When I was growing up, thoughts of how to make Mother’s Day one to remember began with serving her breakfast in bed. Although I loved my mother with all my heart and thought the idea was a good one, she reminded me, with a smile and a hug, that the kitchen was where she belonged. The very thought of balancing a breakfast tray in bed early in the morning never seemed to reach fruition because of how much she loved spending time preparing delicious food for the rest of us every day of every year.

Reader Bev Otis recently stirred memories of her own special mother, Laura Schiefelbein, who at the age of 14, became a “mother” to her four siblings, Harold, Alice and twins, Evan and Esther, during a fire that took the life of her own mother and a 7-year-old brother. Schiefelbein found work in Reedsburg as a waitress at the Huntley Hotel. Much later, when hotel cook Jessie Moffett introduced her brother Leslie to Laura, romance blossomed and the two eventually married with Laura becoming an accomplished cook while Leslie opened a barber shop attached to a small grocery store in Reedsburg. The rest is family history.

Both became dedicated gardeners who rented land from nearby farmers to help reap the benefits of produce grown and canned during the growing seasons with Leslie hunting wildlife nearby. Along the way, while raising their family, Leslie continued to benefit as a barber and Laura became the cook in a small consolidated grade school in Black Hawk, west of Sauk City, where she slept overnight when roasting turkeys for Thanksgiving meals and often treated staff and children to her homemade whole wheat bread.

Written with a pencil in her mother’s handwriting, here is the recipe Laura Moffett passed on to her daughter to enjoy in the many years that followed.

“Fool Proof” whole wheat bread

2 tablespoons dry yeast

½ cup warm water (1 tablespoon of sugar will help it work faster)

5 cups hot tap water

7 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons salt

2/3 cup oil or other shortening

2/3 cup honey or raw sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

Sprinkle yeast into ½ cup warm water and let it stand 10-15 minutes (“adding 1 tablespoon of sugar will help it work faster”)

Combine 5 cups hot tap water and 7 cups of freshly ground whole wheat flour. Add salt and 2/3 cups of oil or other shortening. Add honey or raw sugar and mix until blended. Add 1 cup of flour and prepared yeast mixture and mix thoroughly. Add ¾ cup more of flour and knead 10 minutes or until dough begins to clean sides of the bowl and is the consistency of cookie dough. Oil hands, remove dough and mold it into 4 loaves. Place in oiled pans; oil top of each loaf if soft crust is desired. Cover with damp cloth and let rise 1/3 in bulk or about 35 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

Isabel Hubbard recently requested a few dessert recipes that might be perfect for Mother’s Day celebrations and here are a few, the first one from a new Kraft Food and Family issue.

Fresh raspberry-lemon cheesecake bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 tablespoons butter, melted

3 cups (12 ounces raspberries, divided)

1 Tablespoon each zest and juice from 1 lemon

4 8-ounces packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened

4 eggs

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and butter; press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup raspberries and 1 teaspoon lemon zest for later use. Beat cream cheese, lemon juice, remaining zest and remaining sugar in a large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Gently stir in remaining raspberries; pour over crust. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with reserved raspberries and lemon zest. Use foil handles to remove cheesecake from pan before cutting into bars.

Serves 18

A second dessert was found in “Miss Daisy Entertains,” a delightful cookbook following the history of a tearoom back in 1974 where festive gatherings and surprise parties were celebrated in an old townhouse built in 1910. The tearoom continued to celebrate its popularity through the years in many other locations until moving to Daisy’s Uptown in Nashville’s newly developed Church Street Center. A collection of “Daisy’s” favorite recipes compiled by Marilyn Lehew and Daisy King began in 1980 and continued through the years with many additional printings. Here is a simple dessert for coconut lovers offering wonderful possibilities of garnishing portions with favorite fresh fruits.

French coconut pie

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

¾ stick butter, melted

1 ½ cups flaked coconut

¼ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 unbaked pie shell

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Mix ingredients, pour into pie shell and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until golden brown.

Quite some time ago, a reader requested a chocolate pie recipe once served at Rennebohm Drug Stores in town. Sadly, an attempt to find it failed. However, there was a pie labeled merely “chocolate pie” in the “Miss Daisy Entertains” cookbook, so thought I’d share it just in case it comes close to one from Madison’s past.

Chocolate pie

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup water

2 ½ squares unsweetened chocolate, cut-up

¾ cup sugar

7 tablespoons sifted flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 whole eggs

2 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy cream

9-inch baked pie crust

Scald 1 ½ cups of milk with chocolate. Beat with beater to blend. Mix sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in ½ cup cold milk slowly. Add scalded milk and cook on low heat until real thick, stirring constantly. Beat eggs, add small amount of hot mixture slowly to eggs, stirring while doing so; add egg mixture to remaining chocolate filling. Cook 5 minutes longer. Add butter and vanilla and cool. Then pour into baked pie crust. Cover with sweetened whipped cream.

After recently opening “A Knife and Fork History Book,” a small softcover Minnesota publication that included interesting information with single recipes per page beginning in 1936. I learned that 1937 was the first year insulin was used for diabetes, the first jet engine was built, and that “folks” were humming to “Whistle While You Work” after seeing Walt Disney’s new hit, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Also that’s when a new food product, “Spiced Ham” was also introduced (soon to be renamed Spam) by the Hormel Food Company. Here is their recipe for a “satisfying breakfast or a quick supper” that may have been prepared, served, and enjoyed on Mother’s Day in 1937.

Spam with french toast

¼ cup honey or real maple syrup

½ cup soft butter

2 eggs

½ cup milk

¼ teaspoon salt

4 large slices French bread

Oil or butter for frying

12-ounce can Spam, sliced

Whip the honey or syrup and butter together; set aside. In a shallow bowl beat together the eggs, milk and salt. Dip bread slices in egg mixture, soaking well. Fry french toast in oil or butter in a hot skillet. At the same time, pan-brown the Spam in another skillet. Serve hot toast with honey butter and Spam.

Makes 4 servings.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at greenbush4@aol.com.