Family recipes, handed down from generation to generation on scraps or paper with frayed edges, yellowed index cards or, now, even through text message, are served with love in order to reminisce, prompt conversation, curb growling bellies or enhance memories of family members and days gone by.

Last week, I resurrected Great Grandma Bette Carroll’s cinnamon roll recipe. This week, I’m gathering ingredients to attempt my grandmother Jean Lees’s sour cream chocolate cake. From what information I’ve gathered from my aunt, Deb Holtorf — who also makes this family-famous cake — it likely isn’t a recipe concocted from her own trials and tribulations in the kitchen.

Some time shortly after attending Radcliffe College, my great grandmother Edith Berrell Fettretch Marsh insisted Gram attend Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery. Fannie Farmer, who “changed the way Americans prepare food by advocating the use of standardized measurements in recipes,” didn’t do much for my Gram’s cooking skills. Remind me to tell you about the near-raw Thanksgiving turkey we had one year.

But the cake recipe is one I will treasure. The cake, of course, is topped with an ever so slightly tangy sour cream vanilla frosting. It’s a cake that has taken center stage at birthday parties and made its way to many a potluck over the past 85 or so years.

After three years, Ed Sussman and Dana Nunes have ventured ‘round the world to their beloved New Zealand. Just as they’ve done before, they’ve rented a van and are meandering for the winter to wherever the roads may lead them. From what I understand, they’ve already bumped into a Vineyard connection. Dana picked up on an American accent, struck up a conversation and low and behold it was Ted Wise, a former manager of the MV Youth Hostel from 20 years ago.

Congratulations to Quinlan Slavin, son of Dardy and Sean, who, along with his partner Owen Kiernan, took the big win at the MVRHS Science and Engineering Fair. Not only did they take home the Physics Award for their computerized control system, but they also earned the title of overall winners.

Mark, Suzanne, Isla, Mila and Sam Fairstein have returned from a much-needed getaway to Puerto Rico. All are settled back in to day to day life, happily reflecting on their brief but joyous adventure.

Sarah and Spider Andresen claim the title of grandparents once again with the arrival of Maya Rose Andresen who was born at home to Kelly Keen and Tyler on Jan. 12. This spectacular little human will be doted on and well cared for by big sister Violet and big brother Casey. I look forward to laying eyes on her when they venture to Menemsha Harbor. Just an aside: Spider is already smitten and has texted me a picture of his newest love.

Many of you know Jessica Mason. You may have connected with her in one capacity or another or many. You may know her as mom to Chilmark School kids Luca, Anders and Estelle. You may know her as the daughter of Joan and Jim Malkin. She’s the creator and voice of Island Eats, the reusable take-out container program. She also sits on the Chilmark School’s advisory council and heralds the way for a more equitable and resilient economy through Start.Coop.

About 10 years ago, Jessica was diagnosed with IGA Necropathy, a form of chronic kidney disease. Since her diagnosis, she has been living a pretty normal life full of family, adventure, laughter and love. But over the past month, her kidneys have really begun to fail and she is in need of a transplant.

Some of you may think “Why are you putting such personal information out there?” Jessica is strong and vocal and a true advocate for herself. She has just released a Vimeo video sharing her story. She asks that we all share her video, her story and take a moment to consider becoming a living donor. Let’s all shout out “You’ve got this, Jessica!” and help cast her net far and wide. The video is available on