20 years ago today.  A big part of my world died on that day.  Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and other times it seems like an eternity ago.

Mom was fiercely loyal and protective.  She constantly tried to shield her daughters from harm.  Her last words to us upon leaving the house was “Be careful”.  At times she was a little too protective for our own good but she was like a lioness guarding her baby cubs.

Mom was very neat, always punctual, and extremely dependable.  She was organized and frugal.  We remarked that she could stretch a dollar until it cried for help!  (Her one weakness was that she loved shoes and shopping for them.)  She was also somewhat shy and retiring – not the life of the party as my Dad was.  But we always knew she loved us wholly and unconditionally.  It was shown everyday by the things she did for us.  A big deal was made of our birthdays.  We were allowed to choose the entire menu for our birthday dinner and it always ended with a big layer cake that Mom decorated with white icing and deep pink roses and piping.  These cakes were truly a labor of love.

Mom loved my Dad immensely and their love was the glue that kept our family together.  A childhood friend of mine remarked at her funeral that her fondest memory of my Mom was that she would see my parents sitting in the big swing under the back porch holding hands; and this was when they were in their 60’s and 70’s.

Her sons-in-law were treated like royalty as she had no sons of her own.  They were made to feel very welcome and were given the most generous portions of her desserts.

As a grandmother, she cherished her two granddaughters and two grandsons.  Their lives were very important to her and she always had time to listen and talk with them.

One of my earliest memories as a child is that of being rocked by Mom and her singing to me.  It was the best feeling in the world.

Not a day goes by without my thinking of her.  Her love is a part of me now.  I love you Mom and I’ll never stop missing you!

Keep smilin’!

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