A time of sharing

This past weekend was packed full of time with family, especially with my daughter, Molly, and her three children.  Many of my readers will remember little Maggie from the years I first started writing “Cooks’ Corner.”  She is now fifteen, and the oldest of my grandchildren.  Although I saw her in March, she has grown even taller since then; now she stands 5 feet 10 inches tall.  Lincoln, Molly’s middle child, and Melody, the youngest one, finish off the list of house guests I have had for the weekend.

On Saturday, my two sons, along with their wives and children, came to my home for a gathering to celebrate the birthday of our youngest family member.  Adam’s son Colton turned three on the 27th of August.  His mother’s parents also joined our party.  Lots of laughter filled the house as we thoroughly enjoyed our time together.  Colton was having a hard time focusing on his lunch; he was ready to open his presents.  It was fun to watch him dance with delight when he tore into each one package.  The only bummer, as far as Colton was concerned, was the pajamas that Grammie included in her present.  They were glanced at, then tossed aside so he could get to the more interesting box underneath.

Adam’s wife, Candice, brought a cake for Colton.  He was so excited about the candles that he didn’t wait for us to sing “Happy Birthday” before he blew them out.  Since we don’t often have a chance to celebrate Maggie’s August birthday with her, I made her a Strawberry Crunch Cake (she dearly loves strawberries).  She reluctantly blew out the fifteen candles that were blazing on top.

Later that the afternoon, Colton was sitting on my lap.  I had heard that he received a new bike from his parents, and I asked him about it.  “What color is it?” I inquired.  “Blue!” was the reply.  “Will you let me ride it?”  Colton pondered his answer a bit, then stated, “It’s too short for you.  Your bones would drag the grass.”  Needless to say, my living room rocked with laughter after that response.

Cousins who don’t get much of a chance to fellowship enjoyed each other’s company.  Adam and Candice left with their two boys (Liam and Colton), plus Molly’s Lincoln, who was to spend the night with them.  Lincoln and Liam are four days apart in age; both turned 8 in April.  Melody (6) and Vivian (8) were delighted to play together.  They were in my back bedroom, and we could hear their animated chatter as they interacted.  Elijah (4), who had been in the kitchen, trotted through the living room declaring as he went, “I need to be where the silliness is!”  Soon his voice joined in with the two girls. 

Things became a little quiet; Maggie decided to go check out the situation.  When she opened the bedroom door, the lights were turned out, and the three children inside were sitting in a circle on the bed.  Melody and Vivian began hissing at Maggie, who wondered what in the world that was all about.  Elijah solved her curiosity when he informed her, “My cats don’t like you!”

Melody’s time with cousins was extended when she went home with Jonathan’s family to stay all night with Vivian.  She had been upset because Lincoln was going with Liam, and she was more than thrilled when Heather offered to take her with them.  My house seemed quiet with all the “littles” gone.  There is a six-year age gap between Maggie and Vivian, who are my eldest two grandchildren. 

I can tell that Maggie is growing up because she doesn’t beg to cook with Grammie; however, Melody insisted on making cookies – specifically sugar cookies – on Sunday afternoon.  Her mother and I were working on a project; when we got it to a certain stage, I was happy to take time out to interact with Melody in my kitchen.  Our endeavor produced just what Melody wanted – dough she could roll into balls and then roll in sugar.  She also enjoyed munching on the finished product!

Most all visits come to an end; we say goodbye, and then my house returns to its normal, quiet state.  There may be objects left behind (like stray socks or phone chargers), which will have to get back to their owners, but the most important thing that stays here are the memories of love and laughter, (and even a few tears shared) with my loved ones.

Speaking of sharing, here are the recipes we used this weekend; they are both family favorites:

Strawberry Crunch Cake

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen sliced strawberries, thawed OR 1 quart fresh strawberries, divided

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 cup commercial sour cream

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Strawberry Glaze (recipe follows)

Whipped cream

Drain strawberries, reserving juice for glaze. If using fresh strawberries, place 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of water in small saucepan.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Strain, reserving juice for glaze.  Discard pulp.  Slice remaining strawberries.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt; set aside.

Combine 1-1/4 cups sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl, creaming well. Add eggs, beating until smooth. Slowly mix in sour cream. Add flour mixture, and stir well.

Combine brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon; set aside for topping.

Pour half of batter into a lightly greased 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Spoon strawberries over batter; sprinkle with half of topping mixture. Top with remaining batter, and sprinkle with re­maining topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tests done. Let cool; cut into 15 squares. Top each square with Strawberry Glaze and whipped cream. Yield: 15 servings.

Strawberry Glaze:

(Note: This glaze is not sweetened)

Reserved strawberry juice

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine strawberry juice and corn­starch in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Serve warm over cake.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

1 cup shortening

2 cups sugar, divided

2 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening; add 1-1/2 cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings; beat well.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, Add to creamed mixture; mix.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 3 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets.* Press cookies with a fork to flat­ten. Sprinkle cookies with remaining sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

*We roll the dough into balls, roll the balls in sugar, and place them on the cookie sheets, flattening them slightly.






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