Cheese + Cake = Happy

Today, I want to tell you about two things that increase my level of happiness:

good friends and good food!

friends face problems together

photo from groundreport.com

There is a precious lady who has been one of my best friends since I bumped into her during my first hour as a college student.  She was walking down the sidewalk and saw me talking to my parents as they were about to leave.  Being a kind soul, she introduced herself and invited me to go with her and her friends.

Imagine my poor parents releasing their little bird from the nest as their daughter ventures off into semi-adulthood.  They bring me to the campus, help me lug 800 pounds of clothing and supplies up to the ninth floor of the dorm.  With a wistful look of love in their eyes, they give me a final hug goodbye and prepare to drive back home without their “little girl.”

What do these sweet people receive in return?  A glimpse of the back of their daughter’s head as I skip away, calling over my shoulder, “I love you.  See you later.  I’m going with them–bye!”

A couple of weekends later, I even stayed at my new friend’s house, rather than going home to my parents.  I suppose I was merely enjoying being able to spread my wings a little.

(Wow…I dread when that day comes for me and my precious daughter!  It will be here all too soon…)

So begins a story of true friendship spanning over twenty years.  One thing I quickly discovered about my friend is that she and her mother are great cooks, which brings me to the second source of happiness I mentioned:  food!

a rainbow of foods: strawberries, oranges, popcorn, peas, and berries

The only problem with my friend’s cooking talent is that I had trouble duplicating a few of her delicious dishes.  Why?  She rarely measures ingredients!  Aaah!  (At that point in my life, a recipe was required for me to prepare anything other than hot dogs or frozen pizza. Lol.)

One of our favorite things to enjoy–when we were young and skinny and could eat like hogs without expanding until we looked like hogs–was her homemade cheesecake.  After several failed attempts to recreate the delicious dessert, I made her sit down with me to write out a recipe.

Here’s what I got:  “Well, you need three packages of cream cheese, some sour cream, some eggs, some sugar, and a little vanilla…Then it’s just graham crackers and butter for the crust.”  This did not precisely fit my definition of a “recipe.”

Through mild interrogation of my friend and further experimentation on my own, I developed a very close facsimile of her delicious cheesecake which I am glad to share with you.  May it bring as much joy and delight to your palate as it has to me and my family over the years!

In my special, handmade recipe book, I have this dessert titled as “Cheesecake.”  That’s rather boring and doesn’t do justice to the high quality of the dish, so how about this:

“Oh-How-I-Wish-I-Could-Eat-the-Whole-Thing-Right-Now!  New-York-Style  Cheesecake”

CRUST:
1 1/2 – 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 – 6 Tbs. melted butter

Mix both together & press into bottom of a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish.

FILLING:
3 (8oz.) packages cream cheese (softened)
8-16 oz. sour cream
2-3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt (don’t add this if your butter is salted)

Beat filling ingredients until creamy (about 3 minutes) and pour into baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, then turn off oven (don’t open the door!) & leave cheesecake in oven for one hour (this lets it finish cooking without cracking or drying out around the edges).  It is done when a toothpick comes out clean in center of cheesecake.

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