Aunt Bett’s Blueberry Cake

Last year my cousin Lisa gave me a copy of the Anderson Family Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from the family reunion of 1988. This was back when I didn’t have contact with this side of my family so this was a wonderful and beautiful gift, not just for the recipes that are included, but also for the memories of many summers spent with these cousins at my grandparent’s home on Briarwood Beach.

After she gave me the book I sat and pored over it, recognizing the names of the contributors and remembering the times I spent with them with great joy. Each recipe card is titled and indicates who it came from. One of my favorites is called “Cape Cod No Fuss Dinner” and it comes from “The Dads”. The instructions are simple and include only two words: Kool Kone. There are also recipes for Baked Beans, Blystone (a family name) Clam Chowder and American Chop Suey. (Hi Norma and Sandy!). They are all wonderful but the one that made me gasp in surprise and then start to cry was this one:

Aunt Bett’s Blueberry Cake.

Aunt Bett, as she was called by the cousins, was my grandmother, Elizabeth Anderson Sammons. She was called Betty by everyone else but Aunt Bett by the cousins and Gramma by my brothers and I and my cousins Len and Lisa. She was wonderful and 100% Swedish and I loved her dearly. She baked and cooked and sewed and knit and crocheted. She taught me to make Swedish meatballs and braided cardamom bread and make spritz. She was soft and warm and smelled like cinnamon and she was probably my favorite person in the whole world next to my mom. And she made wonderful blueberry cake.

I never had her recipe until I got this cook book so you can imagine how happy I was to find it there. I know this post is getting long but I hope you will indulge me. I’m going to share the recipe, along with my cousin Dick Blystone’s introduction – it will give you an idea of what an incredibly special time it was in my life when “the cousins” came to visit.

aunt betts blueberry cake for carole knits

One of the traditional “outings” each year at the Cape was picking blueberries. For one half day, the mothers would load all of the kids and all of the available containers in the cottage into one of the station wagons. We would make one stop to pick up our guide Aunt Bett and her pots, then leave the beach and travel several miles inland to a farm where you could pick berries at low rates (my recollection is 50¢ a quart). After stopping at the farm house to announce our presence, we rode over winding dirt roads to the farm’s Blueberry Patches, poured out of the cars, grabbed our containers and “hit the bushes.”

Some went to the first bushes they saw and began picking, others became scouts, searching for the best bushes, then redirecting cousins to those areas. The object of the outing was simple: try to gather enough blueberries (using the standard pick two eat one system) to fill all of the containers. If this task became boring, there were always interesting variations, like trying to find the biggest blueberry, or trying to hit the cousin at the next bush over with over-ripe berries. When the mothers had had enough, they herded us back to the cars, where we emptied our containers into big soup kettles, then drove back to the farm house to pay for the berries. One year we picked 23 quarts! Then it was back to the beach, where the blueberries, little by little, found their way into pancakes, muffins and cakes and always into the mouths of the harvesters.

Aunt Bett would usually take her berries and bake several cakes for us to enjoy which we would devour the same night they were delivered to the cottage. To this day it remains my favorite dessert.

Aunt Bett’s Blueberry Cake

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups floured blueberries

For the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter

Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix sugar, shortening & egg in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder & salt. Stir in milk. Add to large bowl and mix. Fold in blueberries, spread into greased 9″ square pan. Mix topping & sprinkle on top. Bake for 45 min or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Eat. Sigh. Remember.

Cranberry Cake

cranberry cake stacked for carole knits

A few weeks ago, while attending an event at our Town Hall, I had a bite of something truly delicious. There was a table laden with all kinds of goodies: brownies and cookies and more . . . but there was also this plate of squares that looked yummy. And they were chock-full of cranberries. I had one and I was instantly in love with it. It was cranberry-y and almond-y and moist and just simply wonderful. I knew it wasn’t just an ordinary treat so I started working my way around the room, asking who had made it. I quickly realized it was made by someone that a) I know and b) I admire and c) is married to a local cranberry grower.

But of course.

I got the recipe and I made this cake for our Christmas Eve gathering. Every piece I put out disappeared. And everyone raved about it. It was, in other words, a hit.

The good news is that around these parts, cranberries aren’t just for Christmas and I happen to have a big ole bag of them in my freezer – courtesy of that particular woman who is married to that particular grower, I might add. So I made the cake again this weekend and I’m sharing the recipe with you. It’s partly because I want you to try it but it’s also because I want to make sure I don’t lose the recipe.

Not that I would ever do that.


So here you have it, the best cranberry cake ever.

cranberry cake for carole knits

Cranberry Cake
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

With a stand mixer, beat eggs with sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add butter and extract; beat 2 minutes. Stir in flour, just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Spread in a greased 13×9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares.


Peanut Butter Balls

There are treats I only make at Christmas time and Peanut Butter Balls are one of them. Even though everyone loves to eat them, well, they are kind of a pain in the ass to make. This year, though, Hannah helped me and they worked up very quickly. I think this is probably a recipe that everyone has already since it’s an oldie (my mom made them when I was a kid and I think I’ve had them as part of Christmas for about 40 years now) but it’s also a goodie so I’m going to share it here.

Plus, it gives me an excuse to show you how I made them extra pretty this year.

peanut butter balls for carole knits

Peanut Butter Balls

3 cups Rice Krispies
3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2 cups of peanut butter
1 stick of melted butter.

Combine all of the above ingredients. I find the easiest way is to mix the cereal, powdered sugar and peanut butter together and then slowly add the melted butter. I do all of this in my stand mixer and it goes together pretty quickly – plus the mixer crushes the cereal a bit and that’s a good thing.

Once the ingredients are all mixed then form the mixture into small balls. I use my smallest scoop, I think it’s a teaspoon size, to make the balls quickly and then I roll them with my hands to make them smooth.

Melt 2 cups (or more if necessary) of chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. I also thin the chocolate with a bit of shortening to make it more . . . dippable. And yes, that is so a word. Dip each peanut butter ball completely in the chocolate and put on a waxed paper lined baking sheet to set up.

Once the chocolate has set you can melt some white chocolate and then drizzle it over the top. I did this by putting it in a small sandwich bag and then making a teeny tiny snip in one corner. Then I just went back and forth over the rows with the white chocolate and then I sprinkled them with green sugar. This little extra effort really makes them look Christmas-y and special for the season.


Easy Sugar Cookies

The other day Kim asked me about the cookies in my picture from Ten on Tuesday. They are a simple drop sugar cookie – no rolling, no icing, no fuss. For Christmas I dipped them in some melted chocolate and then sprinkled them with Christmas sprinkles but I don’t even usually bother to do that. Anyway, I promised Kim I’d send her the recipe and I’m guessing you all might want it, too, so here it is.

chocolate dipped sugar cookies for carole knits

Drop Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture just until combined, scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons, 2 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until edges are browned, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Eat. Share. Love.

Cranberry Nut Bread

While I’m not a huge fan of banana bread – meh – or even pumpkin bread, for that matter, I happen to lurve cranberry bread. I especially lurve cranberry orange bread. With nuts, please. As you know, cranberries are plentiful around here these days so the other day I made a Cranberry Nut Bread.

cranberry orange bread for carole knits

 Cranberry Nut Bread


2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

I have to say – I didn’t have any orange juice but I did have oranges so I squeezed them and used fresh orange juice and I can’t believe the difference that made. So much orange-y flavor! I’m going to use fresh orange juice from now on.

And now – go forth! Make cranberry nut bread!

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