It Might Be Your Grandmother’s Gooey Dessert, But It’s NOT Your Grandmother’s Hearing Loss

Hearing loss isn’t just for grandparents. You might not be an elder statesmen, but you could be losing a little hearing. Join the crowd – one in ten people have a hearing loss in the U.S.

  • Do you often think,  “I can hear but I can’t understand.”
  • Do you have trouble hearing on the phone?
  • Do you turn up the volume on the TV?
  • Do you say to yourself, “I’ll just stay in the kitchen and cook so I won’t have to talk to anyone!”

I hope I am not making you uncomfortable by asking these questions. (Quick, skip to the recipe!)

I write about the food that brings us together, but when someone is left out of the party, the family dinner, or the conversation because he or she can’t hear, that’s NOT hospitality. If you haven’t already, do something about your hearing loss today. The holidays are coming so don’t stay home or leave the party early! I love you and that’s why I am writing about this.

The Number One charitable organization in the world for people with hearing loss is HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America). I normally don’t ask for donations for charitable organizations on this blog, but this organization is a winner. Revlon has chosen HLAA for the LOVE IS ON 2016 MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE.

You have about 24 hours to make a tax-deductible contribution. Read more about HLAA and the Revlon Challenge. I’ve donated. If you think you have a hearing loss or know someone who does, you might want to as well. Click here and scroll to my photo. The LOVE IS ON! If you aren’t inclined to give (no amount is too small), just enjoy this easy recipe and peruse the blog. Thanks for reading.

Spread-the-Love Space Cake

(This is my grandmother’s gooey peanut-butter chocolate cake. Mabel Varner Space did not have a hearing loss that she admitted to, but her husband, my grandpa, sure did, as do the younger branches on the family tree!)


  • 1 box graham crackers
  • Bananas, about 3-5 depending on the size of the dish
  • Chocolate frosting, about 1-2 cups
  • Peanut butter, about 1 to 2 cups


Layer graham crackers in a baking pan. Slice bananas lengthwise and layer on top of graham crackers. Repeat the layers at least twice until you end with graham crackers. Frost the top with your favorite chocolate frosting mixed with peanut butter (about half and half). Cover tightly and let cake sit for at least 24 hours before eating it. It gets better with age and will hold in the refrigerator a few days after that.

[Photo by Cindy Dyer.]

End-of-Summer Blues

Labor Day is the hard stop of summer, even if the weather stays hot beyond that. There were a lot of blueberry pies this summer and this one was one of my favorite. Mark your summer’s end with something sweet.

This recipe combines both cooked and fresh fruit so the pie isn’t so “soupy.” The crust uses both butter and shortening. Too much flour and water will make the crust tough. Both the butter and shortening mixed with very cold water makes the crust flaky. I’ve experimented with coconut oil, vegetable all, it’s all good, but find the one you like. Making pie crust is an art – sometimes my “art” isn’t so fine, but this one came out like a winner. Just keep practicing.

Blueberry Pie, the Right Way

This recipe was inspired by Ronnie S. Benwick’s deep-dish blueberry pie. I appreciate her brilliance of using both cooked and fresh fruit. I might try the same approach with peaches. 

  • Single pie crust (recipe below), baked
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries, washed, separated into 3 cups to cook and 3 cups to add later
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Lime zest from 2 limes (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine 3 cups blueberries, lime juice, zest and water in a saucepan. Cook briefly over medium heat until the blueberries have “popped,” about 6 minutes.

Whisk together 5 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir into blueberry mixture and cook over medium heating, stirring constantly, until the consistency is like pudding. Remove from heat, add vanilla and gently stir in remaining 3 cups of blueberries. Pour into baked pie shell and chill for at least 3 hours. You can adjust fruit amount if you like.

Basic Pie Crust for Single-Crust Pie

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold right from fridge
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of ice cold water

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in chunks of butter and shortening until the shortening/butter are about the size of peas. You can use a fork, your fingers or pastry blender.

Sprinkle one tablespoon of water over part of the flour. tossing with a fork. Continue adding water, I tablespoon at a time, until moist. Gather dough in a ball, kneading gently. Roll crust out on a floured surface into about a 12-inch circle. Put into a 9-inch pie plate, crimp edges. Prick bottom and sides of crust with a fork. Line crust with foil and bake for 8 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 6-8 minutes more until golden brown. (Foil tip from Better Homes and Gardens.) Cool and fill with filling.

It’s Not the 1960s Anymore

By this time in 1969, I had consumed at least (at least!) 52 Sealtest ® Ice Cream Sandwiches at the local Clarion pool in the college town where I grew up. Clarion was sleepy in the summer because the college kids left and all the happenings were at the pool on Liberty Street or down at the river.

I remember those ice cream sandwiches from the vending machine – thick with ice cream, not like the skimpy ones today. Maybe when you’re a kid everything just seems bigger and better like the little house you grew up in.

I never deviated from that frozen treat, even though the lure of banana popsicles beckoned. I think I only sat out one week that summer when I had what mom called, “sun poisoning.” I looked like a lobster with bumps and the word “poisoning” scared me enough to stay home, but it killed me!

The pool closed down after that for several years on and off for repairs and I never really got back into going. I found books, bicycling and baking instead. Hang on to those good memories as you build new ones.

2016 Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pictured above is my brownie bar filled with Breyers® Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Cut the brownies into squares, freeze them. Take them out of the freezer and slice in half crosswise and top each half with your favorite flavor of ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt. Make little ice cream sandwiches and wrap each individually with plastic wrap. Make a ton and keep them in the freezer for when the kids come in looking for something good.

Cookies work well too. I used molasses cookies here. And, keep enjoying summer with all those food memories!

Susie-Infused Shrimp

Susie makes a succulent marinated shrimp and avocado salad. I’ve never met Susie but I couldn’t help but think about her yesterday when preparing this dish for a picnic.

Do you ever feel like you know someone just by hearing about her over many years? Susie is Nancy’s sister. I know she makes delicious and creative food. She’s pretty, fun and loves her family. She’s also a youngish grandmother who loves cuddling babies. I can picture the kind of clothes she wears because Nancy will often say, “My sister Susie could get away with wearing that! (And it’s always something stylish.) Susie also talks to the hummingbirds that linger on her feeders, “Hi sweetie…”

Now you know Susie like I know Susie. Enjoy one of her signature recipes.

Marinated Shrimp and Avocado

  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled, cooked and deveined
  • 2 small onions sliced (I used one bunch of green scallions)
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced
  • Lemon-Thyme Marinade (recipe below)
  • 2 avocados cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the shrimp, onions and mushrooms in a bowl. Toss lightly. Pour in the Lemon-Thyme Marinade and toss gently to coat. Chill covered in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Add avocado a few hours before serving. Drain the marinade and serve.

Lemon-Thyme Marinade

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I added some fresh thyme from my garden to the dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Whisk ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.

Yesterday’s Fresh Baked Goods

The boys coined the term and appreciate the oxymoron-ness of “yesterday’s fresh-baked goods.” For a few years, the Friday-night destination has been Giant Food where the rack in the back holds the day-old bakery bargains. They used to venture on their bikes, but now that they are 16 and can drive, it’s the car.

No matter the mode of transportation, the destination and the goal remains the same. They come home with bags, grins, and a sugary score. Pour some milk and the feast begins!

Kelley Hospitality has never been only about the food; it’s about the experience. Food brings us together. As our son says, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” (With a caveat from him, “Mom, don’t write that down, I didn’t make up that saying, someone else did.”)

Still Trending — Sprodkas

No, A Sprodka is not a Russian spacecraft.

Actually, Sprodkas have been trending for about 15 years now in the Kelley household and in select zip codes across the country. It started one day when my husband Bill mixed me a summertime cooler and dubbed it the “Sprodka.”

I’m putting it out — right here, right now. When it becomes a worldwide sensation recorded in mixology manuals, I want you to know it started in the Kelley house.

Wherever we go, coast to coast, people see us and say, “Sprodka time!”

Recipe for Sprodka

  • Vodka to taste
  • Sprite Zero*
  • Lime, squeezed with fruit left in the glass (plus any other fruit to make it pretty)
  • Ice

Serve it in a highball glass or anything that strikes your fancy.

*Bill’s variation, depending on the audience, is equal part Sprite Zero and diet tonic.

June 15th is JG Day

Johnny Garneau with KDKA-TV’s Jean Connelly in Pittsburgh, 1961

According to my food calendar June 15th is Lobster Day. But, it’s also the birth date of one curious inventor and food man, Johnny Garneau. He passed away in 2013 at age 90 but the legend lives on.

I’m sure you’ve seen it – a sneeze guard is that Plexiglass cover required by law to be over salad bars and buffets. My dad, Johnny Garneau, invented it.

Smithsonian Magazine was so fascinated with the genesis of the sneeze guard that reporter K. Annabelle Smith went digging even as far as contacting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An Internet search led her to me, the self-proclaimed Sneeze Guard Heiress.

Johnny Garneau was a dreamer, entrepreneur and entertainer, but most of all, a restaurant man. After the war (the big one, WWII), he sat on the bumper of his ’46 Chevy, slapped his hand on his knee and told my mom, “I’m going to start a restaurant!” And, by golly, he did! He opened The Beanery – with curb service and menu of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in 36 flavors. That was only the beginning.

Fast forward to late 1950s when the sneeze guard was born. A lot of the things we see and use daily were invented by someone who had the dream and the guts to take an idea to fruition. Read the article here from Smithsonian Magazine. Enjoy the story of the inventor and the images of one of our country’s greatest inventions.

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau's Smorgaboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau’s Smorgaboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA