The Cake…

“Can I please have another piece?” the little girl with the long blonde hair asked her mother. Looking at her daughters big blue eyes the mother gave in. “Just one more” she said as she carefully handed the little girl another piece of the cake she had made earlier in the day. Happily the little girl skipped out the door with her treasure. Arriving to her destination at the side of the house, just past the bird house, the little girl carefully peeled the icing off the cake, and in one swift movement lifted her hand and threw the cake over the bank. Sitting down she savored what was left – the sweet goodness of the fudge icing.

For as long as I can remember my mother made the same cake every year for my dad’s birthday. A very dense spice cake loaded with raisins, with a brown sugar fudge icing. If one was very careful they could lift the icing from the cake in one whole piece. I perfected that art of icing lifting! Over the years I learned to like the cake, but would still lift the icing and set it to one side, to savor, when the cake part was done.

Through the years I would often phone my mother for this recipe or that recipe, but somehow I never asked for the recipe for this cake. It was her cake. The one she always made for my dad’s birthday – the one I thought she would always make for his birthday. Then she was gone, and there was no one to make the cake, and I just could not bear the thought of my dad not having his cake on his birthday. It was tradition, it just was the way things were supposed to be. I had to make it happen. For him, for her, for me, for all of us.

I tried to think of an easy way to ask my dad for the recipe but he must have been thinking about that cake as well, for when we were over visiting him he told me he had found her recipe for ‘the’ cake, he was just not sure about the icing. We flipped through some of the cook books, and I told him what I remembered of the icing. Then the last time we were over visiting he handed me the recipe all typed out. Looking it over it sounded right. I was set!

Yesterday was cake day.

I checked to make sure I had all the ingredients, which I did, and so I set to work.
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cup water
1/3 cup margarine
2/3 cup raisins
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
Boil the above mixture for 3 – 5 minutes. Then cool.

I carefully measured each ingredient into the pot making sure I did not skimp or over estimate anything. As I stirred the mixture waiting for it to boil, I thought of my mom and the many times she had made this very cake. How she had laughed when I first confessed to her that as a little girl I would eat the icing and throw the cake part over the bank. She told me she thought it was funny that I would never eat cooked raisins in anything but this cake. I heard the echo of her voice saying “Would you like to come over for Dad’s birthday – I will make him his cake” … Boil for 3 – 5 minutes? Which is it, 3 or 5? I picked 4, figuring that was a safe spot in-between. I pulled the pot off of the burner and set it aside to cool.

Next step.

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp soda
2 tsp. water

Mix these together, then add to the boiled mixture. Gradually add 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Beat until smooth. Bake in a greased and floured pan for 50 minutes at 325 F.

“Funny how this cake is made on top of the stove, just like Aunt Betty’s chocolate cake” I thought to myself. “It was different back in those days I thought to myself, they probably didn’t have the many bowls that the kitchens of today have, so they just did it all in a pot – saves dirtying so many dishes”

“This mixture is really thick” I thought to myself as I spooned it into the prepared pan. “Must be why it is such a dense cake. “

Bake for 50 minutes – ok, I will set the timer for 40 minutes and check it, then give it the extra 10 minutes if it needs it.

While the cake was baking I gathered the ingredients for the best part – the icing! I also did a bit of tidying up in other parts of the house, in preparation for the company that would be here the next day. ‘Ding, ding, ding’ – it was time to check the cake. I pulled it out of the oven — ack… why is it so dark around the edges?!?!?! “It is ok I said to myself, it is only the edges…. Ok and maybe a few raisins on top are a bit dark… but it is fine I am sure. So I set the cake to cool and finished with my tidying.

Back in the kitchen… Icing time!

2 cups light brown sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk
½ cup water
1 tbsp butter
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt.

Combine sugar, milk, water, butter, and salt.

Bring to boiling point and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring until mixture reaches the soft ball stage. Cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla. Beat vigorously until creamy and stiff enough to spread.

As I stirred the above mixture waiting for it to come to a boil, flashes of different scenes of years past, presented themselves to me. Bitter sweet memories.

Finally the mixture started to boil, and I inserted the candy thermometer. “Don’t let it touch the side of the pot”, I hear my mother’s voice. Slowly, ever so slowly I watched the blue line move up – close now, very close. Wait for it…. Softball! Take the pot off the burner and set to cool for a little bit.

Lukewarm — so start the beating process – 5 minutes, 10 minutes still beating – 20 minutes still beating – nothing , it is doing nothing! What to do, what to do, what to do…. Almost panic

Back on the stove – softball again – cool to lukewarm – start the beating again – 10 minutes, 15 minutes, ok my arm is about to fall off… it is thicker this time though – I bet it will set up more if I just put it on the cake.

On the cake it goes – ok looking good.

So I walk away from the kitchen and putter some more in the house. I happen back in the kitchen, look at the cake … the icing as all drifted off of the cake to the edges — get a spoon and spoon the icing back to the top of the cake… and so the night went. Every 15 minutes or so I would go back into the kitchen and push the icing back onto the cake. Shaking my head each time.

Fast forward to this morning.

The icing is mostly still on the top of the cake with only a few bald patches showing, which I cover with icing that has slipped to the side….

I could go one of three ways here.

Throw it out, and start again – which would mean going to town for more ingredients – with no guarantees the second attempt would work out any better.

Make a totally different cake – one that I know would turn out, and start a whole new tradition

Leave it be – serve it up with the story of the cake – have a good laugh – salute my mom for her cake making abilities – enjoy the evening and watch as everyone pretends to enjoy the cake. Laugh some more, and pull out my backup. (Cinnamon Buns)

It took my mom 53 years to perfect this cake. Why should it take me any less? I think I will head to the kitchen now, and make cinnamon buns! I will attempt this cake again – next year.

Happy Birthday Dad!

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Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 9:03 am  Comments (7)  

A time to let go, a time to reclaim…

As I sat in a room full of ghosts, watching as the raindrops fell outside the window – I felt the raindrops falling on my heart as if washing it clean of the sorrow hidden deep within. Not only was the wind outside moving the branches of the nearby tree, but she was also wrapping her tentacles of freedom around my being.

It was time to let go, and a time to reclaim.

Do you feel it to?

Published in: on January 2, 2010 at 10:11 am  Comments (2)  

365 Grains of Sand…

As I fell asleep last night my hand opened to reveal 365 worn grains of sand – each like an empty package, with ribbon and bows strewn about… each grain of sand, like a day in the past year, tiny in comparison to the full scheme of things.

As my body relaxed and drifted into a much needed slumber, my fingers fell open, allowing the grains of sand to fall through my fingers – landing deep within my memory, where they will be stored.

Many will remain on the memory shelf untouched, never be seen again, and others will be pulled off of the memory shelf , to be examined and experienced again when needed…

This morning when I awoke my hand was filled with 365 new grains of sand, all neatly in place, still wrapped in shiny paper, adorned with ribbon and bows – each grain of sand representative of the days to come. Each to be opened one at a time, every 24 hours.

The contents within each is a hidden mystery only to be seen when the time is here.

Today I will put the yesterday’s to rest… and move in to the tomorrow’s.

Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 6:58 am  Comments (7)  

Today I will just be…

pinksun 002a

I have decided to take today for me – to walk through the memories, to explore events of the past few weeks – today I will embrace the silence, today I will write….

Fight – Fight – Fight whispered words that echo through my mind – whispered words I whispered in my mom’s ear from miles away. She fought, and she won – she came through surgery – I was relieved – I slept… she was tired, she could not fight any longer she let go…

For the first time since that day not so long ago I am alone in the house with no chore needing to be done, no detail needing to be looked after, no plans to make, no arrangements to look after – today I will just be .

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 8:37 am  Comments (6)  

The story of pink…

1949 carnation pink


Mom often told the story of how when she was very young she received a box of crayons, and in this box of crayons was the most beautiful pink crayon she had ever seen. Something she had never seen before. Mom treasured this crayon and used it sparingly to make it last as long as she could. It was from this moment that pink became mom’s favorite color. Mom would have been about 11 when she recieved that box of crayons.


(Note: the pink carnation crayon color is much brighter today than when it was first introduced in 1949 – the picture above is the original version, and it came in a box of 64 crayons. It is said that Piggy Pink of today is very close to the original carnation pink color)

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 9:17 am  Comments (1)  

In Support of Purple Day

Have you ever felt alone in the world – with no one to lean on, no one who really understands?

I know of a little 10 year old girl that felt this way, but instead of staying silent, she is speaking out in hope of making a difference in this world, hoping to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Please take a minute to read about Purple day and Cassidy – you can find the purple day site at: http://www.purpleday.org/

Also you can show your support for Purple day and Cassidy, by posting your own Purple Day post on your blog, sharing the Purple Day site with your friends and family, by posting to twitter, facebook and anywhere else you think you can reach out to even just one person.

Cassidy is also a guest blogger this week on Perspectives located at: http://blogs.drgreene.com/perspectives/ . Please take a moment to visit her over there and show your support. 

On March 26th I am going to be wearing purple to support Epilepsy awareness, Purple Day and Cassidy. What about you?

DSC_0493

Please let me know if you post to your blog, twitter, facebook or even just have a ‘purple’ picture to share so I can spot you on Sightings!

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 5:40 pm  Comments (5)