One of my sisters (Martha, the younger one. Not the oft-mentioned Carol) has a God-given cake-decorating gift. When she makes a cake, it is absolutely a work of art, so beautifully decorated that you just want to stare at it for an hour. It seems a shame to eat this, you think. Not that big of a shame. They are as delicious as they are lovely. She could make a nice living creating cakes, but does it strictly out of love. What does she do for money? She sells cold rolled steel.
We didn't eat that many desserts at home when I was growing up. My mother's usual pattern was to make some variety of sheet cake once a week, and then the family would nosh on it for several days. One of our all time favorites was her fruit cocktail cake. It's easy to make, scrumptious, and the longer it sits, the better it gets. I'd love to use this old family recipe in my books, but in the mid-1910s period that I write about, they didn't have canned fruit cocktail. Happily, I don't have to worry about that on this blog, so here it is:
FRUIT COCKTAIL CAKE
1 1/2 cups of sugar 1 15 oz can of fruit cocktail
2 cups flour 2 eggs
2 tsp. soda 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla and/or mixed spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg
Mix all ingredients together and pour into large (9 X 13) pan. Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Bake for 45 minutes in a moderate oven (350-375 degrees)
Now, when my sibs and I make this, we usually double the topping, because we love it. And seriously, if you will cover this with foil and let it sit for several days, it becomes dense, gooey, and incredibly delectable.
Addendum : I got so involved writing about the cake that I forgot what I was going to say about chicken feet. I mentioned in an earlier comment that my great aunt Mary used to give us kids boiled chicken feet to eat, and my brother-in-law pointed out quite rightly that there is nothing much edible about chicken feet. I should therefore clarify that Aunt Mary boiled entire chicken legs below the joint, feet attached, and gave them to the little kids. I expect she thought that small children would enjoy the fact that they looked rather gross. They tasted good, though.