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Bena Mae's Kitchen: Backward, turn backward, oh time in they flight


Bittersweet memories may hurt, but they’ve made us who we are. We can never go back, but we wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. - Susan Gale
I’ve been in a nostalgic zone for the last couple of days. You know how it is when a memory of the past grabs you and you can’t stop thinking about it.
It all started when a friend of 65 years called me the other day and we started waxing nostalgic about our courting days. We dated best friends and went everywhere together. We later married our sweethearts and remained close through the years. Our children played together throughout their childhood and now have their own children and grandchildren who are carrying on the tradition. Years of family cookouts, happy times, illnesses and disappointments ensued as life took us on the pathway to what is now our retirement years. The bond we made in those early years is still as strong as it was in the beginning.
One bittersweet memory of those days stands out so clearly that I would love to reach out and relive it again.
My friend was raised on a working farm with cattle, pigs and chickens and vegetables galore. So when meal time came, there was no shortage of food for the table. Her mother was an excellent cook and it was not uncommon for us to see a pot roast, chicken and dumplings, and fried pork chops when it was time to sit down at the table. There would be potato salad, mashed potatoes, green beans, pinto beans, butter beans, new peas and everything that grew in the garden. It was always a sumptuous spread and no one walked away hungry.
If anyone was passing by at mealtime, they were always made welcome at the table. This happened often as her mother was the soul of generosity and would never turn away a hungry guest. She was always aware of others in the community who didn’t have it so good and made preparations to send them a heaping plate of food.
My boyfriend and I found ourselves at that table many Sunday afternoons when we went for a visit. We were always made to feel at home and never considered ourselves as intruders. After dinner, we all gathered in the shade of the tall trees in the front yard and passed a lazy afternoon talking and napping and enjoying a cool breeze.
All too soon and too sadly, my friend’s mother was killed by a drunk driver. He took the life of a good generous, pious woman who lived to make life better for those around her. On the day of her funeral, the train that passed by her house each day and had always given her a friendly whistle when she was out in her yard, slowed down and the engineer gave a long somber whistle in honor of her life. It was a fitting tribute to someone who had made life better for her community.

Mystery Pecan Pie
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Topping:
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pie:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 un-baked deep-dish (9-inch) pie shell
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk topping ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl using a hand mixer, mix cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Top with chopped pecans. Pour topping over pecans. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.