I first met Dee in a University of Missouri parking lot. What is with me meeting Moss women in parking lots? Parking Lot WG6 to be exact. We met during the fall of 2009 at a tailgate on a football Saturday. Pleasantries were exchanged. We cracked open a brew and I thought, “Well, the tough part is over. Smooth sailing from here.” Oh how I wish could go back in time and tell my cocky self to not be so sure.
I’m fairly confident it was a premeditated move. At some point in the afternoon, I became separated from the crowd. Probably going back to get another beer – sorry Mom. I looked up from the cooler and there stood Dee. The beautiful, intelligent, first Moss daughter-in-law Dee. She smiled at me. And then began to ask questions. Lots of them. And not softball questions. She wasn’t lobbin’ them up. These were tough questions. Questions such as “what are your intentions with Patrick?” Say what?
We’ve all heard of Mama Bear protecting her young. Well, let me introduce you to Big Sister Bear.
Dee had known P since his freshman year of high school, which calculates to about eight years at the time of The Interrogation. She was every bit his big sister. Dee is married to Bryson, Moss Brother #1.
When I replay the moment in my over-exaggerated mind, I’m strapped to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. There is a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling on a thin wire. I hear water dripping from a broken pipe in the distance. Dee stands in the shadows so I only see her feet. She is wearing some really fabulous shoes….
In reality, it was an amiable conversation. She asked some tough, but important questions. And if you knew anything about my noncommittal background leading up to the moment I met P, the questions were warranted. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Dee plays the big sister role well. Paving the way as the first Moss daughter-in-law, Dee has set the bar high as she goes. You should see Dee (and Amy) pregnant. Cutest ever. And both have set completely ridiculous expectations for my husband. No, Mom, just because I typed this doesn’t mean we are having kids tomorrow.
Bryson and Dee have three precious little ones – Carter (8), Avery (5), and Graham (5 mo.). Every time we visit them in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Dee cooks up some meal that appeases a typical crowd of 12. Something savory is on the stove, something sweet is in the oven, some other things are mixed in bowls on the counter. I usually just go play Nerf wars with Carter and Avery and come running with the children when dinner is served.
Here’s to hoping this sweet treat is baking in the oven during my next visit.
Truth be told, I have always loved to cook. Bake, not so much. With cooking, you can be adventurous. Throw caution to the wind – a little of this, a little of that. See how it tastes and move on. Baking is so, well, precise. I mean, there are so many tools required – measuring cups, tablespoons, mixers etc. Not to mention the whole, “add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients – s -l-o-w-l-y.” You see, I have three VERY active children – the youngest who is a strapping 5-month-old baby boy, so there isn’t much SLOW in our house. Also, when you have children, they often want to bake with you. That, which in theory sounds like a super great activity to do with your children, often turns into flour all over the kitchen and me throwing out half of whatever we baked because there is a high likelihood of either an eggshell being present or a child sneezed over the mixing bowl.
Back to the order thing — with baking you have to do things in the right order and often much patience is required. Apparently, when you don’t really measure or add things in the correct order, baked goods don’t turn out so well. It’s not that I can’t bake, I just don’t like to follow recipes all the time. This has a tendency to backfire often, because I have been known to make a dish or two that receives rave reviews from my family, and then I can’t really repeat it because I don’t really know how I got to the final product. Oy.
I say all that because its ironic that with my one chance to share a family favorite with the blogosphere the recipe I am going to share with you is a dessert. Go figure. Reference previous paragraph for further explanation. You learned about my awesome MIL, Trish, earlier this week. Yes, Libby somehow came up with Trish and not only did it stick, it has trickled down and I think all of us girls call her that. I’ve even heard the boys refer to her as that too. I’m married to #1 (my father in law affectionately refers to his sons in birth order. I mean, what else do you do with that.many.boys? As Moss family folklore goes, Trish always made the boys their favorite dessert on their birthday. This quickly meant I better up my baking skills. For many years, I simply got the tried and true recipes from my MIL. Why mess with perfection? But as the years went on and I got to know my husband better, I felt more confident and adventurous in trying something knew. Low and behold, I found a recipe he now requests ever year on his birthday. Not gonna lie – its a good one. While it is not hard, it does require steps and time for things like strawberries to macerate (yep, I had to look it up too) and trust me, you can’t rush through these. But the end product is one for the record books. I promise you it will be a crowd pleaser and you will get asked for the recipe. I can’t take credit for the recipe though. It is from no other than the well-loved Pioneer Woman. She’s been mentioned a few times on this blog (here, and here, and here, and here, and here. And, here. ). P loves her too.
- 1-1/2 cup Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 1-1/2 cup Sugar
- 3 whole Large Eggs
- 1/2 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/2 pound Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
- 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
- 1-1/2 pound Powdered Sugar, Sifted
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 pound Strawberries
IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.
Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.
Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.
Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.
Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.
Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.
IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!