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Thursday, October 14, 2010

War Cake

I love to cook. I mean really love to cook. I’ve always considered it not only a creative endeavor but a bit of a spiritual one as well. I can easily spend a day on one creation. From the selection of the perfect seasonal recipe to sourcing the freshest ingredients to preparation, hours pass. International cuisine will fill the house with exotic scents and proper musical accompaniment transforms the everyday into a night in Morocco, France or the Orient. There has always been a connectedness for me from the earth to culture to interpretation to palate.

When I inherited a cookbook from my grandmother, a farmer’s wife and wonderful cook I was excited to say the least. This was not just any book; it was a bit of family history. The first page yielded the unexpected, War Cake.

I’d not, until now, considered political climate in relation to cuisine. My grandmother had grown into an adult during WWII. She’d never spoken of it, at least to me, yet here it was, a bit of the story. War Cake is so named for its lack of eggs, butter and milk, ingredients that were hard to come by during the war. I could comment on how little life has changed in that there are still wars, yet how much has changed in how little it affects the average citizens everyday lives, but I won’t, there are political bloggers for that. I choose instead to share the recipe and let you interpret it how you will.

2 cups water

2 cups brown sugar

4 Tbsp shortening

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

1 tsp allspice

1 lb raisins

Boil ingredients for 5 minutes then cool.


2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp vanilla

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

Mix well together and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Grass Is Greener

I’ll let you in on a little secret that won’t be much of a secret to anyone who has ever used one, reel mowers are a reel litmus test of how laid back a person you really are.

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy going chick. I tend to roll with most things. Unfortunately my new; old school mower doesn’t feel the same way. First time out went something like this..

Toothpick in the grass?

"Ohhh, I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to pick that up, I’m strictly grass” my mower would respond while quickly locking, ramming my stomach into the steel handle just to prove he was serious.

Grass a little long?

“Ohhh, did I say I mowed grass? My mistake, what I should have said was, already short grass sans weeds that really doesn’t need mowing. I’m going to have to ask you to go over that spot 5 or 6 more times” he'd whir.

Sure, ok. I’ve got time. What’s 3 hours a week for the whole summer?

Biting insects that I easily out ran on the gas mower were hovering around high five-ing each other at their good fortune.

Back and forth, back and forth. Two and a half hours in and this guy was really starting to get on my nerves, but I’d not come this far to give up now, that’s just what he wanted. Besides, only a fraction of my neighbors had born witness to my, well, I’m just going to say it, Herculean grass mowing effort. By my estimation I was due at least two more passersby, one if they were gossipy and likely to spread the word on this mother of environmental deeds. Ten minutes later and it started to rain. Clearly God was trying to tell me something, far be it from me to question the Almighty. Back in the garage, you.

I’ll admit my hopes may have been a little high. Not unlike the groups of bearded twenty somethings I’d seen happily pushing around this piece of crap on their postage stamp sized rental yards a week earlier. That’s the last time I take lawn care tips from you.