When Paul and I first started dating, my walls were a mile high. But date after date, those walls began to slowly crumble. Then one afternoon when I was working, I got a text saying that he and his mom were nearby and they thought they’d drop in. This is every girl’s dream, except for the fact that I was completely unprepared. Now guys, you don’t get this. But girls, you totally know what I’m talking about.
Immediately my mind went in a thousand directions. Will she like me? Am I dressed nicely enough? Do I have anything in my teeth???? Then, I met her. As I walked down the steps and met Paul and his mom on the street, I was a bundle of nerves. But I was taken in immediately by her warm, gentle, welcoming smile. Then I was enveloped in her accepting, loving arms in a wonderfully warm hug. She was/is everything you would love to have in a mother-in-law.
After meeting Karen, “Nana”, Darga I fell even more in love with Paul. I asked him, ever so subtly and in my coolest/calmest voice, “So, what did your mom think of meeting me?” His response was so un-phased and non-chalant. “She thought you were cool.” I was bowled over by his forthcoming description of our meeting (sarcasm implied).
Despite his ever-so-cool response, those walls that were slowly crumbling, completely shattered and fell to the ground. Any woman who could raise such a lovely son who wore his heart on his sleeve, and so casually introduced her to the girl he’s dating, is someone worthy of complete respect.
There is a reason I’m sharing all of this. A little while after meeting Karen, she invited us to dinner at her house. She and Joe, Paul’s dad, could not have been more welcoming. I was incredibly nervous, yet they made me at home.
Now, this is why I’m telling this story. For dessert that night, Karen made German apple cake. This simple, home-made dessert personified her warmth to a tee. When diving into the lovely cake, I was once again wrapped up in her sweet, loving arms.
Tonight, we hosted my little brother (I say “little” but he is in fact 6’1″ and 36 years old) and his beautiful wife, Stephanie, and our scrumptious niece, Audbrey, for dinner. I decided on the most simplest of meals: grilled halibut, roasted veggies, arugula/pomegranate/walnut salad, and french fries (care of Kettle Chips). I’m all about assisted ease, and Kettle Chips has a delicious salt and pepper frozen french fry that is fabulous. All of this was rounded out by “Nana Darga’s” German apple cake.
So “Nana” gave me the very simple recipe and if I had followed it as I should, it would have turned out beautifully. However, my far too confident self decided that I should bake the batter in a bunt cake pan. Do NOT follow my lead. This is a cake that should be baked in a 9×13″ pan, and basically should not be messed with in any way shape or form. I made the mistake of thinking I could change the way in which this cake is baked. I got cocky, don’t do it. My cake completely fell apart, but was salvaged by cementing it together with the icing. In other words, just follow the recipe. Nana doubles the icing recipe, which is a good idea. I would also chop the apples into smaller pieces as opposed to slicing them. Other than that this is simple, rustic, delicious dessert that would go beautifully with any dining experience.
German Apple Cake (care of Karen “Nana” Darga)
INGREDIENTS and DIRECTIONS:
1 cup oil, 2 eggs (beat until foamy)
Add: 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups white sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup chopped walnuts (batter will be stiff)
Stir in by hand 4 medium to large green apples peeled and sliced like for an apple pie. Bake in 9 x 13 inch greased pan 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, until tooth pick comes out clean.
While hot, add icing (Karen doubles recipe below)
1 3 of pkg creamed cheese – softened, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tbs soft butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Hosting our dinner with my brother and his adorable family…