Friday, August 13, 2010

Thunder Cake

Some may describe the weather here, in Alabama, as violent, what with the tornadoes, monsoons and thunderstorms that sweep across with little warning. I, on the other hand, would tell you the skies here are passionate, fickle,  tempestuous perhaps.

I had never encountered a tornado before moving here. Hurricanes:yes. Nor Easters: yes. Ice storms: you bet. But never a tornado. My husband, N, was so worked up over the possibility of getting caught in one that he bought a weather radio the first week we moved in. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to it.

It was a beautiful April day. Clear blue sky. Sun shining. Warm breeze blowing. That's how I knew there would be a tornado. The balmy breeze is a dead giveaway. ( N was glued to the weather radio...)  At one point, the dog, who hadn't moved from the same spot for 2 hours, bolted upstairs like a rocket and hid under the boys' bunk bed (that's another hard-to-ignore clue). The sky suddenly turned a color I can only describe as Apocalyptic Green, and everything became still. Even the trees were holding their breath. The eerie quiet only lasted a moment, then the winds came. Their force was so impressive, so fierce, so LOUD. I was taken by surprise. There was no build up, no slow crescendo. Dead calm one moment; screaming winds and marble sized raindrops hitting the ground with supernatural force the next. Tops of trees brushed the ground as though bowing reverently to the Anemoi, garbage cans whipped along the streets like candy wrappers, porch furniture rearranged itself.

Time slowed down. I stood staring out my window for what seemed like hours until the storm had passed. In reality it had only been a few minutes.  Excited, energized, awestruck, scared: my words fail to elicit the range of emotion I felt during that short time. It was spectacular. It was humbling.

Fortunately, the houses in my neighborhood were all spared, but the larger trees lining the creek two blocks away were not so lucky. Over time, the smaller trees have grown bigger and the landscape has filled in some. Try, as we might, we cannot control everything. Nature is truly an awesome force.

I was inspired to share this after reading Thunder Cake by Patricia Pollaco with my son, A. This a wonderful story about a little girl who is afraid of thunder storms. While baking a Thunder Cake, her grandmother shows her how brave she really is.  

The cake recipe is included in the book which A. could not wait to try....with or without a T-storm. I have adapted it somewhat to ingredients I have on hand. 

adapted from Patricia Polacco

Cream together, one at a time
1 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
1tsp vanilla
3 eggs, separated {first add yolks one at a time. Beat whites until stiff, then fold in}
1cup cold water
1/2cup pureed tomatoes

Sift together
1cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2cup cocoa powder
1 1/2tsp baking soda
1tsp salt

add dry mixture to creamy mixture.
bake at 350 degrees for 35 min

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