Next weekend is Mother’s day. I am both a mother and a daughter. I contribute almost every good trait and aspect of my life to my mother. Her name is Norma. She was and always will be the finest person I have ever known. I don’t say it because she was my mother. I don’t say it because she was my best friend, she was. I say it because I knew her and what her life was; where she came from and what she managed to accomplish. No you won’t find her on your search engine. She made the world she lived in….a very small world, better.
My mother was born in New Orleans in the summer following the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 to immigrant parents. She received only a high school education and married a man she had only known for a weekend. She moved to Kansas and stayed married (at first because she didn’t want to hear her mother say “I told you so”) for more than 50 years. She was a working mother and raised 7 children to be good people. She made everyone laugh and feel welcome in her company. She was always looking for ways to make things better. They didn’t have to be big things, they just had to matter…and matter they did.
My father told me I could be anything I wanted. My mother showed me how to get there. I was her only daughter. She was an only daughter. Maybe it was because of this that we learned we had a lot in common. Ours was never a battle between 2 women. I admired her, she was proud of me and vice versa. She taught me how to ask questions and how to listen to the answers. How not to be stopped by obstacles in my path, but the many ways around them. She was the only woman I’ve ever known whose mind worked like mine did. Hardly a day will pass when I do not think of her and smile.
You may have guessed by now that Norma is no longer alive. Yes and no. My mother passed on awhile back. She was a victim of dementia and was stolen from us all in bits and pieces. The most vibrant woman I have ever known reduced to a tiny shell that recognized very little at the end. In those 7 years I learned to appreciate the smallest little wonders. The days she said my name were special. Even at the end, her smile could still light up a room.
I wish I could remember everything she told me, but I know that I do remember the most important things. To treat people like the kind of person you know they can be, maybe that will help them to figure it out. Try to make someone smile…even if just for a moment. It could be the most important thing you do that day. Laugh…mostly at yourself….how else will you learn to grow? And to always cook for those you love. Make the meal something worth eating. Its the love that makes you grow…the rest is just food. Love makes it sustenance.
One of my mother’s most famous dishes was her Carrot Cake. I have tasted very few that even come close. So for Mother’s Day I have decided to share it with you. Maybe it will help you to make your own little world….better.
2 cups AP flour (or 1 cup each whole wheat and all-purpose)
2 1/2 tsp baking soda (use 3 tsp if using whole wheat add in)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar ( 1 cup raw sugar and 1/3 cup mild molasses)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut (I use unsweetened flakes-broken up a bit)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup pecans pieces
8 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained
cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350 F
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir and set aside. In another bowl combine the coconut, raisins and nuts. Sprinkle a teaspoon of your flour mixture of it and toss. (Flour helps this mix not to stick together and better incorporate into the complete batter with less mixing. Less mixing=tender cake)
In your mixer’s bowl, beat oil, sugar,(molasses), eggs and vanilla together. With the mixer on low speed, add dry (flour mix) ingredients and beat until just combined. Add carrots beat again (just a few seconds worth). Add coconut, raisins, nuts mix and pineapple. Mix until just combined. Remove the mixer paddle and use a spatula to give it the last few stirs. Be gentle and you will be rewarded!
Pour into a greased 13 X 9 inch pan or 8 mini loaves with 8-10 cupcakes or 24 cupcakes. Fill mini loaves and cupcakes no more than 3/4 full.
Bake for 45-50 minutes for cake, 25-30 minutes for the mini loaves or about 20-25 minutes for cupcakes (toothpick check is almost clean).
Let cool completely before frosting. If your not the best at frosting cupcakes, add chopped pecans on top (like I did-ha ha!)
Share these with someone you love and maybe make them smile, even if just for a moment. Enjoy!