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Say What?

(by Natasha Lewis-Clark)

I was in our kitchen, in Fort Irwin, California, making a fabulous dinner, and talking on the phone with my sister Lakeesha at the same time. My daughter Tyra was three years old, and absolutely loved dressing up and presenting fashion shows for the whole house.

I was getting started on the strawberry topping for the cheesecake I was making for dessert, listening to my sister go on and on about this guy that she was dating. I heard my daughter ask me a question. I couldn’t quite make out the words, but what I thought I heard made me toss the strawberry sauce in the air. I heard my daughter yell, "Mommy, have you seen my pussy?”

I rushed down the hallway to her room, with my sister on the other end of the phone yelling, "Tash, what happened? What's going on?" Stopping at the door of my daughter’s room, with absolutely no idea what I was going to say, I saw Tyra holding a bunch of her purses and heard her actual question: "Mommy, have you seen my blue pursie?" Her purse—she was looking for her purse.

She couldn’t help but notice that I was slightly hysterical. "Mommy, what's wrong?” she asked. “Why are you breathing like that?"

“That's what you were asking me about—your purse?" I said.

“Yes, Mommy. What did you think I said?"

“Don’t worry about it,” I managed to say, finding the sought-after purse and immediately excusing myself from her room. Of course, my sister was cracking up on the phone because she was listening to everything that just happened. And once my heart stopped racing, I cracked up with her.

Nowadays, my teenage daughter doesn't remember too much of that story, but boy does she have a good laugh when I bring it up. My sister insists on having both of us on the phone, so we can all crack up together. And any time I see someone eating strawberry cheesecake, I close my eyes and I am back in 2004.


Natasha Lewis-Clark is a manager of T.J. Maxx in Las Vegas, Nevada; she is also an actress and mother of two children.

No-Nonsense Strawberry Cheesecake

cooking spray

2 c. finely crushed vanilla wafer cookies (about 55 cookies)

1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted

3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

3/4 c. sugar

3 eggs

1 c. whipping cream

2 T. flour

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. strawberry jam

2 T. confectioners sugar

3 c. (about 1 qt.) strawberries, sliced in half

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with foil to prevent leaking.

Spray pan with cooking spray.

Mis cookies and melted butter or margarine together.

Press on bottom and 1 inch up sides of pan.

Bake for 6 - 8 minutes, until set.

In electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy.

Gradually beat in sugar until smooth.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended.

On low speed, beat in whipping cream, flour, and vanilla until smooth.

Pour over crust.

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. The cheesecake should be set about 2 inches from the edge of the pan, but the center should jiggle slightly when moved.

Loosen edge of pan with knife or small metal spatula.

Turn oven off and let cheesecake remain in oven with door open about 30 minutes.

Remove to cooling rack for 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

Heat jam and confectioners sugar over low heat.

Add sliced strawberries.

Move cheesecake from pan to serving plate and arrange strawberries on top.


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