Finally we get ready to turn the last page of a pesky year. And in that spirit, as if we were around a dinner table together, I will ask one of two questions.
Let me explain. Once there was a family of four who set the table most every night for eight. They would have a go-round at dinner, where all diners were invited to name the best and the worst of that day. For our purposes, let's dismiss the worsts, but how about you all tell the rest of us your year's best meal, recipe or food memory. Let's put 2020 to bed by reminding ourselves that in all hard things there are seeds and signs of good and deliciousness.
Martha Eaves began with "a few sheet cake recipes for the reader who requested them. All of these are tried and true in my kitchen. The prune cake may not sound very appetizing to some people, but it was my favorite of my maternal grandmother's cake recipes. She was born in 1906 and lived to be almost 101 years old. The wet chocolate cake comes from my mother's recipe box. She will be 90 years old this week."
2 cups plain flour, sifted twice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup stewed prunes
1 cup pecans, chopped
Sift dry ingredients together. Add oil. Add eggs and buttermilk; mix.
Add vanilla, chopped prunes and nuts. Beat 1 minute.
Bake in a greased 9- by 13- inch pan at 325 degrees until well done. (Check with toothpick after cake has cooked for one hour). Top with Buttermilk Frosting (see recipe) while cake is still hot.
1 cup sugar
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white Karo syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Boil mixture until it forms a soft ball. Pour over cake while hot.
Wet Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk (see note for buttermilk substitute)
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar and flour in mixer.
In a pan, bring to a boil the butter, cocoa, Crisco, and water. Pour over the sugar and flour mix. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well, and pour into a greased and floured 9- by 13- pan. (The batter will be very thin.)
Bake 25 to 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool.
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 box powdered sugar
Use a mixer to combine the butter, cocoa and milk. Mix, and add vanilla and powdered sugar. Ice the top of the cake only.
Note: For a buttermilk substitute, mix 1/2 cup milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar.
Makes 8 to 12 servings.
The cinnamon sets this cake apart from other chocolate cakes.
Here's a savory pie without a crust, a good place to use leftover Christmas ham, if such you have. It came from the Fairfield Glade kitchen of Roseann Strazinsky, who also recommended the coconut poke cake of which you read last week.
Crustless Meat Pie
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
Dash pepper sauce
1/2 can condensed cream soup (mushroom, onion, chicken or other)
1 whole green onion, chopped
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced cheese (like Swiss or Cheddar)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 7-inch pie plate, and coat with cornmeal. This makes a thin shell for easy serving.
In a medium bowl, mix dry mustard and milk. Add eggs and pepper sauce, and whisk until smooth. Stir in soup. Mix in onion, ham and cheese. Pour carefully into prepared pie plate.
Bake at 325 degrees until set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Makes 2 servings.
Tom Cable shared a gluten-free banana bread that he and his wife enjoy.
Gluten-Free Banana Bread
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 medium)
1/3 cup original almond milk
1 cup almond flour
1 cup oatmeal flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup crushed walnuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of a 9- by 5-inch or 8- by 4-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed briefly. Add eggs, and beat well. Stir in bananas and almond milk, and blend well. In a separate bowl, mix almond flour and oatmeal flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into banana mixture just until moistened. Pour into pan.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack.
Loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove to place, topside up, on a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.
Not only is this gluten-free, it has a healthy fat (avocado oil) and low-glycemic flours (oat and almond) rather than high-glycemic wheat flour. The chocolate chips and walnuts make this truly decadent.
Aah, the aforementioned decadence. We may yet be able to scrape together a bowl or two of decadence, though here at the end of 2020, many of us will be stirring a simpler soup. But here's hoping we'll all be serving portions of gratitude for what we have been given and what we can hope for ahead.
Here's a hope to lean toward: the real life presence of good company, whatever the meal, across a table. In the meantime, you all have been some fine friends just out of sight. I say thank you.
* Best meal, recipe or food memory of 2020
TO REACH US
Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750