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I’m not big on fall. In fact as a child, I kind of dreaded it. School got harder in the fall. I anticipated winter mornings in plaid skirt and knee-highs, standing in assembly in frozen grass, wondering why God was punishing me. But worst of all was the yearly trip to cut firewood.
Starting as an infant, I was dragged out of my bed, dressed, and pushed into a truck long before sunrise, which is fairly inhuman when you’re not a morning person. We would drive out an hour outside of town to meet my grandparents at the exit, just a little after dawn. Then we would drive and drive until we were into the foothills of the Santa Ritas. We would find a place to park, and then my dad and grandpa would start cutting marked scrawny oak trees. If luck was with us, they would find good trees uphill. Usually luck wasn’t with us.
As a baby, they had me in a playpen. They joked every year that I cried whenever the sound of the chainsaws stopped. She was meant to do this, they said. I called it slave labor. They forced me to go all the way until I was in college. Then my grandpa would joke about flying me home just to help. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Some years it was hot, but you couldn’t remove your jeans or flannel shirt to get cool. Some years it was freezing, and you kept moving to get warm. Thankfully, I have repressed the memory of the year it snowed. There was the year of the baby mice, curled up tight in a nest. The year of the horny toads, spitting blood when you pressed on them. The year of the chiggers. God, that was a bad year.
There was only one good thing about cutting wood. It was lunch. The adults believed in getting done before lunch. If it was a bad season of only scrawny oak trees marked, then lunch was an hour rest or so.
My grandma made the most perfect submarine sandwiches. Each one specific to the person it was intended for. She made deviled eggs that were heavenly. She brought enough snacks and lemonade for an army. But the best part was Pink-Cocoa Cuplets for desert.
These are an excellent travel desert because there is no frosting and they are not messy. They get there name for the pink center from the Cocoa. Trust me, men and boys love them too, even if they’re pink. It’s been a couple of years since I had one. So I might have to make these soon.
Pink- Cocoa Cuplets
2 c flour
1 T cocoa
1 t salt
1 ¼ c sugar
¾ c shortening
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 c cold water
1cup semi-chocolate chips
½ c chopped nuts
Preheat oven 375.
Sift together the flower, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Add other dry ingredients slowly. Blend res of ingredients well. Line muffin tin with baking cups. Fill muffin cups. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.