When I was in kindergarten, my father was transferred to Charlotte, North Carolina. Just like that I went from being a California "girl" to a Southern "gal". It was quite a culture shock for a six year old, but kids are easily adaptable, and I quickly grew to love my new home.
Sadly, my mother didn't fare so well. She had three very small children, my dad traveled Monday through Friday, and she was homesick for her family and the sunny ease of California. Five years later when my father was offered a new job in Washington state, she couldn't get back to the West Coast fast enough.
My siblings and I had great fun living in the small (at the time) suburb of Hickory. Our house sat on an acre and bordered a small forest with a creek running through it, which offered hours of entertainment. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of pictures from this time in my life. I think my mom was just trying to make it through each day.
But I have a few vivid memories ----
We caught fireflies at night and ate honeysuckle nectar right off the bushes.
Our next door neighbors had a large pool in their backyard that was rarely cleaned, and since our neighborhood bordered a forested area with a creek, water moccasins would often climb the low branches and drop down into the water. We kids thought it was super cool - but it was another reason my poor mom couldn't wait to get out of there.
My parents had a boat, and since we lived only an hour from Lake Norman, we spent many weekends camping and fishing at this beautiful spot. I caught my very first fish, a striped bass, in Lake Norman.
And I will never forget Mrs. Williams' Coca Cola Cake. She was a retired school teacher who lived in a small house at the end of our street. For every neighborhood party or event, she would whip up her famous cake. It's not popular here in Washington, and many of my friends have never heard of it, so I called my mom and asked her for the recipe. It's one of the few things she brought back from her time in the south!
Coca Cola Cake
2 C flour
2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C butter
1 C vegetable oil
1 C coca cola
3 Tbsp. cocoa
Bring to a boil:
1/2 C buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C mini-marshmallows
1/2 tsp. salt
Add buttermilk mixture to blended ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
For the icing, bring 1/2 C butter, 3 Tbsp. cocoa and 6 Tbsp. coca cola to a boil. Add 1 pound of powdered sugar and 1 C walnuts, and blend well. Pour icing over warm cake.