August 24, 2011

A friend is a friend

Anyone who has watched the epic television show "The Waltons" knows of the Baldwin sisters and "the recipe."

Well, I've had my own "recipe," not from a still, but from a wallpaper-paste bucket.

The recipe I'm talking about is the 30-Day Friendship cake I've been babysitting for my best friend, Sue Botsford.

Back in January, she and her husband, John, thought it would be nice to get out of the winter weather for a while and head south to their Georgia retirement home. Before leaving, she asked if I would keep "the batch" going for a few weeks while they are away.

I said, "Sure, why not!" If you've ever tended a 30-day anything, you know it means you have to keep it on your schedule every week until it's finished. I figured a few weeks would be a cinch. What a surprise!

The wallpaper-paste bucket, which John covered very nicely with wood-grained sticky paper, held the "starter batch": a cup and a half of the juice from previous batches, a can of fruit cocktail and sugar; stir once in a while until the 10th day, when you add a can of pineapple chunks and sugar; then the 20th day, you add a can of peaches and sugar. By the 30th day, when it's time to bake three cakes, the fruit and sugar have really begun to "percolate" and taste a little bit like fruit liqueur, or, more accurately, the Baldwin sisters' "recipe."

I was so pleased with my first three cakes that I called Sue and told her I had succeeded, saved some for a friend who wanted to try it and even took one cake in to the newsroom staff, who always look forward to Sue's cakes.

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