Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Cake

I love putzing in the kitchen and futzing in the garden as much as I love writing. I think. Yeah, probably I do. The cooking and gardening (and sewing and knitting and...) feed the writing. I just haven't had the time this year for much putzing or futzing (potsing and shooshing, in (mispelled) Danny Kaye/White Christmas language).

So here I am, a domesticated writer, on Christmas Eve, offering you a banana cake for Christmas. You can find the recipe at Orangette's food blog. Her recipes are tantalizing, but it's the writing I read her blog for. I read about shopping for muscles at Pike Place Market with a friend or savoring the delights of cookies, and I am treated to Story with a capital S. I love her Stories... which is what I'm all about, as you know from reading One Pomegranate (where I posted a story about Christmas caroling and the meaning of EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS a couple days ago).

I'm not surprised to learn that Orangette (her name is Molly) has a book coming out next year -- I will be in line to buy it. I love reading cookbooks. Occasionally I make something from them. The photo above is Orangette's Banana Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting. Here is a look at how it turned out for me. It was as easy to make as Orangette promised it would be, and it was as delicious as I'd hoped it would be. (Plus, it's gorgeous.) It's a dense, sweet, bread-cake affair -- Hannah and I didn't need the icing to fall in love with it, but when we said so, Jim piped up with "I LOVE the icing!" so there you have it. Some of us are icing fans, some of us are purists.

I omitted the rum, and substituted vanilla in the icing -- still fantastic. We cut huge wedges of this cake for ourselves last night, and ate it in front of the fire. We left plenty for you. Help yourselves. I'm going to adapt and add this recipe to a bevy of home-made directions I'm compiling for... something.

I've been wanting to write an Aurora County Cookbook, for one thing. Comfort has been shoving recipes in my face, so has Ruby's mother (well, she waves them), and even Finesse has gotten in on the act. She does an interpretive dance -- you should see her movements for "stir vigorously."

So maybe I'll tell some new stories in a new Aurora County book some day. Often, when I visit schools, I'm treated to all the foods from my Mississippi/Aurora County novels -- it's amazing to see spread on a checkered tablecloth at lunchtime Mrs. Elling's Chicken and Potato Chip Casserole, Comfort's Funeral Brownies, Aunt Goldie's Prune Bread, Great-great Aunt Florentine's Fried Chicken (Ruby would be aghast), Uncle Edisto's Tuner-Fish Sandwiches, and even a round tray of Ritz Crackers and Vienna sausages! I have eaten more devilled eggs and Moon Pies, and have consumed more Ruby Lavender Root Beer Floats than I can count in schools this past several years. It's all been good. (And hey, I'm off the road now and have lost a whole 7.6 pounds so far -- congratulate me. Let's not think about how far I have to go.)

Whether or not I write the cookbook, I'll be experimenting in the kitchen, in the garden, and at the page this coming year. I'm looking forward to what the new year brings. I'm letting go of the old year with glee -- but more on this next week. Happy Every Thing to Every One. I'll see you on the flip side of Christmas. Whatever you do this week, at some point... have some cake.