Aunt Marie’s Stack Cake

Aunt Marie's Stack Cake by Karen Jurgens

Aunt Marie’s Stack Cake

By Karen Jurgens

One of the most ongoing traditions in our family revolves around my great-aunt Marie’s Stack Cake. Cut from a magazine at least sixty years ago, the recipe has been a cherished addition to every Christmas meal since I can remember. My older daughter, Meg, has a birthday mid-December, and she begs to have this instead of a traditional birthday cake. Since it keeps perfectly for weeks, we enjoy it through the holidays along with our other Christmas desserts.

Click to Tweet: From Karen Jurgens via @inspiredprompt: Aunt Marie’s Stack Cake is an Icelandic #holiday tradition #food #recipe

So, what exactly is Stack Cake? Nicknamed as such by my family, the actual title is Vinarterta Prune Cake. Just as it sounds, it’s seven layers of delectable cake stacked together with a dried-fruit filling and dusted with powdered sugar. Its origins are from Iceland, and seeing as how we are crazy about this cake, it’s no surprise that our family has Viking ancestry!

Here is my family recipe:

Ingredients for filling:

2 lbs. dried prunes (may substitute other dried fruit such as apricots)
½ cup prune juice (may substitute wine or rum)
1 cup sugar
½ t. cardamom seed
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt

Method:

Cook prunes and juice slowly until tender, drain, and conserve the juice. (Pit prunes if using seeded ones.) Grind in a food processor until smooth or just mash for a chunkier filling. Return to heat, add back the juice, and cook fruit until the consistency of thick jam. Cool.

Ingredients for cake:

1 c. butter
1c. sugar
4 c. sifted flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
¼ c. milk

Method:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in slightly beaten eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Alternate flour, salt, and baking powder with the milk, mixing until combined. Form 7 equal balls from the dough and chill for about an hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using cake pans (8 inch) turned upside-down, pat out each ball of dough evenly to the edge of each pan. Bake 15-20 mins. or until the edges of cake are lightly browned. Allow layers to cool slightly before stacking with jam.

To finish:

On a serving plate, begin with one layer of cake. Spread with fruit filling. Alternate cake and filling, ending with a layer of cake. Dust the top layer with confectioners’ sugar. This cake keeps well for weeks and can also be frozen for months.

Click Here for more explanation and more pictures of the traditional cake.

Enjoy this Icelandic holiday treat!

Aunt Marie's Stack Cake by Karen Jurgens

Stack Cake is always on the dessert table at Christmas

Pop back by on Wednesday for Karen’s 3 Questions interview! And she’s giving away a free e-version of her latest release. See you there!

From My Grandmother’s Kitchen: No Elves in Nan Nan’s Kitchen

By Steve Connolly

Photo from Pixabay

The house at 106 Cadima Avenue in Coral Gables, my grandmother’s house, will be one of those addresses that stick in my memory banks forever.  As a kid, I was fortunate to spend time with her during my summer vacations from school.

My grandmother was known as Nan Nan to her 33 grandchildren. She was fondly given this name by my oldest cousin, Cathy Tracy Dickinson. I am not sure where she came up with such a moniker, but it stuck over many years.

A visit to Nan Nan’s house broke up the endless summer days of playing army with my buddies, shooting basketballs, or fighting with my brothers. With Nan Nan you were guaranteed to have an adventure. When I was very young, I remember her walking me to the park to do arts & crafts.  Later years we would walk several miles to downtown Coral Gables for a hot fudge sundae. For a real treat, we would hop a city bus to downtown Miami. We would explore parks, museums, libraries or go to a movie. Being the oldest of five (Peter waited until we moved to New Hampshire to be born) I enjoyed the personal time she spent with me.

I remember my grandmother as the school librarian at a small Christian School.  I’m told Nan Nan started teaching there as the Home Economics instructor. Later at the age of sixty, she continued her education and became the school’s librarian. Being a Home Ec teacher I often wondered if this is why she was a fantastic cook. I have known only one other Home Ec teacher in my life, Mrs. Bernice Kyte, and she, too, was an excellent cook.

My Nan Nan was famous for her cookies. Visiting her house, the first thing we kids would do is check in the bottom cupboard to see if there were any cookies in her original Tupperware container. And you know, we were never disappointed. Nan Nan had several cookie recipes that we loved as kids. One was her Chocolate Chip cookies and another was her Easy Peasy Sugar Cookies. For years I have tried to duplicate her Chocolate Chip cookies without success. She must have kept something secret as I have her original recipe and have never successfully made them good as she did. One of her many cooking shortcuts must have been an unwritten instruction in her recipe. Someday I may resolve this mystery!

Click to tweet: My Nan Nan was famous for her cookies. #holidays @InspiredPrompt

However, I have mastered her Easy Peasy Sugar Cookies recipe. I know they are good as my wife often forbids me to make them. She claims they are addictive. I must disagree with her as I can limit myself to ten or twelve of them a day! I hope you enjoy them. Make sure and pay attention to the little tricks Nan Nan taught me about making these cookies.

Easy Peasy Sugar Cookies (must be her original name)

  • 1-1/2 Cups of Sugar
  • 2-1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon of Salt
  • 14 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature (or squishy)
  • 3 teaspoons of Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs plus the Egg White of One Egg
  • ¼ teaspoon of Nutmeg

 It is best to start off by having all your ingredients measured out – this way you can double check and prevent missing something. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees after you evenly space the racks in the center of the oven.

  1. Next, sift into a separate bowl all the dry ingredients (except the nutmeg).
  2. With an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar and beat till light and fluffy
  3. Mix in the egg products one at a time beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour to the egg/sugar mixture – about ½ cup at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary (You may need to chill the dough depending on your eggs).
  5. Roll the dough into one-inch size balls. Then roll them in a mixture of sugar and nutmeg (I always measure by eye – personal taste can dictate this – for Christmas use colored sugar)
  6. Put onto cookie sheets – I find aluminum sheets work the best.
  7. Start one sheet on the lower oven rack and bake 5 minutes. After 5 minutes move it to the top rack. When the 5 minutes is up, check to make sure the cookies are slightly browned around the bottom edges.  Time may have to be adjusted according to your oven.
  8. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack – I start mine out flat then stack them after a few minutes to let them fully cool.
  9. Wash your sheets in cool water between batches – Careful not to burn yourself.

My grandmother lived just shy of her 101st birthday.  She was an incredible person whom I think of most days.  In my house of five boys and one girl, it was required that we all learned to cook. Thinking of the skills I have developed over the years I find the majority are from things my grandmother taught me.  And by the way, my grandmother’s daughter, my Mom is a great cook too!

My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Homemade Pancakes

I love the title for this month’s blog post. I had different relationships with both of my grandmothers. They each taught me so much in the precious time I had with them. After our family moved from the city, I used to spend a few weeks each summer with my Grandma Milem.

She lived in a cul-de-sac with other homes filled with folks much like herself; elderly, with grown children. There were very few kids my age living, or visiting in that semi-circle of homes; so I ended up spending a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa. This is the place where I learned to sew, embroider, and watch Grandma cook. A favorite family memory: she loved to whistle while she worked.

There was always fresh produce on Grandma’s table. Tomatoes sliced on a plate, cucumbers bathed in vinegar, or swimming in sour cream with dill, and onion stalks with their greenery spilling out of the top of a glass of water. She taught my mother how to can the benefits from our garden, her bread and butter pickles were the best! We had jars and jars of corn, green beans and tomatoes. Grandma would take zucchini home and come back to visit with loaves of zucchini bread!

I have fond memories of holiday gatherings. Wonderful smells would fill the house. There were no store bought pies here, no sir. Everything was made by hand, and if you went home hungry it was your fault.

By the time I became a teenager, Grandpa had passed away and their home had been sold. Grandma called herself a vagabond; she lived from place to place. Mostly with her grown children in different parts of the country. She would visit us in southern California for a couple of months, she would then divide the rest of the year between Arizona, South Carolina, or Ohio.

In 1999, we were all called to my Uncle’s home in Ohio to say our good-byes. Hospice had advised that Grandma would be leaving us soon. A memory from that time, so precious to me  was when my Uncle’s home lost power, and there was no air conditioning. My cousins and I took newspaper and made fans. Then we went into the bedroom where Grandma rested and fanned her while singing hymns. If you listened real close you could hear her humming along.

When asking my cousins which recipe they remembered most from Grandma’s Kitchen our memories varied.  But we all think of her as a constant reminder of our childhood, and her great cooking abilities. I just found out recently that one of my cousins had  snagged her recipe box! Oh what a treasure! She then proceeded to send me a picture of all of those recipes. So, per her request, I am happily sharing Grandma Milem’s pancake recipe.

 

Grandma Milem’s Pancakes

1 Egg
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup of Baking soda
1 1/4 Cups of Flour
1 tsp. Sugar
2 Tbs. Soft shortening
1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt

Mix the dry ingredients together well. The shortening should be soft like butter at room temperature. Add shortening, and  buttermilk; stir well. Let batter rest for a minute or two before pouring on hot griddle.

Click to Tweet: My Grandma’s Kitchen: Homemade Pancakes #holiday #memories .@InspiredPrompts

From My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Mamaw’s Chocolate Pie

By Jennifer Hallmark

Mamaw’s chocolate pie. Rich, creamy filling in a flaky crust with no meringue or whipped topping. No, sir. Mamaw didn’t like meringue. My dad’s parents spent a lot of their life in Arizona before moving back to Alabama to retire. My brother, Jesse Lee Dison III, and I enjoyed visiting my dad’s parents during our teen-age years, a time to get out of the house.

When Mamaw passed in 2010, my brother, living in Alaska, could not make the trip. But he had a way to honor our grandmother. He wrote a tribute which he had me place in a stand-up photo frame and asked my mom to bake a chocolate pie. We set them in the funeral parlor, a fitting acknowledgement of her love and cooking skills…

Here’s what Jesse wrote:

Since I could not attend I wanted to have something there that meant a lot to me when I think of Mamaw.  Now chocolate pie may seem like an odd thing, but every time we would get together that was one thing that I knew she would have and what I looked forward to.  Without the whipped cream! Whenever I see a chocolate pie, it reminds me of her and I know that they won’t be as good as hers. Just a very special memory to me.

Most of my memories of her would range from her being mean, not letting me answer the phone when my girlfriend was calling (had to climb through a window to grab the phone), to her relationship with Papaw.  I truly believe that strong family trees start at the roots and you learn from what you watch while growing up.  Mamaw and Papaw had that relationship where you know they loved each other and it was passed on although not out loud, but through watching and being around them.

Being in Alaska has been hard since it is so far away.  Holidays are hard because I miss being there with all the family.  When Mamaw would yell “Jesse” and Papaw, my dad and I would holler “yes” at the same time. She would get so mad.  I know when I would call to talk to her and hear everyone in the background it would bring back good memories.  To know that all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have and are raising close strong families in today’s society is a testament to how great Mamaw and Papaw were.

I am saddened by Mamaw’s passing but I know she is where she wants to be now, with my dad and Papaw.  And someday we will all be together.

And I know we will. Here’s her pie recipe. You can always add meringue or whipped topping, of course. 🙂

Click to tweet: Just in time for the holidays. Mamaw’s Chocolate Pie. #InspiredPrompt #food

Mamaw’s Chocolate Pie

3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Blend together sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt in a boiler. Add milk. Cook over low heat. Stir constantly util the mixture has thickened. Add a small amount of hot mixture to beaten egg yolks, stirring well. Add to mixture. Cook until it is a thick consistency. Add vanilla and butter or margarine. Pour into baked pie shell. Let cool…

Twenty Years of Freedom From Addiction

by Tammy Trail

I’m sure many  significant events happened within the last twenty years. I’ve been racking my brain for a source of inspiration for the topic of this month’s blog. How can I bring something to print that has not been thought of by my fellow blog mates (who are all awesome!)?

A dear friend of mine recently asked me to write down the testimony of my struggle to quit smoking. She has another friend who is struggling, too. I realized this year in November will be twenty years smoke free for both my husband and me.

I suppose any bad habit is hard to break. We all struggle with something. My husband had only smoked for a handful of years, and he seemed to have an easier time of it the first time we attempted to quit. I had been a die hard smoke stack since the age of 15! Of course, I had adults in my life that told me I would regret starting. It would take years off my life, I would ruin my health. None of that mattered to a hardheaded teenager who thought she could quit at any time, and who didn’t appreciate good advice.

My first attempt to stop smoking was when I became pregnant with my daughter, Amanda. Cold Turkey–that was the way to do it! Oh my, what I put my poor husband through. It was so hard when you spend your workday in an office full of smokers! I would literally cry until my husband relented and bought a pack of cigarettes.

Then we tried hypnosis. It worked for awhile. I was even able to ignore those folks at work. But for some reason, I began to crave a cigarette on Thursday evenings after work. I know, it was very strange. This battle was real. I loved to smoke. I gained pleasure from it. There was no reason for small talk in a social setting while holding a cigarette and hiding behind the veil of smoke. So, eventually I was right back where I started.

Fast forward to a year after my son, Sean, was born. Cigarette prices were going up. While we struggled with meeting our financial obligations and putting a meal on the table, there was always money for our habit. Tim and I had rededicated our lives to the Lord and started attending a small full gospel church. We were learning so much, and the people were so patient with us. I’m sure they could smell our smoke-laced clothes before we even hit the door. Our beloved pastor could teach for hours, and Tim and I would try and satisfy our nicotine cravings with one last cigarette while we pulled the car into the church parking lot.

So, we decided to try and quit once again. This time we used the patch. Those nicotine-laced sticky adhesives on our upper arms seemed to work, but my, were they expensive. One Saturday afternoon, a few days into wearing the patch, I attended a church sponsored event on prayer.

While praying, I heard a voice in my spirit tell me, “Daughter, you don’t need that patch anymore.” Not knowing what to do with that, I left the patch on, and didn’t change it Sunday morning before church.

Our service usually began with prayer requests. A well meaning member of the congregation knew Tim and I were trying to quit smoking. She felt we needed to go up to the altar for prayer. This was very new to us, since we had only recently gone through re-dedication.  Accepting prayer, the laying on of hands–the very act of humility–was a huge step of faith for us. Remembering the words spoken to me the day before and thirsting for all of what the Lord may have in store for us, we went forward.

Loving hands were placed on shoulders, on our head, in the small of my back and at my elbows. I recall the pastor placing his hands on our heads, he spoke  loud and clear, “in the name of Jesus Christ, I proclaim the addiction to nicotine be lifted off of these bodies and claim healing.” If, there were any other words spoken, I don’t remember them. I just felt free. My husband and I have not even looked at a cigarette since that day.

I know it’s hard to quit a bad habit. I feel like cigarettes are the most difficult, because it is socially acceptable. I think cigarettes are just as addicting as hard drugs. If you struggle with an addiction, please seek help.

Matthew 11:28-30, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

CLICK TO TWEET: Hard to quit an addiction to cigarettes. Twenty years of #freedom from addiction. #smokefree

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