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Remembering a popular TV home economist

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If you lived in the Piedmont area of the Carolinas or in the Richmond, Virginia area, you may recall a much-loved TV home economist named Betty Feezor. This remarkable lady hosted a popular homemaking show on Charlotte, NC's WBTV, weekdays at 1PM, from 1953 to 1977. Betty's show was live, except for the last ten of those years, when it went to videotape. When it went to videotape, the show ran on WBTV's sister station in Richmond, WWBT, weekday mornings at 9:30AM, on a one-week delay. During those years, Betty's show was filled with the best of homemaking advice, including cooking, sewing, crafts and gardening. She published three cookbooks of her recipes she showed on her show over the years. Though the books have been out of print for years, they still turn up on Ebay and in used book stores.

Betty was stricken with cancer in early 1977 and was forced to give up her show. During the last year of her life, she wrote her autobiography, in which she told all about her life on a personal and professional standpoint. Most importantly, she spoke of something very dear to her: her faith and relationship with God. Betty passed away on February 28, 1978 at the age of 53. She continues to be remembered even today. A scholarship has been established in her name for students who major in Consumer Sciences in college.

I had the good fortune recently of visiting the producer of Betty's show, Kathy (Fite) Croxton in her home in Gastonia, NC. She shared many wonderful memories of Betty and even some of Betty's recipes! So today, on the 36th anniversary of her death, I would like to pass along one of Betty's recipes. From what I've been told, the most popular recipes she gave were cake recipes! Therefore, in Betty's honor, let's make "Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake", a good, down-home recipe that came from one of her cookbooks!

This recipe is much like Betty herself was.....down to earth. This is a basic yellow layer cake and is iced with a caramel icing. Not an involved or complicated recipe, it's easy to make and quite inexpensive, too. The cake is made like most cakes are by creaming butter and sugar. Eggs are added, then dry ingredients are added with buttermilk, followed by baking soda and vinegar. The batter is turned into layer pans and baked. A luscious caramel icing goes between and on the cake. Though you don't have to, I like to make a double batch of the icing, since it's very good and compliments the cake so well.

You'll see in the icing that it uses an interesting ingredient: baking powder. Though I'm not completely sure why it's used, I would say it's used to contribute to the creaminess of the icing. While icing your cake, you may want to have some extra evaporated milk on standby, since the icing could thicken up as you go. Simply add some additional milk to the icing, stirring until it's smooth until the cake is iced. It's well worth your time!

And speaking of caramel icing, I did an article about homemade caramel icing sometime ago where I gave two good recipes for it. If you missed those, click on this link so you can get them again:

http://www.examiner.com/article/taking-the-fear-out-of-caramel-frosting

See for yourself why Betty was so popular with her recipes as you try this special cake!

OLD-FASHIONED CARAMEL CAKE

Yellow Cake Layers:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use cake flour)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue beating. Add the flour alternately with the buttermilk. Blend well. Stir in the baking soda which has been dissolved in the vinegar. Pour into two greased and floured layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until they test done. Remove from pans and cool. Frost with Caramel Icing:

Caramel Icing:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 box (1 lb.) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir to blend well. Add the milk and cook to the soft ball stage (drop a small amount in a cup of cold water. If it forms a soft ball, it's ready to be removed from the heat.) Let it stand for about five minutes, then add the baking powder. Beat until smooth and creamy.

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