Recipe: A Great Summer Cake….Boiled Chocolate Cake

I am going to make this cake this afternoon and remembered why it is such a great summer chocolate cake…it takes much less time to bake than other recipes. This cake has been my go to chocolate cake since I was teenager. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

This cake is always a favorite and is the basic recipe I use for many varieties of chocolate cakes. It can be baked as a sheet cake or a layer cake. It is very moist and rich. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Boiled Chocolate Cake

1 cup water
2 sticks of margarine or butter
Four heaping tablespoons of cocoa
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk (Buttermilk alternative: if you don’t have buttermilk you can sour regular milk by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar to ½ cup of milk.)
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In a large sauce pan on top of the stove bring the water, margarine and cocoa to a boil. In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, mix together sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to sauce pan. Stirring constantly bring back to a…

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What Is On My Mind? Top Secret Information: I know why Jim Comey was in Minnesota Yesterday

I have been asked to leak this top secret information.

The reason Jim Comey was in Minnesota yesterday was so that I could paint his portrait which has been designated to permanently hang over the front door entrance of the White House.

Unfortunately, while his six foot, eight inch body could fit through the front door of my home, his ego was just too big enter any mere mortal’s home or capture on canvas.

 

 

 

Recipes: Uncle Ing, Aunt Doris, Orioles and the Treasure Box ….Grandma’s Salad, Zucchini Freezer Jam and Kathryn Hepburn’s Brownies

bird oriole

My husband and I have lived in this home for over thirty years and for the first time I have Orioles at my bird feeder.  This morning I had both a male and female Oriole singing to me from my grape jelly feeder. Actually, I can still hear them singing.

Each time I see an Oriole, I always think of my Great Uncle Ing who was the first person to ever show me one of these gorgeous orange and black song birds.

Uncle Ing Kronbeck lived his whole life on the farm where he had grown up north west of Litchfield, MN.  He was the youngest in a family of six children. Esther the oldest was my grandmother, then there were Hilda, Anna, Ida, Victor and Ingvald.

Their childhood was one of hard work, poverty and a very sick mother.  My grandmother once told me that she was more of a mother to her brother Ing than her own mother.

This family worked together on their farm and survived World Wars, economic depression and contagion. Several of their family members contracted the flu during the deadly epidemic of 1918.   Aunt Ida told me she once spent an entire year lying in bed with an ice pack on her chest, due to an enlarged heart from an illness.  I do not remember anymore if it was the flu or Rheumatic fever.

Against all odds, all of the children survived to adulthood.  Not only that, but these strong people, while suffering through bouts of depression and sadness thrust upon them by the circumstances of life, always were steadfast in their faith in Jesus Christ and kept their sense of humor and wonderment of simple things.

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Uncle Ing holding his daughter Marion

Uncle Ing married Aunt Doris and they had two daughters Marion and Kathy.  What probably was more important to me at the time was that they had two amazing dogs Penny and Skippy.  Penny was the softest tri-color collie in the world and Skippy was a magnificent fetcher of a Springer Spaniel.

Penny                                                                Skippy

Not only were these dogs friendly….they were generous.  They had no problem with me climbing on on top of their dog house and pretending it was my pony.  At that age anything and everything became a pony.

Skippy’s favorite toy…a cow teat holder

In those days, Sunday’s were for church and visiting relatives.  For those of you that do not know what visiting is, it is actually taking time to be with the people you love.  You share stories, laughs and very good food.

Sometimes at Uncle Ing’s home, he’d play guitar and sing us songs in English and Swedish.

guitar Ing twelve string
      Uncle Ing played a twelve string guitar 

He would also let me sit at his “Seed Corn” sales desk and draw with his remarkable little pencils.  They came in a case that had bright colored advertisements on them.

pencils

To use the pencil and you had to pull the pencil out and insert its metal capped end into the back of the case.  They were dainty and delightful, and a perfect gift for a little girl who needed a pencil to fit into her tiny Sunday School penny offering purse.

purse

Visiting Uncle Ing and Aunt Doris was one of my favorite childhood stops.  It sure beat visiting the Aunties in town as every child in our family knew that their house was dark, scary and haunted.  However, had I known then that both of my great grandparent had died in Uncle Ing’s house, I probably would have been a bit more jumpy when the back door would open and close on its own.

Cow Ing

Everyone else had black and white milking cows, not Uncle Ing, he had the only weird brown cow in the whole community. 

What I remember most was that Uncle Ing and Aunt Doris’ home was filled with happiness and peace.

On one Sunday’s visit Uncle Ing walked us kids to a big tree in his front yard and showed us the nest of an Oriole.  It was a funny looking bird’s nest. It hung off of the branch of the tree just like a beard hanging off the chin of a Mennonite.  There, too, in the tree sat a male Oriole. It was the very first time I had ever seen an Oriole.  He was beautiful! We stood silently and listened to its beautiful song.

bird nest

Beautiful memories like beautiful days and people are the real treasures of this life.  That is why I have a treasure box.  I do not think even my daughter knows about my treasure box. It is a very stained and tattered little cardboard box where I keep all of the handwritten recipes given to me by the greatly loved women in my life who have found their eternal rest in heaven.  One of those was my Great Aunt Doris.

My first year in college, I lived with my Aunt Doris during the winter months.  I had a great time.  One day we sat down at the kitchen table and she had me go through her recipes and choose which ones I wanted.  Then, in her own hand, she copied them for me.  They are in my treasure box along with Grandmother Helen Vacinek, Grandmother Esther and Great Aunt Ida’s handwritten recipes.

I get a kick out of the great interest in DNA ancestry tests.  A DNA test can only tell you what you are. It is family tradition, lore and heirlooms that tell you who you are.

When I think about it, I have come to the conclusion that it really is a shame that email and text messaging were ever invented.  It saddens me to think that future generations will not be able to take out a treasure box filled with handwritten notes, letters and recipes from the people that loved them.  The expressions of love and wisdom from past familial generations that provide comfort and strength will surely elude children of the electronic age for their communications will be no more.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. I have shared them as written by my Great Aunt Doris.

grandma's salad

Grandma’s Salad

1/2 cup salad dressing (mayonnaise)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice – blend these and add
1 cup crushed pineapple well drained, so it’ll be a firm salad

Add
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup small marshmallows
1 cup grated carrots
Stir only to distribute evenly

zucchini-zucchini-jam

Zucchini Freezer Jam

6 cups grated zucchini, peel, add water to cook for six minutes. Drain well.

Add
6 cups of sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon or orange juice
6 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice

Boil six minutes, take off stove and add
2 3-ounce packages of apricot jello. (Or, one each of lemon or orange jello.)

Pour in jars

Keep in freezer.

xKatharine_Hepburn

Kathryn Hepburn’s Brownies

This is just the way Hepburn did it

First melt two squares of unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 pound butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in one cup sugar, add two eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat like mad.

Stir in 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Not all mashed up you know, just chopped, good sized pieces, now mix all that.  

Butter an 8 X 8 inch pan and dump the whole thing quickly, stuff into 325 degree oven for 40 minutes. Cool awhile and cut into one and a half inch squares and dive right in.

Editors note, tested in the kitchen of Ladies Home Journal and is delicious because of the 1/4 cup flour they have a pudding like texture.  Pat, I’ve also made them. (No baking powder or soda) 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? Living With Cancer and The Best 40th Wedding Anniversary Gift Ever!

doug and pat wedding

Sunday was Doug and my 40th wedding anniversary. Our refrigerator is shot, works but many pieces are missing, so on Saturday we went to buy a new one at Best Buy, pick up a dog toy for my neighbor’s dog, she needed a new flamingo, and buy some picture books for my World War II buddy El who is in the nursing home.

Well, as life would have it, we had to go home and re-measure and go back to Best Buy on Sunday….our anniversary.

So, as a joke, I asked the salesman if there was a 40th Anniversary discount. He responded that, that is at 50 years and we will have to come back in ten years…without missing a beat my big quiet husband resolutely stated, “We’ll be here!.”

Best anniversary gift ever!

What Is On My Mind Today? Uncle Ed’s Honestly Great Fish Story

fish story

I saw this story online this morning and the picture reminded of a fishing trip with my Great Uncle Ed.

Uncle Ed was a great fisherman and story teller. Often times the two went hand in hand.

This particular fishing expedition took place on a Lake Calhoun that was west of our farm. We were well supplied with worms to catch lots of pan fish…sunfish and crappies.

It was a typical warm humid Minnesota summer day.  Perfect for leaning your elbows on the side of Uncle Ed’s old boat to daydream an afternoon away as you watched your red and white bobber for evidence of fish interest in your bait.

Then, serene contemplation was shattered when all of a sudden Uncle Ed’s bobber went under with a vengeance!  In a flash his bobber disappeared in the swirl of a mighty whirlpool, as his pole instantly bent in half straining to break. The pole’s tip barely clearing the water’s surface as Uncle Ed jumped to his feet, told us to sit down before we all ended up in the lake and began to battle the ferocious finned fiend fighting for freedom.

The war lasted quite a while.

Finally, Uncle Ed began to make headway on landing the fish as us youthful spectators in the boat strained to remain seated, have the net at the ready while competing for the most advantageous position from which to be the first to get a glimpse of what surely must be a monster of the deep.

As Uncle Ed brought his fishing pole tip along side the boat and as his bobber became visible once again to land lovers, a huge northern pike leaped from the lake directly towards the boat spitting out the very small sunfish it had been hanging on to by the tail with a oral explosion force that would have been the envy of any champion watermelon seed or cherry pit spitter.

That small orange-bellied minnow-sized projectile flew through the air right at Uncle Ed and almost landed in the boat. Then, the Pike smiled right at Uncle Ed, before the monstrosity of a fish with the sense of humor disappeared below the dark green water with a salutatory wave of its tail.

Uncle Ed stood transfixed. Before long he mustered a dignity not often found in today’s world.  He quietly held up the half-eaten micro sunfish so that all of us kids could inspect the toothmarks left by the giant predator.  With a sad look of resignation he just said, “Nobody is ever going to believe me.”

I have many great memories of my Uncle Ed.  Many years ago, right after he went into a nursing home, I wrote this poem about him and his old fishing boat.

Used Boat for Sale

By Patricia Turgeon

Old used boat for sale

Two oars, no sail.

No leaks, motor runs.

Proven lots of fun.

Must sell now, moving to a home

Where I’ll dance, dine and not be alone.

Buy my boat, I’ll sell it cheap,

To a home with children a mile deep.

Then, next spring into the lake it will go,

Following a path it has come well to know.

If you want to learn to fish,

This boat’s the answer to your wish.

My sons, daughter and grandchildren too,

Learned to fish in that boat just like you’re going to do.

The trick is to not be afraid

That is why flotation devices are made.

Bait’s not a problem, buy it at the store,

If you run out, go back and buy some more.

Bait the hook, let that bobber fly,

Be careful not to take out an eye.

When your bobber sinks out of sight,

Give the pole a snap and keep the line tight.

You’ll know the fish is caught when your line starts to drag.

Reel it in quick or weeds you will snag.

Use a net to get your catch inside, 

Holding your first fish will fill you with pride!

Call today, the boat will go fast,

A deal this good, just won’t last.

Now don’t think that it’s sad, that my boat has to be sold.

I’ve taken my turn, it’s called getting old.

So, if you can….grant me this final wish,

Keep that old boat filled with laughter, children and fish.

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Great Uncle Ed and Aunt Olive

 

 

 

Recipe: Tornadoes, Naked Chickens and Angel Lemon-Coconut Bars

HenRhodeIslandRed

After posting about my love of storms and tornado nightmares I was reminded of a real tornado story told to me by my Great Uncle Alec.

Great Uncle Alec was married to my Great-Aunt Ida whose recipes have graced this blog many a time.  She was a fabulous cook and baker. They had a family of seven children and lived on a farm in Amery, Wisconsin.

As a child I had visited their farm several times.  I remember that the house was quite a bit like the old farm house on our farm, and that they had a wonderfully big barn.

Of course, what sticks in my memory the most was the warnings not to wander down by the creek as there was lots of quick sand down there.  I have always wondered if there really was quick sand, or if the quick sand was like the skunks in the “skunk woods” back home and a very busy God always seeing everything I did…deterrents employed to protect inquisitive children from roaming physically or morally too far astray.

For the record, I still believe there was deadly quicksand by that creek, rabid skunks in those woods and that God never lets me out of his sight.

All of my great uncles were fabulous tellers of tales.  They had a gift of observation that could convert the ordinary into the hilarious.  Except for death, they could find something to laugh about in almost any situation….including storm destruction.

Uncle Alec’s story began by recounting the beauty of that summer day…the day that the tornado hit Amery and their farm.

He was outside working and hadn’t paid too much attention to the sky as thunderstorms were a common occurrence and a welcome one. They the cooled off man and beast while providing much needed rain for growing crops.  Thunderstorms were an exciting gift from God himself.

When lightening begin to flash and thunder rolled, Alec, like all farmers knew it was time to leave the field to work inside.  He had barn chores to do, so into the barn he went to ride out the storm.

As the storm approached it became louder and louder.  Alec looked out the barn door to see a large tornado barreling right towards his farm. There was no time for him to get to the house and the storm cellar so he hunkered down alongside the foundation of the barn.

The winds of the tornado were terrific as they attacked Uncle Alec, trees, house and barn….mostly the barn.  When the storm had finished leaving its mark on the farm, Alec sprung up to look about and see what the storm had taken and what it had left behind.

It had taken trees, parts of buildings and all of the feathers off of his chickens.  “Why, there were all my hens strutting around calmly clucking as if they did not have a care in the world…totally naked! There wasn’t a feather on them!  All I had was a bunch of naked chickens!!!!”

Angel Food Cakes like tornadoes seemed to always appear on our farm during the summer months.  Maybe that was because they are both funnel shaped? This recipe for Angel Lemon-Coconut Bars will give you the moist texture of Angel Food Cake along with the tang of lemon and the rich sweetness of coconut with none of the eternal egg white beating. This is the easiest Angel Food Cake or bar recipe you will ever make and probably the most delicious.  Enjoy!

Angel Lemon-Coconut Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 Angel Food Cake Mix (one-step method)
1 can of Wilderness Lemon Pie Filling
2 cups of shredded coconut

In a large steel or glass mixing bowl stir together the Angel Food Cake mix and lemon pie filling.  The mixture will foam up as you stir it. (Children love helping with this part.  It feels just like a science experiment in a laboratory that may just explode.  It doesn’t, but sure is fun to watch.  Gee, I wonder why both of my children are chemists.) 

Add coconut and mix in thoroughly.

Spread batter evenly on an jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  The bars will be lightly browned on top when done.

Frost the bars when they are completely cool.

Frosting

3-ounces of cream cheese, (softened)
1/3 cup of butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

This frosting should be the texture of a spreadable cookie icing.

I have made and used this recipe when I did not have any cream cheese in the kitchen and the bars were still absolutely delicious.  Also, I have baked this in a 9 X 13 cake pan and served it as a dessert.