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Archive for the ‘baking’ Category


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!



by Karen Elizabeth Rigley

About 3 AM Sunday morning, I took a tumble down the stairs. Not that I’m terribly graceful at the best of times, but this happens to be an extraordinarily bad time to be a klutz. It’s just about ten days to Christmas.

Don’t have my shopping done. Nor baking. Forget wrapping. Thank goodness I had just finished my tree and decorations, including hauling all the boxes down to the basement, then stashed away – mere hours before my mishap.

Already missed my little Lexi’s first-ever Christmas concert. That was harder on me than the fall. Fortunately, she has one more and I am determined to see that. A party scheduled at my house has been moved. Parties, concerts, shopping, suddenly transform to huge challenges.

Even trying to clean the house or carry something from one room to another turns into an obstacle. Or up and down the stairs. It’s hard enough to get me up and down those stairs. ;-)

Yet, with my broken ankle came a tumble of blessings. My family, friends and neighbors are rallying around me and I’m so touched and grateful. I couldn’t begin to list all the wonderful thoughtful things they’ve done or prayers and get well wishes they offer.

Yes, breaking my ankle is a bummer, but I am so lucky and blessed and feel very loved. Thank you all for everything. You have made this Christmas special.

May the peace and joy of the holiday season light your heart all year.


Want the best soft sugar cookies to bake for Christmas? 

Years ago my friend (& sometimes writing partner) Ann Miller House sent me a Reflections of the West cookbook from Texas.  In it I found treasure that I’ve been baking and sharing every since.

                                                     Old-Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup butter softened         1/2 cup sour cream                1 cup sugar

3 3/4 cups sifted flour            1 egg           1 teaspoon baking soda          

1/2 teaspoon salt                     1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract          

Beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add sour cream. Mix well. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Add to sugar mixture gradually, beating well after each addition.  Roll 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface.  Cut with floured cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Don’t overbake. Cool on wire rack. Frost and decorate. (Makes about 48 cookies)

I usually make a double batch. When baking cookies always remember — have fun and enjoy — you aren’t just making cookies — you’re creating memories!