Another year and another blessed 365 days of life. Travis and I celebrated our 66th year of marriage. I am 86 years old. (Not sure how that is possible!) But that’s my age and I am happy to celebrate it! After my diagnosis of cancer at 84, and surviving chemo and radiation, every day feels precious. Yes, sometimes I have to “push” myself and make an effort to remain active- but I think that is how you remain young. Never stop “doing and learning.”
I remain “cancer free” but for those of you who walk this path with me, you know how I feel. You rejoice hearing those words, yet you are never completely reassured. I just try to focus on living, keeping my mind occupied, and staying busy and involved. Fortunately, I have my family and our bakery to take care of the “keeping busy” part. My son, Mike enjoys asking me to help hand-pack our Cookies in tins. My daughter, Ramona, loves “requesting” I continue to teach our new employees how to hand-roll and hand-cut our cookies. And guess what? I am still very good at it. When I began this business all our cookies were made by me in our kitchen. Our house and all our clothing smelled like cookies. Then we built a federally and state inspected downstairs kitchen. If someone else was watching the ovens, I could make 100 pounds of sugar cookies a day. My children, Ramona and Mike, and my husband, Travis, helped mix up the dough, (by hand) in small tubs. This was not an easy task. (This might be the real reason my children enjoy making me work for them- payback!) Ramona would also help wait on the ovens and pack our cookies into tins for mail order. She did everything but make the cookies. Ramona turned 65 this year. She said one of the items on her “bucket list” was to learn to make these cookies. Naturally she wanted me to teach her. Well, that has been an entertaining experience. All our employees are enjoying the “show” because these cookies are not easy to make. But it seems the apple did not fall very far from the tree. Given time, (and patience) I have no doubt she will eventually succeed. (This sure did bring back some memories though. As a child, Mona could be rather stubborn. When trying to teach her something, her favorite words were “I do it myself!”)
Some things never change. Lol.
In addition to our bakery duties, Travis and I continue working in our flower and vegetable gardens. Travis stays busy making his walking sticks and mowing everyone’s yard. I still cook every weekend for my family and friends (always at least 22 people.) It’s good to stay busy. It keeps my energies focused on “other things.” So, I really don’t mind my children bossing me around occasionally. It’s nice to be needed and valued.
Family News. (This is so exciting!)
My Grandson, Jedidiah Hanes Templin, (Mona’s son) has come on board as Vice President of our family business. He is the 9th generation of our Moravian family, and the 4th generation to be involved in Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies. He too, grew up in this business. Jed and his sister Madison (now a lawyer in Chicago) worked in our sales area and in the office. Mona would write our radio commercials and Jed and Madison would “perform” them. Those radio commercials are still remembered (and quoted) 25 years later by our local customers. I feel honored Jed has chosen to join us. He inherits a business his Great Grandmother began over 100 years ago, when she made these same cookies in a wood stove and sold them. He knows our history and respects our tradition of making a quality cookie. The future of our business is in good hands. I might be a “little” prejudiced- but Jed is brilliant. He can fix anything, he is hard-working and he is very smart. (Also, I look forward to watching him boss around his mother, Ramona, the way she has bossed around me.) This is gonna be so fun to watch. Fortunately, Jed and Mona worked very well together. Mona freely admits Jed is much smarter than she could ever dream of being, and Jed admires his mom’s “creative” approach to business. (Although he does have difficulty understanding her “artistic” mathematics.) Mona swears she is “mathematically dyslexic” but she can “feel” the way numbers make sense. (“I just can’t “see” the numbers in my head.) Jed admits she sees “numbers” differently- but because they eventually arrive at the same conclusion- he has given up trying to explain to her logically how it should be done. Exciting times are ahead! I am just so happy I have lived to see my Grandson continue our legacy. (And try to explain math to Mona.)
One day Jed is going to need some additional family help. Now, I did not do have children 16 years apart on purpose, but it’s funny how things are working out. Mona (my oldest child) is 65, and her children, Jed and Madison are 33 and 28. My youngest daughter Caroline, (who likes to refer to herself as Ramona’s MUCH younger sister) is training her children in the cookie business. If you come by on a Saturday you might be waited on by Evva Kate, age 9, and the twins, Lucy Jean & Norian Travis, age 6. It is a very entertaining experience. They keep Caroline so busy she lost over 100 pounds this year! She is thinking about using this as a ploy to get free babysitting. “Need to lose weight! Come look after the twins.”
Very few family businesses exist in this day and time. People are constantly amazed when the President of our company (Ramona) personally responds to emails- (all correspondence from customers and internet orders go directly to her “in box.”) You call us during business hours, you talk to a “real” person. It might be me, one of my family members or if you are really lucky, you will speak to Deborah Osborne, “Office Manager extraordinaire.” Deborah trains all our “seasonal” office employees, who for some blest reason return year after year to help us out. Rachel Holcomb, Jean Harris, Kathy Judkins, Mary Howe, Carolyn Bodford, Milda Minter, and Rena Thore. They all really care and do their best. Sure, you can order on our website, but if you want personal attention- just call us. Toll free: (888) 764-1402. During business hours you will always talk to a real person-(one of the above mentioned people). Our sweet southern accents are an added bonus.
In closing, I wish you a year of good health, abundant love and joyous laughter!
Stay busy! It keeps you young!
Ps: Thought I would share again the following authentic Moravian recipes. Our church makes these pies every year and can never make enough. So, if you don’t live nearby (or we were sold out) make your own!
Moravian Chicken Pie
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped in approximately 1 inch pieces. (See note)
1 ½ cups chicken broth (made from cooking the chicken).
1 Tbsp. Flour
Pepper to taste
2 pie crusts- I use the ones in the dairy section.
Note: I use all white meat. I buy split chicken breasts and you probably only need two. To cook the chicken, I cover it with 2 cups water and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until done, then remove from broth, discard the skin and bones and then chop. I use the broth for the gravy in the pie.
Line a 9 inch pie plate with bottom crust, place chicken over the crust, add flour sprinkled over top of chicken, then add chicken broth, and the butter, sprinkle with pepper to taste. Put the other pie crust on top and crimp the edges together, and cut a steam slit in middle of pie, Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1hour until brown.
This pie will serve 4, 5, or 6, according to how hungry you are. At our Church suppers we give ¼ of a pie as a serving along with cole slaw, Green beans and corn, potato salad, and pickles. This is a big fund raiser for our church. We serve around 600 to 900 folks in a 3 hour time frame, and all the money goes to support our various charities. For our suppers we will make as many as 800 pies. All the pie crust used to be rolled out by hand, but around 7 years ago we invested in a pie press. What a time saver! After the pies are made, we let them cool and then we freeze them till ready to bake. They freeze beautifully! (So you should really make a couple of pies at a time.)
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons Celery seed
Medium head of cabbage
Small green peeper
Small red pepper
Bring the water, vinegar, sugar and celery seed to a boil and let it cool. Take the medium head of cabbage, and cut it fine with a knife or you can grate it. Then dice and add in the small red and green pepper. Completely cover the cabbage and peppers with the liquid, add salt to taste, and then refrigerate. This slaw keeps indefinitely. (Well, until you eat it that is!)