March Moments

Contemplating a crow at the bird bath.
Where's Ella Rae?
Pardon me. My existentialism is showing today.

You know, it's true.  When you distill life to its basic elements, it's not the big productions that matter.  It's the seemingly minor moments that make your life...well, your life.

For instance, I once decided to create a Stewart Family Cookbook to complement our Stewart Family Reunions we were then having annually at the cabin on the farm in Hardeman County.  Major production.  At the time, I was changing employers (nothing new there...I was always changing employers...just keeping basically the same job with each one...:) from Training Manager at Leader Federal Savings and Loan in Memphis (remember them?  Ah well, they're long gone...:) to Training Manager with Fogelman Properties; I had a pre-schooler, who was getting ready to start first grade; and we'd just sold our house in Cordova and rented a townhouse in Bartlett, so all our worldly goods...including the recipes I'd collected from family members to create said cookbook...were packed up in boxes (again, nothing new here...our stuff has spent a good deal of time packed up in boxes...making a move somewhere...:).

Long story short:  it took me 10 years...and four more employers, and four more moves to three more states...to finish that project.  While it was being done, I thought it was the production of the cookbook that counted:  the text-entry, the graphic design, the printing, and the assembly.  I was wrong.  It's the fact that the cookbook exists at all that counts.  Because it exists, I can revisit each individual recipe, time and again, and I can be close to the contributor of the recipe each time I choose to make it.

Case in point.  Mom mentioned that she'd like something sweet yesterday.  Since her diagnosis of lung cancer, I've been concentrating on incorporating good nutrition into our menu:  lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, etc.  But, honestly, I could care less about our "diet," as in restricting calorie consumption (other than monitoring it to make sure that Mom is getting enough calories) or worrying about fats (other than to keep a balance between our proteins, carbs, and fats).  Now is not the time to "lose 10 pounds in 10 days."  (Of course, it's times like these that make me ponder if I haven't wasted far too much time on dieting in my lifetime.  But, that's fodder for another post...:)


Texas Sheet Cake -
See below for recipe!
 Anyway, I turned to the Family Cookbook to help feed our sweet-toothes teeth.  I selected a favorite that I haven't made in a long while:  *Texas Sheet Cake.  This is one of the recipes from my (Lunn) first cousin, Betty Jean, who passed away a few years ago.  I included it in the cookbook because it was one of my favorites that I'd brought to a Stewart Family Reunion...and you'll find it at the end of this post, just in case...

As I had hoped, it put a smile on Mom's face.  "Exactly what I wanted," she said. Reward enough, I should say. Plus, we got to talk about what a wonderful cook Betty Jean was...in a family of wonderful cooks.  Good cake.  Good memories.

I can report that we've had a good week.  Brother T left to return home to KY, and we miss him lots...especially for those nightly basketball games, now that we are in the thick of March Madness and the conference tournaments (where the heck is St. Peters anyway?).  Mr. T headed to Indy (via a stopover there-and-back at Missy M's in Louisville) for the big reveal of their new truck at the Truck Show this week; he reports all's going well.  So, it's just been the two of us in HPNC...and the three houndz, of course.  Can't forget the Drool Gang, can I?

Mom's pain is being managed well enough, and she is getting up & about a little more.  She's coming to the Morning Room for her breakfast like she used to, where she loves watching all the bird and squirrel activity at our feeders (see above photo for the ginormous crow in the bird-bath).  Last Thursday, she even went along for the ride with me to Kernersville and other parts of the county.  She loved seeing all the Spring blooms: daffodils, redbud trees, and forsythia bushes.

Which brings me back to...it's not the big productions in life.  It's the magical moments, like savoring a favorite dessert...or taking a ride in the countryside...or enjoying your morning coffee while watching the wildlife.  I'm learning to take it slow and cherish each moment.

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Betty Jean's recipe for Texas Sheet Cake


Ingredients:


Cake:· 2 sticks butter
· 1 cup water
· 4 T. cocoa
· 2 cups sugar
· 2 cups self-rising flour
· 1 tsp. soda
· ½ tsp. salt
· 2 beaten eggs
· ½ cup buttermilk

Frosting:


· 1 stick butter
· 4 T. cocoa
· 6 T. milk

· 4 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
· ½ tsp. vanilla
· ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans) - optional


Directions:


Bring to a boil the first three ingredients. Remove pan from heat and beat with a spoon into a mixture of the next 4 ingredients. Add the beaten eggs and buttermilk to this mixture; beat until blended. Bake in a prepared sheet cake pan at 400° for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake.


While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting by boiling the first three frosting ingredients. Remove from heat and add the nuts (optional), the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla. Beat with a spoon until smoother. Add more confectioners’ sugar if too thin; more milk if too thick.


To Serve:
Remove cake from oven and immediately frost to seal in the moisture. Allow to cool before cutting.
Enjoy!

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