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Tuesday Recipe Club: Lemon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze & Heartbreak of the Day

May 19th, 2009

I always know what you’re thinking, Internets. Right now you’re thinking, where is that sad little Wacky Mommy with her heartbreak story of the day?

I was going to skip the Heartbreak of the Day. I’m trying to clean my house, study, drive kids hither and yon. Emptying out boxes, filling up boxes, finding space for Grandma’s things in my too-crowded home. (I inherited her cookbooks, a few knick-knacks, yarn, photos. Quilts that I’ll share with my cousin. Old Christmas cards.) Packing away the winter clothes and breaking out the summer clothes. Found a slip of paper tucked inside of her old tattered hymnal. A page-a-day calendar from April 16, 1998:

Bird Migration ETAs
Part 5
The third week in April marks the estimated time of arrival in New England of the green heron. In the fourth week, look for the barn swallow, brown thrasher, black-and-white warbler, myrtle warbler, towhee and white-throated sparrow.

I’m ready to toss it into the recycling bin when I think to flip it over. I am my grandmother’s granddaughter — the same handwriting, the same snarky temper, the same need to scribble compulsively. On the back is written, sideways, her name and my grandpa’s name, over and over:


April 16, 1998 — five and a half months after he died. They celebrated their fifty-seventh wedding anniversary on June 28, 1997. She was hoping they’d make it to sixty. He was exhausted from kidney failure, furious because he couldn’t ranch anymore, insane because my uncles took away his guns. (Because, you know. He kept threatening to shoot himself.)


I looked for a book to tuck the note into — found an old cookbook close by — “Favorite Recipes of Valiant Chapter,” circa 1959-1960. Readers? Any ideas on what a Valiant Chapter is, exactly? (This one is Chapter #168, O.E.S., Portland, Ore.) The “Worthy Matron” that year was Martha H. Taylor; the “Worthy Patron'” was G.C. “Jerry” Taylor. Recipes included: Spanish Bun Cake, Fruit Cocktail Cake and (my new favorite) Good Prune Cake. We also have Meaty Scalloped Potatoes, Salmon Loaf and Creamed Chicken.

I. Love. Old. Recipes. Even if I can’t get my family to eat them.

Took Steve out for lunch — Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao, iced Thai coffee, such sophisticated tastes. No Holiday Wreath Tuna Shortcake in sight — and showed him the note.

“That’s what I’m writing down, if you’re the first to go — Nancy, Steve, Nancy, Steve, Steve, Nancy.”

He adds, “TLF.”

Yes, TLF. It’s one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen, that love note. And it sums up, on one little tiny sheet of paper, the agonizing pain of going through someone’s personal belongings. I told my auntie, it’s junk, junk, junk, Grandma’s high school diploma, junk.

I cannot give a sigh that is huge enough to express the SIGH I’m feeling. HUGE SIGH.

Off to pick up kids — be right back.

Also found a recipe written in my Dear Granny’s writing, tucked into the Valiant Chapter Cookbook. No-name cake, so let’s call it…


Here’s exactly how it’s written:

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 pk lemon pudd (pudding) (Quote from my Dear Granny: “It is good because there is pudding in the mix.”)
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water

Beat for 5 min

Tube pan greased

45 minutes

Turn on rock (rack, make that)

Prick with foot (fork!)

1 can thomed orgina pins (Steve: “That says ‘1 can thawed orange juice.'” How can he decipher her hand writing even when I can’t?)

2 3 paw sugar (cool toger) (Okey-doke. Let’s interpret that as 3 cups powdered sugar; cook together)

me: “3 cups powdered sugar and a whole can of orange juice concentrate? Sweeeeeeeeeeet.”

Steve, going all insane: “Cooked together! You have to cook it together, the glaze!” (He gets a little goofy when we’re on the subject of our Dear Granny. I mean, goofy. You have to get it exactly right, the quote, the recipe, the scanned-in photo, the story, or he flips out.)

me: “I’m cutting that in half. Half a can of oj, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.”

Steve: “You won’t have enough glaze. You have to have enough glaze.” (realizes what he’s saying.) “Can you please stop baking all the time?”

me: “Turn on rock! 1 can thomed orgina pins! No.”


  1. Nan says

    Duuuude, you are so making me miss my Gran, and I am soooo not ready to talk about it, or blog about it, or think about it, yet.

    May 19th, 2009 | #

  2. The Other Laura says

    Nancy, You’re grieving the best way you know how – and when you hand us your heartbreak, you are giving us a gift… and cake.

    May 19th, 2009 | #

  3. WackyMommy says

    Nan, I will draw it out of you. Give us a recipe or something, would you? (smiles.)

    TOL, thank you! We need our cake! I grieve inappropriately, but at least I give it my all.

    May 19th, 2009 | #

  4. LIB says

    I don’t think there’s ANYTHING inappropriate about your grief! That’s a lovely story and sounds like a yummy cake.

    May 19th, 2009 | #

  5. WackyMommy says

    Thanks, Lib. I have been bumming everyone out. But I guess that is really their problem. She has only been gone twenty days. I knew her for 44 years. It will take awhile. Dammit crying again.

    May 19th, 2009 | #

  6. zipdodah says

    You are not bumming me out WM. I love hearing the stories about your Grandma, and I love the recipes.
    You are fortunate to have these wonderful memories, and we are fortunate to be able to follow your journey through these memories.
    “Given a choice between grief and nothing, I’d choose grief.” – William Faulkner

    May 20th, 2009 | #

  7. edj says

    Gosh I miss you guys!

    May 20th, 2009 | #

  8. WackyMommy says

    edj miss u 2.

    May 20th, 2009 | #

  9. LIB says

    I’m with Zip WM–you’re NOT bumming us out! We love hearing the stories!

    Also that Faulkner quote is great. In a more prosaic way, I say If you really loved you’re gunna be really sad. People who aren’t really sad (maybe) didn’t really love. If you’re gunna FEEL (happiness or sadness) you’re gunna feel.

    May 21st, 2009 | #

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