What does a gardener do for recreation when she can’t dig, plant and prune?

She roots deep into her spice cabinet for ingredients. She measures, blends, and bakes until the earth thaws.

For instance, Regina’s Apple Cake that found my recipe box in October 1980 on Algonac Street in Detroit. The 13”x9” pan served my family of five with leftovers.

In my opinion, my late friend’s dessert is the most delicious way to use four to five unpeeled Honeycrisps. I prefer the flavors of walnuts and apples baked in a substantial dough and topped with whipped cream any day to a slice of apple pie.

This in mind, I baked Regina’s legacy dessert for my Bible study group. While the batter rose and blushed golden brown in the oven, I followed my newfound Toffee Squares directions a friend posted online as her “mother’s favorite cookie.”

The dark brown sugar shortbread and melted Hershey milk chocolate bar topping sprinkled with chopped pecans tempted my palate. I sampled a warm, buttery, chocolate Toffee Square. M-m-m. Then another. Oh yes, this cookie deserves its fame and place in my kitchen.

Now, it’s not common for me to bake two desserts in one day, or week, even when snowbound. Yet, I’ve no winter days to waste submitting to dietary precautions. April’s around the corner. I’ll soon resurrect my trowel, shovel, and secateurs.

True to a woman’s infatuation with chocolate, l returned home from my study group with more cake than cookies. My husband and I consumed the few Toffee Squares while several servings of cake waited in the freezer.

Days later, my friend who hosts our Bible lesson said, “I filled up on Toffee Squares last week and didn’t taste that beautiful cake. Would you mind baking another one for our last class?”

What does a gardener who can’t dig, plant and prune do for a good friend?

She scoops flour and slices apples.

This time I remembered to whip equal parts heavy cream and cream cheese with two tablespoons confectionary sugar and one teaspoon vanilla extract.

With chocolate competition eliminated, we ladies served ourselves a double portion of cake crowned with a healthy dollop of cream sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

You see, these frigid months when I adjust my glasses to better read my scribbling, I recreate my mother standing before her kitchen counter.

A lover of everything dairy, Mom would’ve never forgotten the whipped cream for Regina’s recipe. And my aforementioned sentiment about apple pie would’ve rankled her rolling pin.

Year round Mom produced every pie imaginable. She stirred a mountain of cakes with her spatula. Her banana cake with buttercream frosting is one of my favorites.

My mother found great pleasure in placing another pie, cake, pudding, or brownie variation on her table when we visited her for summer vacation. She would’ve loved Toffee Squares.

Dear Reader, what did a gardener do for her mother who preferred to bake than dig, plant and prune?

She found her mother’s trowel, shovel and secateurs.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.