Category Archives: From My Mother’s Kitchen – The Stories

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Crimes, Misdemeanors and GF Big Fat Layer Bars

It wasn’t because she spent the years between two and three running naked through the neighborhood and giving our elderly neighbor a heart attack .  And it wasn’t that at the age of three, she disappeared for an entire afternoon learning about the art of making bird’s nest soup with a (stranger) neighbor while the rest of the neighborhood was searching for her.  And it wasn’t that she played her harmonica at the crack of dawn under the window of another elderly neighbor – or that she could use pick-up sticks to successfully pick locks.  It wasn’t even that she’d make long distance phone calls to strangers and call them mommy. Continue reading


A Cake Tin With Heart: One More Time

three generations of heart and cake

For every family birthday as far back as photographic proof goes, a heart shaped cake was front and center for the celebration.  My mother was a superb baker of many things but cake was not one of them.  She never did master the art of a fluffy crumb.

The batter was beaten until it was standing on its own. Baked at the right temperature and time, it still came out raw in some spots and little chewy in others. Continue reading

Chocolate Orange Pavlova Bowls

If perky (and talented) Ina Garten had a doppelgänger who was taller, blonder and Swedish, that would be my sister-in-law.  Nancy could bake an 8-tiered cake complete with tiny sugar roses in the middle of a blizzard without power and still have it come out looking like perfection.  She would make it look easy. Continue reading

Canteen Cream Puffs, Custard Filled, Gluten Free

It is quite possible that there is only one other pastry that runs slightly ahead of this custard filled cream puff in my favorites list.  It might be the giant Snowflake Half Moon Cookie, but only by a half moon.  These cream puffs are the kind of treat that makes me feel like I won the pastry lottery. When I was a kid, after Friday Sabbath services there would be the Oneg.  The Oneg translates to big social celebration with pastry and cookies, sort of.  It is the social hour after services where you can commune with others and gossip about who was wearing what fashion faux pas.  Ok.  Sort of. Continue reading

Mom’s Brownies, Gluten Free and Valentine Easy

Mom baked tons of goodies, but none more frequently than her brownies.  She was the entire welcome wagon for the growing neighborhood back in the mid 1950’s and would bring a plate of brownies to every new family.  We loved when she made brownies because the crisp edges had to be carved off before being given away.  Though the pan was square and she hacked off an edge for each of us, we still managed to fight over them.

adabrownieEThankfully, the recipe made its way into print in the 1964 Syracuse Hadassah Cookbook, and was called Ada’s Brownies – a riff on Ate a Brownie (my dad’s odd sense of humor).   Otherwise, none of us would have ever known what went into her recipe  because she never bothered to write them down.  The book is long out of print, but I still have a copy tucked away. Continue reading

The Same Only Different – Mom’s Marble Chiffon Cake, Gluten Free

Oh chiffon.  How I love you.  Some of you may have read my baking-wreck post, Fallen Angel, where I mentioned my beautiful disaster baking an angel cake.   And where I learned the oh-so-not-so subtle difference between angel and chiffon cakes.  Apparently I arrived tardy to home-ec class on angel v. chiffon day.

For almost, um, let’s say many years,  I’ve wondered about those cakes my mother used to make that hung upside down to cool.  They certainly weren’t as memorable as some of her other recipes and that’s undoubtedly because the chiffon cakes were for company consumption and not for greedy (hungry) children.  The kids saw little of company cake.

But recently, a neighbor from the old childhood homestead mentioned my mother’s chiffon cake to me after we were reacquainted on Facebook.  She was a young mom back then and apparently my mother would make her marble chiffon cakes to help  bring about the birth of her babies when her due-date came and went.  I’d almost forgotten those chiffon cakes until then.  Sadly, she didn’t have the recipe. Continue reading

Easy Gluten-Free Fudgy Pudding Cake

Jake’s Fudgy Pudding Cake

On our daughter’s  first day of Suzuki music class she talked nonstop about getting her new violin.  She skipped into class, dragging us by the hand.  The teacher proudly presented the child with her first violin; a brand new 6-inch cigar box wrapped in wood-grain contact paper with a ruler sticking out of the end for the neck.  The bow?  A skinny little stick.

The child’s face was pinching into the look that happens right before she melts into tears.  Oblivious, the teacher sealed the meltdown by giving her a cardboard circle with two feet drawn in marker – a diagram for her stand on to get into the correct form for playing the violin.

We traitors weren’t even worthy of her pitiful look anymore.  Stifling a hiccup/sigh, she turned away and merely stared at the ground.  Little tears fell on the floor. Continue reading