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LET'S COOK: Grateful for cake mixes

May 4, 2018
Chuck Repnow , Pierce County Tribune

Yesterday I saw a flock of wild geese against a pale blue sky in V formation heading north on their annual migration. Our tulips that were planted just before our first snow are now thriving blades of green with plump promising blooms, and on Sunday as we exited church, the birds were singing in full chorus. Spring has now come to North Dakota after a long winter and now is the time to watch nature work her miracles. Refreshing morning light, trees that are soon to bud, and best of all, lilacs that will be blooming with an abundance of lavender curls and ruffles.

Winter is my second favorite season, and often I am sad to see it leave. However, this year more than any other year I have been looking forward to spring. Possibly because this winter seemed to drift on longer than normal. And would you not agree that spring naturally reminds us of new beginnings? As the clamoring of winter's blanket is melted away and the nippy portrait of winter yields to the rising green, there is a renewal.

What do you claim as the initial sign of spring? As a child, my mother walked with me in a field across the road from our home. It was here that we spotted her ultimate mark of spring the purple crocuses nestled among winter's shawl of tan. She had many other duties laying claim to her time as a wife, mother and nurse but seeing the crocus was an acknowledgment that brightened not only her day but mine.

Article Photos

PHOTO CAPTION: Layered Boston cream pie with a chocolate glaze and an organically-grown rose on top.

I recently heard an elderly woman talking about things that she was grateful for and it made me smile when she said, "I am grateful for sticky notes because they aid me in remembering things." Her answer made me ponder what daily blessings and joys should I be reflecting upon.

Now hold on to that thought as I run this quote by you from an unknown author. It has been in my collection of quotes long before there was Google and it has always been a favorite of mine.

"Cultivate the thankful spiritit will be to thee a perpetual feast. There is, or ought to be, with us no such things as small mercies. A really thankful heart will extract motive for gratitude from everything, making the most of even scanty blessings."

Fact Box

Layered Boston Cream Pie

It is not a cream pie, but rather a layered golden cake with vanilla custard and topped with a chocolate glaze. This recipe came from the side of a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix box.

- 1 package Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix made according to the directions.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 round pans 8 or 9 x 1 with shortening. Make cake mix as directed on package. Pour into pans.

Bake 8-inch rounds 30 to 35 minutes, 9-inch rounds 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around side of pans to loosen cakes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Split each cake layer horizontally to make 2 layers. Fill each layer with about 2/3 cup Vanilla filling. Spread chocolate glaze over top of cake, allowing some to drizzle down side. Store covered in refrigerator.

Vanilla Filling

- 1 package (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix

- 2 cups heavy whipping cream

Beat pudding mix into whipping cream in medium bowl with wire whisk about 2 minutes or until blended. Let stand about 3 minutes or until set.

Chocolate Glaze

- cup semisweet chocolate chips

- 2 tablespoons butter

- 2 tablespoons corn syrup

- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot water

Heat chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate chips are melted. Cool about 10 minutes.

Stir in hot water 1 teaspoon at a time, until consistency of thick syrup. This will glaze 8- or 9- inch layer cake or 9 x 13 cake. A organically grown rose adds a fine touch here.

Here is a list of things that have recently made me grateful. Comfortable shoes, homemade candy, paper towels, colored markers, vintage newspaper clippings, babies being pushed in strollers, church choirs, college yearbooks, purple carnations, real butter, marinated carrots, telephone calls from aunts, a decorated Easter egg from Jan, Lydia giving me a book to read, thawing ponds in aqua blue, school buses on gravel roads, talks with my nephews, ravioli with friends, colorful postage stamps, medicine that aids in comfort, a handwritten letter in our mailbox, ice fishing on Sand Lake, vintage cookbooks with blemishes, viewing Minot State's new Northwest Art Center, Barbara Bush and her pearls, sharing lemon meringue pie, laughing late at night, coffee in the afternoon, humble hearts and store bought cake mixes!

Yes, the last one is true! Especially this time of the year when there is so much to do, cake mixes can be our best friends. I will admit I enjoy the exercise of making a cake completely from scratch, but when lilacs are blooming and spring is in the air, I can give way to a cake mix. I hope you are not too disappointed in me! We have the deluxe privilege of being part of the cooking world that is unbelievably blessed. We have unlimited resources for ingredients, mixes, endless computer access to recipes and wonderful books that have inspired avid golfers to rethink the word fore into lovely pink petit fours! So be grateful for cake mixes and many other modern conveniences that allow us to bake with victory and still have time to see the countless fascinations of spring in North Dakota.



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