This weekend my
mother in law, Doris, turned 91, and we
drove over to St. Louis where she had flown in from Portland to celebrate with
her two younger sisters (they are 86 and 89.) The three of them were like giddy girls –just a hoot. I want some of those genes!
Dinner was great –
Aunt Helen made a chicken casserole and one of those salads I love with
vegetables and bacon all layered in with mayonnaise and sugar and chilled over
night before being mixed up into creamy and extremely calorie-laden goodness. I made the mistake of getting the recipe – very
good for the purposes of making it again but very bad from the perspective of
trying to maintain some plausible deniability about what it is likely to do to
She also made a
fabulous apple walnut cake – dense and moist and not too sweet. I got that recipe too. Check it out at the end of this post.
We only stayed for
dinner, and headed back last night, staying at a hotel on the road and getting
home this morning. Now, these days when
we drive we skip the interstates when at all possible – less stressful and
noisy and more likely to produce a culinary adventure along the way. So this morning found us zipping along
Highway 50 from southern Illinois to Indiana, looking for
somewhere for breakfast.
I knew exactly the
place I was looking for — a mom and pop place with formica tables serving
piping hot coffee and biscuits with sausage gravy and scrambled eggs and home
fries and crispy bacon and hot, buttery toast. I could practically taste it.
In my dreams.
In reality, of
course, this is the Midwest and the Midwest loves its chain restaurants. So here it was, Sunday morning, and sober folks
all dressed for church were lining up for breakfast at McDonalds. As far as we could see, mom and pop had been
run out of town.
We don’t give up
easily when it comes to food, however, and with our blood sugar crashing into
our toes we turned off the highway to check out the possibilities in the
charming town of Vincennes. Vincennes has
its share of chain restaurants but lo and behold it also has a tiny place on 6th Street claiming to be “the oldest family restaurant in Vincennes. Known for: Spot Burgers, Coneys,
Hand-Breaded Tenderloins, Deb’s Hot Fish, and Shoe String Onion Rings.” We headed in.
Small, smoky (the
non smoking section seemed to consist of two tables next to the kitchen) and
filled with people who don’t look like they vote the same way I do, the White
Kitchen was the real deal. Home cooked
southern Indiana food — not perfect, but genuine which is sometimes better. I had eggs and American fries and, for the
heck of it, some divine fried shoe string onions. Terrific way to start the day.
Never found out
what a spot burger is, though. Anybody
Aunt Helen’s Caramel Apple
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking
1 ½ cup vegetable
3 cups chopped
apples, peeled (granny smiths)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup copped
3 cups flour
½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown
¼ cup milk
In a bowl beat eggs
until foamy. Gradually add sugar. Blend in oil and vanilla. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to
egg mixture. Stir in apples and walnuts. Pour into a greased 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes
or until done. Cool on wire rack for 10
minutes. Remove cake to serving platter.
combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Boil for three minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly pour over cake.
Serve with whipped
cream or vanilla ice cream.