My mother is a maker. Oddly enough, not until I wrote that last sentence did I fully realize that she gave me one of the things that brings me such joy in my life – the passion to make things. This revelation is odd in part because my mother is also a critic. Some might say a TOUGH critic. So when I think about the influences in my life, I often default to my Dad encouraging most of the positives. But really, now that I am brewing over this, my Mom is the person who gave me the gift of creativity. Not that she would EVER admit to it (remember, she’s a tough critic and most heavily upon herself). My Mom sews and bakes and monograms and canes chairs and refinishes furniture and hand dips Easter chocolates. The list goes on and on. And while I do think that she finds joy in the process of making so many of these creations, I truly believe her greatest joy is in making for us, her family. My mother is one of the most devoted moms I have ever met. And that is the other amazing gift she has bestowed upon me – how to be a loving and devoted mother.
All of this insight washed over me as I was standing in my kitchen just a few weeks ago eating the last piece of my Mother’s strawberry cake, tears trickling down my face (I was the poster child for cryingwhileeating.com). This cake is a symbol of my Mom’s creative nature channeled into the intense devotion she has for her family. Also, it is insanely delicious. The cake is always moist and the cool whip icing is light and fluffy. It tastes like one of the first warm days of spring, when the sun is bright and welcoming, but the gentle breeze is a cool reminder of winter past. It also tastes like my Mother’s love. Perhaps you, too, have tasted this before.
Although this cake is not my Mom’s original recipe, it truly has become a signature dish in our family. Birthdays, holidays, Sunday dinners would certainly be incomplete without its presence. I see her love in each layer, in the delicate peaks and valleys of the cool whip covering, in the carefully sliced strawberries that adorn the top of the cake. I have also made this cake for a few occasions with friends. It was lost on me for some time that this cake was so much more than some sugary confection. It is two generations of makers tangibly sharing their love for others.
1 Strawberry cake mix (Duncan Hines)
3 10 oz. Pack of strawberries
1 3oz. Strawberry Jello
1 Medium size Cool Whip
2 tblsp Sugar
2 Round cake pans
Cut strawberries into small pieces. Combine cake mix according to directions, but only use one cup of water. Substitute most of the strawberries for remaining water needed and add into cake mix with jello package. Cook for recommended time/temperature. Add sugar to remaining strawberries (approximately 1 cup strawberries). After cakes have cooked and cooled slightly, poke holes in top of cakes and pour sugared strawberries and juice over cakes then set in fridge for 1 hour. Layer cakes with Cool Whip filling and smother top and sides with remaining Cool Whip. Garnish with sliced strawberries.
Soul Food is our appreciation for the food and family that has influenced us.