“Faster than a speeding bullet!”
That’s how I feel time is passing. What a year 2017 has been! I shared with you my diagnosis of breast cancer in my letter last year. The beginning of 2016 was a time of fear, challenge and perseverance. However, in November 2016, I felt well enough to help out at the bakery. My job was to do whatever the president (my daughter Mona), asked me to do. Mona readily admits that the only reason she is president is because she is the bossiest child. (I can certainly attest to that!) Feeling energized again was like seeing a rainbow after a storm, full of promise that there would be a tomorrow. I have always been grateful for my good health, but after my diagnosis, I was even more thankful. Each new day became a blessing. Thank you for your cards and your well wishes during my recovery. They meant so much to me. We have always considered our customers to be a part of our family. You reinforced that feeling with your love and concern. In January 2017, I was pronounced “cancer free.” So this has been a wonderful year! (I guess I better prepare myself to bossed around even more this year by Mona. She admitted that she did go easy on me last year.)
In 2017, Travis and I turned 85 and celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary. We still delight in each other’s company and in sharing projects. He plants the garden and I “put it up.” I plant the flowers, he mows the yard. I cook and he cleans up. You get the picture--it’s a partnership. Travis was my first and only boyfriend. My granddaughter, Madison, loves the picture of Travis and me kissing (see insert), taken before we got married in 1950. Another picture from my photo album an even earlier time. Because I was such a good basketball player, I was actually “recruited” from high school to work in the mill at Hanes Hosiery, (no relation) and play on their basketball team. (Of course, this was long before I had children or started the cookie business!) My high school won the championship game and this photo appeared on the front page of the Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel with the caption, “All this and Victory, too.” My victory over cancer this year gives this phrase an entirely new meaning. In fact, I kind of feel this sums up my life, except maybe I would say, “All this and happiness, too!” It’s been a grand 65 years (and yes, I am still dang good at basketball!)
Besides basketball, I also “practice” cooking for my family and our friends. Most Saturdays, you will find at least 22 people sitting at my family table. (Pictured) I have been fortunate that my four children have remained close to home. (Ok, that bossy daughter Mona did take a 10-year hiatus, before settling back home. For a while, she was a starving “waitress, actress, singer” (in that order) in New York.) Three of my children live on our family farm, and one of them (obviously the adventurous one), lives just 15 minutes away. Our houses surround the bakery, located in the middle of the old cow pasture. (Smells a lot better now!) One of my greatest joys is sharing our weekly meal together. It’s a wild time with children, grandchildren and friends, laughing and talking together. Our life is a simple one. My youngest daughter Caroline once summed up our family as we laughed uproariously over some silly nonsense, “Gosh, we are easily entertained!” Like any family we do have our occasional disagreements, but bottom line, we honestly love and find great pleasure each other’s company.
Husband Travis still carves handcrafted walking sticks in his “Whittler on the Roof” studio. (Pictured.) He displays and sells his canes at our bakery and has quite a following! Travis has no plans to retire from this hobby. As he explains it, “I’m not ready to lay down my knife just yet.” (Yes, those were his exact words, lol.)
My two oldest grandchildren, (our first official Cookie Tasters) Jedidiah & Madison Templin, are the only family members who live out of state. Madison practices law in Chicago. Mona, YOU COULD INJECT A JOKE HERE ABOUT HER “PRACTICING” LAW AND NOT KNOWING WHEN SHE WILL ACTUALLY BE GOOD AT IT!) She does not get to visit often, but before she comes home, she calls me to make sure I am cooking that weekend. Madison was unable to make it to our family reunion last year or be in our family picture. But not to worry! Brother Jed enlarged a photo of Madison’s head, and, like the adventures of “Flat Stanley,” “Flat Madison” appeared in all our 2017 festivities. (Pictured) (Told you we are easily entertained!) However, as Madison was quick to remind us, “It was not the same as being there.” This year, she wisely planned her vacation around the family picture. (And yes, I will be cooking and making your favorite mashed potatoes, Madison!)
Grandson Jed spent the year teaching and pursuing his masters at the University of Kansas. Although he benefited greatly from his teaching experience, he has decided to continue his learning locally AND take his Uncle Mike’s place at the bakery. I am both proud and encouraged that another generation is interested in continuing our family business. Mother Mona ecstatically exclaimed, “Finally! We will have someone who can read directions and knows a lot about technology!” (I think she also missed Jed just a little.) Son Mike danced a jig at the news because he hopes to turn over part of his mixing job to Jed. Mixing up the cookie dough is a very difficult job. Although our mixer can handle 1000 pounds of dough at a time, all that dough has to be scooped out by hand. Mike would rather be “scooping up arrowheads” (his favorite pastime) than dipping out dough. My youngest grandchildren also have bakery responsibilities. Five-year old twins Lucy and Norian are now our official “Cookie Tasters.” Despite their increased responsibilities of entering kindergarten this year, they assure us they can continue their vigilant “Quality Control” over our cookies. Our employees love their visits and work very hard to make them happy. (Pictured)
In closing, I again include some of my favorite recipes. Folks seem to appreciate this addition to my family letter. This year it is all about sweets! One of my side effects from chemo was that I lost my taste for sweets. Well, my taste buds have been found! Here are recipes for Moravian Sugar Cake, my favorite Pound Cake, Pumpkin Dip (great with our Ginger cookies) and Mona’s favorite, Pecan Pie (or tarts).
All recipes can be found in my cookbook “Suppers at Six and We’re Not Waiting.”
Good for picnics and covered dish dinners. I always double this recipe and freeze what we don’t eat.
(“Yeah, like that ever happens!” says Mona.)
1 cup white corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 3 whole eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 teaspoon salt 1 heaping cup shelled, finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) butter, melted 9-inch unbaked pie shell (or tart shells)
Mix syrup, sugar, salt, butter (I use real butter), and vanilla. Mix in slightly beaten eggs. Pour in pie shell and sprinkle pecans over filling. (I always make two pies and use the entire jar of corn syrup and double all other ingredients. I make one and freeze the filling of the other – minus pecans-- and then put in pie shell, and pecans, and bake.) Bake at 350 approximately 45 minutes. If you use tarts with this mixture, they won’t take as long to bake, so watch carefully; they’re done when brown. I use bought tart shells. If recipe is doubled, it will make 30 tarts (or 32 if not so full) – bake tarts for 25 to 30 minutes – or 1 (9-inch) deep pie and 16 tarts or 2 (9-inch) pies.
Sunkist Pound Cake
My personal favorite of all pound cakes.
½ pound butter at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup shortening 1 teaspoon orange flavoring
3 cups sugar 1 small (8-ounce) Sunkist or Orange Crush
5 large eggs (mix 1 at a time) Optional: 1 orange grated (add ½ to cake
3 cups plain flour, unsifted (alternate adding batter and ½ to icing)
Mix in this order. Bake at 325 for 1-¼ hours in a greased, floured tube pan.
1 box powdered sugar 1 stick margarine
1 (3 ½ - ounce) package cream cheese 1 teaspoon Sunkist or orange flavoring
Mix, adding more liquid if needed; apply to cake.
1 Can-16 oz. Pumpkin Filling (Mona—is this just a can of pumpkin?)
2 cups Powdered Sugar
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
Blend the powdered sugar and cream cheese together. Then add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Serve with Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Ginger Crisp.
Moravian Sugar Cake
1 cup mashed potatoes (can be instant)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 packages yeast
7 cups flour
Mix together potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt and nutmeg. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water and mix well. Sift in flour and knead until smooth, adding flour as needed. Place in greased bowl and let rise. Punch down and let rise again. Then spread on two greased 8x10 inch sheets. Let rise. Take index finger and punch holes over dough about every 3 inches. Spread brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter generously over dough. Bake at 400 degrees until light brown.
Enjoy the recipes and enjoy life! Gather around your family table and make some sweet memories! As the contemporary philosopher Michael J. Fox (an actor who daily faces the challenges of Parkinson’s disease) said, “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”
Until next year,