Better Bend Your Butter

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Better Bend Your Butter

I have to make a cake for a 70th birthday party tomorrow.  I was the baker of the cake at the 30th, 40th, the 50th, and the 60th, so I have a tradition to uphold.  I have all the ingredients laid out on the counter.  Usually, I just throw in whatever I want, neglecting to measure anything for fear of making a mess.  This time I have to painstakingly measure out each ingredient.  Each has its time to go into the bowl.  Not a minute before or after.  The main ingredient that needs the most special care is the butter.  You absolutely must have the butter at room temperature when you cream it.  I know that this for a fact.  If it is too cold the cake will be flat and will not crumb properly.  If it is too warm it lumps up and does not allow the cake to bake evenly.  The sides cook too rapidly causing the middle to bulge up into a peak.  If you are going to frost the cake you must expertly slice the bulge off making a smooth surface for frosting and layering.  If the butter is too cold it will break into pieces.  If the butter is exactly at room temperature you can bend it beautifully.  If you can bend your butter, you will have a well-crumbed cake.  Well-crumbed cakes are important.  Aren’t they?  I am telling you about bending your butter because my mother used to walk the floors of our home with an Emily Post’s book open to just the right page for everything we were doing.  She had special cookbooks that told you what to do each step of the way.  She had an oven door that gave the correct temperatures, the correct measurements and all of the things you needed to know when you cook.  I don’t know any of those things today and just put handfuls sometimes, or a palm full here, a palm full there, plus some sprinkles of things into a pot or bowl and it all comes out delicious.  Well usually, but there are those very few occasions when I bomb.  Now, my mother would never have allowed herself the leeway to fail.  Perfection was my mother’s motto.  It must have worked because after all she has the perfect daughter.  Oh sure. But seriously, my mother is the only person who could make chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cakes and anything else she made more than once come out exactly the way it had the first time.  I have her recipe file and I can tell you I have never, ever been able to make the dish, cake, cookie or brownie, made previously come out anything even like that former dish or baked goods. Here is to the perfectionist, bravo. Here is to all of  us who may be on the way, bravo to us, too.

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Divinity Fudge and Lula Dora McKissack

 “MAMA LULA”

         February 13, 1903 – November 6, 1999

I am respectfully submitting the recipe for DIVINITY because not only is it the most delicious, melt in your mouth kind of candy, but it is also because divine providence brought the giver of this recipe into my life.  Lula McKissack hails originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi where she grew up on a small farm. She was given to her aunt when she was nine years old by her mother because she was strong and could do the work her childless aunt needed done. She left her aunt’s home at sixteen, married Mr. McKissack, and had two boys, Tommy and Bobby. Soon after Bobby was born Lula left Mr. McKissack and the hard life she lived with him. She moved to Louisiana where she built her own home with the help of her boys.

Lula’s boys left home early to join the navy and Lula was left alone with little means of supporting herself.  One of her friends, Nola, found out about two jobs in Huntington Park, California. They both decided to come for the California jobs. Nola came first and since my Aunt Bessie and Uncle Harold owned a jewelry store and needed someone to help with their children, Nola took the first job with them.

When Lula came to California, she went to work with our family.  I was nine, nearly ten years old when Lula came to us and she stayed with my family for twenty-nine years.  I remember calling Lula after being married for two weeks, crying that the house was dirty and everything was a mess.  I had no idea where to begin.  She told me to begin in one corner of the room and circle around until I was in the middle and the job would be done.  She was right and now, I always know how and where to begin my jobs.

Lula added unconditional love, forgiveness and a deep spirituality to our home and family. She worked miracles in our home and even though she has passed on, she continues to work miracles with our family.  Her philosophies of life have been handed down to the next generation like nuggets of gold and her Divinity candy will satisfy your hunger many things.  It will calm your nerves as you pause to enjoy it.  You will feel empowered with all of Mama Lula’s sweet charity and goodness.

Lula’s Divinity Recipe

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

1/2 cup of hot water

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 egg whites beaten stiff

1 teaspoon of vanilla

(Lula added 1/2 cup of chopped pecans)

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt.

Cook and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil and cook to the hardball stage. (a little of the mixture is dropped in a cup of cold water and when it forms a little hard ball, it is ready)  Beat egg whites stiff. Pour hot syrup slowly over beaten egg whites, beating constantly at a high speed. Add vanilla and beat until mixture forms soft peaks.  Drop from a tablespoon onto waxed paper, lifting and twirling spoon to form a peak on top of each mound.

The Not So Ancient Pot

THE NOT SO ANCIENT POT

There are much older pots than this one. There are some from almost before humans began to evolve, but this is the oldest one in my kitchen and it has served me for nearly 50 years. I know fifty years is not a long time, not really, but to me it is a lot of cooking, a lot of eating and a lot of pot washing.

See how the pot still shines? It still shines because I was taught to wash and clean your cooking utensils as if they were golden rather than stainless steel. I was taught that a good cooking utensil is as important as a good cook. More

Flossie’s Mandel Bread

Flossie’s Mandel Bread

 

SIFT TOGETHER:

3 CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR UNSIFTED

1 TSP BAKING POWDER

1/4 TSP SALT

 

BEAT TOGETHER:  3 Eggs

1/2 CUPS SUGAR

1 CUP MAZOLA OIL

1 1/2 TSP FRESH LEMON JUICE

1 CUP CHOPPED WALNUTS, ALMONDS ETC.

ADD FLOUR MIXTURE BY HAND

ADD NUTS LAST

 

OIL ALUMINUM PAN

BAKE AT 350 20-25-30 MIN: LIGHT BRN

COOL 5 MIN

CUT AND BAKE 15 MIN ON EACH SIDE

Bits and Pieces: A Dangerous Chocolate Cake

I received an email that I am pasting here for you. Before you read it let me tell you my experience with it. I received it, like I said, I read and re-read it. I sent it on. Hey, how about making it I said to myself. Okay, so I printed the recipe and went down to make it. I had all the ingredients except my flour was self- rising and the recipe said, no self-rising flour. So what. I don’t follow anything in total. Most often, Usually, Probably.

I did exactly what was prescribed in the recipe and it turned out majestic. Really. The cake puffed up way over the rim of the cup. It stayed there like a mountain. I dusted it with powdered sugar, I was thrilled with the experience and wanted to pass along to you the possibility of joy in accomplishment and the fun of following through. Here you go: Let me know how you do with this project. Do it now. Why wait. It is really awesome.

Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake Recipe in the World

MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE
1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour(that’s plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well . Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to share!)

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

LULA DORA MCKISSACK “MAMA LULA” February 13, 1903 – November 6, 1999

I am respectfully submitting the following recipe for DIVINITY because not only is it the most delicious, melt in your mouth candy, but it is also because divine providence brought the giver of this recipe into my life.

Lula McKissack hails originally from Hattisburg, Mississippi, where she grew up on a small backwoods farm. She was given to her aunt when she was 9 years old, by her mother, because she was strong and could do the work her childless aunt needed to be done. She continued to work hard the rest of her life.

Lula left her aunt’s home at 16, married Mr. McKissack, had two boys, Tommy and Bobby, left Mr. McKissack and moved to Louisiana where she built her own home with the help of her boys. Lula’s boys left home early to join the navy and Lula was alone with little means of supporting herself. One of her friends, Nola, found out about two jobs in Los Angeles, California. They both decided to come for the California jobs. Nola came first and since my Aunt Bessie and Uncle Harold owned a jewelry store, had to work long hours, Nola got the job with them caring for their hearth and home. When Lula came, she went to work for our family. I was 9, nearly 10 years old when Lula came to us and she stayed employed by my parents for 19 years.

I remember calling Lula after being married for only 2 weeks, crying that the house was dirty and everything was a mess. I had no idea where and how to begin. She told me to begin in one corner of the room and circle around until I was in the middle and the job would be done. She was right and now, I always know how to begin a cleaning job, actually any job.

Lula added unconditional love, forgiveness and a deep spirituality to our family. She worked miracles in our home and even though she has passed on, she continues to work miracles with our family. Her philosophies of life have been handed down to the next generation like nuggets of gold and her Divinity candy will satisfy your hunger for something sweet and inexplicable.
Divinity will calm your nerves and as you pause to enjoy it, you will feel empowered with all of Mama Lula’s sweet charity and goodness.

LULA’S DIVINITY

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup of hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 teaspoon vanilla
(I add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans)

In a 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil and cook to the hard ball stage. (a little of the mixture is dropped in a cup of cold water and forms a little hard ball) Beat egg whites stiff. Pour hot syrup slowly over beaten egg whites beating constantly at a high speed. Add vanilla and beat until mixture forms soft peaks. Drop from tablespoon onto waxed paper, lifting and twirling spoon to form peak on top of each mound.