Food tradition and everything is better with cake.

Growing up we had many food traditions in our family - festivals had specific menus, fasts had their own food items being prepared and on the weekends we ate meat. All of the traditions have very pleasant associations for me, but the ones that really take me back are Sunday lunches. Just thinking of Sunday lunch brings to mind sleeping in, my mom's chicken whistling away in the pressure cooker, dad's vegetable market shopping and endless Sunday morning TV programming. Sunday lunches were the mealtime we most lingered over, we ate meals together every night but the carefreeness of a Sunday always made the time spent together that much more special.

After moving out, I was determined to have certain food traditions of my own. Of course, Sunday mornings aren't the same anymore. I have to clean the house, shop for groceries and then do those endless mounds of laundry which only double in size once one takes a wary eye off them. A huge meal is the last thing I want to spend the time preparing in between all the work. But, lazy as I am, I do have certain food traditions and I hope to expand on these as I grow better with managing my time. The things I do faithfully every year are besan laddoos for Diwali and christmas cake for Christmas.

Christmas reminds me of heading out to my friend Tea's house to be regaled with christmas cake, rose cookies and homemade wine. The cake I bake is Tea's mom's recipe. I love it, the recipe itself is fabulous, but it carries with it a host of fun-filled memories of two immature, giggling teens who thought the world was their oyster.

Last Saturday I woke up with baking on my mind. Not surprising since it is the middle of the year, the time when I start preparations for my cake in December. So, I took 1 cup of mixed dry fruits - raisins, figs, cherries, strawberries and soaked them in a mix of brandy and kirsch. I've experimented with sherry too, but love the brandy-soaked fruits best. This year I added some kirsch, a cherry brandy, to mix it up a bit. The fruits sit in the refrigerator soaking up all the boozy goodness, I just need to top them off from time to time if the level of brandy goes below the fruit line.

It's a little unsatisfying to wake up thinking of warm, freshly baked cake and make preparations for something 6 months hence. So, I baked this Blueberry Coffee Cake later in the day. I think it's a perfect recipe, the butter quantities reduced drastically and substituted with oil and yogurt and the sugar level being very low just sweet enough to curb cravings and no more. And it still makes a wonderfully moist cake, a bit denser than normal but very satisfying with little bursts of blueberries as an added surprise. I forgot to click pictures before I cut into the cake, but here's what was left after the initial raid.

The coffee cake recipe has given me some ideas for modifying the original recipe to create a lower fat, slightly healthier Christmas cake and I'll be posting the recipe come December, when I try it out!

But, that brings me to the question I wanted to ask .... do you have any food traditions you follow/ would love to start in your home? Or do you have a favorite food memory to share?


avdi said...

Ahhhhhh ummmmm well. My kids are such poor eaters that it is hard to follow any tradition at all.

I just cook whatever my current kid is hung up on. My girl loved Dosas so when she was around, I always had some batter in the fridge. When my kids liked eating cakes I used to bake them. etc etc.

samir said...

CP :
This is a wonderful post. Again I hope you take mail orders. Will come back with more.

couchpapaya said...

avdi - heh did u notice my 'traditions' coincide with my fav things to eat. i wonder if my kids will change them one day :)

samir - will let u know when i start my dream business :)

Smita said...

That cake had me drooling like hell!!!

Yes even we had our share of foody traditions. I still try to keep Sunday big fat meal thing on!!! Guess thats the only day when we can stuff ourselves!!!

couchpapaya said...

smita - try this one out, very simple plus also made with atta (forgot to mention in the post) i like to think it's healthier :D wow, i think that's really admirable u keep the sunday meal tradition going considering u have only that day off. tho i do agree with the stuffing philosophy :) i do but most of the times i let a restaurant stuff me :D

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