Chapter 4 – Auntie & Uncle Clay

Auntie Margaret was a bit slower to let us kids in the kitchen, preferring the more expert and less messy assistance of my mother. We got shooed outside to ride various toy vehicles; Uncle Clay had a pedal car, a couple tricycles and a contraption called an Irish Mail for us.  We often colored with crayons in the garage. He loved getting us a fresh box of 64 colors! The garage was huge and had a deluxe work bench where Uncle Clay built things, and it was easy enough to color and draw there, but the real reason we were out there is that Auntie Margaret was a neat freak. She kept a spotless house, and ironed sheets and underwear; somehow she had time to do all that despite working at Malone’s Department Store part time.  She also paid us a quarter each visit to not touch the walls! Easy money for us, Diane and I were not in the habit of doing that anyway, but maybe some of our cousins were a bit rowdier.

Uncle Clay, however, was all about spoiling us. Not just with crayons and toys, but he would be out there playing with us. He even let us tie him up with jump ropes for “cowboys and Indians”. When we got a bit bigger, he  bought us Schwinn bicycles. He also sang funny songs to us at bedtime. One of them went something like “where was Googie when the lights went out? Down in the kitchen eating sauerkraut” However, the refrigerator was not stocked with that when we visited, but 3 Musketeers bars, ice cream and Bosco chocolate sauce. Uncle Clay liked his TV sports, especially baseball, but he had a big lounge chair with wide arms, so we could all 3 be in it eating ice cream sundaes. He was a retired fire chief, but had carpentry skills, too, so he was able to help my dad build us a really nice playhouse in our backyard.

New Schwinn bikes: me, my dad, Diane & Uncle Clay
New Schwinn bikes: me, my dad, Diane & Uncle Clay

That did not prevent us from enjoying Auntie Margaret’s baking though. There were many excellent pies, cakes and cookies to eat up. A holiday meal at her house might mean 3 different pies, all made by her! Sunday dinners were occasions, too. It was not anything trendy or exotic, mostly roasts with mashed potatoes and gravy, or ham and scalloped potatoes, but everything was cooked to perfection. Eventually, we did get to help with simpler things like shelling peas, or peeling and cutting up apples for applesauce. However, I’d say Auntie Margaret’s biggest influence on my cooking was setting a kind of standard of excellence, that it was something worth doing well and serving in style. Here is one of her most impressive pastries.

Almond Coffee Cake

Recipe by Auntie Margaret (Margaret Lutz Kennedy)

3 coffee cakes, about 18-24 servings

4 cups All purpose flour
2 tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 pound Butter, cold
1 pkg Yeast
1/4 cup Warm water
1 cup Milk ; cold
1/2 cup Butter, soft
1 cup Sugar
1/2 can Almond filling

Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Cut in first amount of butter.

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir yeast and cold milk into dry ingredients.

Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Cream second amount of butter & sugar. Beat in almond filling.

Divide chilled dough into 3 parts. Roll each into a 6″ x 12″ rectangle.

Spread 1/3 of filling mixture down center of each rectangle, and then fold sides over.

With scissors, cut through top layers of dough at 1″ intervals.

Let rise in warm place until nearly double,  1 hour estimate, but will depend on degree of chilling.

Glaze with egg white beaten until frothy before baking.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 min.

Almond Coffee Cake
Almond Coffee Cake
Auntie Margaret, circa 1945
Auntie Margaret, circa 1945



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Chapter 4 - Auntie & Uncle Clay Copyright © by Nicole Marie Masika is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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