You cannot capture a dream until you reach for it.

Archive for April, 2012


by Karen E. Rigley

Mom’s spice cake with penuche frosting, Dad’s lemonade, Aunt Della’s fudge, Uncle Joe’s pancakes, Grandma’s griddle cakes. Mmm. Each evoke memories of taste and aroma and love. Emotion swirls the memories into mental warm fuzzies.

I can remember as a child sitting in my grandmother’s cozy kitchen watching her toss ingredients into a bowl while oil (probably lard) heated on the stove. Not sure of my age, but my legs dangled because my feet didn’t reach the floor. Grandma smiled and hummed as she dumped flour into the bowl, cracked eggs, added this and that – never measuring. Anticipation bubbled along with the griddle cakes as she poured the batter into the sizzling oil. Years later, I begged her for the recipe and she tried to estimate the ingredients, but since she cooked by instinct I never could replicate her delicious griddle cakes. Same with Uncle Joe’s heavenly pancakes – because he cooked free-form in my Grandma’s style.

My mother cooked that way to a degree, but she also used recipes. She adjusted them, tweaking them to perfection. One of my prize possessions is an old, yellowed recipe card where she had scribbled her own changes onto the original recipe. No matter what Mom made, she did it her way and created a dish beyond any recipe she used as a guide. I could never begin to list all her wonderful creations from simple meals to superb desserts. How she found time and energy with seven kids and working around the clock as Dad’s secretary and office manager still boggles my mind. That was Mom. Amazing in every way. Sweet memories of her cooking filled my life.

My dad could cook, too. Yet, beyond his Sunday roastbeef, my favorite by far was his homemade lemonade. It took countless lemons and a nice chunk of time — considering the volume of lemonade to satisfy our huge family, but the icy taste on a hot summer day was pure delight.

Recently (at special request) I made my sister Kathy our mom’s spice cake with penuche frosting. Yum. So today I’ll share that recipe with you:

Leila’s Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 ½ cups flour, 2 ½ tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla,

½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon,

1/4 tsp cloves, ½ tsp. allspice, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1 1/4 cup sugar,

1/3 cup molasses, 1 cup milk, 3 eggs, ½ cup butter, 1/4c shortening

Place dry ingredients (except sugar) in bowl. Stir flour, salt, baking powder & soda and spices until blended. Set aside. In mixing bowl blend sugar, molasses, butter and shortening. Add eggs. Beat eggs into butter mixture. Add flour and milk alternately, mixing as you go. Beat batter until well-blended. Pour into greased and floured 9×13 pan.

Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

Penuche Frosting

½ cup butter, 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup brown sugar (packed), 1 ½ cup powdered sugar

Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar. Boil over low heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and bring back to boil. Cool at room temperature without stirring., until lukewarm. Stir in powdered sugar gradually; mix to consistency to spread.

Frost cake and enjoy!