Victoria & Pumpkin Torte

VictoriaThe first year of Victoria’s life she spent resting up for her future. I don’t think I ever saw her when she wasn’t lying quietly in her infant carrier. Maybe she was just mesmerized by the activity of our family when we were all together talking, laughing and playing. When she grew out of that carrier and began to toddle around she began to grow into the extra vivacious girl she is today. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds as she dances through life as cheerleader, dance team member and Homecoming queen. She is a born leader just like her dad. I remember her though before she became the cool young lady she is today.

When they were small, sisters Madeline and Victoria loved making houses on our back porch for the barn kittens they would find and tame. These houses were made out of cardboard boxes and old rags and doll blankets. Once when they were spending a few days at our house, they discovered that our cat Powderpuff was expecting another litter of kittens. They watched her every day and followed her as much as she would allow. Finally, one day they could not find her and hunted high and low for her. I suspected she had found a quiet spot away from the prying eyes of the girls and had her kittens.

I was in the house while they were out on another cat hunt when I heard a blood-curdling scream and saw Victoria running full speed toward the house. Terrified that something had happened to Madeline, I rushed outside and as soon as I got out of the door I heard, “I found them! I found Powderpuff’s kittens! I found them!” She was screeching so loud at the top of her lungs that I’m sure all our neighbors heard the good news too.

Many, many years ago I received the first issue ever of Farm Wife News (now Country Woman.) It was the beginning of a publishing dynasty for Bob pumpkin torteReiman including Birds and Blooms, Farm and Ranch Living, Country Living and many more quality magazines. When we graduated from high school, my best girlfriends went to college while I got married and had children. I looked forward to receiving my copy of Farm Wife News every month because I learned of other women who were living the same lifestyle I was and I received inspiration from their stories. On the recipe page of their new magazine I found the following one for Pumpkin Torte. While others won’t know the name, everybody in my family does. It’s a holiday tradition and I have to make it every Thanksgiving or hear complaints. Jeff never fails to ask, “Where’s the Pumpkin Torte!?” if I try and skip it.

Pumpkin Torte

24 crushed graham crackers       ½ cup milk
1/3 cup sugar                                  ½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter                                  1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 beaten eggs                                  1 envelope plain gelatin
¾ cup sugar                                   ¼ cup cold water
3 egg whites                                   8 ounces room temperature cream cheese
2 cups pumpkin                            ¼ cup sugar
3 egg yolks                                      1 container whipped topping
½ cup sugar

Victoria with pumpkin torte

Here Victoria is ready to dig in to a piece of hers.

Mix graham crackers, 1/3 cup sugar and butter and press into 9×13 baking pan. Mix eggs, ¾ cup sugar and cream cheese and pour over crust. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cook pumpkin, egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, milk, salt and cinnamon until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add gelatin, dissolved in cold water. Cool. Beat egg whites, ¼ cup sugar and fold carefully into pumpkin mixture. Pour over cooled baked crust. Top with whipped cream.

 

Madeline

MadelineMy granddaughter Madeline is the exotic beauty in this picture. With her pale blue eyes and red hair, she stands out wherever she goes. Madeline has always been an artist at heart and now that she’s growing up, she’s decided to use people as her canvas and is learning how to enhance their natural beauty as she studies at Paul Mitchell’s School of Beauty.

Alongside her sister Victoria, Madeline was the unofficial “kitten tamer” of our farm for many years. Often when it came time for the two of them to leave after a visit, Madeline would bargain with her dad to adopt one or all of the kittens they had just converted from feral hunters into docile, purring pets.

Maddie with an orange cat

Looks like Maddie hasn’t lost her cat-taming skills!

Madeline’s dad calls her an adrenaline junkie, and I think he’s right. Belying her artistic nature and girly exterior, Madeline loves fast four-wheelers, snowmobiles, and cars. Well, that’s not quite right—she loves driving them and can keep up with some of the best of the boys!

Zach

Zach

Zach, our wild, ornery, sweet grandson, was lost to us in a tragic accident, but he will always remain in our memory as the kind, funny young man he was. Clay, his brother, and their family lived a quarter mile from us at the far end of our pasture. I was one blessed grandma because they were so close that I saw them most days.

Zach feeding calvesMy favorite memory of the two of them was watching them walking across the pasture from their house to ours. I can still see them in their little blue denim bibs making their way here to “work” on the farm. Clay and Zach were very close but he and his cousin Payton were more like each other. They were raised together a quarter mile apart as well. See how lucky I was – I had four grandchildren within one-half mile of our home.

When Payton was a newborn baby, Zach was two years old and told his mom, “I’m gonna teach that kid to fish someday!” He taught him many things (probably not all good!) Zach was surely the daredevil that taught Payton to ride 4-wheeler and snowmobile. Nobody could ride like Zach, but Payton did pretty well to keep up. I’ve always thought that the reason Payton was so tough was because he spent his early years trying to keep up with his older cousin.

We all miss our Zach. We just loved him so, so, so much and will miss him forever and ever!

I made this casserole for Zach one year for his birthday and he said it was the best chicken he had ever had. I thought while preparing supper that fried chicken would have gone over better for a young boy, so I felt his remark was high praise for a lowly casserole!

Casserole ingredients
Wilda’s Creamed Chicken

Sauté 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped green pepper and 1 cup chopped celery in 2 tablespoons melted butter. When vegetables are translucent add them to 2 cups cooked chicken either cut or torn into bite size pieces. Stir in two cups medium white sauce (see recipe in my book, Sustaining our Lifestyle, page 97.) Top with buttered bread crumbs and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.