My love affair with food started at a young age, thanks to an amazingly innovative and original family. I came from a family of foodies who were so ahead of their time, they were sustainable, organic and local, way before it was “trendy,” or good for the environment. They shopped at Farmers’ Markets before there were Farmers’ Markets. raising their own produce and chickens before Martha Stewart showed them how, and explored ingredients of the world way before Food Network took them on televisions journeys.
My family turned every life event into a celebration and barely a week went by when there wasn’t a Sunday afternoon supper, with fresh ingredients, new recipes or new accomplishments. I grew up in a joyful conglomeration of people who enjoyed life, relished the nurturing act of cooking, eating, and breaking bread together. And most of these fiestas ended with my Mother’s cheesecake.
This cheesecake is truly a slice of heaven. It is a dense New York style cheesecake with a gooey, buttery graham cracker crust and a creamy, cheesy, lemony center. You see my “family” transplanted themselves from New Jersey to California. My Mom moved with 7 of her closest friends to California, traveling cross country via car, while pregnant with me. I was raised by this group of people, who although they didn’t share blood, they shared laughter, they shared love, and they shared food. This cheesecake always brought them home, back to their childhoods in New Jersey and New York. This cheesecake always brought out the old stories of their high school adventures, their old friends and their family dinners when they were kids.
I have carried on this cheesecake tradition, making this cheesecake for family and friends to celebrate those momentous events in our lives. I have used this cheesecake as a comfort food, a conversation piece, and as reminder of my childhood and the incredible love I was surrounded by. To me, there is no greater love than the act of cooking for others. It is my way of demonstrating how much I care. Nurturing those people who are important in my life, and taking care of the heart as well as the soul. I can only hope that someday I will have a family of my own to pass on this cheesecake tradition.
I wish I could tell you the origin of this cheesecake recipe, but it has just been around for as long as I can remember. So feel free to claim it as yours, put your own spin on the ingredients and bring it into your family.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 T brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 T butter, melted
3 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups dairy sour cream
1 cup whipping cream
2T lemon juice
2 T grated lemon rind
½ tsp vanilla
- Make crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Blend in melted butter. Press evenly over bottom and sides of a buttered 9” spring form pan. Set pan in a piece of aluminum foil and fold up around the sides to catch any butter that may leak out as the cake bakes. Chill.
- To make the filling: in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after adding each. Beat in remaining ingredients and pour into prepared crust.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Turn the heat off and let the cake remain in the oven with the door closed for another hour. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.
As a child I remember my Mom baking this cheesecake and always telling me not to jump because the cheesecake would fall. Now I don’t know if that was just her way of trying to keep me still since I was definitely one of those full of life kids, or if there is some truth to it. So my advice is to stay away from jumping while you bake your cheesecake. Enjoy!
Danah Palmer is a 911 Police/Fire Dispatcher by day and a culinary school student/food blogger by night. She loves to experience new foods and wines in her own kitchen and in the kitchen of others. She enjoys the stories, random facts and sharing of knowledge related to ingredients, cooking techniques and experiences. Danah is not only a chef she is a story teller and she truly enjoys writing about her food/wine “stories.” Her blog and web page can be found at www.foodwinejourney.com or http://foodwinelover.blogspot.com and also on Facebook.