Thursday, July 7, 2011

Attack of the Kissing Nun...

It's strawberry season, and that always reminds me of my Great Aunt Cecilia. She was a nun, and she taught elementary school - I always knew her as a sweet old gramma who made us run for cover when she visited because she had to kiss and pinch our cheeks. We did not grow up in a demonstrative family, and if injured, were encouraged to "rub some dirt on it" when we offered a bloody stump and tear tracks down our dirty face after having some heinous farming accident. OK, that never happened, but you get my drift...kissing was for sissies. My first memories of her were in a habit...not to the floor, but black and white, just like a penguin, but with bosoms. Later she took to wearing lay clothing....which meant old lady dresses and sweaters, really thick nylon stockings and sensible (see ugly in the dictionary) shoes. And we loved her, even if she was all mushy when she arrived - I think we secretly liked it, but had to pretend so we didn't get beat up behind the shed by a sibling for being a pansy.

It's been a while, and the story has become somewhat sketchy, but I remember mom telling me that when Aunt Cecilia was a young lady, a young man was very taken with her. I believe they even kept company, which back then probably meant sitting 4 feet apart on the same couch with your hands folded neatly in your lap and both of her parents in the room watching you both with hawk-eyes. Anyway, she got a calling from the Man Upstairs, and had to follow....she married God instead of him, so (I'm pretty sure) he married her sister or cousin or something instead. So I think he was still my great-uncle, just not with Aunt Cecilia. If any of my siblings can refute any part of this, please email me and let me know so I can fix it, don't put a rude comment on here about me being dumb as a bag of hammers and threatening to give me a killer noogie next time you see me.

I do recall one time when she stayed with us that we had cereal for breakfast - Mom was a waste nazi and made us finish everything we dished up under penalty of death by washing dishes. My little brother didn't finish his fake Cheerios (real ones were for rich people) or his milk, and Mom wasn't there at the moment, so Aunt Cecilia said "OH, we can use it to feed the birds!" and dumped it out the window into the bushes....I recall being SO impressed because I knew she would totally get away with it - even MOM wouldn't put a nun in a headlock and make her scrub dirty dishes. Nuns have invisible force's like Holy Armor straight from God.

So Aunt Cecilia's two most favorite things in the world (besides smooching on us) were roses, and strawberries. I remember going for walks with her in the woods and finding wild varieties of both - she was absolutely delighted with even the most pitiful blooms and runty little berries. It seemed like her visits to Oregon always came in June too....think that was an accident? Nope. I got this recipe from someone in Handsome Stranger's family, but not sure if it was his mom or sister - either way, it was one of those that make you glad you married into a family with such great taste in desserts and in-laws (haw haw). But I know that Aunt Cecilia would have ADORED this recipe....and I would have made it for her even if it meant getting kissed until I was slobbery! (Shut UP, you guys....I am NOT a sissy!)

Strawberry Pizza

The name says it all, so let's just get to it.

3 cubes butter (yes, I said THREE...that's 1.5 Cups)
3 Cups flour
5 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in medium bowl, add flour and sugar and stir with a fork until combined. Press on to pizza pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, cool.

8 oz. cream cheese (one whole brick), softened
1 C sugar
8 oz. tub Cool Whip
2-3 pints fresh strawberries, sliced thick, sugared if you like (I would add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar)

Cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth, blend or fold in Cool Whip until combined, then spread evenly over cooled crust. Spoon sliced berries on top with a slotted spoon (you don't want too much liquid) right before serving.

That's it, simple, horribly fattening, and so good you will simultaneously bless and curse me with your mouth full and your gut straining to break free of the constraints of your now too-tight pants. But I think you should stop and smell the roses once in a while, and eat strawberry pizza. Just not the whole thing. Amen.

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