Old friend shares secrets to senior living, cake recipes

features@beaufortgazette.comMay 28, 2014 

I had no idea where I was headed, even though I was the driver. Bettie Briggman had planned this secret afternoon visit in Columbia for me, and she only told me which way to go. I noticed we were leaving the neighborhoods I knew and headed toward where Taylor Street becomes Forest Drive.

Then, among the trees, appeared Forest Pines Independent Senior Living. When we went inside, we sat with Arline Minns, a 98-year-old friend who was "looking well and feeling great," as she would say.

I met this spry lady many years ago. A lover of people and travel, she would keep a list of places to visit, plays to see and things to do. Visiting with Minns showed me how one can adjust as time brings on changes.

She had reached the age where she could no longer live alone. A widow with one child who has more health problems than her mom, Minns needed a place to live where she could still enjoy the company of her friends and be as active as she would desire.

She is surrounded in her living quarters with the furniture she chose to bring -- the rest was given to friends and neighbors.

"I enjoyed all that I owned, and now that my lifestyle has changed, I am enjoying other things. It is a growth process," she said.

Along with the furniture, she brought photographs that tell a bit of her life story. Minns grew up in a time when girls were enrolled in home economics, and taught how to cook and sew in school. She was a seamstress, like her mother. Her mother would cut out patterns from newspaper, but Minns came along during the age of patterns.

My friend remains very active. She's a member of a line- dancing group and dances with them as much as she can, using her cane for balance. Living in the retirement living facility does not mean that she is housebound -- it means less things to plan and more time to enjoy things that are planned.

As we chatted, Minns talked about her days of making cakes and how much she enjoyed sharing her baking. Today, I share her cake recipes.

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition.


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cocoa

1 1/4 cups shortening

2 cups sugar

4 whole eggs

1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease and flour a cake pan.

Sift together flour, baking power, salt and cocoa. In a separate bowl, mix shortening, sugar and eggs. Beat at a high speed for 2 1/2 minutes. Mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, until mixed well, about 2 1/2 minutes. Pour mixture into cake pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes, then turn up to 300 degrees and bake for 35 minutes more.

Source: Arline Minns


2 cups self-rising flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

3 eggs

3 small jars strained prunes (baby food)

1 cup oil

1 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan.

Mix the dry ingredients. Beat in the eggs, prunes and oil. Add nuts. Pour mixture into tube pan. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan. Flavor improves if stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Source: Arline Minns


Makes: 2 cakes

2 cups light brown sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake plans.

Mix brown sugar, flour, salt, and shortening until crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture for crumb topping.

Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Add to flour mixture. Add remaining ingredients, except pecans, and pour batter into pans.

Add chopped pecans to the reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle this on top of cakes. Bake for 30 minutes.

Source: Arline Minns


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