This is a unique edition of “Guest Dishes” because it is a posthumous “Guest Dishes”.
Caroline and I grew up living next door to our grandmother who we (and everyone in our small town) called ‘Lala’, and across the street from Lala was her neighbor of over sixty years “Miss” Barbara. Lala and Miss Barbara lived in the same houses from the time they were young wives until they both moved to the same nursing home. My mom has fond memories of her first friends-Miss Barbara’s children, and Miss Barbara taking them to the Dairy Bar to get hamburgers and dance to the jukebox. Second sidenote: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my mother dance.
As we were growing up, it was commonplace to get a call from Miss Barbara because she had just made something delicious in the kitchen and wanted to share it with us. My personal favorite was her homemade bread.
Miss Barbara moved to the nursing home several years before Lala had to, but when Lala’s health declined and she could no longer stay at home, she moved to Greene Point Nursing Home and there waiting with open arms was her old neighbor, Miss Barbara. Miss Barbara helped make her feel welcome and comfortable and made sure that the nurses were taking good care of her. Miss Barbara and Lala would play BINGO for quarters in the lobby together every Friday and would have Bible studies in Miss Barbara’s room. As my mom once remarked, “It’s kind of like they are all back in college together.”
I was recently telling a friend about Lala and Miss Barbara and some of their friends (Lallie, Wilma and Louise to name a few), and my friend said, “Does your town just have like a sorority house of elderly women like A League of Their Own?” Not quite. But after thinking about it, it did sound unique. I had all these precious, yet strong Christian women who I had grown up around, but I never knew most of their husbands. They had passed away before I was born, so I grew up watching these women take care of each other, cook for each other, pray for each other, and love each other.
When hospice was called in for our dear Lala, Miss Barbara would wheel herself down to Lala’s room and sit with her. Lala was only physically present at this time, but it didn’t matter to Miss Barbara. She was there for her friend until the end. A picture to all of us of what it truly means to love well.
In early summer, Miss Barbara passed away, and I can only imagine the dinners that she has helped organize since entering the Pearly Gates. It would not be summer without Miss Barbara’s fruit dip (or fruit dressing), so we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to share it.
Miss Barbara’s Fruit Dressing
juice and rind of one lemon
1 cup of pineapple juice
1 cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
8 oz Cool Whip
Mix the flour into the sugar very well getting out all the lumps. Whisk in the salt.
Heat the lemon and pineapple juices and rind with the sugar mixture. Beat the eggs well with the sugar mixture. Beat the eggs well then whisk a little of the hot liquid into eggs constantly whisking vigorously as you add the liquid. (This raises the temperature of the eggs so that when you add them to the liquid you won’t get scrambled eggs). When the eggs are tempered, add them to the boiler with the liquids and sugar and stir over medium heat to thicken. (It won’t take long).
Remove from heat and cool. Refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, fold in about 1 cup of the Cool Whip. You can add more as necessary.
We love you, Miss Barbara. Thank you for making our lives better.