Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Today is my sister's birthday. She's eight years younger and my only sibling. Yes, for eight glorious years I was An Only Child. I did adjust well to her arrival though despite a somewhat shaky start ... her bassinet stood on kind of wobbly legs and when I bent over to pick her up, I jostled it and two of them collapsed! She flew up into the air, did a perfect summersault and landed (thankfully) on her back. No damage done (except to my nerves -- I thought I'd killed her.)

Later on, I invented a game in which she starred -- I called it "Dump Truck." As she slept face down, I would hook a couple of fingers in the back of her diaper, gently lift it --and her -- up about three inches and -- let go. Our mother marveled at my sisterly devotion; she said, "Every time Jane cries, Nina is right there!"

When Jane was little, it was thought that she was allergic to chocolate so our mother made Maraschino Cherry Cakes for her birthdays. I remember (vaguely) that making this cake was a big deal because the cherries were so expensive -- something like maybe $3 for a 6 oz. bottle? Expensive goods in those post WW2 days.

And, in truth, Maraschino cherries were for the monied. Originally they were made into a liquer -- for royalty and their rich friends in Europe. They were introduced to America in the late 1800s -- in fine restaurants, of course. Today it amuses me to know that I can buy what looks like a half-gallon jug of them at Smart & Final, Iris for probably $8.00.

Sift in a bowl --
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teas. double-action baking powder
1 teas. salt

Add --
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup cherry juice
1/2 cup milk
16 (16) Maraschino cherries, cut up
Beat two minutes with an electric beater

Add -- the unbeaten whites of four large eggs and beat two minutes more
Fold in 1/2 cup walnuts

Bake in a sheet cake pan or two layer pans at 350 for 30 minutes. Frost with either powdered sugar or boiled frosting.

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