“Julia, here is a 1-cup measure for the flour. You may put two level cups into this bowl, and Austin, here’s the sugar, you may dump this in.”
“Mom, may I stir it now?” asks my little baker girl.
“When is my turn to stir?” Austin wants to know.
“You can each have a turn. Austin can stir the dry ingredients, then Julia can whisk in the rest,” I instruct.
Next comes 1-year-old Rayni, wanting to be involved with our chocolate cake endeavors.
“Maybe I’ll put you in your high chair; then you can watch from there,” I tell her as I scoop her up and pull the high chair close enough for her to watch, crowding my small kitchen even more. By the time every thing has been measured, dumped and blended, the counter top definitely looks like something major has happened!
Bits of dough, flour and cocoa are the telltale stories of little sweethearts helping Mama in the kitchen. My mind travels back to when I was a young girl and loved helping my mother. In spite of the messes I made, I remember my mother patiently allowing me to “help” her.
Even though I don’t get as much time to work in the kitchen as I used to, I do enjoy the little snatches of whipping up our favorites every now and then — not only to put food on the table, but also for the quality time the children and I share as the food is in the making. If I suggest to Julia that we bake something, and it happens to be over the time of Austin’s nap, she always says, “But Mom, Austin would like to help too!” As you can hear, I’m blessed with eager little helpers. Our motto is, “If you help bake, you’ll also help wash dishes.” Clean-up isn’t the funnest part, but what a delight to have a pan of fresh cookie bars, pie or cinnamon rolls to serve to the family!
People have so richly blessed us with food since the arrival of our foster children three and a half months ago. Besides that, we also had that big batch of chilli soup we made over the fire last fall, which has made many a super duper meal. Not only that, we also butchered a hog a couple weeks ago, which has provided us with an ample supply of bacon and sausage.
Our annual tradition is to butcher a pig, then mix up a hundred pounds of deer sausage, consisting of 50 percent venison and 50 percent pork. The sausage seasonings we put in it give it a delicious sausage flavor without the expense of using all pork. We then use this burger to be fried for casseroles, gravies, soups or to simply shape into burgers and fry or grill. Of course, grilling is Daniel’s favorite way of eating any meat, so during the winter months, when we can’t use the grill outdoors, he’ll do what he did last week. He asked me to get some deer sausage out of the freezer in time to be thawed for him to grill indoors for our supper! This is always a highlight for the children and myself. He’ll bring in wood and start a fire in the fire place in our living room and grill the burgers over it. Of course, we then like adding a handful of hotdogs, wrapped in bacon, and enjoy bacon-y treats. There is always plenty left for sandwiches for his lunches the next several days.
The fresh deer sausage has come in handy in many ways, such as last week: when I saw a picture in a newspaper of pizza, I just got this pizza craving, but wasn’t sure if I’d get around to making some. Then I thought of the thawed burger in the fridge and decided to attempt the project. I used our taco pizza crust recipe, which is simpler than the yeast recipe I generally use. Thanks to Daniel, who was home from work and helped watch the children while I quickly whisked up the crust, browned the burger, layered every thing and stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes.
With my not being able to do as much cooking that requires some extra time, it really was a special treat. There’s nothing like filling the whole house with that amazing aroma of cooking! I would love to share this taco pizza recipe with you. You may want to precisely follow the instructions or do what I did and just use the crust recipe and layer on top what you generally would for your favorite pizza.
Or if you’re not “pizza people” like us, you may want to join Julia, Austin and me in the kitchen, making our family-favorite, chocolate cake. It’s the type of cake that never lasts long at our house and is delicious served with yogurt or milk. I’ve made countless batches of this when I was a girl at home. I remember a time when all of us were still living at home, we could easily eat three of these a week! For quite some time, it was our standby baked good. I’ll share both recipes with you below!
GLORIA’S MOIST CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH DOUBLE MOCHA FROSTING
2 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons soda
3/4 cups cocoa
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup hot coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
DOUBLE MOCHA FROSTING
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cups cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
CAKE: Mix dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients. Beat well. Pour into a greased, 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. When cooled, spread frosting on top.
Yield: 20 pieces
FROSTING: Combine melted butter, cocoa, salt and coffee. Then add milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat well.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds hamburger, fried with onions
1 package taco seasoning
1 pint pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups sour cream or 1 cup milk, scant
1 tablespoon sour cream and onion powder
2/3 cup salad dressing
Put dough into 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Spoon meat mixture onto dough; next put on dressing mixture. If desired, sprinkle with peppers, onions, tomatoes or whatever you prefer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Add cheese and taco chips or white soup crackers for the last 5 minutes.
Readers can write or visit Gloria at 10437 E. 300th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.