I Have “Pie” Hopes…

There is something about a pie that just makes me feel good.  Beautiful flaky crust, sky high meringue or whipped cream topped, pie is an amazing dessert.  Fruit pies, custard pies, cream pies, hand pies; they are all wonderful.

My relationship with pie, however, is a Love/Hate one.  As much as I love pie, it is the bane of by baking existence.

Okay, maybe that is a bit of an over dramatic description, but I have the worst time with pies.  And it’s not a specific thing, like trouble with the crust; it’s the whole process.

Even when the crust turns out flaky and wonderful, the filling doesn’t set.  Or I have a wonderfully set lemon curd, and the meringue weeps.  I just can’t win.

And, of course, my pie dysfunction extends to cobbler.  My grandmother Frances (of cinnamon roll fame) made the most amazing peach cobbler. The crust was sweet and crunchy, with a fresh peach filling that tasted like a warm summer day.

For years I asked her for the recipe. And for years, I never got the recipe. So I bought frozen cobbler and served to my family with more than a little shame. What was so wrong with me that I cannot make even a simple cobbler?

Fast forward to the summer of 2009 at my nephews wedding. Sitting with Grandma Frances at a picnic table, in a park, in a small town in southeastern Colorado. I was just beginning my official journey into the world of pastries by enrolling for the pastry arts program at a school in Las Vegas. I mentioned that maybe I would be able to make a pie after going to pastry school.

This struck my grandmother as very funny. “Kelley, you don’t have to go to school to learn to make pie, you have seen me do it”. I very gingerly asked her again for her peach cobbler recipe, and with a genuine look of shock, she replied “Just sink the crust”.

It was then that my cobbler life changed. I have to admit, it was a pretty anticlimactic change. The sky did not open to reveal a host of Heavenly beings singing Hallelujah, the earth did not tremble. No visible indication that I had just received the secret I had been asking for.

But there it was, the answer to one of the secrets of my universe, “just sink the crust”. Of course I couldn’t wait to have an excuse to make a cobbler. Who am I kidding, absolutely no-one needs an excuse to make cobbler. And every time it is perfect. Tender peaches, with just the right amount of syrup-y goodness. covered in that crispy, sweet crust. It is delicious, but still not quite the same as Grandmas.

Grandma would have been 97 years old on May 5th this year, and I know, without a doubt, that she is shaking her head every time I make a cobbler, and laughing as I “just sink the crust”.

It’s Pancake Day.

Almost everyone knows about the Mardi Gras celebrations that take place all over the world on Shrove Tuesday.  But the real party on Shrove Tuesday doesn’t take place in New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro.  No, as anyone from Southwest Kansas knows, the best celebration on the day before the start of Lent is International Pancake Day.

That’s right…Pancake Day.  Complete with parade, talent show and, the highlight of the celebration, The International Pancake Race.

Yup, It’s a Thing.

Not only is it a thing, it truly is an International thing.  Okay, I can tell you are skeptical, so here’s a little history lesson for those of you who are unlucky enough NOT to have lived the dream.

The story goes all the way back more than 500 years, 1445 to be exact.  The story goes something like this…

A housewife in England was so engrossed in using all her cooking fats (which were forbidden during Lent) making pancakes, she lost all track of time and it wasn’t until she heard the church bells that she realized she was late for Shriving Service.  Pausing only long enough to grab her headscarf, she races off to the church–still wearing her apron, with skillet, and pancake, in hand.  In the years that followed, it became a competition for the women to see who could race to the church the fastest and get the “Kiss of Peace” from the church bell ringer.

Race ahead a few centuries (pun intended) to 1950 when a member of the Liberal Kansas Junior Chamber of Commerce (JayCees) saw some press clippings about the Olney England Pancake Race and challenged their women to race against the women of Liberal.  The rest is history.  My history at least.

Some of my best memories are of Pancake Day.  When I was a kid in the 70’s, Pancake Day was not just a holiday in Liberal, but the entire area got into the fun.  The Pancake Day Parade was wonderful.  Bands and floats from towns in Oklahoma and Southwest Kansas were joined by the Shriners in their funny cars, weaving and dancing before my excited eyes.


As I grew and got old enough (5th grade) to be part of the school band, I got my first chance to be a part of Pancake Day as a participant. From marching in the grade school band, which was comprised of all band students from all 7 elementary school in town, through marching as a proud Warrior in the West Jr. High School Marching Band, and finally to the pinnacle as a member of “That” Liberal Band, The Pride of the Southwest.

As an adult, Pancake Day was just as special. Every year I would take the girls to the races and the parade.  And Daughters #2 &#3 both raced in the toddler races.

I have been away from my hometown for 2 decades now, and haven’t seen a Pancake Day celebration in all those years,.  But every Shrove Tuesday, I celebrate; wherever I am, I celebrate.  I always wish people  a “Happy Pancake Day” and then explain what I am talking about.  I watch the national news for clips, and I swell with pride, because that is MY hometown; those are my memories.

So, wherever you are, Happy Pancake Day.



Memories of Me


When I decided to open my bakery, I was almost overwhelmed with all that goes into starting a business.  It had been my main focus for about 5 years, so I had so much of it ready to go;  business plan was written, dozens of recipes developed and tested, and a modest following of clients that would hopefully turn into faithful customers.

The one thing I didn’t have was a Mission Statement.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had a mission; had been on this mission for a long while.  But I discovered I needed a statement that would convey my mission to everyone else.

Luckily for me, daughter #2 was working for a company that really liked my goodies and had some very talented marketing people who were willing to help me put what I heard in my head down on paper.  So Lavender Box Bakery opened with a Mission Statement:

To provide high quality, fresh products in a way that brings nostalgia.  It is our philosophy that every bite should come with a memory.  We want to help create those memories by supplying you with fresh-from-scratch products.  No boxes, no mixes, no tubs.
Just Decadence in Small Bites.

Just 50 words.  But those 50 words illustrate me; they are me.  Food, in my opinion, is Life. Not just necessary to sustain life, but essential to my life.

Many of my earliest, and best, memories are of food.

The heavenly aroma of coffee and bacon (with a healthy dose of Pall Mall cigarette smoke) takes me back to waking up in my Grandma Frances’ house, hearing her and Grandpa Hardy getting ready for their day. And I can taste the bright burst of warm blackberries picked (without permission, of course) off Old Miss Boody’s bushes;  an amazing summer afternoon snack washed down with a drink from the garden hose.

Coming from a family with strong roots in the Southern states, saying “The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home” is not cliche, it is simply fact. No matter whose house we are in, we gather in the kitchen.  As a kid, I can remember coming in from running around like a banshee with my cousins and finding my mom, along with her mom, sisters and any other girl over the age of 14 or so, gathered in the kitchen.  Even if there was not a meal to be made or cleaned up after, they were sitting on every available chair or the Costco step stool with the hideous cushion cover, leaning against the formica counter or taking turns wandering outside to make sure we weren’t terrorizing the neighborhood.

I guess my point is simply this…food is life.

I mother with food.  I comfort with food.  I give praise with food.  I celebrate with food. I grieve with food.  And I love with food.

As this crazy life of mine spins around and around, there are very few things that I know for certain, but one of those is that whatever happens, good or bad, there will be food.

Super Easy Dip for Super Bowl Parties

Yuck Dip

Many, many moons ago, I lived in a tiny apartment with my 2 small girls, in a small Kansas town.  As happens when you have kids, you get to be friends with the other moms because…well, let’s face it, misery loves company; and who better to commiserate with a mom of 2 small kids than others in the same situation.  So, while listening for the tell tell sounds of mischief and refereeing squabbles between toddlers, us moms discussed every possible topic, more often than not it involved food.

One of these moms was Deb and she introduced me to “yuck” dip.  Yep, that’s what it is called; and very appropriately named because it looks, well, yucky.  But don’t let the name or appearance fool you, this dip is super yummy and almost too easy.

Now I don’t use many “pre-made” products when I bake.  My tag line is actually “No Boxes, No Mixes, No Tubs”.  But when something that is tasty and easy, I can get behind using jarred salsa.


That’s right, your eyes do not decide you.  This amazingly tasty dip is only 5 ingredients (most of which individually I won’t eat).

You will need:

1 jar of chunky salsa (if you prefer to make salsa from scratch, that is wonderful and you are my hero)

1 small can of chopped ripe olives

Lime juice (fresh or bottled doesn’t matter)

Garlic powder (I actually had to buy some because it is not something I will use in any other recipe)

And 5-6 scallions, chopped up.

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That’s it.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir.  You can adjust the heat with a hot salsa or even put chopped jalapeño if you want, but I am a real wimp when it comes to spice, so mild for me.

A bag if restaurant style corn chips and you are ready for the game (Go Pats).