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Illustration by Tasha Tudor

Illustration by Tasha Tudor

Here we are again, at the time of year known as Impending Parental Visit, which causes a variety of reactions ranging from full-on repaint the kitchen and both baths freak out (whilst nursing an 8-week-old Young Mr) to Eh, she’s got a dog acceptance.

This year, Mr S had the freak out, and has undertaken a living room painting project which he has carried out on weekends since Thanksgiving. It does look good, and I am grateful for his persistence, because this year’s late fall and early winter brought me a serious case of the blues.

That's a happy cat!

happy cat!

I’m in the midst of trying to finish a dress before my mother arrives (my sewing area is really our dining table, with the Strategic Fabric Reserve stowed in sideboards and cupboards). Yesterday, I tried it on: it fits, and looks rather nice (grey wool, and when it’s done, you’ll see it). But it fails in intention: clearly, it is no maid’s dress.

But I felt so much happier in my stays and petticoat that I dug up the wool dress made for farm adventures, put on my apron, and made ginger bread.

The cat approves of my reading material.

The cat approves of my reading material.

The recipe, which I shared recently with a friend, is an old Rhode Island family receipt, and very similar to the Tasha Tudor cookbook receipt. (The Howling Assistant approved of Tasha’s Roast Chicken receipt. She is a poultry fan.)

When copying over the receipt for my friend, I forgot the hot water, and failed to warn him that this gingerbread cake is best eaten with a fork. Delicious, but sticky, here it is:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature or a little softer
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
Combine the last two ingredients and pour over the butter & sugar.
Add 3/4 cup molasses
Combine well.

Sift into the liquid mixture:
1.5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ginger (I use a heaping 1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Combine gently. Into the mixture drop one unbeaten egg.
Beat the whole with a hand-cranked eggbeater or whisk.

Pour into greased 9×13 pan, and bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Gingerbread cake

Gingerbread cake

Good with tea, coffee and clementines. I’ve made this perhaps a dozen times, once without the egg, and it’s always edible. (The egg provides some leavening, so made without it, the cake is dense and extra sticky.) Baking it makes the whole house smell good and it’s a simple, one-bowl receipt. For an easy holiday treat to share, I recommend this Rhode Island Gingerbread Cake.