Grandma Hattie’s Raisin Cake

Fussy love simple….especially simple recipes.  Take simple ingredients, (most of which were common supplies in a 20th century pantry or frig), boil them together and create a chemical reaction.  In the time it takes an oven to heat up, the ingredients are dumped together to create a fragrant, gooey batter.

1d06a6f3-853e-4279-9613-02c1ead65a76When this recipe was hastily written in Grandma Hattie’s kitchen, this Twenty-Something Foodie, just wanted Grandma’s magic at her fingertips available anytime the mood struck.  Fussy was tired of waiting for the ritual delivery of The Raisin Cake.

The delivery was always a ‘special delivery’. After a visit to a Texas, the cake was the special souvenir.  Wrapped in wax paper, then enrobed in two layers of aluminum foil, the cake was protected by a cardboard lingerie box.  Generally carried on a series of flights between Texas and California, Grandma Hattie’s Raisin Cake was the flavor of Texas.

No matter how well we tried to parcel out the cake, someone always managed to steal a sliver or full blown slice from the deep freeze.     The thievery and deception only made the cake more highly prized.  Fussy decided to own the prize.  Grandma gladly shared.  Hastily written on note paper from a spiral notebook, the recipe became the ‘Go To’ recipe.  Easily prepared, and greatly appreciated.  Minimal effort, maximum acclaim, that’s the kind of recipe Fussy loves.

Ignore the holiday shopping list.  Read through the blurred smudges.  The recipe is forgiving.  Ingredients need not be precisely measured.


Add pecans, add vanilla, add a splash of rum.  Leave out cloves, add some ginger. Use oleo or butter.  These things don’t matter.  Any simple recipe has at least ONE detail that matters.  It could be a single ingredient.  It could be a technique. Patience is the crucial element of this recipe.  Once the baking soda has been dumped in, turn off the stove, and stir the batter continuously until the foaming bubbles subside completely.  Don’t rush the process.  Always keep stirring  and folding the mixture until the chemical reaction stops.  Only then has the batter cooled enough for the flour to be folded in.  The photo shows the ooey gooey dark batter before being baked.  Wasn’t enough patience for photos before Fussy served the cake tonight.  Fussy believes in sharing food, in sharing love, in sharing secrets.  endblogWhen you make this family secret, enjoy, knowing that decades of tradition are part of this simple recipe. Remember, simple can be complex if not done right. Fussy loves simple.

Friday Night in The Suburban Sunset of San Francisco.

hartgirlsHow can a simple conversion between two sisters half  a continent apart turn into a 90 minute dramatic evening?  We homebodies prefer to stay home on Friday nights, and catch up on family events long distance. But, live in the City By the Bay, next to Stern Grove, and the men in blue will put a perimeter around your quiet tree bordered neighborhood, searching for an armed gunman. Texas listened to the police scanner on the iPad, while Wawona Street kept an eye on their neighbors and the passing police and their vehicles. Suspense built when the suspect was spotted across the street running up hill toward the park. After a few flash bangs, and gun shots, the subdued suspect rode to a hospital, which led to a final flurry of texts between the two cities named for saints, 1300 miles apart.  Safe excitement for both sisters.endblog

An Angel Named Abigale

It’s that time of year when Fussy believes…in love…in family…in friends…in a greater power than ourselves…in magic…and in all things gingerbread. Every year, starting in early April, the planning and shopping begins for the seasonal business that is called Gingebread Workshop.

By October, the work requires the talents of angels. These angels are young. These angels are inexperienced in the ways of Gingerbread Workshop.. These angels are full time students who work already in different service industries. These angels are eager to take on
new challenges, all in service of the belief that ‘Having Fun Is Serious Business. Some angels work for just a few days. Some angels work for a number of holiday seasons. Some angels are bubbly and perky. Others have spirits that calm any sugar induced meltdown and storm. Some angels want to work for chocolate and candy. Other angels have crises hovering above their shoulders like the dust cloud that surrounds Charlie Brown’s PIGPEN. All of the Angels give their all so that families can build memories with gingerbread. Every year, one angel turns out to be Fussy’s Guardian Angel. In 2016, that special angel is Abigale.

Why? Why is Abigale the angel with the special gifts? What skill does this newest, youngest angel have to set her apart? At age 18, Abi believes in hard work. Personal responsibility. Optimism for the future. A sense of her own destiny. Abigale takes charge, knowing that her future lies in becoming independent. Abi wants to make her mother proud. Abi was a high school athlete and cheerleader.

Yet, Abi was bullied to the edge of despair. The desperation was profound. Desperation that breaks so many. Many are permanently broken by bullying. Many never recover. Abigale saw the depths of her challenges as a defining moment. Rather than fall into lockstep with a self absorbed whiny generation who blames any and every one, she took positive action. Abigale enlisted in the Navy.

This guardian angel of mine has an enlistment date in 2017. The Navy is providing her with opportunities to learn, to grow, to travel and to become self sufficient. Abigale is excited about all the new challenges that lie ahead. And she has a few trepidations. Plus a couple of teenaged ideas about things she’ll see.

Why is Abigale this year’s guardian angel? Abi works hard. Abi learns quickly. Abi takes initiative. All of these skills are making a difference in this year’s workshops. The main reason Abigale is Fussy’s special angel: At age 18, Abi has renewed Fussy’s faith in the young generation. She is an anomaly among her peers. Abigale knows that it’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts. It’s how many times you get back up.

Fussy is grateful for the talents of all of the Gingerbread Angels. Thank you Stephanie for bringing Tyler to us. Thank you Tyler (Fussy’s Guardian angel for 2 years running ) for introducing Fussy to Eileen. Thank you Eileen for leading Abigale to GingerbreadWorkshop. All of the Angels work hard to make things easy for our clients. Abigale has strengthened Fussy’s belief in America and America’s future. And that’s why Abigale is Fussy’s guardian angel.

A Tasty Twist On The Castle Doctrine

When folks get edgy, they do one of three things: Lash Out, Hunker Down or Seek Comfort.  WAY TOO MUCH lashing out lately.  Folks taking to the streets because the world doesn’t spin their way. Just ain’t fitting.

Hunker down and focus on basics.  That’s what folks in Texas do.  Thank God for The Castle Doctrine.  The Castle Doctrine, especially the Texas interpretation, is one Fussy believes in.    In The Lone Star State, we are permitted to defend our homes. With force if necessary.   A man’s home is his castle.  

It doesn’t matter if the man is made of gingerbread.  Neither does it matter that his home is highly edible.  Who could blame our little Gingerbread Man for defending his Cookie Jar home? All the more reason to defend his world.

And yet, Gummy Bears and Teddy Grahams can’t resist the temptation of a simple shortbread cookie.  Shortbread, gingerbread, candy and icing; it’s a classic conflict worthy of Hansel and Gretel.

Portraying the Castle Doctrine in  edible terms.  Hunkering down and seeking comfort in food. That’s something Fussy can sink her teeth into.  

'Castle Doctrine' Gingerbread Style
‘Castle Doctrine’ Gingerbread Style

A Hart – A 60 Year Old Emoji

Born Alma Mae, later called Allie, she loved the nickname Kit. She answered to Mrs. Hart, Big Kit, Mom, and Gram.  A child of The Depression,  Gram learned that necessity was the mother of invention.  The Mothers of Invention were a musical luxury of the future.  Learn, adapt, improve, simplify.  Repeat.   Gram lived by these concepts.ahartsignatureShe replaced her signature  “Alma Hart” as early as 1965.  Although not her legal signature, the symbol became her trademark, her brand.  The lower case ‘a’ surrounded by a heart was her personal stamp of approval.  An emoji before its time. It’s proof of her no nonsense approach to life.  Fussy likes no nonsense.


Guys and Dolls

“On behalf of the former sinners of tomorrow, I protest…..”    This is exactly the kind of phrase that asks to be posted, shared or tweeted.   It triggers an immediate response.  It’s just got to be relevant.  It’s so clever …  familiar ….. timely….ageless….provocative… entertaining.  As a stand alone phrase, it’s great.  One more piece of inane bull### that we love to share.  However, there is so much more to it than the gut response.  The phrase is Runyonesque.   Now this odd adjective and the phrase require a bit of context.

Context, in most things, provides clarity.  Context clarifies much in the same way butter* is clarified.  Clarification takes time and thought.  It’s simple.  The end product is richer and more intense.  Fussy loves simple.

So, put on a low flame…. mentally.  As the flickering blue heat tickles the gray matter, search your memories, ideas and life experience. No knee jerk reactions please.  NO internet.  Then, let the flame die… let  the reflections settle, cool and collect. Now decide; where does the phrase come from? What does it mean?

Fussy knows. Not fair? So what!  Here’s the context along with Fussy’s clarification:

Damon Runyon was an American journalist and writer.  His ability to capture a specific era in America was so impressive that the adjective Runyonesque came into its own. Runyon described life on the streets of early 20th Century Times Square.  His articles and stories were based on real people with larger than life personalities.  Sky Masterson was one such Runyonesque character.  Sky, an inveterate gambler,  spoke the line, in the musical, “GUYS AND DOLLS”.   Marlon Brando, what a hunk, played Sky in the 1955 MGM movie.

Does Fussy’s context provide definitive clarity?  Absolutely not. Ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.  Fussy has forgotten more than you’ll ever know.  Here’s one thing Fussy didn’t know.  Damon Runyon’s legacy lives on, not only in popular media, but in the fight against cancer.  Visit to discover how Runyonesque life can be.  If you’ve enjoyed this simple phrase and story, follow along. Regular posts on all thing simple.endblog

*GHEE!  How do you clarify butter?  Coming in a blog post soon.