Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Of Food, Family & Faith (Butterscotch coffee cake)

It was a ho-hum day at the rectory where I work. Very routine. Maria DiBlasi sent her husband to our office and changed all that with this scrumptious cake. She hosted a birthday party the day before and baked this delight. Being the thoughtful woman she is, she sent slices to the "church ladies" to enjoy.
It really suites the adult taste. The texture is amazing and the most moist cake I've had since my sister, Joan's, famous Rum Walnut Cake. The ho-hum day become a day filled with oohs and sighs as we enjoyed this dessert with a cup of  freshly brewed coffee.
A few weeks later my youngest sister, Paula, invited us to a Farewell Party for her oldest son, Michael. He was leaving to train down south  for the I.C.E. unit (Immigration Customs Enforcement) and then a tour of 3 years in California. We are so proud of him....and confident that God will protect him as Mike protects our nation. He's the second of my nephews to join this unit. Joe has been making the family proud for several years as a member of  I.C.E. in Florida. He started his law enforcement career at the White House, a Secret Service Agent in his early twenties. He was there the day terrorists changed our lives...September 11, 2001.
It was only a week or so before the attack that Joe told me how routine his job was. He sounded a bit bored...the plight of a young man impatient to do great things. He was glad to be protecting President George W. Bush who remembered all his Secret Service agent's names and who inquired about their families. Joe shared that the president was considerate, calm and they could count on him and the First Lady retiring around 10 PM giving the agents an early sigh of relief. No partying, no surprises, no fights. It made it much easier  for an agent to concentrate on protecting him, the conduct all Leaders should demonstrate.
I heard from Joe after the attack when the White House was secured and communications allowed. We'd all been holding our breath as the events unfolded. Living close to NY City, I knew several victims of that horrific tragedy. Working for a local church...we had the honor and sorrow of arranging funeral Masses for citizen heroes as well as police and firefighters who sacrificed their lives that day. I cried when I heard Joe's voice. Our conversation was short....on his end, a quick assurance that he was okay, on mine- that I loved him, was praying for all involved, and my parting statement, "Joseph, I'll slap you silly if you ever tell me you want more excitement in your life."  He laughed and stated that he had enough excitement to handle. Little did I know a second nephew would follow in his footsteps.
The theme for the Farewell Party was an Oktoberfest. There was Kielbasa, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, homemade Pierogi filled with either potato or sauerkraut that were grilled on the barbecue, Chili by Tracy, of course Italian food was included--Eggplant Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, Sausage with Onions and Peppers, Green Salad and fragrant Rolls. The dessert table was fabulous with Lorri's homemade Biscotti, a chocolate Trifle from Kristen, Strawberries dipped in chocolate by Sara, Cannoli, and my Butterscotch Coffee Cake. Beer and wine washed down the food and the house vibrated with laughter, chatter, and shouts of the men rooting for the sports team they were watching on TV.
I was able to postpone the tearful good-bye because my sister, Kaz, had surprised us with a spontaneous visit from Florida and it became a "girls" sleep over. We sisters stayed up gabbing and reminiscing until 3 in the morning, then woke to the scent of eggs and kielbasa. I got a chance to speak privately with Mike and we discussed his chosen profession...the excitement and anticipation he felt...the concern for his safety that the adults were experiencing. Yet, his final words were all that mattered, "I've been dreaming about this for years, and it's actually happening...I can't wait to start this part of my life." I forced back tears as we hugged and promised to stay in touch.
My mother raised her 6 daughters to be women of faith and to keep busy in the kitchen in good times and in bad. These are the times we are most grateful for our devotion to God as well as our passion to cook. Every member of our family needs prayer for a specific reason or no reason at all.  And everyone needs to eat! But the fact that four of our children are in police work makes intercessory prayer important. My niece, Jenna, is a police officer in Florida. This darling goddaughter, who as a child was afraid of spiders and the dark, now chases criminals. Who would have thunk it? And Geej, just a bit younger than Mike, is deciding between a local police department and the border patrol! How a family of mainly educators groomed a brood of law enforcers, I'll never know.
The life of those in law enforcement is honorable and unpredictable. Their lives are on the line, willingly, each and every day. It says in Holy Scriptures that 'Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for another.' I will not argue with this. As I will never chase a bank robber, protect our borders, or bust a drug ring, I promise to keep a welcoming light burning for the brave heroes I cherish and a cake warm from the oven when they arrive home. 

Butterscotch Coffee Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 box instant butterscotch pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13X9 inch baking pan

Combine all ingredients for topping and set aside

Combine all batter ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 4 minutes.
Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared pan and spread to cover (batter will be thick)
Sprinkle with 1/2 the topping
Cover with remaining batter
Sprinkle with remaining topping

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake 35-40 minutes longer or until toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.  Makes 15 servings.
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Thank you Maria DiBlasi for this delicious recipe. And Heartfelt thanks to all who protect our great nation!
Remember To Make Memories At The Table

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