My mom loves the cooking process as much as I do. She loves the precision of it even more. I think that’s why I was never taught to cook: the kitchen was her personal space. Since I never wanted or needed to learn until I was living on my own, I was content to be left out of the process.
For this reason, special occasions are filled with hallowed kitchen moments. If you want me to feel totally dumbfounded, put me in a kitchen with an oven and a turkey and take away Google. I’d have no idea where to start. But my mom can whip around the kitchen making food magic and producing a perfectly browned turkey complete with dressing, stuffing, and gravy for a noon meal. Seriously, is this not the most beautifully cooked turkey you have ever seen?
Holiday meals wow me further when my grandmother is around. Despite being a tremendous cook, my mom becomes completely deferential to her mother in the kitchen. Like the matriarch she is, Nanny sagely directs my mom as she prepares the meal.
Luckily, Nanny spent Thanksgiving with us this year and shared some of her culinary wisdom with me. For dessert, she brought with her from Mississippi her famous German Chocolate Cake. The coconut-pecan creation is my mother’s favorite, but I’ve never liked it. As soon as I got home this week, Nanny told me she knew I did not like German Chocolate Cake, so she’d brought the ingredients for something I would like. She also said she knew I’d want to share the recipe on the Everyday Epicurean. Yes, she’s been reading this, but I have no idea how – she doesn’t have Internet. Her magical grandmother skills apparently extend beyond the kitchen.
I have never made an easier dessert than this Cherry Crisp. It’s ideal for the hectic holidays when you need a last minute treat that seems like you spent hours putting it together.
Nanny’s Cherry Crisp
21 oz. Can Cherry Pie Filling
9oz. Box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 pan. Pour in cherries and top with cake mix. Evenly sprinkle pecans over cake mix and cover with melted butter.
Bake the cherry crisp for 35 minutes, or until the cake is browned. The crisp is great served with vanilla ice cream!
Picnic tip: An insulated cooler keeps your dish warm from your oven to a picnic or friend’s party. Look for one that is big enough to hold your dish flat.