Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pearlie Mae and Love Face

More than anything, Pearlie Mae loved to dance, bake, and entertain. Whenever you walked in her door, she had a homebaked meal and dessert ready for eating and a carepackage ready to take home. She was the grandmother of my dear friend Samantha, and she passed away Monday night.

While we were in college, Sam lost her mom Maxine (Pearl's daughter) to cancer. It was devastating time for Sam. But it brought her closer to her grandma, who, Sam says, became a 'super-grandma'. She treated Sam with love and listened to her with an open mind. Believing she was 'never too old to learn', she took advantage of the opportunity to learn from her young granddaughter, whom she called Love Face.

Sam sent an email to her friends last week telling us the story of Grandma Pearl. Due to some unexpected scheduling issues and some flagrant dismissiveness on the part of the family, Grandma Pearl is to be put to rest without any ceremony at all. Sam was not okay with this.

So, Sam took it upon herself to make sure her dear Pearlie Mae did not go unrecognized. She invited her closest friends and family over today to celebrate her grandma's life in cozy grandma form: Sam prepared a handful of Grandma Pearl's recipes, and asked us to stop by and say hello. Family were conspicuously absent, but a steady flow of friends passing through kept Sam's home filled with love.

Sam, protected by one of her grandma's aprons, had really cooked up a storm. We were greeted by a table filled with all sorts of goodies: sweet and sour chicken, cocktail meatballs, mandelbrot, Max's cookies (named for Sam's mom -- they were her favorite), buttermilk kugel, and brickle cake. We noshed, caught up, watched old home movies of Sam's family back when everyone was together and well, and flipped through the pages of the scrapbook Sam had made of her mom's photos, noting the uncanny resemblance between mother and daughter.

A fitting commemoration for someone with such a giving nature -- clearly her warmth and generosity has been passed on to our Sami, and I felt lucky that she chose me to share in this bittersweet celebration with her.

Max's Cookies

2 sticks butter/margarine
8 Tbs powdered sugar, plus more for sprinkling.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C chopped walnuts
2 C flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients together. Pinch off cookies, each slightly larger than a walnut. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly brown. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.

Brickle Cake

1 package yellow cake mix with pudding
4 eggs
3/4 C oil
1 C sour cream
1 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C mini chocolate chips
1 package bits of brickle (ie, 1 Skor or Heath bar, crushed)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine cake mix, eggs, oil, and sour cream. Beat with a mixer for 10 minutes. Grease bundt pan. Pour half of batter into bundt pan; sprinkle half of brickle mixture over it. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.
Bake 55-60 minutes. Allow cake to cool for at least 1 hour before removing from pan.


  1. Wow, how sad the family didn't feel Pearlie Mae was worth a gathering!

    Please pass my condolences onto your friend Sam, she sounds like a truly GREAT friend! I'm glad to hear that her friends care so much for her that you all par-taked in such a most memorable service for her.

  2. thanks for your kind words, Tracie. Sam is indeed great. After I wrote this up, I got a very appreciative email from her, not to mention one from her boyfriend! I'm so glad I could contribute.