Friday, May 12, 2017

The Nearly Naked Truth



Thought for the day:  A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. [Tenneva Jordan]

It's true. Mothers have a distinct way of making little, often unnoticed sacrifices. When food is running low, they aren't hungry. When one of the dinner plates is chipped, it always manages to find itself in front of her spot at the table. If her children need shoes or clothes or glasses, she decides her own, no matter how old or shabby, will do just fine. It's simply what they do. They have our backs... and cover our butts.

With Mothers' Day coming up this Sunday, I thought it was a good time for me to be lazy re-run one of my favorite posts about mothers. It originally ran in 2011 as Mothers Cover Our Butts, and the following year, it ran again as Still Covering Our Butts. My brother informed me that our grandparents didn't actually enter the U.S. via Ellis Island; they came into Boston. (oops!)  But regardless of their entry point, the rest of this story is absolutely true.

To all of you moms out there, I wish you a fantabulous weekend.  If your mother is still with you, be sure to give her an extra big hug and let her know how much you appreciate her.

Okay, ready? Here goes...

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Thought for the day:  If it's not one thing, it's your mother... 


With Mother's Day right around the corner, I'd like to share a story about my grandmother. In early 1923, she, my grandfather, my father and his brother left Scotland and set sail for the United States, essentially abandoning the only home they'd ever known so they could sail off into the great unknown and start all over again. Must've been scary, don't you think? A huge sacrifice. But like countless other immigrants, facing the unknown was a sacrifice they were absolutely willing to make for the sake of their children and their children's children. NO sacrifice was too great, right? Then again, the (ahem) naked truth is, by the time they reached the United States, poor Mom-Mom learned that she'd sacrificed more than she'd ever intended.

Try to picture it. Can you imagine how everyone on that ship must have felt when they finally caught sight of Lady Liberty for the first time? My guess would be intense excitement and pride, mingled with a shot of apprehension. Probably a good deal of relief, too, not to mention exhaustion.

For Mom-Mom, I have a hunch relief was tops on her emotional menu. Relief that the seemingly endless trip was finally coming to an end, and relief at the prospect of standing on dry stable land again. Because my poor grandmother pretty much puked her way across the Atlantic. From the time they left Europe, she had such debilitating seasickness, she rarely left her bed.

Which left Pop, a rather dour Scot, in charge of the kiddies.

My father was still in diapers at the time, and though Pop, a master carpenter, was quite skillful at building a custom cabinet, he wasn't at all accustomed to being saddled with the business of childcare. So he improvised. He blithely tore up my grandmother's clothes and, one by one, used them to diaper my father's bottom. When a diaper got dirty, he simply tossed it overboard and reached for another dress.

So by the time the Statue of Liberty came into view, a long trail of improvised nappies stretched clear across the ocean, and my grandmother? Let's just say that she came perilously close to being one of those naked masses yearning to breathe free, with few clothes to her name beyond those she'd been wearing in her sick bed.

Years later, when Mom-Mom told me this story, she was laughing, but I doubt if she found much humor in it back in 1923.  Trust me, Pop paid for his blunder, though. As I remember her, my grandmother had an extensive wardrobe from some of the best stores in Baltimore.

For those of you who are mothers, I wish you a very happy Mother's Day. For those of you who are fortunate enough to still have your mother with you, do your best to spoil the living daylights out of her. After all, she may not have sacrificed all her clothes to cover your butt, but I'm sure she made many other sacrifices, and covered your butts in many other ways. For those of you who've already lost your mother, this is for you:



Your mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every teardrop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time... not space... not even death.

Sorry. I wish I did, but I don't know the origin of that little piece. Someone sent it to me without attribution many years ago.

For those earlier Mothers' Day posts, I included a recipe for some fabulously delicious strawberry pie that my mother used to love. It's still fabulously delicious, and if you want it and don't mind using a good bit of sugar, you can still find it by checking out the tag words in the side bar, but I'm gonna share something different with y'all this time around: an unbelievably good recipe for sugar-free cheesecake with sugar-free blueberry topping. It took me a number of experiments and a good bit of ingredient-juggling to come up with something that reeeeeeally works, but I promise, you will NOT be able to tell the sugar is missing.

Okay, first, the crust. That's the easiest part, if you wanta be lazy smart. Buy one of those extra-serving graham cracker crusts. Yeah, there's some sugar in them, but not enough that I worry about making the crust from scratch. If you'd rather make your own with or without sugar, go for it.

Now, the filling. Plop two packages of Neufchatel cheese into a bowl and let it come to room temperature. (Or you can use regular cream cheese, or reduced fat cream cheese, but the Neufchatel is lower in fat, costs less, and works well.)  While you're pulling the cheese out of the fridge, pull out four eggs and let them get closer to room temperature, too. Or not. If you'd rather just use the cheese and eggs cold, go for it. No skin off my nose. It's just a little easier to work with after they've warmed up a bit.

When you're ready to start, add 1/4 cup of Truvia (a non-caloric natural sugar substitute made with stevia leaves) to the bowl with the cheese, and blend well with an electric mixer. Mix in a tablespoon of flour and a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract. (to taste) Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then blend in a cup of sour cream and pour the mixture into your pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. To prevent the top from cracking, put a pan of hot water on a lower shelf in the oven.

While your cheesecake is baking, you can whip up the topping. Put 1/4 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of Truvia into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups of fresh berries. (It's good with 2; even better with 3.) Lower heat and continue cooking until it ... looks like blueberry topping. (About three minutes, tops. You COULD add a tablespoon of arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken the topping, but I think it's fine without it.) Other options: If you happen to have a fresh lemon in your fridge, squirt a little bit of juice into the pan to add a little pop of citrus. Also, if you're a big fan of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, you can add a pinch of one or both.) Remove from heat, and add another cup of fresh berries. Chill. The topping, that is. Well, I suppose you could chill, too, because you're gonna have to wait a little while until you can sink your teeth into the cheesecake. It's best served chilled.

DIG IN!!!

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.




48 comments:

  1. Thank you. The unattributed piece is beautiful. And truthful. And hopeful.
    Have a wonderful Mother's Day.

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    1. You're welcome, dear lady. I'm glad that little piece touched your heart. It does have a lot of truth to it.

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  2. I luv to hear stories about family histories and if they have an unusual "twist", it's even better. Utilizing a lady's wardrobe for baby diapers during an Atlantic crossing is about as unusual as you can get.

    Your grandmother's future shopping sprees in Baltimore were the perfect revenge.
    (of course, an even better revenge would be for her to use your grandfather's wardrobe for baby diapers....)

    While I still have your attention, will you save me a piece of that scrumptious blueberry cheesecake??

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    1. Yeah, my grandfather was a bit of an unusual man. My grandmother never would have had the nerve to cross him, I don't think, but she DID end up with several mink coats.

      Why don't you whip up one of those cheesecakes for yourself, and then you can eat the whole darned thing?! :)

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  3. A truly heartwarming post!!!
    i believe mothers have little bit of GOD in them so they can look after their child with wholeness!
    your desert made my mouth water my friend

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  4. Ripping up dresses for diapers?? A new extensive wardrobe sounds like the perfect revenge.
    I've heard of people ripping up old sheets and towels for diapers (nappies).
    I haven't had cheesecake of any kind for a long time, I can't be bothered making them and the store-bought frozen ones just aren't worth it.

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    1. I think Pop ripping up my grandmother's clothes might have been a bit vengeful, too, for having to look after the kids.

      You should make this cheesecake. It's easy-peasy, and reeeeeally good. Practically guilt-free, too!

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  5. Here in the UK we have already celebrated our 2017 Mother's Day it was on Sunday March 26th.

    I very much enjoyed your post and have to say it bought a tear to my eye.

    Yes, it is true Mother's Do - " have a distinct way of making little, often unnoticed sacrifices. When food is running low, they aren't hungry. When one of the dinner plates is chipped, it always manages to find itself in front of her spot at the table. If her children need shoes or clothes or glasses, she decides her own, no matter how old or shabby, will do just fine. It's simply what they do."

    I adore cheesecake but always make a lower carb version, especially as my husband Eddie is a Type 2 diabetic.

    To Mother's everywhere, I wish them a great weekend.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

      My hubby's a type 2 diabetic, too, which is why I started playing with Truvia to make a cheesecake. We don't even miss the sugar!

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  6. When my mother lay dying at the age of 85, she called for her own mom who had passed away when my mom was 16. We always need our moms.

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    1. You're right. We always need them. After my mother's funeral in '96, I went to visit an aunt in the nursing home. We got to talking, and she got teary-eyed about her mother, who'd died many many years ago. My aunt confessed to missing her every day.

      Happy Mother's Day, dear lady!

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  7. They sure do go without and cover butts, literally and figuratively, more than sometimes one even sees.

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    1. True. We're rarely aware of all the sacrifices they make.

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  8. Happy Mothers Day...may it be filled with hugs, kisses and squeals of delight.

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    1. Thanks! May all of our days be like that. :)

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  9. Fun post and quite a story for family lore. Happy Mother's Day to you. Enjoy family

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked it. And a very Happy Mother's Day to you, too. Have a super weekend.

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  10. Happy Mothers day, yes indeed our Moms sacrifice themselves for us, I know mine did for me.

    Excellent post, loved the story of your Grandparents.

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    1. Thanks, Jimmy. I hope your bride enjoys a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, too.

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  11. When my maternal grandmother was twelve years old, she and the rest of her family--including a baby brother--left their home in Norway to travel to Liverpool, where they boarded a ship for the U.S. I wish I knew more about their journey. I've always wondered how they managed that journey with a child in diapers. Happy Mother's Day!

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Well, that Atlantic crossing can be might rough, so if your great grandmother was seasick, too, their voyage may have also been marked by a string of cast-away improvised diapers. :)

      Happy Mother's Day to you, too!

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  12. Beautiful post. Happy Mothers' Day! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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  13. Hi Susan - the thought of being seasick all across the Atlantic makes me feel very queasy as I sit looking at the Channel- it's smoothish today!! Amazing the courage they had to set sail and make the journey ... glad it turned out well for them. Then you and your children and grandchildren ... who will all be enjoying Mother's Day and spreading the joy around, perhaps some cheesecake too ... love cheesecake ... delightful reading ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary. How lovely that you can see the channel from your window. As much as I would like to see any kind of waterway from my window, it's probably a good thing I can't. I'd spend waaaaay too much time gazing out the window. :)

      Have a super weekend.

      Cheers back atcha!

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  14. Grand post! Susan, my paternal great grandfathers jumped ship on opposite coasts in the 1850s, married beautiful Portuguese immigrant ladies and left the same message to their descendants: Never go back! What this has to do with mothers and cheesecake, I'm not sure, but I never met a cheesecake I didn't like. My mother's people came from the UK and settled in the South. She moved to Berkeley in 1939 --good thing too.

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    1. Thanks, dude! I'm glad you liked it.

      It's extremely cool how similar your great grandfathers' stories are. Great minds think alike? Maybe that's where you got that great mind of yours.

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  15. Yep, mom... grandma, they all deserve big props today. Happy Mother's Day to you!

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  16. Laughter ... and tears! Dang, girl!
    Long after your grandparent's voyage - but still prior to ships' stabilizers - my parents and I returned from Europe aboard the Queen Mary. Like your mom-mom, my mother was pretty sea-sick, confined to her berth all 7 days. On the other hand, the (7 y/o) brat I was, kept my dad and crew on their toes, lest I fall overboard. I loved the rough seas then, and actually, still do!

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    1. Laughter AND tears? Cool. It's always my goal to make ya feel something... :)

      I love being out on the water, but I've never been on an ocean liner or in rough seas. Since I've been known to get sick on some dinky little carnival rides, though, I have a sneaking suspicion I might take after my grandmother on the high seas.

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  17. What a great story! So funny. Wishing you a very happy Mother's Day!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day, too.

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  18. Blessings.....
    delightfully told.
    thanks

    have a great week.

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    1. Thank you. Blessings back at you.

      You have a super week, too.

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  19. That is an awesome story.

    My mother passed away in March and the thing that has hit me the most is just how much a part of my life my mother was. It's a presence we definitely take for granted.

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    1. I'm glad you liked the story. :)

      My mother's been gone for more than twenty years, but there are still times when it hits me like a fist in the chest how much I miss her. The hurt's gotta still be raw for you, but trust me, it will get better, and the happy memories will sustain you.

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  20. LIES! That does NOT look sugar-free! My teeth hurt just looking at it.

    No, I'm kidding. That looks amazing.

    My great-grandfather came over from Spain like this, and I only wish I could have heard the story. To know what happened when he first saw the Statue of Liberty, to hear what he thought about everything. To know if he was naked or not. I mean, I assume he wasn't, but I don't know the story, so he could have been.

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    1. That cheesecake IS amazing. I never thought I'd actually enjoy a dessert that didn't have any sugar in it. (Or chocolate!)

      It's too bad you didn't get to hear any stories about your great grandfather's journey to this country. It's easy to imagine the excitement and fear about facing the unknown, but it would've been even better to get a personal family story or two.

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  21. I vaguely remember the story about your grandparents, but I didn't remember the cheesecake recipe. I'm trying to reduce my sugar intake, so this is perfect. Thanks!

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    1. You don't remember the cheesecake recipe because I never posted it before. :) Try it! (I betcha don't miss the sugar one little bit!)

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  22. Susan, I hope you had a fabulous Mother's Day. I know I did.

    I will kill my husband if he did something like that. I wonder how many years it took her to get over it? Man!

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    1. I did! I'm glad you did, too.

      Times have changed. Back then, the men were the undeniable heads of the households and their wives had very little voice. I don't know how long it took her to get over it, but she ended up with lots of dresses and mink coats before all was said and done.

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  23. Oh my gosh, this sounds so much like something a father would come up with, even today! I can imagine your grandfather was very proud of himself for his ingenuity. What a great story.
    I hope you had a very happy Mother's Day will your family, Susan. :)

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    1. Come to think of it, it IS something my Smarticus might do... :)

      I did have a super day. Thanks, dear lady. I hope you did, too.

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