Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Orly, Mrs. Jane, and the Recipe

Mrs. Jane Bellefuille heard about last week’s article at a body shop last week. The cashier heard that she was attending Salem Campmeeting, and that dear reader asked how my cake turned out. Jane joined me at the church picnic, and she even tasted my cake. She, like all of the others at the picnic, graciously welcomed my cake and me into their little circle of cake bakers.

On Monday, Jane stopped me to talk on her porch. She knew that the recipe Orly’s, my maternal grandmother that passed away when I was thirteen.

When Jane and her husband, Claude, first moved to Conyers, she taught at J. H. House Elementary School. Orly, or “Mrs. Brodnax,” was a retired teacher and substituted regularly at House.
Claude was diagnosed with cancer, and Orly stepped into Jane’s life. Orly had cancer years before, so she knew all that the Bellefuille’s would be experiencing. Jane would drop by her little farmhouse in North Rockdale, listen to that sweet woman, and eat a piece of apple cake. Simply sitting at that kitchen table with Orly brought peace.

The last time she visited Orly, who was then in her 80’s, still holds poignant for Jane. By that time in her life, Orly has lost my grandfather and her health was failing. Jane spent the afternoon talking under those oak trees, and she asked Orly is she could do anything to help before she left.

”Jane, I hate to ask you this,” Orly responded, “but I am not able to do my toenails anymore.” In the afternoon up on the hill, Jane stopped to tend to the toenails of a little woman at the end of her days.

As a little girl, I would lean my head over Orly’s kitchen sink, and she would wash my tangled hair. As Orly aged, my mom began to wash her mom’s hair in that same sink. I would stand on a milk crate, and Mom and I would then roll her hair. Time turns all of our family roles upside-down.

Jesus once said, “Anything you do unto the least of these you have done unto Me.” To an outsider, Orly might have seemed to be one of the “least of these. She was just an elderly woman quietly living alone.

She was quite the contrary to me; she was a queen. Orly read a book every day, never appeared angry, brought comfort to half of Rockdale County, and could bake an apple cake with her eyes closed. Most importantly, she taught her only daughter how to love her little girl without any limits or stipulations. Here I stand two decades later with a mother that I call my best friend. We both owe that to her.

Thank you, Mrs. Jane, for tending to the feet of a little woman in North Rockdale. Your love I felt as I listened to your story. May we pour out that kind of love on one another.

(After receiving phone calls, emails, and cards requesting the recipe, I decided to pass on Orly’s recipe. Remember, it must be enjoyed with friends.)

Orly’s Apple Cake

2 ½ cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt
4 eggs
1 ½ cups oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup chopped apples

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add oil gradually, beating constantly. Add vanilla; mix well. Fold in apples. Spoon into a greased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool in pan for several minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Yields 16 servings.


Blogger hipastorzwife2B said...

Thank you so much for this. I have a very similar recipe given to me by a woman named Joey in south GA. She made it several times a week and always brought it to potlucks. Maybe she knew your Orly.

8:53 AM  
Blogger SingingOwl said...

This brought tears to my eyes.

I'm going to try the cake.

12:34 PM  
Blogger SingingOwl said...

Question: Would this be something that could be served at breakfast as a sort of coffee cake, or is it clearly a dessert?

12:36 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

this could be used as a breakfast/coffee cake or a dessert! enjoy and let me know how it turns out.

4:34 PM  
Blogger SingingOwl said...

I'm planning a series of breakfasts in my backyard for five or six women at a time. I am going to make little dishes of an egg entre (whatever you call the little casserole-looking dishes with groves in the sides--memory escapes me) and some sort of fruit salad and I was thinking muffins or something, and then here this appears and sounds easy and yummy.

5:47 PM  

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