Sunday, August 12, 2012

Southern Lives 1

The jam cake

When you have relatives (or had) who cook well....there is competition.  LOTS of competition and hurt feelings.  If you preferred one aunt's biscuits over another it was fine if the other aunt was nowhere to be seen.  If however both aunts were at the same dinner, both had made biscuits and they were sisters....have mercy!  Even Jesus himself would be at a disadvantage trying to save you!  One Aunt made amazing biscuits, the other Aunt, her biscuits made me very sad but she made a fabulous jam cake.  First Aunt, made terrible jam cake despite heaven's biscuits.

I remember eating Aunt #2's biscuits and crying because they weren't Aunt #1's biscuits.  That did not go over too well.  I also remember eating things from each of them that left me teary eyed because they were sooo good.  No one made rhubarb pie like Aunt #1!  I recently found a pie lady who makes a similar one...similar enouhg to make me almost cry those memories so long buried come flooding back, granted I only spent a few short years (about 5) around those tables, but they made such an impression.

This is however the story of the jam cake that wasn't.  When we left Kentucky and moved to Florida, somehow my Grandma lost THE jam cake recipe.  She called Aunt 1 and asked for her recipe, then called Aunt 2 and asked for her recipe.  I asked why she was doing this, her answer. "Aunt 1 makes a terrible jam cake, but Aunt 2 makes a wonderful jam cake”  She kindly explained that if you asked for one of their recipes you had to also ask for the other to avoid hurt feelings.  This seemed silly but made sense.  I still use a similar tactic today in various aspects of my life.  I digress….

So she got both the recipes, she made conversation.  The second was mad because she called the other first, Mama explained alphabetical order and she just did that.  I didn’t get to talk to either of them for more than one minute.  The cost of phone calls were very dear then and we couldn’t afford very many. 

Mama got off the phone……..
I waited…
And waited…….
Weeks went by, months, years…..I continued to ask about The Jam Cake.  WHERE WAS IT?!?!!  WHEN, WHEN, WHEN, was it coming???  She had mixed up the recipes and didn’t have the heart to call and tell them she needed them again?!  What???  All the drama and southern subterfuge (niceties) for NO jam cake?!  I asked her to make both and then we could decide.  "That would be a waste of money"was her reply.
The consolation was a Johnny Cake with one of the Aunt’s chocolate sauce recipes on it.  That was NOT the right chocolate sauce recipe.  Plus the unsweetened cocoa powder had weevils in it.  Apparently one cannot store cocoa powder in an aluminum tin from late 60’s to mid 80’s without wildlife moving in.  I recall the lid had rusted shut. 

I want biscuits

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