A Birthday Lunch with My Favorite Cousins

Buddy and Carol Ann, ca 1942

When I was growing up in the 1940s, my favorite aunt was my mother’s sister, Mabel.  Her two children, 9 and 6 years younger than I, were my favorite cousins.  They were the babies of the family and I loved watching them grow up.

Carol, Buddy and Mabel

Every year on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, we had a holiday from school and went to Mabel’s house to celebrate her little girl’s birthday which fell on February 23.   Mabel would have a cake purchased at the grocery store and decorated with the little hard sugar flowers and letters to spell out Happy Birthday, Carol Ann.

Carol Ann, Third Grade

Yesterday, for the first time in over 60 years, I enjoyed a birthday lunch with my cousins.  My daughter and I invited them to meet us at the Cracker Barrel where we lingered for a couple of hours reminiscing.  As it turned out, it appeared to be a party for me because of all of the gifts Carol brought.  She has been an antique dealer for years and chose some special items from her personal collection that she thought I would like….

A tiny nesting hen covered dish…

A Jadeite hobnail bowl with handles…

A Snowbabies ornament, a Bakelite Scottie button, and a notebook dated 1939, filled with handwritten recipes.

In addition, she brought a stack of greeting cards that my family had sent to them in the 1940s and 50s ….

All of the things I love the most.

After all these years, they’re still my favorite cousins.  Happy Birthday, Carol.

Valentine’s Day in my February Kitchen

With the dreary weather we often get in February in southwestern Ohio, I’m happy to put up the cheery Valentine decorations that I’ve accumulated through the years.  The little red and white enamelware plate was from a set I had as a child over 70 years ago.

Most of the items were handmade by members of the family:  decorative painting on wooden pieces….

….some are quilted, appliquéd, crocheted.

Two pieces call to mind Valentine’s Day in the 1940s and my grade school parties.

The story of our Valentine’s Day celebrations at old Raschig School in the 1940s and a Valentine wall hanging are here

Chinese Fried Walnuts


About 25 years ago, a co-worker brought these Chinese Fried Walnuts to a company Christmas party and everyone loved them.  She gave me the recipe and I’ve been making them every year since then.  They are quick and easy to make and always popular.


  • Servings: Makes about 4 cups of walnuts
  • Print

  • 6 cups water in large pan

  • 4 cups English walnut halves

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Peanut oil for frying

  • Salt

Heat the water to boiling, add the walnuts, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.  Drain the nuts, rinse under running hot water and drain again.

Gently stir the warm nuts with the sugar.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat 1″ of oil to 350 degrees F in a large skillet.  Add about half of the nuts to the oil and fry for about 2-1/2 minutes until golden brown.


Place the nuts in a coarse sieve over a bowl to drain.


Transfer to a cookie sheet to cool – sprinkle with salt.

Repeat with the remaining nuts.

Yield:  About 4 cups 

A portion of these walnuts in a vintage mug makes a nice extra gift for my oldest son, who loves this snack.