Today I peeked through my cookbook for a quick recipe; the people who sold us our house were passing through the area and wanted to pop in. I always like to have something just-baked when guests arrive...in addition to the lovely, welcoming aroma that fills the kitchen, I think it's rather homey to serve something lovely with tea.
I came across this recipe for my grandma's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake; the first time I baked it was when I was in early labour with the baby-who-would-be-Jude...I remember calling my grandma for the recipe between those early, sporadic contractions!
Stephanie's Grandma's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 can pineapple rings, or one pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced into rings.
Start by melting the butter in an 8 inch round pan; sprinkle with brown sugar, and line with pineapple rings. You may put maraschino cherries into the centres for a nice decorative touch; I try to avoid foods that have so many preservatives, archaeologists will study them in 4000 years...but it's up to you!
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
In a separate bowl, beat together:
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice (if using a fresh one, squeeze the extra bits through a sieve or just use orange juice!)
In yet another bowl, beat
2 egg whites (until stiff peaks form)
Then add 1/2 cup sugar to the whites.
GENTLY fold yolk mixture and flour mixture alternately into the whites mixture. Pour over pineapple in cake pan. Bake at 350 degree F for 35-40 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then turn onto cake platter ~ serve with whipped cream!
The topping is a delicious gooey mess of butter, brown sugar, and pineapple!
I had a bit of a tear in my eye as I baked, as when my Grandma gave me the recipe 5 years ago, she was still living in her own home, with her own cookbook. She told me this story:
When she got married, my grandma didn't know a thing about cooking. My grandpa was in love with her, and very patient and indulgent, so he didn't mind testing out her first attempts. In their early marriage, grandma would make two desserts when company was coming, just in case one didn't turn out!
One evening, when Grandpa was bringing a friend home (a man I would later meet; they were lifelong friends), she made this cake, and wrapped it in waxed paper to set in the snowbank to cool (as they had no fridge). When she went to fetch it, she found that a dog had made off with it!
Upon hearing this, Grandpa turned to his friend without missing a beat, and quipped, "That explains the big dog we saw lying dead in the ditch a ways back!"
Recipes that are handed down carry so much more than food ingredients with them. I always think that this recipe also carries the ingredients of a good marriage: honesty, patience, perseverance, optimism, and especially a good sense of humour.
My Grandma is now almost 92; she's lived without Grandpa for the past 21 years, and moved into a retirement home 2 years ago. All of her meals are now cooked for her, after about 70 years of feeding her husband, four children, and many grandchildren (all her practice paid off, and we enjoyed many wonderful meals together).
The other night, when Grandma was having dinner at my parents' house, she asked for the recipe for the meal my mom had made. When mom and dad reminded her that she doesn't have to cook anymore, it took a moment before she said, "Oh, that's right...I forgot".
Well, Grandma, I won't forget this story. It is now part of our family history. I have her story written with the recipe in my cookbook, along with "*May 14, 2005: got this recipe from Grandma - early labour activity as we waited for the arrival of our first babe!"
I encourage you to collect the recipes that accompany your family history, and write down the stories that go with them. You just might find the ingredients for a happy life.
P.S. Don't forget to enter my awesome giveaway!