Won’t you join us for a moment as my daughters and I go to our ladies’ tea party?
First, I’ll tell you why we had this special occasion. For the past year, we ladies each had one of the girls — down to the first graders — as our secret sister. Every now and then, we’d take a gift along to church or a gathering of some sort and smuggle it somewhere on a shelf when no one was watching. The package had our secret sister’s name on it written in block letters in an attempt to hide our handwriting. At last, it was time for the secret sister revealing — all the ladies and girls were invited for the event.
Each of us helped furnish food for a tea party dinner for them. The tables were decorated with a long burlap strip down the center, little candles, strip lights, flowers, and at each plate, a homemade mini crispy candy topped with a dab of chocolate and a peanut butter ball perched on top. Each place setting was marked with their name chalked onto a small black plate hanging from the ceiling directly above their chairs. Even the preschool girls sat at a decorated table. Rayni was utterly impressed when she discovered a spot with her name on it. The atmosphere just had a coziness and warmth all its own as we sang several hymns before we thanked God for the food and enjoyed the tea party together.
Each dish was served in dainty tea party fashion. First, we passed cute little sticky buns and tortilla wedges topped with cheese and sausage, then there were cucumber slices with a dab of the most delicious bacon dip on top. Next came these dainty little diamond-shaped finger jellos pieces. The pieces were then fitted together, forming a flower. Then there were little cream puffs followed by mini pecan pies, all of which had a small scoop of ice cream on top.
It’s like my mom would say, “You almost have to be a lady to appreciate the delicacy, the tastiness, and the time that was dedicated to preparing everything.” After the meal, one of the minister’s wives shared some thoughts on prayer. She concluded it with, “And I am thankful that our prayers will still reach to heaven on each other’s behalf even after we have moved 1,700 miles.” It was a beautiful thought. We will all miss their family after they have moved to Montana next spring.
A few other ladies shared more thoughts on prayer when one of the ladies concluded with, “And we do want to give recognition that today is a special day.” With that, they all sang Happy Birthday for me. Do you know the squirmy feeling of being in the center of attention, yet you did appreciate it? That was me. After the song, some of us started washing dishes. I was pre-rinsing when my cousin, Eunice, came up to me and said, “Come with me.”
“Okay, what is going on?” I asked.
She didn’t give my question any satisfaction as she linked her arm in mine and just told me to come with her. As we rounded the corner, my eyes fell on the kitchen table, literally full of all sorts of food dishes. “You turned 30 today, right? There should be 30 dishes,” she stated. I could hardly believe what my eyes were trying to tell me. I didn’t know what to say. I felt like going into tears at the absolute thoughtfulness of their dear hearts. I had never imagined anything like it. Turning toward them, I said, “Thank you, dear sisters. It means so much.”
As I browsed through the pile, I discovered various types of cookies, casseroles, a pizza, a sugar-free cake which my sister-in-law knew I liked, apple dumplings, and even a container with mini cupcake brownies with a note which said, “Thirty cupcakes instead of 30 candles.” I was in awe, and almost too dumbfounded for words. Once I got my senses together, I stacked everything into boxes and set it outside to stay cold as a lot of the items were frozen, ready for the freezer. After my return home went through the stack with me. Even though he knew the surprise was coming up, he too was completely amazed. After some shuffling and organizing, I now have a freezer full of homemade goodies, ready to pull from the freezer and serve. It’s like I told Eunice, the one who planned it, “I just look at it as a gift from God.”
With homeschooling and attending to the needs of my little ones, I don’t get to spend a lot of time in the kitchen as I’d love to. It feels like I get enough done to get us floating from day today. And I’m okay with that. God’s grace is sufficient for every moment.
Choosing a recipe is tough, there really are too many good ones to choose from. Perhaps I’ll settle with the chocolate fudge pudding that a friend made for my birthday. As a girl, I remember how Dad always liked eating this warm with ice cream. For us, winter time was perfect for ice cream as Dad would gather snow to use in our hand crank ice cream freezer.
Upside-down chocolate fudge cake
3 tablespoon butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup boiling water
Cream together butter and sugar. Add milk and next three ingredients alternately into creamed butter mixture. Put into an u-greased 9 by 9 inch pan.
Mix brown sugar, cocoa, and salt. Sprinkle on top of batter. Do not stir. Pour boiling water over all. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Fascinatingly enough, as you pull it out of the oven you will discover that the cake is on top and a thick fudge sauce on the bottom! Serve cold or warm with ice cream, whipped cream, or milk.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427