Tag: Birthdays

Cranberry Sauce and a Birthday

Today is December 8th, and I am making cranberry sauce. We love cranberry sauce any time of year, and I don’t think any member in our family would turn down a helping of the canned variety. But the holidays require homemade sauce, and because of this I had a partial bag in the refrigerator leftover from Thanksgiving. Making sauce seemed like a good idea. Something to do while I wait for the fruit for Gary’s fruitcake to finish its steeping time. 

I always start the sauce using the basic method printed on the Ocean Spray bag of fresh cranberries. Pulling the bag out of the garbage… I see that they now include a method for what they are calling “Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce.” This is a method that I have used, which is to follow the original recipe then strain the sauce through a strainer but to be honest, I never had good luck getting this method to jell properly. 

It was holiday time, in a year now long forgotten that I was at the house while Marie was making cranberry sauce, and I asked her how she was able to get her sauce to jell. She told me that after she had strained the cranberries, she put them back in the pan, added another cup of sugar, and simmered the sauce for an additional 15 minutes. And there lies the secret to Marie’s cranberry sauce.

Today is also the anniversary of my father-in-law’s birthday. Born in 1912, he would be celebrating his 109th birthday. Where has the time gone? It seems like we have just celebrated his 80th birthday. While that birthday was a party at Van Abel’s Supper Club in Hollandtown, many birthday dinners were celebrated at Van Abel’s. I do miss the days when we would all dress up to meet for dinner. Starting with a drink at the bar, dinner in the small dining room, and ending the evening with a nightcap at what is now called the “New” bar. 

Happy times. Holiday times with family.

L-R: Ena (Lorraine), Hunce (Mildred), Butch and Hank (Ann)

Marie’s Cranberry Sauce

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 12-ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries

  1. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Pour sauce into a bowl. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes 2 1/4 cups

To make strained cranberry sauce:

Follow directions in step 1 as written. After boiling the cranberries for 10 minutes, remove pan from heat and strain. Return sauce back to the pan, adding an additional cup of sugar. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. 

Pour sauce into a bowl. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

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Angel Food Cake is for Birthdays

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 1 Jun 2012.

Yesterday, May 31st, was Dennis’ birthday, he would have been 62 years old this year. It was also his nephew Mike’s birthday. Happy Birthday!

Birthdays in Marie’s kitchen meant Angel Food Cake, and it had to have confetti in the mix. A plain angel food was not a birthday cake, although plain angel food was perfect for summer strawberries that had been sugared, mashed, and left to sit while dinner was eaten. Years after box angel food cakes became available, Marie never tired of the novelty and ease of an angel food box cake. She had a vivid memory of mixing these cakes by hand, standing at the counter and whisking, whisking, whisking the egg whites till they were stiff.

Marie, who was given the nickname of “Wee” by her father because she was so small, learned to cook at a very early age. She was always needed to help her mother prepare the meals for the thrashers and other hired hands on the farm, but when she was a small child, her mother was often ill. Because of this, Marie would be responsible for preparing the full meal on her own. When she shared stories with me from this time, I could just imagine this small girl standing on the step stool wrapped in a big apron, mixing, cooking, baking, and making angel food cakes by hand.

Growing up on the farm, they did not have indoor plumbing nor electricity until Marie was well into adulthood, so there were many years where the only way to make this favorite cake was made by hand, and then baked in an oven heated by wood. What always struck me was that she did not talk about the novelty of using an electric mixer, or for that matter an electric oven! But it was the ease of opening a box, adding water, mix, and voila! Angel food cake.

A recipe from the 1944 edition of The Settlement Cookbook, page 437.


  • 1 1/2 cups egg whites, 12 or 13
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, measured lightly
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons flavoring
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

Beat egg whites with a wire whip. Add cream of tartar and salt when eggs are frothy. Continue beating until a point of the egg whites will stand upright. Gradually beat in one cup of the sugar, which has been sifted twice. Fold in the flavoring. Sift flour once before measuring. Fold in flour gradually, which has been sifted 3 times with remaining 3/4 cup of sugar. Pour into dry, ungreased 10-inch tube pan and bake 65 minutes in a moderate oven, 325 degrees F. Invert pan until cake is entirely cold.

1909 ~ 1929 ~ 2019

Nines were pivotal years for Roland John Tapper, Sr. On August 1, 1909 he was born in Hammond, Lake County, Indiana, USA to Anton Herman Tapper Sr., and Louisa L. Normann. Today marks the 110th anniversary of his birth. 

On June 5, 1929, he proudly graduated from Culver Military Academy, which is located in Culver, Marshall County, Indiana. He and his older brother, Anton, attended Culver from 1926-1929, both graduating on that June day in 1929. Grandpa loved his days at Culver, and was proud to have been a part of their Black Horse Troop, serving as Second Lieutenant of the troop for the school year, 1928-1929. 

Shortly after graduation he, his father, and his brother Anton, and sister Alice, left for a trip to Europe. They left July 6, 1929, returning to the United States, September 17th. They visited Germany, Switzerland, and possibly other countries (more research to be done), and the trip deserves its own blog post. 

Sadly, not long after they returned from this amazing European adventure, his mother fell ill, and she passed away of an embolism on November 29th. She had entered St. Margaret’s hospital for an appendicitis operation, after which a blood clot had formed. The Times reported on November 30th that “…Last night members of the family visited with her in her hospital room until 9 o’clock and plans were merrily discussed for removing her within a day or two. Less than two hours later she was dead. It is believed that an unabsorbed portion of the blood clot was carried to her brain.

   Mrs. Tapper was 50 years old and is survived by the husband, three sons, Norman, Anton and Rowland, [sic]and a daughter, Alice. She also leaves three grandchildren…”1

Fast forward to today, August 1, 2019, and as I am working to unpack our household from the move to Rhode Island, I came across a tube, which had marked upon it: “RJT Culver Certificates.” Thinking I knew what the tube contained, and curious at the same time, I opened it. Inside were my grandfather’s graduation certificates looking as perfect as they did that June day, 90 years ago. 

So with unboxing still to be done, I felt I just had to take a moment and write this quick post about Roland John Tapper, and the 110 years spanning from 1909 to 2019.

Happy Birthday Grandpa. Miss you.

  1.  “Mrs. Tapper Dies From Embolism,” (Hammond) The Times, 30 Nov 1929, Saturday, p. 1, col. 6.