Life is short, eat dessert first. This is something The Captain says at least twice, maybe three times a week. He loves desserts. Fortunately, his 6’4” frame can handle eating a few sweets more than once a week. One of my greatest pleasures is cooking for him, and although I’m not much of a baker, thanks to my Grandma Minkie, I’ve got a few meal topper treats in my recipe box.

So, for our first recipe of the blog, I think we should definitely start with dessert!

Every year at Christmas my Minkie would make the most AMAZING coconut cake. As she grew older, my mom took up the mixing bowl and started making the cake, which I now make for Christmas and Easter.

This cake has history.

I grew up in a small town in southeast Georgia. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is like a southern holiday meal, especially Christmas. Between the turkey and the ham, the sweet potatoes, the green beans, the deviled eggs, the dressing (no stuffing, thank you) and the assorted vegetables, pickles, and cheeses, it was almost impossible to have room for dessert. Almost.

However, waiting at the end of the meal, taunting me with its white flaky goodness and glistening sweetness, beckoning me with a sensual, alluring voice to save just enough room in my overstuffed belly, lest I suffer a terrible fate of not having the most amazing, succulent experience my taste buds could endure — the queen of all desserts, Minkie’s Coconut Cake. My mouth is quite literally watering with the memory.

This cake, this Parthenon of delicacies, is so delicious that when my Minkie asked me what I wanted for Christmas in 1983, I reverently whispered, “coconut cake.” My lips trembled; thinking that although I knew I was going to visit my family in Georgia, there was no way I would be able to get a coconut cake back to Fairbanks, Alaska, where I lived at the time.

How little did I appreciate my Minkie’s baking skills, and my father’s ability to pack a carry-on bag. After gorging myself on the sticky, gooey, plate-licking goodness, I begrudgingly shared with the rest of the family, I realized how very much I would miss leftovers the next few days, as I would soon be heading home.

After the obligatory group sleep following a feast, my Minkie, my beautiful, 80-year-old angel of a grandmother, presented me with the gift of my dreams, my very own coconut cake. Yes! It was mine, all MINE! Share? What’s this word, share? No, this glimmering concoction of sweet goodness was mine, and by gosh, I was going to enjoy it! Every last little crumb and white fluffy flake was mine to indulge in at my leisure. I would, oh but I would! But first, I must determine how to pack it and carry it back to my home, more than 3,500 miles away — Fairbanks.

Daddy to the rescue. Using an old satchel, not unlike an old doctor’s bag, but larger, he double, triple and quadruple wrapped my precious cake in tin foil. He then wrapped and wrapped it again several times in newspaper and packing tape. He gently placed it inside the bag, which I carried with me the entire way: a 50-mile drive to Savannah, Georgia, a two-hour flight to Atlanta, and if anyone has ever had to change planes in Atlanta, you’ll know of the hell I endured to get this cake home. I then flew from Atlanta to Seattle, and finally from Seattle to Fairbanks. A sum total of 20 hours traveling, including layovers. I held that cake so dear, my beautiful precious cargo, “No, I don’t want to check it, thank you, I can manage”. Upon arriving at Fairbanks, I delicately unpacked my beautiful cake, which arrived in pristine condition, placed it in the refrigerator, awaiting my delight the following day.

I remember sitting at the table, alone with my cake, cutting a sliver of a piece, so that I could prolong my ecstasy, and with that first bite, a vision of my Minkie, my mom and my dad all laughing at how tears filled my eyes with the knowledge of carrying that cake such a distance.

I did indeed share the cake with friends; after all, something so good, made with so much love, must be shared.

It is with this memory that I present to you the first recipe of “Meals with Midgi,” Minkie’s Coconut Cake.

Minkie’s Coconut Cake

1 box white cake mix (any brand)
1 large fresh coconut, grated (or a bag of unsweetened shredded)
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Prepare cake according to instructions, allow time to cool before frosting.

Reserve ¾ cup of grated coconut, then mix remaining coconut with other ingredients. Place in medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened. Cool slightly, spread between layers sprinkling a bit of grated coconut on top of filling on each layer. Spread over top and sides of cake, adding extra coconut on top.

You would think a cake this good, would have a whole lot more ingredients! In this case, less is definitely more!

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