Grandma’s busy day cake

I love chocolate! It calls my name. It just made me sneak chocolate chips out of the cupboard because I said it’s name. The power of it is undeniable and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t care how it comes, give me some!

Drizzled, frosted, melted, solid, whipped, the options are endless and all delicious

There are very few recipes that were handed down by my grandmother, mainly because she didn’t write any of them down she just tossed the ingredients in a bowl and baked it. I remember staying with her and thinking this was going to be the perfect opportunity to watch and learn how she baked such wonderful cakes. I went and purchased all the groceries that I figured one needs to make a cake. Including buttermilk, as my mom had told me that was the secret ingredient to a moist fluffy cake.

After lunch I put them all on the counter and said to my sweet amazing grandma, ‘how about we make a cake today?’ What a lovely idea, was her response and so I got excited with my pen and paper nearby to take notes as she walked me through making a cake from scratch. She came in to the kitchen and sat in her big soft reclining chair and said ‘its so nice someone is going to make me a cake’.

Wait, what? Never in my life had I seen her use a recipe or even seen a recipe in her house. Panic set in, I don’t know what I am doing? Up until this particular day I had only made cakes from a box! I thought you would help me grandma was my response. You don’t need help dear it’s just a cake, says the woman who invented baking in my mind. Of course she could do it blindfolded and it would come out fantastic and tasty. I had to produce a cake because
1. I told her there would be cake and
2. I have a counter full of ingredients

Baking survival mode kicked in, ask questions as you go became my plan. How much flour would you normally use grandma. Not kidding her response was, depends how big of a cake, a cup maybe two….

Huh, ok this is going to be trickier than I thought. Must decide what size cake I am making. Next question, anything else I should add to the flour? Maybe some spice, I am 17 at this time and know she doesn’t mean paprika and garlic but which spice, how much of each, I don’t even know what I put in. Sprinkle of this sprinkle of that were her suggestions. Do you beat the eggs first I ask. oh no I just put them in the bowl. Which bowl grandma? The one with the flour. Oh and what about the buttermilk? Yup put that in there too. Again I ask, how much? Silly me I should have known, depends on the size of the cake. I take a guess and throw a cup in along with some eggs. We had now entered a completely experimental stage as far as I was concerned. In the oven until it is done were the baking instructions. Thankfully I knew about the toothpick test to check that it was done.

It was a dense cake, hearty and more of a meal than a dessert but we ate it and she exclaimed what a good job I had done. There will never be another one like it. She passed away shortly after our cake making day. Not because of the cake I should mention.

I love to bake now and nothing is out of a box it is all from scratch. I don’t exactly measure all the time, a splash of this a sprinkle of that. I do have a recipe of her’s that she submitted to a community cook book and I use it all the time. I have altered it to adjust to gluten free and dairy free when need be. It is a very versatile and easy to use recipe. This is how she submitted the recipe, her words.

Busy Day chocolate cake
(large)
1 1/2 cups sugar 1/2 cup shortening (soft)
1/2 cup cocoa 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 3/4 cup flour 2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp soda 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Bake 30-35 min, moderate oven.

Short and sweet, just like grandma! This is a large cake I have used a 9×13 pan or two 8 in round pans for this. It also works great for cupcakes
I do throw it all in one bowl and mix for the magical 3 minutes. I have decided that a moderate oven is 325 and still use the toothpick test to make sure it is done.

My gluten free dairy free version is salivated over by many. I love that most have no idea it is gluten and dairy free. It is moist and fluffy and oh so hard to share because I just want to eat it all myself.

Memories of alone, now we are four and a dog


I think I have a pretty good memory. My best friend says she rely’s on it for her reminiscing. I can remember most things very clearly and with exact detail, this is not always a good thing. Some memories need to be carefully folded and put away to be stored as a event that happened but doesn’t need to be fresh, unfortunately for me it can be difficult to achieve.

I can recall the day I moved into this house, there was a lot going on in life. My close friends were all busy, my brother was living 4 hours away, both my parents were working 40 hour weeks. My sister was on bed rest expecting their third little one, which meant my brother in-law was busy with work, two little ones and trips to visit my sister. I was also working and running to the hospital and quietly reveling in the excitement of moving into this house. Located on the place that calls my heart, the farm

I drove a cute four door bright red dodge neon at the time, it was a standard and that made it seem to drive faster. It could load and haul more stuff than one could imagine. Other than a truck I borrowed from a friend to move a sofa, that little neon moved all my belongings and more over the years before I retired her. I don’t even know how many loads and trips back and forth I took, they were mostly by myself when I had time before work, after work. At the time I was living in my parents basement so there was no technical rush to be moved out from them. For me it was more like smoking tire tracks on pavement so within two weeks I had everything out.

It was such a crazy time in everyone’s life I don’t think my dad even realized I had moved out, I honestly think he went downstairs one day to ask me something and noticed all my stuff was gone. I had talked to him about it, I was at the dinning room table telling him I was moving out. It might have been hard to hear me over the evening news and a full plate of dinner after a long days work at the morgue, he isn’t used to people talking to him. Others didn’t even know I was moving and suddenly here I was in this house settling in.

I vividly remember coming home from work to sort through my boxes and try to organize my new life. As I was walking through the living room I casually glanced out the window and then froze as I looked around, I live here….
I was in shock and awe that I was actually here and feared it was a dream. The semi panic set in of what have I done. Can I handle this? Who thought this was a smart idea? Quickly followed by a breaking smile and a growing elation of, it’s just me! All mine! I can dance and sing, play any music I want as loud as I want, make it mine and finally spread my wings.
Make no mistake the fear of paying bills and wondering what one will eat most days still sat in my thoughts but overall it was shadowed by positive vibes.

Over the years here alone I came to the conclusion I might be here alone forever, sitting on the deck with wine and a book.

Mowing the lawn, planting flower gardens and having backyard campfires. Enjoying life as much as one could alone when their heart desired to have more. It was 10 long alone and quiet sometimes tearful years before more would be added.

There is no quiet now, the whirlwind of life pleasantly took me over. I met the love of my life we got married and we now have two beautiful children.

There are toys and sippy cups scattered like land minds in the living room now and I still freeze when I walk in there now and think, I live here! This beautiful mess and sticky surfaces with crumbs from last weeks snack disaster ground into the carpet is mine. We dance sing and play nursery rhymes louder than should be possible for such tiny lungs.
The fear of paying the bills is there some days and wondering if they will even eat their snack that has been so lovingly prepared, but it is surrounded by love and joy.

Summer finally arrived, along with extra everything

summer sun on old barn in golden field

I feel like summer crept up on me, waiting for it for so long I was wishfully thinking of how I would spend it and now its here and I haven’t caught up. It seems like just the other day I was reveling in the joy of being able to smell dirt in the spring thaw. Anticipating all the wonderful outdoor, short sleeve and sandal days ahead. Trees were showing slight signs of budding green and the excitement of hearing the geese return and the sweet sound of robins singing. Now I look outside and I see over grown grass, trees that have more branches and leaves than the trunks can support, weeds choking out what are suppose to be my flower gardens and the left over remnants of what we didn’t get a chance to clean up in the fall.

Ahh summer, you have arrived and sucker punched me in the gut. As I lay wheezing in recovery I am swarmed by blood thirsty mosquitoes that have recently hatched and need energy. These flying vampires come by the thousands in the country side and I laugh when people in cities complain about mosquitoes. I once thought someone had left a tractor running only to look up and realize it was a swarm of mosquitoes waiting to descend upon us.

We all love the summer months, longer days filled with barbecues, patios, bugs, weeds, grass trimming, double the household work load and twice the activities to attend to. The yard needs attention every week, no matter if it is rainy or sunny. We want to have people over when it is sunny, serve cold drinks, grill something and have a good time. This is a great idea but only after the lawn has been mowed, dog poop picked up, wasp nests removed, patio furniture washed and cleaned, deck swept, weeds extracted and overall yard looking like a page out of a magazine. Now that is just outside, what if these guests want to use the bathroom?

If it rains we whine about not being able to get out to experience the joy and frustration of all above mentioned. Moping inside we silently worry about how much the vegetation will overtake once the sun does return. Calculating the number of puddles forming and how many mosquitoes can hatch out of each puddle and we start to go squirrely trapped inside with toddlers and limited episodes of peppa pig.

Yes the joys of summer are upon me and maybe it feels like it snuck up on me because life is a whirlwind most days. I actually don’t even know what day of the week it is most of the time. I am excited for the adventures before us hopefully some of them involve air conditioning or at least a slight breeze. Bring on summertime