Fran’s Favorites: Mom – Xenia Gazette

I lost my mother last week.

My mother, Mary Struewing, was an incredible woman. Mom was just a wonderful wife and mother, a very beloved grandmother and great-grandmother. She raised six children and was a wonderful partner to Dad in his business. She was an excellent cook and an excellent hostess.

When I was little, my father worked at Morris Bean & Company. He had a gift for making and building. When I was a baby, he decided to build a house for our family. Mom and Dad bought land in Yellow Springs and Dad started by building a garage. After the garage was finished, Mom and Dad, my older sister Kathy and I moved into the garage while Dad finished the rest of the house.

A few years later he quit his job at Morris Bean and started building houses for others. His brother Paul was a teacher in Tipp City, and he would come down on Saturdays with another teacher friend and a farmer to help Dad work. What I remember is the amazing harvest lunch mom made for those hard working men. She made huge platters of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, the best sauce, green beans and desserts. But what I really remember is the mountain of dishes, pots and pans in the sink that Kathy and I helped wash and dry. It felt like it took us all afternoon!

Mom helped Dad with the business every day. She was the “runner” for him. She would drive to Springfield to WW Electric Co. and Wick’s and YS Lumber Company for supplies, often with the youngest child in tow.

Mom loved to cook and cakes were her specialty. One year she baked cakes to enter the Clark County Fair. She used the prize money she won to buy her first KitchenAid mixer so she could bake more cakes. She had customers in town who bought her every week. I still remember the tall white cakes, with seven-minute frosting, topped with coconut, cooling above the freezer in the breezeway.

Our family meals were mostly meat and potatoes because that’s what Dad liked. We almost always had dessert. It was usually a chocolate cake, served warm out of the oven with milk or ice cream on it – but no frosting. Sometimes she prepared a huge pot of “minute tapioca”, made with folded beaten egg whites. We usually ate the whole pot before it got cold!

Mom liked to entertain. She and Dad and five other couples formed a dinner party. They met once a month, and instead of going out to eat, they would take turns at home, put the money saved into a fund, and then take short trips together. Mom’s dinners at her house were always beautiful and elegant, and she always served something new – complete with a dazzling dessert. Her table was never complete without a beautiful floral arrangement. She loved to grow flowers and arrange them as centerpieces of beauty and interest.

Mom loved to sew and made most of our clothes when we were little. All six of the children had a new outfit every Easter. She loved fashion and made most of her clothes. She really knew how to put together fashionable outfits with beautiful jewelry. I thought she was still beautiful!

As she got older, Mom loved nothing more than family celebrations, especially her grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s birthdays. All the kids knew that just having Grandma there made it special. She brought joy to every party.

Our family get-togethers won’t be the same with Mom gone, but my kids and grandkids have such a feeling that Grandma was always having fun – which always seemed to make everyone have fun. She had a great joy of living. She will be truly missed.

Kiwi meringue

4 egg whites

3 tablespoons cold water

1 ¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

icing sugar

½ liter heavy cream, whipped

Kiwi, peeled and sliced

Beat egg whites in cold water until stiff. Gradually add the sugar, beating until a glossy meringue forms and holds its shape. Stir in salt, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla.

Line an 8″ or 9″ cake pan with waxed paper, spreading it up the sides. Lightly grease it, then sprinkle it with a few drops of cold water.

Put the meringue in the mold. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting, then cook 45-60 minutes more.

Invert onto a plate sprinkled with icing sugar. Spread with whipped cream and kiwi slices.

This recipe was in my seventh cookbook that I made with Janet Voinovich in 1990. It was Nan’s recipe, Janet’s sister. Mom liked it because it was a bit unusual and dramatic, but also very good! I sometimes make it with strawberries instead of kiwi.

Fran’s Favorites

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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