Left: Concetta Lovoy Kreps, at the Cullman County Museum, holds a "crazy quilt" coverlet owned by the J.P. Young family in 1866 in the Cullman area (Ben Johnson South); right: An illustration of a design by Cullman fashion designer Charles Kleibacker that Kreps said she would love to wear (Charles Kleibacker)
In this creative new weekly series, local author, artist and all-around entertaining and eccentric (not to mention classy!) Southern gentleman Ben Johnson South introduces Cullman Tribune readers to the creative thinkers and doers in the Cullman community.
“10 Things from a Tribune Tastemaker”
This week, meet Concetta Lovoy Kreps, textile guru
“One who sleeps under a handmade quilt is comforted by love.” That warm and warming sentiment is shared by TASTEMAKER, Concetta Lovoy Kreps, a fashion-savvy Cullmanite who has many remnants of fond memories of The Calico Shop and The Sewing Gallery, two Cullman textile treasure troves of by-gone days. Concetta recalls her excitement as a 6-year-old finding a bolt of “fake mink, I was certain was real” and her mother creating a splendid ensemble of mink-ish stole, muff and hat which Concetta wore with a red suit to midnight mass at Sacred Heart Church at Christmastime.
Concetta mentions both her grandmothers, accomplished seamstresses, as major influences on her lifelong love of textiles.
She said, “When I travel, I love to visit great fabric shops, and many times I’ve bought a yard or yards of something even though I didn’t have a sewing project in mind.”
She added, “If I buy it, the project will come.”
Concetta Lovoy Kreps is recognized as a superb quilter and generous-spirited baker.
Here are her “TEN TEXTILE THINGS FROM A TRIBUNE TASTEMAKER,” and fittingly, her favorite recipe for Red Velvet Cake with White Satin Icing:
- ORGANIC, NATURAL COTTON—fabric she wishes men and women added to their wardrobes
- STRIPED SILKS FROM INDIA—sumptuous and affordable
- HAND-DYED FABRICS and BATIKS—captivating her now
- LEATHER—favorite upholstery for vehicles
- COTTON BATH TOWELS—traditional, but always best
- ROMAN SILKS AND SATINS—This Italophile loves these lavish luxuries for fashion and home décor when in Rome.
- ALL-STEAK ORANGE ROLLS—favorite Cullman indulgence, “fresh from the oven in a cloth-covered basket”
- MOST-COVETED KLEIBACKER DESIGN—a black silk, Café Society dress accented with a bow (see Cullman designer’s vintage illustration)
- CAROLINA HERRARA, KAFFE FASSETT, PHILIP JACOBS—favorite textile designers
- MATERIAL—weird word people use instead of “fabric or textile”
Another passion for this Tribune TASTEMAKER is foreign-language, Western (cowboy and Indian) comic books. Think cowboy denim, chambray, leather and Native American beads, feathers, woven blankets and leather.
CONCETTA LOVOY KREPS’ RED VELVET CAKE with CULLMAN STRAWBERRIES & BLUEBERRIES
This cake is an Alabama tradition made with CULLMAN-GROWN fresh strawberries and blueberries. It can be made and chilled a day before serving. 12 servings.
2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour (sift, then measured)
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
SATIN FROSTING with berries
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 ½ pint baskets fresh, Cullman strawberries
3 ½ pint baskets fresh, Cullman blueberries
FOR CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 ½-inch-high-sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, lemon juice and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in four additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in three additions.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
FOR SATIN FROSTING: Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange one basket strawberries and ½ basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature one hour before serving.)
Concetta thanks Bon Appetit Magazine for this recipe she adapted.
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