This is my grandma Maxine. The one on the right, in the pink. Technically she is my "step-grandmother," but nothing about her has ever felt "step" to me. I can say with great certainty that Maxine is one of the best cooks in our family, possibly the country, maybe even the world and/or entire universe. I am biased, of course...but seriously, it's true. Arriving at my grandparents' doorstep, two things were a certainty:  you'd be greeted with a warm welcome and you'd leave with a happy belly. Hash, Homemade chicken and noodles. And my personal favorite, Chocolate Sheet Cake.

I was lounging around in bed this morning listening to NPR (a favorite weekend past-time) and stumbled across this great story from Mo Rocca. Regretful over the passing of his grandmother, Rocca set out across the globe and into the kitchens of the truest culinary masters: grandparents. Along the way he learned as much about life and love as he did about cooking. Click here to listen to the story.

I promise this blog isn't always going to focus on grandparents, but coming off the heels of "Life, Death and a Dinner Table," it felt too timely not to share. Happy listening - and happy weekend!

ps: A little gift from my recipe stash to yours. This is one of those recipes that is deceptively simple. There are no glamorous ingredients. It reads like something off a pilgrim's grocery list. It doesn't even look that special when it's complete. But I can pretty much guarantee as soon as you life the fork to your mouth it will change your life, leaving you with a whole new appreciation for the wonders of baking. All other cakes will become instantly inferior. You may even be tempted to hide it from house guests so you don't have to share. Yes. It is THAT good.

Grandma Maxine's Chocolate Sheet Cake


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa (heaping!)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 whole eggs (beaten!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 1-3/4 stick butter
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa (heaping!)
  • 6 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound powdered sugar (minus 1/2 cup)

DIRECTIONS In your favorite mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add in cocoa. Stir together. Add boiling water, allowing mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour liquid mixture over flour mixture. Stir lightly to cool.

In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda and beaten eggs. Stir buttermilk mixture into chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, prepare the icing. Melt butter in a saucepan adding cocoa. Stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir. Pour over warm cake. Optional: garnish with pecans.

Slice cake into squares. Pour yourself a glass of milk. Eat and enjoy.