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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: A Spoonful of Comfort Starts Here

By Sherrie Norris

Most everyone who knows me knows, by now, that the first five months of this year have been quite a roller-coaster ride for my family and me. First, a fall on January 2 resulted in a mild brain bleed and a brief stay at the local hospital’s intensive care unit. About seven weeks later, as I was beginning to feel “normal” again, my first cousin and dear friend died at the age of 68. Just a week later, my brother had a serious reaction to a medication that ultimately claimed his life 12 weeks later.  In the meantime, my husband and I joined his wife and other relatives at his bedside as much as possible, three hours from home. 

To say that I have been mentally and physically exhausted, with no motivation to write, is an understatement. I wasn’t sure that I could do any of this again, but, I’m slowly gaining strength and remembering/desiring/needing the satisfaction I’ve always gotten from sharing the written word.

I’m grateful for Sam Garrett and his staff at High Country Press for being kind and patient with me as I slowly make my way back to the real world. And I ask for your patience, as well, as I have more “food related” stories to share of that time in Chapel Hill.

Through it all, and there is no irony here, as the scales remind me daily, that food has been among the comforts that have helped me through this time.

Staying for days on end at the Family House in Chapel Hill, which is sponsored by the State Employees Credit Union, also meant that we were not without food. Most weekday evenings, meals were provided and served by amazing volunteers, representing families, civic organizations, businesses and church groups. Mornings found a selection of cereals, breads/bagels, and fruit waiting for us, and always a big pot of coffee.

We usually ate lunch at the hospital, except on rare occasions when, for instance, caring friends from home dropped by the waiting room with Chapel Hill trademarks — BLTs and Chicken Salad Sandwiches from the “institutional” Merritt’s Grill. Thank you, Brian and Marie Greene from Crossnore.

Coming home found yet more treats from neighbors, including the best fruit pie ever, left for us in the front seat of Van’s plumbing truck, and a fruit tray delivered by another close friend. And the list goes on. We never were hungry. 

And then, the day of the funeral, First Baptist Church in Crossnore laid out a spread fit for royalty with every imaginable meat, side dish and dessert offering us yet another level of comfort. There was more than enough and take-outs carried us over for several days. 

And, just as the last ham biscuit was devoured, I received a unique package. I thought it was vitamins and supplements that I had ordered a few days prior, but oh, my goodness, it was so much more.

The box label read: “Spoonful of Comfort: Warm wishes for every occasion; the card attached included a quote from Maya Angelou that I have often used: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. People will never forget how you made them feel.”

I will never forget how relatives, Rex and Judy Byers from Charlotte, made me feel that day. As I opened their gift, I discovered a large container of packaged gourmet chicken and wild rice soup,  Grandma’s old-fashioned (asiago) rolls, classic oatmeal raisin cookies, a keepsake ladle for serving the soup, and an inspirational book, “Healing After Loss.”

A spoonful of comfort for the food editor of “Lovin’ Spoonful” cooking column was such an incredible and thoughtful gift. I will cherish the memory – and the ladle — forever. That’s the kinda stuff that helps the hurt, for sure.

And back to the amazing cooks at Crossnore Church. I’m adding a few comforting dessert recipes below that I’ve collected from some of those wonderful cooks through the years, with a heartfelt “thank you” for how they have loved on my family, especially in recent weeks.

The pain of losing my brother is still very real, but also is the knowledge that people still care. That’s enough to help me through another day. 

Banana Split Cake

(Gina Aldridge)

1 graham cracker crust

2 eggs

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 sticks margarine, softened

3 bananas, sliced

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained

1 container Cool Whip

Maraschino cherries

Mix eggs, sugar and margarine, beating well several minutes until combined and fluffy. Spoon into crust. Layer in order listed in recipe: bananas, pineapple, Cool Whip and top with cherries. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Note: I’ve also added chopped walnuts or pecans to the top. 

Margie’s Fruit Cobbler

(the late Margie Calhoun)

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 cup sliced or chopped apples

Pour melted butter into bottom of casserole/baking dish. Mix flour, sugar and milk; pour over butter. Spoon apples on top. Bake at 300 degrees until done and brown on top, maybe about 30-45 minutes.
Note: Apples may be replaced with peaches, blackberries, blueberries, etc.

Moist Pound Cake

(Pat Greene)

1 lb. butter (2 sticks margarine and 2 sticks butter)

3 cups sugar

8 eggs

3 ½ cups plain flour, after sifting

1 small can Eagle Brand milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Blend butter and sugar real well. Add eggs, 2 at a time. Add Eagle Brand milk and flour, alternately. Bake in 10-inch tube pan at 300 for 2 hours.

7-Up Pound Cake

(Alice McKinney)

1 ½ cup margarine

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups plain flour

¾ cup 7-Up

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Cream sugar and margarine together; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add flour. Mix 7-Up and lemon extract; add to mixture. Pour into greased tube pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour, 10 minutes.