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Treasures Lost, Treasures Found

My Mom passed away with Alzheimer’s in November of 2017.  In the final years of her life, my dad hired one of Mom’s childhood friends to sit with her, keep her company, and do some light house cleaning.  After Mom passed, Dad continued to pay her friend to come once a week to clean the house (sweeping, moping, dusting, washing clothes, changing the bed linen, etc.…).  Mom’s friend needed the money, and Dad was not keen on keeping the farm going and keeping the house clean too.  It worked out well until COVID came along, and then Dad let her go.  Fast forward a few years.  Dad, still not keen on housework, had let things get away from him.  Oh, he has been giving the house a lick and a promise, but it very badly needed a deep clean.  I realized this when I last visited with him and sat on the hearth.  When I got up to go, my butt prints were very clearly etched in a thin layer of dust that was covering the hearth.  So, one section at a time, I began the cleaning process.  I am talking about pulling the furniture out, sweeping, mopping, wiping down the walls, the base board, pictures hanging on the wall – anything with a surface to collect dust, I wiped it down with Clorox wet wipes.  Then before I put the furniture back, I wiped all of it down as well.  Top to bottom and even underneath, I scrubbed all the furniture and when I was finished, I polished it with Lemon Pledge furniture polish.  Where do “treasures” come into this story?  Well, you may have guessed it by now, but cleaning the furniture also included going through cabinets and drawers and throwing away any old papers no longer needed (like water bills from 1986).   While going through one cabinet I found three things, no, three treasures that I thought were lost. 

Cleaning Day

The first treasure was a metal toothpick holder that sat on the counter in my Grandma Porter’s kitchen for as long as I can remember.  The toothpicks were in a log and a red-headed woodpecker was perched on the end of the log.  To get a toothpick, you pushed the woodpecker’s head down into the toothpicks and the tip of its beak would spear a toothpick, bringing it up out of the log for you.  For years I had accused my wife, Melody, of putting it up somewhere and forgetting where she had placed it and she always maintained she had never laid eyes on it.  When I showed it to her and told her I found it over at Dad’s house, she came at me and went straight for the nipples (she fights dirty like that).  There is no fending off an attack like that either.  You need BOTH hands to protect your nips so all you can do is curl up into a fetal position and play dead until the attack is over.  You know, like you are supposed to do when a bear attacks you.  Anyhow, I will be hearing about this one for a long time, but I finally have my red-header woodpecker toothpick holder back and it is on my desk where I can see it.  Here is a picture of it.

Toothpick Holder

The next treasure was a recipe.  Every Christmas my mom would make Reece’s chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and Mound’s chocolate-covered coconut balls.  We have the recipe for the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and we make them every year now ourselves, but we did not have the recipe for the chocolate-covered coconut balls until now.  You see, I found the recipe, hand-written by my mom on a notecard.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to come across this in a stack of old bills.  I will be putting this notecard in the box with the recipe for the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and we will be making both candies every Christmas now, just like Mom used to make them.  I am going to share Mom’s recipes for both candies at the end of this post and just so you know, I’ve yet to find anyone with a better recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and chocolate-covered coconut balls.

Baking

The third treasure was also a recipe.  Mom’s childhood friend who sat with her and did the housecleaning for my dad is a sweet old lady named Estell Harper.  Every year (also at Christmas time) Estell would bake an orange slice cake and getting one of these cakes from Estell was like winning the lottery.  I finally asked her for the recipe one day, because I did not want that knowledge vanishing when Estell is called home to Glory.  So, she wrote it down for me and somewhere along the way, it too got placed into a stack of old bills and stuffed into a cabinet where it remained hidden until recently.  I will share that recipe too, because this is hands-down the BEST cake you will ever put in your mouth and not only is it delicious, but it is also a very festive cake to bake for the holidays as well.

Desserts

While I am sharing recipes, I will also share my Grandma Jones’s recipe for peanut butter cookies.  This is a quick and easy recipe that makes delicious peanut butter cookies.  We make them every now and then and when we make a batch, we end up eating the entire batch.  They are that good.  Also, my mom’s name is Ola Vessie Jones Porter, and everyone called her by her initials – OV.  She loved to cook and had recipes stashed everywhere.

OV’s Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup Peter Pan peanut butter
  • ¾ cup of butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A can Eagle Brand Milk
  • 2 lbs powder sugar
  • 1 pkg milk chocolate squares

Directions

  1. Mix and ingredients and refrigerate. 
  2. Roll into balls. 
  3. Dip and cover in melted chocolate.
  4. Place on wax paper and let set.

OV’s Chocolate-Covered Coconut Balls

Ingredients 

  • ¾ cup mashed potatoes
  • 4 cup powder sugar (1 box + 1/2c)
  • 4 cup coconut – not frozen
  • 1 12 ounce package of chocolate chips
  • 1 square of bitter chocolate
  • 1/2 block of parafin

Directions

  1. Mix mashed potatoes, sugar, and coconut
  2. Form balls, refrigerate
  3. Melt chocolate chips with bitter chocolate and paraffin
  4. Dip balls in chocolate and refrigerate – (I use dipping chocolate)

Estell Harper’s Orange Slice Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Brock orange slices
  • 1 lb dates
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • Optional: 1 small can coconut (Estell did not use coconut in her recipe, but noted that it was optional)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice

Directions

  1. Cut candy, dates, and nuts into small pieces. 
  2. Leave cup up overnight in pan. (I have no idea what this means)
  3. Sift 2 cups flour over mixture and then mix together.
  4. Cream butter and sugar with eggs.
  5. Add soda, remaining flour, and buttermilk to butter and sugar mixture.
  6. Pour over fruit mixture, mix well, and bake 2 ½ hours at 275.  (grease and flour pan real good)
  7. When cake comes out of over, while still hot, mix 1 cup of brown sugar with 1 cup of orange juice and pour over cake. 
  8. Leave in pan until cool.

Grandma Jones’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup Peter Pan peanut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Combine butter and peanut butter. 
  3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. 
  4. Form small balls and roll balls in extra sugar. 
  5. Place balls on cookie sheet and press with fork to flatten a little and make a cross-hatch pattern. 
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. If you ever try one, shoot me an email an let me know how you liked it.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” ~ Luke 12:34

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