Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hand Me Downs

Most of us have had the experience of wearing hand me downs in our lifetimes. I'm finding myself much more comfortable with that experience as my days on earth grow longer. What a joy to have a sister, friend or stranger share something slightly worn and cast off for one of various reasons. Perhaps it was an impulsive buy or like the childhood hand me downs we remember, just outgrown.

There is one thing I believe I'll never outgrow and that is my mother's love for chocolate. Yes, I'm actually going to pin that one on my mother and grandmother. My love for chocolate, though it sounds completely ironic, began early in my life.  There were sweets of infinite variety  available as I grew up the child and grandchild of two women who loved to bake.There were also the candies and the home made ice cream and homemade banana puddings that I remember so well.

During one period of my childhood, however, my mother purchased some incredibly chocolatey morsels she stashed away in a kitchen drawer. The desire to taste that which was obviously removed to a safe place where children would not partake was such a great temptation. Even now, I realize, where chocolate was concerned those bite size pieces of tasty chocolate were no incentive for dieting. They only peaked my desire for more and thus my addiction began. My hand me down desires for chocolate have taken me on many a journey through every drawer and cabinet in the house to find ingredients to whip up something to assuage my desire for chocolate.

When I was a teen, my mother handed down a new secret recipe that I used for many years when I went on my late night prowl through the kitchen cabinets. It was called a Pudding Cake and only required a few basic ingredients to pull together one warm, sweet and delectable chocolate experience. This was before the days of those convenient one bowl brownie dreams one can find at the store today. The last ingredient was boiling water and only once I forgot this key ingredient and came up with something that looked like "cow pies" instead of the usual warm pudding-cake combination.

Last week I found myself  that position of desire. Nothing other than chocolate would do. I suddenly remembered a recipe I'd read in a book written by my dear friend Tren. The title of the book is Ohio Homesteads... Recipes and Recollections of a Season. This book according to my friend is a journey through the seasons of a market farmer/homesteader's life. My friend's book can be found at the link above. You can also sample her beautiful writing gift at
This recipe for Wacky Cake sounded like an adaptation of the recipe my mom had handed down to me. My grandchildren were coming over, giving me another excuse to get into the kitchen and try this new chocolate indulgence on for size. We won't talk about the way this cake might change your waist size if indulged in too often. This recipe was handed down from my friend's grandmother to her mother and then to my friend. Aren't we all thankful for that kind of "hand me downs?"

At one time called a Depression or Economy Cake, according to Tren, I was elated to find there is no need for either eggs or milk!?! And yes, the wackiest ingredient of all is Vinegar. I couldn't wait to hand down this pleasantry to my own grandchildren. I am including some pictures of my grandgirl helping me make this cake. Made from about 6 basic ingredients, this was the easiest chocolate cake I've ever made. Topping it with chocolate buttercream upped the anty. I will never share just how much of this cake I devoured personally. Just saying..... it was irresistibly good! If you have a love for nature, or cooking or would enjoy reading about the seasons of the garden or the seasons of our hearts, consider purchasing my friend's book at And if you are just a sucker for chocolate or sweets, may I tempt you with a few of the titles within the book
They Lay Chocolate Eggs
Two Berry Sweet, Cornbread Pie
My Bumbleberry Jam

So here's to Hand Me Downs... long live Hand Me Downs...try them on.. you may like them!

1 comment:

  1. Robin this is such a fun story! I love your chocolate confessions!

    Then to find myself mentioned and to actually see pictures of your beautiful Grandaughter,
    (look at that hair, those eyes!) to see that precious one of yours actually digging the holes for Wacky Cake,that just makes my day! I am going to print this out and put it in my recipe book that I keep in my kitchen and everytime I pull my book down, (I don't have my recipes memorized that is why I put them in a book!)I will see your GRandaughter making the cake and it will make me smile.

    Robin you are such a fun friend and Grandma!


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