Then it struck me....
What better way to reminisce the life of a lady I loved so dearly than to make one of her "famous" recipes for our guests!
At her funeral a couple of days ago, almost everyone who shared a memory spoke of her hospitality. Her daughters said her simple and unapologetic style was a lesson to them, while her grandkids all remembered many, many delicious meals. Homemade bread and jelly would have been the most traditional thing I could have served our friends last night, but I decided to pull out a recipe that she made often when the ladies of the church were required to bring "dainties" and always at Christmas time.
In my recipe book, it is simply called "Granny's Cheesecake" (though there is no cheese in it!).
I love this recipe because it's simple - no mixer required! - and light. Like many recipes in my family book, the instructions are ....brief. But really, brief is plenty in this case!
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (crush them yourself if you like extra work!)
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter
Press half the mixture into the bottom of a 5x7 pan. (I used an 8x8 that's teflon. The recipe didn't say to grease it...so I didn't, but if your pan is not non-stick, maybe you want to?)
In a separate bowl, mix together:
1 can Eagle Brand milk (there was a time that this was a very popular baking ingredient!)
1/2 cup lemon juice (I used one fresh squeezed lemon to make 1/4 cup and filled the rest with bottled juice. I know my Granny never would have used fresh lemon - too expensive, but I happened to have one on hand.)
1 tsp lemon extract
Pour into pan and top with the rest of the crumb mixture. Lightly press.
|(You can turn the pan different angles to get the filling into the corners!)|
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. (I think I should have done 25 min in the 8x8 pan, but it still turned out great!)
I left it in the pan for the afternoon and cut it just before our guests arrived. The crumb mixture is very crumbly (go figure) but the filling holds it together just right!
As I pressed the crumbs on top of the filling, I noticed I left a few hand prints. I smiled as I could imagine my hands becoming Granny's hands, her rings on swollen-from-work fingers, delicately but quickly pressing the crumbs in - there are other chores to be done! I thought about how many of her hand prints I hand eaten over the years in her cheesecake, breads, toffee, and many other specialties.
Of course I never thought of such crazy things at the time... but I guess that's what memories are for.