Tag: gladys

Hot Cocoa in Fine China

A few nights ago, I was watching an old episode of Miss Marple, At Bertram’s Hotel to be exact, and in one scene a maid brought Miss Marple a cup of cocoa in bed. It was served in a dainty tea cup and the whole thought of drinking cocoa in bed from fine china seemed very luxurious. So I tried it the other day. It was glorious. It’s also a way of getting a sweet treat in a pretty limited amount – a tea cup doesn’t hold that much, after all.

It also reminded me of how fondly my aunt Gladys used to talk about her evenings at Bennington College in Vermont. Gladys had studied to be an English teacher at the INPLV in Buenos Aires (where the famed Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni had been one of her professors), and had received a fellowship to do post-graduate studies at Bennington. She taught Spanish there, I think, and lived in the dorms where every evening the girls would be served hot chocolate. I don’t know if they drank it from tea cups, but now I like imagining it being so. She was so extremely fond of reminiscing about her time at Bennington.

Growing up, cocoa was something that only children drunk. It was generally in cold drinks, which we called by the names of the most famous brands, Toddy and Nesquik. Or at least that’s how it was in my house. I don’t remember adults ever drinking cocoa, maybe that made the memories fonder.

Granny’s Sponge cake with lemon frosting – Recipe

Thanksgiving 2022

Last night, to celebrate my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday (which we are celebrating again today, and celebrated before on Wednesday), I made my grandmother’s sponge cake. It has been over 25 years since I’ve had it, but I think what I made was pretty close to the original. The cake, perhaps, wasn’t as light – and the lemon curd was too creamy-looking (I remember my grandmother’s as being more translucent). But it tasted quite close to what my grandmother made, and it was very yummy.

At first I thought the recipe she used came from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook that she used, but then I found a recipe typed up into my aunt Gladys’ recipe notebook, so that’s the one I made. Here is the recipe.

August 2011 update

My oldest wanted sponge cake for a tea we were hosting yesterday so I revisited this recipe with her.  It was fun making it together, though a bit messy giving all the sifting and we used up lots of bowls.  This time I didn’t make the lemon curd (even as a child I preferred with with whipped cream as a frosting), but rather served it along side fresh strawberries and blueberries and whipped cream.  It was a big success with kids and adults alike.  Thanks Granny!

December 2020 update

I made this again for our coronavirus Christmas dinner – nuclear family only – and it was a huge success.  This time I didn’t add any cream to the filling, and I added only 1/2 cup of cream to the remainder to use as frosting.  I think this is how I’ll make it in the future.

This cake was extra special because we used lemons from the tree that started growing on its own besides our house – probably a child of the lemon tree our neighbors used to have.

November 2022 Update

I made the cake for my Thanksgiving dinner this year at my oldest’s request.  Even though I didn’t eat it until the next day, as I was too tired for dessert that night, it was perfect and just like I remembered it from my childhood. Like the time before I didn’t add cream to the filling and only 1/2 cup of cream to the frosting, and it’s definite the right way to make it. 

Granny’s Sponge Cake

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tsp. lemon rind, grated
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix sifted flour with the baking powder and the salt. Sift three additional times. Set aside.

Beat together 4 yolks with the cold water and lemon rind until light and frothy. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar and then the flour. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice and beat until it has stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture. Pour into ungreased 8″ baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, unmold and frost.

Granny’s Lemon Frosting

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup to 2 cups whipped cream*

Combine the sugar, flour, eggs, lemon juice, water and butter in a medium pot. Put pot on top of a double boiler, or directly under a very low heat, and cook stirring constantly until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

Fold in the lemon rind and 1/2 cup of whipped cream. Spread between cake layers. Fold in the remaining 1 1/2 cups whipped cream, and frost top and sides of cake.

*Note: I think it comes out better if you don’t fold in any cream for the filling and use only 1/2 cup of whipped cream for the frosting.

Granny’s and Gladys’ Recipe Book

Marga’s Best Recipes

An egg beater

For some reason that I can’t quite remember, my aunt Gladys gave me, quite a few years ago, the metal/plastic egg beater that belonged to her and my grandmother (Gladys never married, so she lived with her mother until the latter died). I don’t know how old it is, it was probably bought during one of their more recent trips to the US, in the early 1960’s, though it could be older.

It’s a simple tool, an eggbeater like most others – though this one has plastic beaters. All the other ones I’ve seen have metal ones. Of course, plastic is not as sturdy as metal, and this one has a broken piece. It also has rusting metal. Still, 50 or 60 years later, it still works perfectly.

I don’t know if I’ve used it since I got it, at least a decade ago. When I moved to this house, I put it on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet (the one I can’t reach without standing on a chair). Whenever I’ve had to beat eggs, I’ve used an electric mixer or a whisk.

Yesterday, however, Camila and I were making flan together, and the recipe called for four beaten eggs. I didn’t want to use the stand electric mixer for that, and yet I knew we weren’t going to get far with a simple whisk (Camila now insists on doing everything, but she still doesn’t have the skills to do everything well) – so I took it out. Camila had never seen one before, and I know it would interest her.

As I said, it works perfectly. What an easy, quick way of beating eggs! After we were done, I thought I should buy a new one (though they’re about $13 at Amazon!, my friend Elektra recommends looking for one at a thrift store, and I may still do that). I’m actually afraid of using this one – not just because it’s rusting – but because I don’t want to get it any more broken. I feel as if I had borrowed it, rather than inherited it, and I have to return it in as good condition.

It’s not as simple as that, of course. I also have my grandmother’s old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook – that book that I perused so many times as a child. And I have their recipe book, where Gladys or Granny hand wrote so many recipes. I’ve thought about cooking from those books – trying to make that delicious sponge cake with lemon frosting, the white cake with chocolate-dulce de leche frosting, or the chocolate-mint cake, which along with pies, were their signature dishes when I was growing up. I haven’t been able to do it. Granny has been dead for 30 years, Gladys died only 2 years ago, however, and I still can’t think of her without falling into a well of tears. Perhaps using their stuff, cooking their food, is too strong a reminder that they’re no longer here. I want to cook their food, but for them – and I never did, and I will never be able to do it now.

In addition to the eggbeater, I also have the kitchen timer that I grew up hearing ring at their home. I’ve started using it because all the other times I’ve had, have broken. It’s good that I use it, right? It might get stuck otherwise. It hasn’t broken in 50 years, it’s not going to break now. Right?

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