Strawberry-cream cheese cake

We decided our 11-year-old kiddo, Jack, is old enough to earn his first allowance this summer (the key word being “earn.”) When I was Jack’s age my parents would give me $5 a week to babysit my little brother, try to keep up with the dishes and ironing and generally keep the house picked up.

I mainly just read books, but the money was nice.

Jack earns more per week than I did in 1989 (inflation) and doesn’t have a younger sibling to take care of. But there are two pups, one of whom is about 98 years old in dog years and blind, which I think might actually be more work. I don’t recall having to remind my 4-year-old brother to go outside and pee every two hours.

I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I just don’t recall it.

Jack also cooks his own lunch every day, and helps with the dishes, picking up around the house, etc.

The responsibility – and cold, hard cash – have given Jack an instant maturity boost. Not only does he do his designated duties without complaint, but he also volunteers to do other tasks, commenting, “I can help with that because I should be earning my allowance.” He makes more of his own meals even when we’re home, helps gather and sort the laundry and – get this – comes to tuck me into bed most evenings to make sure I’m getting enough sleep, and then chides me if I’m still playing on my phone 15 minutes later.

He also asked recently if he could try more new foods. I was baking this strawberry cake one afternoon because I was hungry for something cheesecake-like without the extra work (or trip to the store). This cake owes its moist, tender texture to the cornstarch and yogurt, and has a very pronounced cream cheese flavor in the very best cheesecake-y kind of way.

Normally one to turn up his nose at anything new, Jack said, “Hey, can I try a piece of that when it’s done? I’d like to get better about trying new foods, and I do love strawberries.”

Help around the house AND an open mind toward new foods? That allowance is a bargain.

For the recipe, please subscribe to the Banner's online or print edition.