Thank you, Mrs. Brooks / Wedding Mints and Pound Cake

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When I was going to Asbury College, now known as Asbury University, located about twenty minutes south of Lexington, Kentucky, I had the pleasure of meeting two of the sweetest girls I think I’d ever met. They were sisters and “very” southern. They had that heavy southern drawl and loved their sweet tea!  Bobbie Brooks and Evan Picone clothes were in fashion and they wore a lot of them. Everyone thought they for sure came from money since these styles were on the expensive side, especially the Evan Picone. As time went by I had the opportunity of meeting their mother. What a charming southern woman she was. After one meeting with her you knew how her daughters possessed the delightful gentle southern charm they had.  Her voice was soft and her stature short, but she was far more than the country chicken farm she lived on. Remember the elite clothes her daughters, Barbara Brooks Johnson and Evelyn Brooks Barnard wore?  Well, Mrs. Irene Brooks would make them herself. She studied what was in style and then came up with almost an identical copy. I learned from her to add a touch of class when setting the table. Using silver and lace with your ordinary flat wear was okay. The important thing was to use your good things and enjoy them. She catered weddings and made delicious cakes and punch. She was the first person I ever saw put real fruit in ice rings and use them in her punch bowls. Her rosebud mints are now known world wide since both her daughters married men that served in the military, and they shared her recipe everywhere they lived. It’s now been passed down to their children. She was always willing to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to makes these delicate sweet treats that have adorned many wedding tables, including my daughter’s and step-granddaughter’s.

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I had to add Mrs. Brooks pound cake. I can’t ever remember going to her house or her daughters when she lived with them that I didn’t have a piece or two of her delicious cake with my coffee in the mornings. But it’s not just for mornings! I’ve had it for a snack and for an evening dessert with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Her family likes it with chocolate icing, but as for me, just give me a fork and I’ll eat it plain.

 

My greatgrandfather’s basket/Fruit tarts

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I never knew my great grandfather, Daniel Thomas Eye, very well, but I remember he was a gentle, kind man that enjoyed making baskets. He had a small one room cabin down by the creek where he could put the little oak trees he gathered while walking in the woods and allow the constant water to run over them to make them soft enough to work with. As a kid I loved seeing all his baskets and the cabin even had a bed and coffee pot for him to use whenever he wanted. Now he had a room in his daughter’s house that was just up the hill but when he got busy he could always sleep in his cabin if he wanted to.  As a child his cabin looked like a big doll house to me and my sister. We loved being down there and the creek provided hours of fun too. The water was cool and a perfect place to be on hot summer days. When growing up we got to spend a lot of time in West Virginia with our relatives on our mom’s side. They all seemed to be so good at what they set out to do. Whether it be baking or canning or farming or in this case basket weaving, they would take pride in their work and soon became professionals at it. Since my mother, Anna Lee Tracy Brevard, was Pap Eye’s first grandchild and I was his first great granddaughter, he made me the smallest basket he ever made. I’ve kept it with joy and then my daughter, Heather Atkinson, used it in her wedding to hold the rose pedals her little flower girl sprinkled as she walked down the aisle. So down through the generations we are still using these beautiful baskets made with perfection.

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Note: Steve Spicer from Circleville, Ohio has made these baskets for years and won many art contests for his expert craftmenship.

Hopland,California/Baked Strawberry Short Cake

imageMy sister spent Memorial Day weekend in Hopland, California and what a wonderful place to be. It’s located about two hours north of San Francisco off US Rt 101. It’s a small town of barely 800 people, but surrounded by beautiful vineyards and wine tasting venues. When I was there a few years ago we walked down to the closest winery and found it to be much more than a store to buy or taste wine. The manager took us on a tour of the whole area  where they grow vegetables and fruits, and since it was the end of the season he allowed us, including all the grandchildren, to pick to their hearts content. We went back to the casitas and immediately baked in olive oil the freshest asparagus to the delight of everyone! This time of year Doug Tomlinson’s, my nephew, gardens are full of various kinds of lettuce and herbs.

imageHe plants in large pots and wine barrels which he should have no problem finding considering where this is! So while the family picked and gathered fresh strawberries and cherries, I came up with a baked strawberry shortcake in which to use these tasty treats. Use a lot of berries or cherries in this recipe. For me the more fruit, the better!img_5300image

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Now isn’t this the perfect ending to a perfect day? Let’s eat dessert!🍓🍓

Note: Thanks to Rose Tomlinson for the photos.

The Christian Gentleman I Knew As My Daddy/ Date Shakes 


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Rev. P. Lewis Brevard



There are so many fun and good things that I will  say of our “Daddy”, Paul Lewis Brevard. He was the only child of Joel and Callie Brevard, born with a separated lip and cleft palate. But his parents made sure he never felt sorry for himself, and they did a good job of this, too. He told me that on his first day of junior high, kids were making fun of him and he went home crying day after day until his father told him enough was enough! My grandfather, Pap as I called him, said “you come home one more day crying, I’m going to spank you hard enough you’ll have something real to cry about.” So the next day when he went to school and the same teasing happened, he knew he had to take care of things for himself. So he did. He gathered up all the courage he could muster and tore into the boy who was doing the most teasing!! When my dad did this with all he had, he won the fight. And he said from then on, that boy became his best friend, and he never had to fight again because his friend would do it for him. With that hurdle behind him he could concentrate on other things he enjoyed. He found out he had a natural talent for playing the guitar, and play he did. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could hear his music from one end of the city to other. The more he played the better he became. He could play by ear and read the notes. He played in high school and college, forming groups and traveling to Cuba and other foreign countries. He even played at the Grand Ole Opry with other guitar greats like Chet Atkins. Once he was asked to be in Hank Williams band, but he chose to go the Christian route instead .

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The trio is Barney Pierce, Buford Cruise, Lewis Brevard

He was always happy and loved to play jokes on people. On his 21st birthday he was standing at the bottom of his parents stairs calling up to them saying, “Mom, Dad there’s a man down here!! Hurry!!” His father came running down the stairs, past my dad, looking franticly and turned back to asked my dad, where ? My Dad said pointing to himself, “right here, Dad. I became a man today.”

After college in N.Y. he went to Cincinnati, Ohio to God’s Bible School, and that’s where he met my mother. She had heard him play on the radio when she was in high school in West Virgina, and when she heard him again she remarked to a friend how much she enjoyed his music. The girl said, “I know him and he’s playing right now at the radio station. Would you like to go meet him?” Well, you already know her answer, and meet him she did!  They eventually married and moved to Circleville, Ohio where he managed the printing office for the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. Along with this, he continued to play his guitar as much as he could, going from church to church all over Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and sometimes to several other states as well. We as a family would go along with him and sing and mom would play the piano. This was a fun family activity we enjoyed together for many, many years.

Through the years Dad would get the chance to work in Washinton, DC, for the government printing office, and we almost moved there. But after doing this job for awhile he decided it would be better for us kids to grow up in Circleville, Ohio so he returned to the publishing department there. He also was given the chance to work in Columbus for the Weekly Reader and enjoyed that until they wanted him to move to Connecticut. He had grown up in a large city, Pittsburgh, Pa. and now enjoyed the smaller city life. So again, he turned that down. He was a happy man and I think the decisions he made through his life came with a lot of prayer first.

Paul Lewis Brevard, Lew to most people, was known as a Christian Gentleman who wore a black hat with his suit, had a song in his heart and a joke in his pocket.image

In 1946 when Mom and dad were on their honeymoon in Southern California, they drove by this quaint little place called Orange Inn. They were advertising “date milkshakes”. Who had ever heard of that unless you lived in California? Immediately they drove in and drank one! It became my Dad’s favorite milk shake forever.image

 A date farmer in Southern California created it in 1930. It is very tasty and very rich so you don’t need a large one! For your information, every year in Indio, California in February there is a date festival, featuring, of course, date shakes! Anyone want to go? Let me know and we’ll go together.

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The Third Week Of October

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Every year my home town of Circleville, Ohio is like “Brigadoon”. When growing up the Pumpkin Show would take a few days to set up, not to mention the months before for all the clubs and churches to get their foods and arts and crafts prepared. The floats alone took weeks but I’ve never seen parades better and I’ve lived in several other cities and states. The rides are exciting and the smells make your mouth water. It’s truly a homecoming where families and friends can once again meet and walk the streets and eat till you think you’re going to pop. The many different creations made from pumpkin will blow your mind!  And  each year a new one is introduced. You can start with pumpkin pancakes in the morning and end with pumpkin pie at night. All day the pumpkin burgers, pumpkin soups and many more pumpkin concoctions will keep you from being hungry. And there are exhibites from one end of the town to the other. Contests to see who made the best pie or cake or who grew the best and biggest pumpkin. Or the winner of the prettiest quilt. Even the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts get to show their talents. But come Sunday morning as we would drive to church, it was all gone! Not even a napkin blowing in the crisp fall air. How did they do that?  It has grown a lot since then and it may not be all gone as it was, but as a child you’d wonder, was all that festivity really there just a day ago?

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North meets South / French Clafoutis 

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On my recent visit to Ohio to visit my childhood friend, Joy McRoberts Limbach, I found growing in her garden these beautiful red raspberries. Well, immediately I thought of how wonderful French custard would taste poured over and baked on top of her Ohio raspberries and the Georgia peaches I had brought with me.  There is a special union when peaches and raspberries are put together. Try this for your next dessert. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

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                                                              (Oops! This was so good we almost didn’t get a picture!)

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ELEANOR SPICER WAS MUCH MORE THAN A FIFTIES HOUSEWIFE / Zucchini Bread and Apple Crisp

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They call her generation the “greatest generation” and with good reason. People who were born around the 1920’s to 1930’s have such pride in their country. They salute the flag and stand and sing when they hear The National Anthem. They’ve seen war and depression. They stood in lines for essentials like bread and ladies hose, which were very important to the women of that day. They had to work hard for everything they had. So therefore, they appreciated everything they earned. When the fifties came along and everyone could take a deep breath and enjoy life, they did.

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TV shows from then were The Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best which showed mothers staying home and raising children and running the household. Mrs. Eleanor Spicer did this with ease. Even with keeping up with her children Stephen Craig and Anne Claire’s needs and washing and ironing before the iron free fabrics came out. She cooked every day and baked wonderful pies and cakes and cookies and breads. Depending on which day of the week you were there, you would see her counter fill up with the variety of her sugar creations. Friday was the day I often got to come over so I was lucky to get to sample many of her different baked things, that is if there were still some crumbs left!! One of my favorites is the zucchini nut bread. Here is her recipe written, of course, in her own handwriting.

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Although Mrs. Spicer was very good at running her household, she was very involved in many other projects as well. She was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Circleville, Ohio and prepared some of her finest foods for functions there. She also managed to play bridge and we all know that’s not the easiest of card games. Eleanor enjoyed writing for the Historical Society and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution ( DAR ). She worked at the polls during elections and belonged to The Republican Party. But I have a favorite memory of a position she held and that was of my Girl Scout leader. She took this unpaid job, as I’m sure she did all of her other unpaid positions, very seriously! For us girls to earn any of our badges we had to do exactly as the book stated. I can remember hiking in the parks around Circleville, like Old Mans Cave and Deer Creek. If the book said three miles we didn’t walk even a few steps short of that either. We learned the importance of following rules and felt the pride when we completed the task. There were no badges for trying, only in completion. And I feel sorry for the kids today that get unearned trophies. They will never feel the pride I do, even today, when I look at my badges with such a sense of earned accomplishment. Thank you Eleanor Spicer for taking the time!

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Here is another one of her family favorites, Apple Crisp.

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