Archive for the ‘Coffee Cakes & Quickbreads’ Category

For a brief time I was a guest columnist here but life interfered and I’ve been gone quite awhile. It’s been too long. And as my title implies, I have reasons but no excuses.

In January 2008 I got a new job — incredibly challenging. Six weeks later, my mother — who had always been healthy, strong and vibrant and who was 10 years younger than my father — was diagnosed with terminal, metastasized lung cancer. In the middle of this, I started questioning whether or not I wanted to stay in my then-relationship. (I guess the “then” gives away what my decision ultimately was.) My entire life was in upheaval and everything that was not necessary to move forward got put on hold — including the writing.

By March, I’d pretty much decided to leave the relationship but was putting off the actual exit until we could see what effect Mom’s chemo would have on her prognosis. In June, she had her last chemo and was doing so well we were all convinced it had worked wonders. False hope: it shrank the lung tumor but every other tumor grew in the meantime. However, during the time we thought it had worked well enough to make an actual difference in her timeline, two things happened: I told my ex I was leaving, and, that same week, I met face to face someone I had happened to meet online the week before — and knew as soon as I laid eyes on him that I was supposed to be with him forever.

She deteriorated quickly. She died on August 31. Four days before, on her last lucid night, she met the man I married four months to the day later (last Saturday, in fact), and he was with me when she died. I have not begun to assimilate her loss nor the joy my new husband brings me, but I am trying to look both of these huge changes in my life squarely in the eye and take whatever they have to offer.

My mother was a gourmet cook and taught me well. She’d love the idea that I was sharing my recipes here: she not only sent me hundreds of recipes over the years but every time she found a new kitchen gadget she liked, she bought four of them — one for her and one for each of her children. She was a generous woman, and in the name of that generosity, well, I’ll try to get back here more often and share the culinary wealth.

Iced Spiced Ginger Bars

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teas baking soda
1 teas cinnamon
1 teas ginger
1 teas cloves
1/8 teas salt
1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teas vanilla
3 or 4 tablespoons water
Oven 350. Grease 13×9 pan. Blend all bar ingredients at low speed until moistened than at medium speed for 2 minutes, bake 350 for 20-30 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan.

For frosting: medium saucepan over low heat, cook butter until light golden brown, stirring constantly. Add remaining frosting ingredients, mix until smooth, pour over bars and allow to harden. Makes 36.


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This was a standard for Christmas breakfast when I was a kid. First of all, this makes your whole house smell wonderful while it’s cooking. Second, it’s so quick to make that it will actually take me longer to post the recipe than it will for the one that’s currently in my oven to finish baking. And it takes all of 10 minutes’ work to get it ready for the oven, so for a very small investment of time, there’s a big payoff. Serve it warm with butter, or eat it plain — excellent either way.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Grease a 10.5 x 7 x 1 pan. Preheat 375.


1/4 c vegetable oil

1 egg

1/2 c milk

1.5 c flour

3/4 c sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix and spread in pan.


3 tablespoons butter, melted

mixed with

3/4 c brown sugar,

3 tablespoons cinnamon and

2 tablespoons flour

Sprinkle over batter. Bake 375 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Also works in an 8×8 square pan, or, doubled, in a 13×9 (but obviously for this last, it will have to cook longer).

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