Elvira saw her stomping up the walk in a tear. She turned away from the window and looked down at the sad-eyed redhead in the booth. “You wanted to see Sylvia Mathers,” she told her.
“Be careful what you wish for.” Elvira could hear Letta’s high-pitched voice from across the diner, greeting their boss and expressing careful surprise at the unexpected visit.
“Oh, shut up, Letta.” Sylvia threw her bag at Aggie, who had a smudge of dirt across her cheek and looked like she’d seen better mornings, and stalked over to Elvira. “You called me, Elvira?” And then she did a double-take at the redhead in the booth, sucking in a breath.
Elvira bit her cheek, studying the pair of them as they studied each other. “Yup. Petula here came in a while ago, asking for you. Sorry for the intrusion of your morning.”
Sylvia’s lips pursed into a thin, tight line. “Thank you for calling me.” Abruptly, she grabbed Elvira’s arm and dragged her away from the booth. “You didn’t, erm, tell anyone about this, did you?”
Elvira glanced over the boss’s shoulder where Letta was practically sitting on top of the counter, straining to hear every word. She didn’t have to look to know that the work and chatter in the kitchen had stopped either. She looked Sylvia in the eye. “Well, everyone here knows.” She shrugged as Sylvia turned pink in the gills. “It’s a small di- restaurant,” she continued. “In a small town. She your daughter or something, Sylvia?”
Sylvia narrowed her eyes into slits and then, like a snap of her fingers, an expression of pure sweetness crossed her face. “Do you have any of that wonderful sweet potato bread leftover from yesterday, Elvira?” she asked, her voice dripping with honey.
They stared at each other. Sylvia batted her eyelashes. Elvira considered the stack of bills on her kitchen table. “Yes,” Elvira replied. “Would you like a piece brought to the booth?”
“The table, yes.” Sylvia smiled and smoothed down her sophisticated do, fixing her cat-eyed gaze on the girl who watched them from the corner, the girl with her very eyes. “And then give us some privacy, would you, dear?”
A little respite from scary stories today- unless you find Sylvia mildly frightening. In my head, she’s a combination of Jane Fonda from Monster-in-Law and Miss Ouiser from Steel Magnolias (who knew that’s how you spell “Ouiser”? Is that a legit Southern name?).
Speaking of names, holy cats, you guys sent me some DOOZIES. I can write a whopper of a romance novel with characters like Adelynn, Penelope, Blanche, Beatrix, Hazel… The comment section started to look like a boarding house from the 1930s (which is where I’ve secretly always wanted to live- omg, you guys, you know me so well!) I promise to use them, they’re too good.
Nicole has been crazy busy with work and trips and wedding planning and I’ve been working until almost ten every night trying to get my (second!) novel done before Halloween- we both needed a recipe like this. Sweet, wholesome, bursting with fall flavors and comfort in every moist, delicious bite.
Sweet Potato Bread
From Mary E. Crain via AllRecipes
Yields: 1 9 x 5 inch loaf | Notes: Freezes well.
1 and 1/2 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 and 3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of ground nutmeg
1/3 cup of water
1 cup of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray your 9 x 5 standard loaf pan.
2. Combine sugar and oil, beat well.
3. Add eggs and beat.
4. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
5. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture alternately with water until just combined. Do not overstir.
6. Stir in sweet potatoes and chopped nuts.
7. Turn away from camera to lick bowl and spoon and possibly countertops. Weep that you are a monster.
8. Pour batter into loaf pan.
9. Bake for about 1 hour.
Topping Ideas: Try mini marshmallows or sprinkle some brown sugar on top with a bit of melted butter before baking. Serve with a smear of cream cheese or mascarpone.