Growing up I was raised by two moms, my real mom and my grandmother. The four of us, including my brother, lived together in the same house. My grandma was a woman who grew up in a house where food was very important. In a farming family with 13 brothers and sisters, times were often hard. With there always being plenty of mouths to feed my great-grandmother baked bread almost every day (which reminds me, I swear I will be continuing my work with yeast). And since my grandmother was the second oldest, a lot of responsibility fell to her. Growing up we ate a lot of good food, to say the least, as she learned a lot growing up herself. I have a lot of wonderful memories of my grandmother- her super doughy sugar cookies, pumpkin bread every Thanksgiving and Christmas, homemade noodles, chicken & dumplings, and so much more. I have a lot of wonderful memories that don't necessarily involve food. Staying home with my grandmother during the day meant we would watch our soap operas together. And I could stay up late at night if I helped her work the crossword puzzle while we watched Perry Mason reruns. Living through the death of her husband, a brother, and both her parents, my grandmother was definitely the definition of a survivor, in my opinion. Which made it very hard when she passed away in 1994 of cancer. I wasn't just losing my grandma, it was like I was losing a mom too. And it was all the more hard because my brother and I weren't done being raised by her. I was 13 when she passed away, and my brother was 10. I sometimes regret not asking more questions, more about her life, but there's no way you can really expect a kid to think about those kinds of things. I have a lot of wonderful memories, and I do have a lot of stories that I can share with my future children, even if I don't know every single one she had to tell. Here is a picture of my grandmother with a few of her co-workers (a few of them also family) at the brick yard, where she worked during WWII, while my grandfather was in the Navy. She's the next to last woman. I think part of my image of her as survivor has to do with the fact that she was so tall, ha.
A month or two ago I borrowed one of my grandmother's recipe boxes from my mom. I had pulled out several recipes that looked interesting. When I heard about the Taste of Yellow blog event created by Barbara at Winos and Foodies to celebrate LiveStrong Day, I knew that I had to make one of these recipes- Wild Canary Cake. The cake takes it's name from the hue of the main ingredient- egg yolks. Yep, if you are on cholesterol medication, avoid this cake at all costs! The recipe, typed on an index card that is quite yellowed itself, is a bit vague. The last instruction on the back is merely "Bake." But I didn't let that stop me from taking up the challenge. Nor did it stop me when, in an attempt to find out anything else about the recipe my Google searches resulted in nothing but bird feed information. So, this Sunday morning I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. And this is the point at which I feel the need to come completely clean and tell you that I used store-bought frosting. I know, I know- it's a travesty. I'm sure Stephanie and Lindsey are thoroughly disappointed in me, but I was under a time crunch, didn't have all the ingredients I needed, and had total lack of confidence as well, ha. But, aside from the frosting the cake is completely homemade, vague index card and all.
Wild Canary Cake
Recipe from my grandmother; Makes 2 9" round cakes
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 or 10 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Cream shortening. Cream in sugar.
- Beat egg yolks very light. Beat into first mixture.
- Sift dry ingredients together. Add alternately with liquid. Beat in flavoring.
And so, that's the tale of how a blog event for a good cause brought me just a little bit closer to my grandmother, even though we haven't been in the same kitchen in more than 10 years. My grandmother isn't the only person I know that has been affected by cancer- my paternal grandfather, my great-uncle, my husband's aunt, and one of our good friends. But here's a slice for all of the wonderful, strong, and amazing people who have had to deal with this disease- whatever form it's taken, whomever it has affected. I hope that everyone who participates gets as much out of it as I have.