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China, Mom & Pecan Bark

May 7, 2011

Demetria Capps-Murray (Spring, 2007)

Tomorrow, being Mother’s Day and all, I thought I’d share my mother with you.  A small tribute to a remarkable woman.  A self-taught, self-made, career woman who (in my humble opinion) most women can’t hold a candle to!  I know we all say this about our mothers, but mine is truly a remarkable woman in every way.  It was mostly in not teaching that she taught me to be a human being.

I have always marveled at my mother’s ability to turn boring white pieces of china into lovely visual delights.  In this picture Mum is designing (free-hand) a piece of china.  In the foreground are several half-finished mugs she is working on, as well.  Every time I pick up one of her finished pieces it is like holding a small treasure in my hands.  But, every piece she has ever made was made to be used and, as a family, we do enjoy using her beautifully painted pieces.

Mother was born in 1924 in rural Arkansas. She attended a one-room school-house for grades K-12 and received high marks.  She knew her bible scriptures by heart and developed a love of photography at an early age.  I think it was her finely honed skills as a photographer that developed her keen eye for design and colour so when she began in the mid 1970’s to learn the art of china painting she quickly picked up on proper shading, colour contrasts, etc.

Mother was a career woman.  A self-made woman who couldn’t boil a pot of water, truth be told but she could make you look like a real dream in a photograph and could sew an entire wardrobe without using a store-bought pattern.

In the mid 1980’s mother decided she might like to learn floral design, so she enrolled into a class, passed and being the career minded woman she was then decided not to let her ‘education’ go to waste by opening Bell Tower Florist in Mission Viejo, California.  She took the business out of the red in six months and kept it there until she sold it, at a huge profit, a few years later.

From her childhood, through the war (WWII) years into the twenty-first century she has had quite an interesting life.  Writing it all here would take several pages, so forgive me if I do not tell you about some of her more interesting and exciting adventures.  I’m not sure I’d have her permission, anyway!  Let’s just say:  She is one remarkable woman and let it go at that.

And, as this is a cooking blog I must give you some of her (more successful) recipes.  You can make these for your Mum on Mother’s Day, or any day, for that matter.


#1:  Pecan Bark


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 24 graham cracker squares


  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. line a 10×15 inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  3. Place graham-crackers on cookie sheet in one layer (24 should fit exactly)
  4. Sprinkle pecans over top of graham-crackers & set aside
  5. Melt butter and brown sugar, stir until it boils, continue to boil for one (1) minute only
  6. Evenly pour butter and brown sugar mixture over top of pecans and graham-crackers
  7. Bake for 10 minutes – remove & immediately put cookie sheet into freezer! and leave for one (1) hour
  8. Remove cookie sheet from freezer and break Pecan Bark into pieces

This candy needs no refrigeration or other special treatment.  You can leave it out in your candy dish to be enjoyed!

Another Mum recipe I can share with you (remember I wrote she was no cook? But, this is actually good too)


#2:  Mint Tea


  • 5 family sized tea bags
  • 12 sprigs mint
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 small cans orange juice
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 quart ginger ale


  1. Pour boiling water over tea bags and mint sprigs.
  2. Steep for 15 minutes.  Remove bags!
  3. Add sugar to hot tea and chill in refrigerator.
  4.  After tea is chilled add orange, fresh lemon and pineapple juices, stir.
  5. Add ginger ale just before serving (serve over ice)

Serves 8-10 glasses.


#3:  Azalea Punch


  • 4 cups cranberry juice
  • 4 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 large (2 liters) bottle ginger ale


  1. Mix and chill all ingredients except the ginger ale
  2. Before serving add 1 large (2 liters) ginger ale


#4:  One weird ice cream treat


  • ice cream sandwiches
  • cool whip
  • strawberries, sliced
  • blueberries (or other berry like blackberries or raspberries)
  • chopped pecan nuts (or sliced almonds)


Take ice cream sandwiches and put them into the bottom of an oblong container you can put into the freezer.  Top ice cream sandwiches with 1/2 of the berry mixture, then layer cool whip over the top of berries and repeat!! Sometimes mother makes this three layers (don’t ask, just please don’t ask me why).  Then top these two layers of ice cream sandwiches, berries and cool whip with nuts!  Freeze to death in the deep freeze,  Serve on a hot summer day with some tea.


See Mum isn’t exactly a cook extraordinaire but what she does make is really very good! Honest, it ’tis 🙂

  1. Thanks! Lovely to get comments (nice to know someone is actually reading this stuff, huh?)

  2. I love adding mint to my tea. Great tribute and recipes!

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