“Silent Bob, what kind of cake do you want for your birthday?”

He thought for a minute.

“It’s two weeks away, I’m going to have to think about it,” he said, clearly a bit curious why Last Minute Janet is asking.

A few seconds later, LMJ asks again: “You decided?”

This kind of conversation can happen among stably married old people because they know these types of conversations are universal in one form or another and its companion stability born of long suffering adjustment and acceptance strategies form both parties that dictates whether or not anyone gets real mad.

Silent Bob tries to answer in a non-committed way. “I don’t think I want just plain chocolate.”

LMJ considers what options that leaves open.

“Remember that time I made you a banana cake,” she says, noting to herself that banana cake is not her favorite, as opposed to banana bread which is. “Do you mean banana cake or banana bread?” she quickly asks to ensure the thread and thought of the conversation is maintained, all the while relaying to  Silent Bob the appropriate urgency that if he doesn’t answer in some form or manner straight away, catastrophic results are imminent.

Silent Bob engages all his faculties into driving as close to the guy in front of him without actually ramming his bumper, while trying to decipher the woman-speak which would tell him whether he should admit to cake or bread or if the right answer is actually neither and it’s remembering her baking one of them in their collective past that’s the most appropriate use of his mental focus.

LMJ absentmindedly grabs the door handle so that her displeasure at Silent Bob’s driving acumen will be transmitted wordlessly and thinks about strawberry cake.

Now strawberry cake is something that LMJ’s great grandmother Hershey is legend for, at least in the mind of LMJ’s mother Doris Azilee, who is quite possible the only living, sane individual who remembers the cake. When LMJ was a tiny thing, just out of Doris A’s belly, the little fledgling family of those two and Jack Jr. lived with Grandmother Hershey and Mr. H.  Mr. H was Grandmother Hershey’s fourth husband, the one she would finally manage to grow old and thereby comfortable with. They lived in an old rock house built by Grandmother Hershey with the little fledgling family in a room with yellow curtains at the top of the stairs.

Grandmother Hershey cooked, from her garden, her kitchen, and her heart for the year they spent together.

She made bean sandwiches and had a big lunch at noon each day.  She favored light suppers with a small bowl of fruit for everyone and a glass of milk when the sun was setting behind her wash porch. She had big ears, really big ears and a huge, beautiful heart filled mostly with God and Jesus and what room they didn’t take up seemed to leave room for a whole bunch of others. She didn’t mince her words for it was her boldness that told Jack Jr. he drank too much while placing deep in his sad and burdened heart how much she loved him and how much she thought of him. Jack Jr., receiving in some manner the wholeness of her ministerial acumen despite alcohol soaked thinking, would have his own come to Jesus meeting somewhat later down the road to sobriety and for Doris A., Grandmother Hershey’s example of how to love a family would bear its own fruit in the retelling of handmade Strawberry Cake.

Now LMJ, hearing about this cake all her life, its moist layers of vanilla and sweet pink icing and perhaps obsessing a bit about the concept on a fine spring day when she had seen and smelt some delicious strawberries at HEB, grabbed the handle as she and Silent Bob just nearly sat in the back seat of the Mitsubishi ahead of them, realized that a Strawberry Cake was probably what Silent Bob was hankering for, he just hadn’t made the conclusion.

“How about a strawberry cake,” she said.

“You going to make it?” he asked.

At just the right time, two weeks later, Silent Bob came home from work and under the cover of the glass domed cake stand, stood a two layer, pink frosted cake. Luscious looking strawberries sat on top, a reminder of what fruity goodness contributed to its creation. LMJ would have liked to use her Grandmother Hershey’s recipe. She didn’t have it. What she did have though was the carried down secret of heart and homemade and commitment … and google.

Strawberry Cake

Ingredients

2 cups white sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup butter softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened straw

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.

Hints: When cooking the cake, PEEK through the over door and barely open it to check the progress. DO NOT use a toothpick in the center of the cake to test until you see that the sides have pulled away from the pan. If the cake is a bit lopsided, gently press it down while its still hot and in the pan. This cake gets better every day it sits.