Tag Archive | chocolate

Remembering Aunt Shirley

On a warm morning in July, the call came. My cousin, Delbert, had called to let us know his mom had passed away.

Like with other families and extended families dealing with the uncertainty of Alzheimer’s disease, we knew this day would come. Aunt Shirley had battled dementia and Alzheimer’s. Now, her battle over, she was free. Free of the ravages of Alzheimer’s; how it stole her memory and how it stole Shirley away from her family.

A celebration honoring Shirley’s life was to be held on a Saturday in August. Followed by a luncheon.

While making plans to attend the memorial service I thought of the many times our families had been together. Great family times, with a great family. Warm, friendly, FUN, humorous and supportive. Love encircled each of us. The vast amount of love came from Aunt Shirley and Mom. Sure our respective dads loved us…. but love was in everything these women did…. the hugs, smiles, cooking, laughs and discipline. All of it let us kids know we were deeply loved and oh-so-cared for.

Whenever we had the chance to get together with their family there was great anticipation of seeing our “cousins” again. “Cousins” because actually our dads were the cousins. Considering that we were second and third cousins, however this technically works out, we were family. We had no other relatives in our area so when this family moved within 50 miles of us we were elated. We had COUSINS nearby.

Remembering all the fun times we had when our families were together and the wonderful food our moms fixed for us compelled me to make something to take to the luncheon. I instantly knew what I would take. A cake…. but oh, not just any cake. “Cheap Cake.” Some recipes call it “Economical Cake,” “Wacky Cake,” “Crazy Cake,” or “Depression Cake.” In our collective family it was called “Cheap Cake” because is was economical and “cheap” was faster to say. 🙂

I made a “Cheap Cake” using the same recipe that Mom had gotten from Aunt Shirley. I had never had that wonderfully dark chocolate cake before knowing Aunt Shirley. Now, I can never see a recipe for it, mix one up and bake it, or eat a decadent slice of it without thinking of her. She and Mom put together some fabulous meals for our families. And trust me, each of us loved to eat. A total of six growing boys and me, along with our dads and themselves to feed, those two women were busy.

Thankfully, they were great cooks too.

Just as they were great cooks, they were even better Moms.

Moms who loved their children with all their heart and soul. Each of them happy, strong, intelligent women. They wanted good things for their children and expected good from them in return. We knew we were loved.

Each time I make or eat a slice of “Cheap Cake” I will always remember Aunt Shirley. Her love for her family and her love of life.

Thank you and rest well, Aunt Shirley.

Recipe for “Cheap Cake”

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Mom, our Easter Egg Hunts and Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Easter Eggs

Mom loved holiday ‘surprises’ ….. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving. And birthdays… oh, birthdays were always special.

Today, Easter Sunday, holds pleasant and fun memories.

Mom would get up early Easter morning (or stay up a little later the night before) to hide Easter eggs for us. My two younger brothers and I would get up Easter morning knowing that an egg hunt was about to take place. Excitement was near that of Christmas morning. While I have no photos of this event, I have vivid memories and can still feel the anticipation, excitement and joy.

Depending on the weather, Mom would hide the Easter eggs either outside in various areas of our yard or inside, usually in the living room. Either way we were delighted.

Mom would hide hard candy coated eggs that resembled gigantic Jordan almonds. She also included some jelly beans and foil wrapped chocolate coated marshmallow eggs. The bright, vibrant colors of the foil made those a prize indeed. Yet, I’d usually trade those with my brothers for other candy eggs that Mom had hidden. As it turned out, I did not care for chocolate covered marshmallow eggs, still don’t.

Many years later, as an adult, one day while we were reminiscing about family holidays I mentioned to Mom that I never really cared for the chocolate covered marshmallow eggs much. She asked my why I never told her that when I was a little girl – she said she would have hid a different candy. I told her, “Mom, I did not want to spoil your Easter. You seemed to always enjoy hiding the eggs for us and for us to search for them and squeal when we found them. How could I ruin part of your joy of Easter? Why spoil the fun. … I still loved the Easter egg hunt, just traded my brothers for other candy… they liked the trade so it all worked out.”

I don’t really know why I told her that when I was an adult, but I seemed to know when I was a child that Mom liked the Easter Egg hunts just as much as we did, so I did not bother mentioning it. I still remember the fun and excitement of our Easter Egg hunts and look back on them each year as such happy childhood memories.

Thanks Mom…. and Happy Easter!!!

Speaking of Chocolate and Orange….

Chocolate Orange Tea BrewingOn January 26 I also ordered some of my favorite tea.

Chocolate Orange Truffle tea from Mighty Leaf Tea.

Along with some other flavors, my special interest arrived just a few days later. Ahhhhhh…. Bliss Brewing.

This past week, I took some of this wonderful tea to work with me to share with some friends. It is now one of their favorites too. A smooth, rich flavor brightens and warms the day and mood. A lovely thing to have at work, or anywhere for that matter. I imagine Mom enjoying this tea.

Chocolate Orange Truffle tea is a delightful way to start off the day and a treat, pick me up, later in the day. Also, it makes a wonderful dessert tea. I’ve also thought about taking some of this blissful blend, placing it in a grinder or a food processor to break it up and then use it in something I am cooking or sprinkling some on a frosted treat. Sounds interesting to me.

Orange Zest and DARK Chocolate Chip Cookies

Orange Zest and Dark Chocolate Chip CookiesBesides the batch of rolls I had made on January 26th, I stirred up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Yet, these were not your ordinary chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they started out as a basic recipe, but this time I tried something different.

I added orange zest, orange flavoring and DARK chocolate chips to my favorite basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.

As a little girl, I had little appreciation for the flavors of orange and chocolate together. I do remember that Mom liked the combination. I remember that I did not. However, as it so happened, my taste for flavors changed and I found myself liking the taste of chocolate and orange together. I REALLY like it. This combination must have to do with a woman’s maturity. I’ve spoken with friends about this and most have said they experienced the same. Mom already knew.

The combination of flavors in these cookies are so good, I’ll make them again. 🙂

Recipe for Orange Zest and DARK Chocolate Chip Cookies