July 22, 2013

Growing up in the '80s meant not having access to children's television programs or movies 24/7. It meant after I got my Saturday morning dose of cartoons (my favorites were "The Smurfs," "Care Bears" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks"), came a round of, "I'm bored. I have nothing to do" from me. My mom, Ann Wilson, always responded with the same suggestions, "Go outside, ride your bike, read a book." Even though I loved to read, I usually chose to go outside, especially on Saturday afternoon.

My childhood home on Terrace Drive had much to explore. There were huge evergreen trees in the back with enough space under the lower branches to create a secret hiding place. The back yard was large and flat with apple trees and a small playhouse on one end.

My favorite spot in the yard was a big tree perfect for climbing. I would drag the wooden ladder to the tree and set it next to the trunk so I could climb up the first limb to get to my favorite spot. From that high place, I felt like I could see the whole town.

My mom tells me that I first learned to climb trees when I was only 2 years old. At our house in Indianola, we had evergreen trees taller than our two-story house. At age 2, I would climb to the top of the trees and neighbors would call my mom, frightened, and say, "Ann, she's up there again."

I have never really been scared of heights, and our son, Kellan, 5, seems to be the same way. On our recent vacation to Estes Park, Colo., we rode in an aerial tram that took us up the side of a mountain. He wasn't scared a bit. He and my nephew and niece, Gus and Lola Burns, were fascinated by the view.

On Saturday, Kellan decided he was big enough to ride his first roller coaster at Adventureland. We rode The Outlaw, and he was smiling the whole time.

Planted around the house on Terrace Drive were flowers that I would pick for my mom. I was always a fan of Lily of the Valley. The tiny white blooms looked like delicate little bells to me.

From the backyard I could see my mom through the kitchen window. As I played I watched as she kneaded dough for her delicious, homemade fruit pies, cooked dinner and washed dishes. I'd wave to her, and she'd always smile and wave back.

Old-Fashioned Peach Pie

A peach pie is one of summer's best treats, especially if it's this recipe baked by my mom. A touch of almond flavor makes this pie even more scrumptious. To make the pie even prettier, use a lattice pastry top.

pastry for 2-crust pie

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 cups sliced fresh peaches

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add to peaches. Sprinkle on lemon juice and almond extract. Pour into a pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan. Dot with butter. Place top crust over peaches and cut steam vents. Bake in 425 degree oven 40 to 45 minutes or until peaches are tender and crust is browned.

Nectarine Pie

My mom loves the ease of this nectarine pie as nectarines require no peeling. Nectarines retain good color and texture when baked in pies.

pastry for 2 crust pie

5 cups sliced nectarines

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

¼ teaspoon ground mace (this is a fairly unusual spice)

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon grated lemon peel

1½ tablespoons butter or margarine

Combine nectarines, lemon juice, sugar, flour, mace, salt, and lemon peel. Place in pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan. Dot with butter.

Adjust top crust and flute edges. Cut steam vents. Bake in 425-degree oven about 45 minutes or until crust is browned and juice begins to bubble through the slits.

Blueberry-Raspberry Cobbler

A colorful combination of blueberries and raspberries create a juicy and sweet cobbler.

¾ cup fresh blueberries

¾ cup fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons plus ¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

2½ cups Bisquick Heart Smart baking mix

1¼ cups light buttermilk

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 1½-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In bowl, toss blueberries and raspberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon ginger. In separate bowl, stir together Bisquick and remaining ¾ cup sugar; stir in buttermilk, egg whites, vanilla, and remaining ginger until smooth. Spread half of batter in dish. Evenly sprinkle half of berry mixture over batter. Top with remaining batter, then remaining berries. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cook on rack.

Makes 12 servings, 170 calories for one serving

Easy Berry Cobbler

I found this recipe on Facebook and thought it seemed too easy to be true. Turns out, it's not. Just be sure to cover all of the fruit with the dry cake mix.

1 (12 oz) can diet lemon-lime soda

1 box white cake mix

2 (16 oz) bags frozen berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place both bags of frozen fruit into a 13x9-inch baking dish. Do not thaw. Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top of frozen fruit. Be sure to cover all of the fruit. Pour entire can of diet soda over the mixture. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 40 minutes. Let cool and serve.

Serves 12

Pig Eatin' Cake

A summery dessert full of citrus flavor and topped with luscious cream will be a star at your next family picnic.

1 (18 oz) box Duncan Hines Golden Butter Recipe cake mix

1 (8 oz) can mandarin oranges with juice

3 eggs

½ cup oil or margarine

1 (16 oz) container non-dairy whipped topping

1 box instant vanilla pudding

1 (16 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained

Combine cake mix, mandarin oranges, eggs, and oil. Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes. Pour into three greased layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Mix whipped topping, pudding mix, and crushed pineapple together to fill and top cake.

The sides of the cake do not need to be frosted. The filling looks pretty poking through the cake layers. Frost the top of the cake and garnish with extra mandarin oranges and fresh strawberries.