Hoorah, 300th Blog Post with an Oops and an Aah!


An apple cake with half the recipe batter left out . . . the baked remainders landing on the floor. Double dumb mistakes.

That’s not the way I envisioned marking my 300th blog post.

The Plan

To mark this milestone, grandson Curtis and I planned to make an apple cake together, perfect for feasting two days before Christmas 2015. He likes to be in the kitchen and remembered our success with a spiced pork recipe a few weeks earlier.

The ingredients were laid out, I placed cups and spoons on the counter, the tube pan at the ready.

Curtis and I both donned aprons (his flowery, mine denim) and got to work. He helped core and dice the apples, careful to curl his fingers away from the knife blade. We both chatted happily over the hum of the mixer, adding apples, nuts, cinnamon, and vanilla to the mix.



What Happened Next

When the batter was ready, I poured the mixture into the tube pan and set the timer on my iPhone to a “check-me” time. Then Curtis and I sang Christmas carols around the piano, a first for just the two of us.

I heard the ping, ran to the kitchen, switched on the oven light and gasped. The cake had risen to only half of the height I had expected. Then my eye caught a glimpse of a bag on the counter with half of the mix inside. Sadly, I’d failed to fold it into the batter. That could account for the low rise. Still, the cake looked edible as I pulled it out of the oven, rounded and fragrant, and placed it on a rack to cool.

Just when I tilted the tube pan, the whole thing went SPLAT. Half of the cake flopped into the sink and the other half plopped onto the floor.


There were moments of silence. 10 . . . 20 . . . 30 seconds?

Then Curtis quietly asks, “Nana, where do you keep your broom and dustpan?”

Here is the space for the cleanup photo:

(Imagine broom and dustpan)




After the Dust Settled

We ate a few morsels that fell into the sink. They were actually quite tasty. Then I asked Curtis what he had learned from the experience. Of course, I expected a snarky remark about his addle-brained grandma.

Instead, he began recalling bits of advice I gave him over the mixing bowl:

  1. Drizzle a little lemon juice over the apples to keep them from turning brown.
  2. Use a toothpick to test for cake “done-ness” even if you use a timer.
  3. Insert a toothpick between pan and its lid on the stove to keep a simmering mixture from boiling over (his Great Grandma Longenecker’s trick).
  4. When you remove a pot from a hot burner, put a teakettle with a small amount of cool water over the burner to absorb the heat, especially during hot weather.

Was he just being kind?


What I Learned

  1. “It’s not that bad,” one of Curtis’ own sayings when things go awry.
  2. Even baking disasters can taste good. (The result was a passable apple “cobbler” even if it didn’t have the consistency of cake.)
  3. “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful,” another wise saying making the rounds these days.


Curt and I played Scrabble afterwards. He won, but not by much!


The Apple Cake Recipe, donated by my friend Bonnie Evans

1 yellow cake mix  (All of it!)

2 cups chopped/diced apples

1 cup chopped walnuts

I teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

brown sugar for sprinkling on top of cake

Blend oil and eggs into cake mix as directed. Add vanilla & cinnamon. Then add apples & nuts. Pour into tube pan and sprinkle brown sugar on the top. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Pour icing over top of the cake.


Melt 1cup brown sugar, 1 stick of butter and ½ tsp. vanilla. Stir until dissolved. Pour over top of cake.


A Miracle – Ahh!

Out of the blue, the very next day at breakfast my long time friend Wanda Rogers Long presented me with a perfectly baked apple cake – glittering in cellophane and topped with a red bow!


All’s well that ends well . . .


Several weeks later I baked the same cake with better results for my husband Cliff’s January birthday . . .


Most everyone has a similar story whether it’s a mishap in the kitchen or someplace else. Here’s where you can tell yours.

Was there a happy ending to your story – Yes? No?

Coming next: Comparison Shopper Finds His Valentine


5 Memoir Lessons Learned from a Special Birthday Cake

Earlier in January I baked an apple cake for my husband Cliff’s birthday celebration. All agreed it was scrumptious. However, it was my second attempt at the same recipe for reasons to be divulged in my next blog post. As they say, practice makes perfect! Matilda Butler, who earlier followed a similar plan on her website, would agree.


Step 1: Make a plan. Even if you are an accomplished chef or fabulous cook (I’m neither), read the recipe carefully and anticipate how you will proceed. I didn’t have a tube-shaped bundt pan, so even before I began, I had to make a trip to the grocery store for the proper pan.


Memoir Lesson 1 – Don’t fool yourself into imagining writing will be easy. Writing is certainly rewarding, but learning a new skill can be hard. I had done plenty of writing as an academic, but switching to a new genre like memoir required a totally different mindset.

Even if you end up changing your plan, you have something (like starter dough!) to begin with.


Step 2: Assemble what you need. Anticipate the ingredients and tools necessary. Pull out the mixer, bowls, wooden spatula, measuring cups and spoons. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator to bring to room temperature if necessary.

Memoir Lesson 2 – A memoir is a slice of your life, not a biography. Ask yourself some serious questions: What part of your life will you depict – your childhood, a traumatic experience, a thrilling adventure like sailing around the world? Can you sketch out this “slice of life” in a series of memorable moments? Scribble random thoughts on colored sticky notes? Draw it as a timeline? Write an outline?

What is your theme? If it’s success after a failed first marriage, that controlling idea will be the filter through which you tell your story. Flashbacks can add dimension to writing, but only if these stories connect to your theme.


Step 3: Be aware that you may need to make adjustments. Even though I knew where I was headed before I began (a perfectly baked cake, I hoped!) I had to make a few changes. I ran out of clean measuring cups, so I had to wash one. A phone call interrupted the process, so I had to quickly drizzle some lemon juice onto the apples so they wouldn’t turn brown.

Memoir Lesson 3   I didn’t open up the spice cabinet or pull everything down from my dry ingredients’ shelves and dump them into the batter. I had to be selective. Just so, you can’t tell every story that happened in your life. Stories have to fit your theme.


Step 4: Keep at it until it’s done. I was not done with the cake until it had been iced. Preceding this was planning –> mixing –> baking –> cooling –> de-panning–> icing.


Memoir Lesson 4   Memoir writing requires a series of steps to name a few: writing multiple drafts, revising, revising (Did I say revising?), writing a book proposal, finding various types of editors and an agent, planning for publication. You can find a more complete list of steps on Laurie Buchanan’s website here. 


Step 5: Celebrate! Light the candles and let the birthday boy blow them out. Serve everyone else a slice.

Cliff and birthday cake ablaze with candles
Cliff and birthday cake ablaze with candles

Memoir Lesson 5  Cake bakers hope the eaters will find their slice delicious. What delicious morsels of truth do you want your reader to get out of your book? That’s the memoir’s takeaway. Brooke Warner says it’s “ a gift to the reader, something heartfelt, universal, and true.” Figure out what that something special is in your memoir.


As a reader and/or writer, what writing tips would you add to this list?

Any cake-baking advice? Have you ever tried a baking project that turned out to be too elaborate?


(Watch next post for full apple cake recipe.) Coming next: Hoorah, My 300th Blog Post with an Oops and an Aah!

Souper Meals with Sabah and Mom

“I have always relied on the kindness of strangers,” admits Blanche DuBois, an aging belle in Tennessee Williams’ classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche has had the props knocked from under her and has nowhere to turn except to her sister Stella, also living in reduced circumstances.

Sabah’s Story

In a far, far different context and definitely not because they have the slightest desire to do so, refugees from all over the world have been forced to rely on the kindness of strangers as they flee terrifying conditions in their homelands.

Such has been the case of Sabah Jabri, who with her husband and children left bomb-scarred Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 with just identification documents and the clothes on their backs and fled to Syria, ironically back then a peaceful respite from warfare.

Photo courtesy of Lancaster Online
Photo of Sabah and her soup courtesy of Lancaster Online

Sabah, an accountant, and her husband Alaa, a civil engineer, fled Baghdad when fighting between Sunni and Shiite militias made daily life unbearable. They ended up in Syria for a year, cared for by a family whose home – and whose soup – they shared, a dish they called “yakhni.”


After a year in Syria, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees assigned the family to emigrate again to Ephrata in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch County.

Currently, Sabah is manager of the Café at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata, where you can be sure this soup is on the menu. The article in Lancaster Online did not include the recipe (Of course not!) but the ingredients were listed: chunks of chicken breast, potatoes, carrots, onions and chickpeas in a hearty broth. Incidentally, Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata offers fair trade items worldwide for sale.

More than sixty years ago, a visionary named Edna Ruth Byler worked through the Mennonite Central Committee to begin an enterprise which has mushroomed into Ten Thousand Villages.

. . . [She] believed that she could provide sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a viable marketplace for their products in North America. She began a grassroots campaign among her family and friends in the United States by selling handcrafted products out of the trunk of her car. Byler made a concerted effort to educate her community about the lives of artisans around the world.

Ten thousand Villages is the result, an undertaking that has grown well beyond the tiny house of its inception and offers for sale baskets, jewelry scarves, bags, kitchen & dining articles, toys and other items from artisans, particularly women, around the world.

Mom’s Soup

Mother also knew the nutritional heartiness of soup and often had vegetable soup waiting for us when we drove or flew up from Florida at Christmastime. Within five minutes of our arrival, one of us would fly into the kitchen and open the Frigidaire to see whether there was a ceramic pull-out drawer full of soup in the bottom left.


Chicken corn soup was also her specialty, with hard-boiled eggs and rivels, doughy droplets made from flour  . . .

Mom's Chicken Corn Soup without Rivels
Mom’s Chicken Corn Soup without Rivels


Author, editor, and cookbook writer Melodie Davis has recently featured savory Spanish lentil soup on her website where the recipe for the dish below appears.



Quotes about Soup

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.         ~ Marge Kennedy


Only the pure of heart can make good soup.                ~ Beethoven


And finally, Bennet Cerf defines good manners as “The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.”



How has soup enhanced your life? Do you think Beethoven is right in the quote attributed to him? Do you have a choice recipe to share?


Coming next: A Snow Bunny and a German Lullaby


A Touch of Amish: Busy-Day Recipe


My sister Jan (“Janice,” growing up) is easily the best cook in our family. One of my birthday presents from her last year was a cookbook entitled Amish Cooking.


In the head-line this week, I say “A Touch of Amish” because the recipes are quick and easy and many contain shortcuts with ingredients like commercially prepared soup mixes, an item not usually associated with authentic Amish cooking. Still, when we’re pressed for time, quick and easy may be the way to go. Besides, as temps grow cooler, who doesn’t welcome a warmer kitchen made fragrant with an herbal mix from the oven.

Used by Permission: Publications International, Ltd.
Used by Permission: Publications International, Ltd.

Barring any need to skip off to the grocery store first, ten minutes is a short prep time, but extend the time just a bit so you don’t feel rushed.

If you are a purist, and prefer making recipes from scratch, you can substitute these herbs and spices for the mix: finely chopped onion or onion salt, diced garlic, chicken broth thickened slightly with one tsp. corn starch, chopped parsley

About the vegetables: To make sure the veggies are soft enough by the end of the baking time, I microwave them for 2-3 minutes before baking. Also, I use more potatoes and carrots than called for in the recipe and add an onion too.


Plated, a savory dish for harvest time this fall!

Plated Recipe

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22

Busy day recipe or fall favorites – all are welcome here!

Coming next: Grace Notes: Mary Grace Martin & Her Pump Organ

Jenna’s Rainbow Cake: A Pot of Gold?

Grand-daughter Jenna and I decided to make a rainbow cake on Memorial Day weekend. We were hoping for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the cake-making process wasn’t that easy!

Here’s our step-by-step process with a few glitches noted:

First, we put on our aprons JennaNanaThen we mix together the ingredients (oil, eggs, and water), Jenna trying hard not to get egg-shell pieces in with the batter from a mix.


Tricky Part: Dividing up the Batter

We divide the batter into 6 paper cups and begin to add color. Remember ROY G BIV from grade school? Then we use 6 more cups, adding the color in reverse order: violet-blue-green-yellow-orange-red. (No indigo among the colors.) Here Jenna is stirring the green, her favorite color:


Next, we pour batter, one color on top of the other into the first pan. In the second, we repeat the process, pouring the colors in reverse order. Mind you, this takes a long, long time, with several spatulas. Think “art” and finger painting when you are in this step.

PansMixedThe recipe book looks so perfect. Hmm . . .

Pop into Oven: We set the oven to preheat (350 degrees) way too early, so temperature was super hot. The recipe’s suggested bake time of 40 minutes actually turned into 30, so the cake layers became a little brown.

Like her Great Grandma Longenecker, Jenna used a toothpick to check to see if cake was done.

Take cake pans out of oven, cool, and frost. Then . . .



Adding sprinkles was probably Jenna’s favorite part. Her expression shows her delight!

SCARY PARTS: Behind the scenes!

* The first gel color we used (violet) made the batter a tepid shade of gray. We both felt  disappointment because we thought the other colors might be duds too!

  • NaNa (when we began): “Think of making this cake as a combination of art and baking.”
  • Jenna (at this point): “This is a combination of art and baking with a hint of disaster!”

* The cake layers came out of the oven looking like volcanoes (Jenna’s word)! I forgot to take a photo here. Our fix: we sawed off the tops with a bread knife and got our first yummy cake taste.

* The two cake layers did not fit together perfectly. Our fix: Slathering frosting into the gaping parts.

Recipe photo: Courtesy, Mennonite Girls Can CookRecipeRainbowCake

Our cake  RainbowCakeJenna

Before we Started:

We traced the word “cake” in the Bible, Jenna reading the passage from I Kings 17:8-16 about the prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Actually, this woman’s cake was the bread of sustenance, one of survival, nothing like the confectionery concoction we baked just for fun.


* * *

Tell us about your cake-making successes, disasters, or near misses. If necessary, how did you improvise?

Coming next: Two Mennonite Girls on a Cross-Country Road Trip

Mom’s vegetable soup, good for what ails you

When our children were little and our family visited Mother and Daddy in Lancaster County, PA , we could always count on an enamel-coated refrigerator drawer full of soup–either chicken corn or vegetable–to get us revived after a long car trip from Florida. Even now after an exhausting flight, we open the fridge and find home-made soup in one of the drawers, ready to heat up.


Mother has seldom used a recipe and when she does the proportions are often not included.

MomVegSoupRecipe2_layers_4x3_300 The recipe shows “potatoes” crossed out, but sometimes she adds them.

After a couple of stabs at it, I coaxed Mom into being a little more precise about measurements for her savory vegetable soup:

Start with 2 1/2 pounds of chuck roast. Sear the meat and then bake it at 350 degrees until tender. It should be nice and brown and fall apart when you jab a fork into it! Save drippings.

Cook separately:  Carrots, celery and cabbage. Then add green beans, peas and corn. Be sure to keep the vegetable broth.

Now add a quart of tomato juice (preferably canned from fresh tomatoes or tin canned crushed tomatoes.)

1/2 cup Heinz ketchup. Then combine beef, cut up, into vegetable + broth mixture and simmer.

*  *  *

What comfort food to you associate with your mother? Another relative?

Your comments welcome. I will always reply.

Coming next week! First in a Series: Moments of Extreme Emotion with Original Art by Cliff

Relatives, Reunions, and Forbidden Drink: Part I

I can hardly wait to go to the Metzler reunion in Lititz today. At Lititz Springs Park on the 2nd Sunday in July, I get to play with my cousins from my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s father, Abram, and her two uncles, Monroe and Herman, form the three branches of our Metzler family tree.

Sadie Landis Metzler_4x5_150

Grandpa Abram and Grandma Sadie who died when Mother was 9

On the way to Bossler’s Mennonite Church this morning, Mom told my Daddy that he can’t talk long with the men after the service because we have to get home to load up the food in the car before we can go to the reunion. Yesterday I helped my mom make Aunt Verna’s potato salad with lots of celery. After I went to bed last night I smelled the sweet, rich aroma of angel food cake baking in the oven for the special surprise for Grandma Metzler.


The whole family is packed into the 1949 blue Studebaker again: Daddy behind the wheel, Mommy up front, and Janice, Jean, and me in the back. We all keep our church clothes on, so we can show how plain we still are. Daddy wears a white shirt and dark pants, and Mom and Janice and I have dresses with capes and sleeves to the elbow—Jean hasn’t gotten saved * yet, so she’s still a cute, curly-headed girl with regular clothes. All the Metzlers are Mennonite and notice the details of our dress, I imagine.

About a mile or two from Lititz, I stick my head out of the left rear car window and sniff, “I bet I can smell the Wilbur Chocolate Factory.” Now Janice and Jean lean out of the right window and say they can smell Lititiz Springs pretzels, but I catch a whiff of the rich Swiss chocolate aroma just before we reach the town limits.

LititzPretzel    WilburChocolate

Soon we’re on Broad Street, and we cruise past neat, two and three-story brick and stone townhouses. Like us, people here don’t lock their doors either, unless maybe when they go off on vacation to Atlantic City.

Lititz Springs Park is our playground. As our car rolls to a stop, we all fall out and head for our cousins. Mom calls us back to help carry stuff, of course. From a distance I notice Aunt Clara uncovering her Bavarian Cream dessert, and Uncle Leroy with his bags of peanuts for the peanut scramble about three o’clock. All my aunts look like pears, and my uncles like apples except for Clyde. And, believe me, my uncles have mirth to match their girth. Each of my mother’s brothers can do something funny or strange. Uncle Landis can click his false teeth up and down on his gums clickety-clack, Uncle Leroy can wiggle his ears, both at the same time, Uncle Clyde’s hand-shake includes a tickle with his index finger on the palm of my hand, and Uncle Abe can play his harmonica with no hands.


After my sisters and I make the rounds of our crazy uncles, we match up with cousins our own age. I play with my favorite cousin, freckle-faced Janet who has glossy, bright red hair. Janice and Jean play with spunky, brown-haired Ruth Ann, Anna Mae, Gerry and Dorcas. Rachel too.

Soon, Uncle Monroe rings the dinner bell and all the young ‘uns come running. He’ll say grace in his high-pitched voice, and we’ll stuff down our food so we get to play again. Under the roof of the pavilion are three sets of long, wooden picnic tables, arranged parallel to each other. The Uncle Herman family branch sits along the first row of tables: the women and girls mostly wear pale-colored dresses with capes that have such tight necklines and wristbands they seem to cut off their circulation. I would just die if I had to wear thick, black stockings and shoes like they do, but I never hear them complain. And as hot as it is, some of the men are still wearing their buttoned-to-the-neck shirts from church.

The next bunch of relatives, the “Monroe” branch of the family are a little looser. They let their young girls wear skirts and blouses, and everybody else pushes their sleeves as high as they will go. When Mary, Monroe’s daughter got married, tongues wagged because her bridesmaids wore pastel satin fabrics on head bonnets to match their dress color. Later I realize she got that out of her system then;. Her plain dress complies with tradition now.

My Mom’s side of the family, the “Abram” side, is the least conservative, except for Clyde’s family because he is a preacher, and Abe’s family because they take pride in sticking to tradition.

In a few minutes all the cousins tumble off the benches for the peanut scramble.  I make a basket out of the skirt of my dress and scoot around madly trying to fill it with roasted nuts. Soon we sit on the ground and stuff ourselves with peanuts, all except Clair who is kneeling by the springs floating his plastic boat, first prize in the contest.

Now I see Mom, Aunt Verna, and Aunt Cecilia arranging another table for the birthday surprise. Out come the cakes and the punch-bowl which is soon filled with white grape juice and ginger ale, all gold and bubbly. In a few minutes, Uncle Herman rings the bell again. “It’s time for our surprise. Annie is 75 today, so you’s all come on and have some cake and punch.”

Our family is not bashful, and so we rush to the head of the line, after Grandma Metzler of course. The table looks so pretty. Someone has brought a garden bouquet of daisies and roses with a lace tablecloth. Cousin Janet notices that the relatives at the other tables are not budging. “Why aren’t the others coming over?” She wonders out loud to me.

I don’t know. Maybe they’ve just eaten too much to move, I surmise, but I do see the older folks whispering among themselves and wonder what they’re saying.      What happens next? Part II

* ARTICLE VI, Of Salvation: We believe that man is saved alone by grace through faith . . . in Christ; that through the new birth he becomes a child of God, partaker of eternal life. Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church

Ruthie the Cheater, Part II

I’ve told my students if they ever see me in a bank behind the teller’s window—RUN! Math has never been my strong suit, but I can spell well.

In fourth grade, I always win the spelling bees on Friday. In fact, my winning is so predictable that my friend Wayne tells me he’s going to find a word in the dictionary that I can’t spell. “Somebody else deserves to win sometimes,” he whines.

1975 Ruthie-Schoolphoto 3a_small           Marian_Fourth grade_1-5x2_150

Ruthie the Cheater                                   Cheater-in-Training, 4th Grade

And so he searches for just the right word, finds it, and whispers it into Miss Longenecker’s right ear. I see him form the word with his lips, but I can’t decipher what he is saying. That evening, Grandma invites the five of us—Mom, Daddy, Janice, Jean and me—down over the hill to Grandma’s house for chicken pot pie.

As always, before Dad parks our blue Studebaker, three-legged Skippy rushes out on the porch to greet us. Soon I’m standing on a chair beside the stove watching Grandma cut out little pieces of dough for me to place one by one carefully in the boiling liquid to cook. I love to find a little space of bubbling broth in the kettle and seal it over with a dough-y square. Chicken pot pie with fresh cabbage slaw . . . wunderbar.  


Aunt Ruthie comes in the back door from school with a yellow pencil over her ear. After she puts down her papers and books, she quizzes me, “How do you spell reconciliation?” Without hesitating, I enunciate: r-e-c-k-o-n-s-i-l-l-y-a-t-i-o-n!

“That’s close, but not quite right,” she encourages, as she pulls down the dictionary from the left bottom door of the red cherry cupboard over by the kitchen table.


“Here, take a look at this.” And I see how the dictionary says to spell it. Now I put the right letters in my memory bank for tomorrow’s spelling bee. When Teacher asks the class, “Does anyone have a word to stump Marian?” this might be the word, I surmise.

It’s Friday, and once again I’m the surviving speller. Wayne jumps to the mound to strike me out, but I deliver fourteen correct letters in rapid succession: reconciliation!” Wayne is dumbstruck for a few seconds and then mutters, “Holy Cow, Holy Cow,” as he reconciles himself to the fact that it’s useless to try to stump Marian.

Once again, Aunt Ruthie is a cheater, but so am I. We’re in cahoots!

Can you admit to a time when you got some unsolicited help? Some help that came with wobbly ethics? Tell us your story!

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Mom’s Kitchen: Pig Stomach and Easter Eggs

My Mother loved her kitchen with a spiritual passion and was happiest at the altar of her stove, cooking or baking. We’d hear her off-key voice singing “Heavenly Sunlight” or “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she fixed breakfast while we dressed and braided our hair for school.

Her mother, Sadie Landis Metzler, died when she was nine, so Ruth, the oldest daughter of six, was the mini-mom milking cows and peeling potatoes before she went to school. Later, she was hired out to help another farm wife, who taught her to cook, instilling a love for fresh or home-canned ingredients with PA Dutch recipes.

Mom and Pig’s Stomach

These days when I fly home from Florida, we make a feast of her famous homemade soups (vegetable & chicken corn) and other dishes, including pig stomach. It sounds horrible, like goose liver or pickled pig’s feet, but it’s considered a delicacy at her house.


There are other names for this dish: hog maw, Dutch goose—but pig stomach is the name we grew up with. Basically, a nicely rinsed stomach from a pig is stuffed with a pound of sausage, 8 large diced potatoes, some onion, and sprigs of parsley cut up in tiny pieces, then all ingredients oven-roasted.

MomPigStomach     MarkPigStomach

Mom’s stand-by side dish is peas & carrots for color, celery in season, and something fruity for dessert like her gelatin fruit salad, a recipe passed around among the relatives.

Mother L_Gelatin Fruit Salad_Fr&Bk_6x6_300

Her Salmon Casserole is also a favorite at her table. There are variations of this recipe in Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. Scottdale, PA: The Mennonite Community Association, 1972 (16th printing). My Mom’s own recipe is quick and hearty.


2010_Mother Longenecker_Baking Salmon Loaf_6x4_300Salmon Casserole: Ingredients:

1 can red salmon

1 pack or more of saltine crackers, crumbled

butter, 3 – 4 pats

2 cups milk

Snipple up (break into small pieces) salmon from the can. Place a layer of crushed cracker crumbs on the bottom of a greased 2-3 quart casserole. Alternate layers of salmon with crumbled crackers, adding a little salt and pepper as you go. Add milk. “Top off with a few hunks of butter,” she says.

Bake about an hour at 350 degrees.


Chocolate-covered  Eggs: Peanut Butter and Coconut, a treat every Easter in the 50s

Peanut Butter Eggs

1 lb. butter + 2 lbs. peanut butter  + 3 lbs. 10x sugar  Mix ingredients together and form into egg shapes, about 1 1/2 inches diameter.

Coconut Cream Eggs

1/4 lb. butter + 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 lbs.10x sugar + coconut to taste (8 oz. bag) Follow instructions above.

Coating: l lb. of semi-sweet chocolate melted. Mother would melt a pound of semi-sweet chocolate by sinking a cup of chocolate into a pan of boiling water; you may want to use something more up-to-date like a double boiler for the melting process. As the chocolate melted, she shredded in some paraffin for a glossy finish to the coating.

Mom made the candies by resting each egg on a fork, dipping it into the chocolate, and then using a knife to scrape the drippy chocolate off the bottom of the egg. Pure heaven!

What family favorites do you associate with a particular holiday? How have you adapted the recipes to your own table?

© Marian Beaman