We recently celebrated my 6 year old's birthday with a sliding party with his little chums from school (plus siblings). My decision to give each family cookies instead of loot bags was a great hit, by the way :) We also did "Happy Face Pizza" where each child got to decorate their own personal pizza with peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni etc to look like a face. That part was a little hectic with 9 little excited bodies in my kitchen clamoring to have their turn. But I survived and a good time was had by all :)
I made a chocolate birthday cake with chocolate icing and served it with ice cream to the kids and parents for dessert. The recipe is special to me for a couple of reasons and it's such a good cake I wanted to share it here. When we first moved into this house a friend kindly brought us the most fabulous chocolate cake to thank us for food we had taken her when she had a baby. No such thank you was necessary but boy did we enjoy the cake! I told O, then about 20 months old or so, to say thanks for the cake, and he waved and said "Fank you cupcake!".
When I told my friend how much we loved the cake she told me the recipe belonged to our mutual friend's mom, Ann. Unfortunately, Ann passed away last spring. She is sadly missed by many, many people. I thought of her all day as I prepared the cake and shed a tear or two thinking how unfair it is that she is gone. Ann had a wonderful laugh and was always positive even though she was often in pain. I learned something from her whenever we were together. She showed me how to stitch in the ditch and how to prune an apple tree. She made wonderful bannock and apple pie and never had a bad thing to say about anybody. I could go on. Suffice it to say that she's the type of lady and mom that I aspire to be.
Making Ann's chocolate cake got me to thinking about how recipes are passed on, and how when we share our recipes we share a bit of ourselves. My granny's zucchini relish takes me back to being in college and her sending me to her basement to bring up jars of relish, jam, even canned potatoes. Her and grampa put up a bunch of extra food that year and had extra supplies because of Y2K. I have her old recipe books, many that are handwritten, and seeing her writing especially makes me feel closer to her now even though she is gone. I know these women would like the idea of people enjoying good food together and exchanging favorite memories and stories. It's what I'm doing now.
Sweet Annie's Chocolate Cake
Preheat oven to 350F. In small bowl mix:
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
In large bowl mix:
2 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cups cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
Boil 2 cups of water and, alternating with wet mixture, add to dry. Mix until smooth. Bake approximately 40 minutes in a greased 9"x 13" pan. Ice with ganache-type icing or buttercream.
I have other recipes from friends and relatives and relatives of friends. Our favorite salsa recipe came from my cousin's husband's gramma. Another of the significant moms in my life passed away last year. I have a few of her recipes and was very touched to have been given some of her excess canning jars. It is nice to think of the recipes we love being enjoyed in other homes and passed on. It's a wonderful way to honour the cooks in our lives and remember them as we prepare that special food. Do you have a favorite recipe that was given to you by someone special?