“Hold your breath…good.”
“Doing ok Ann?”
Not really. Four MRIs in a year, same result, still no answers.
“Ok, almost done. You’re doing great.”
Ann forced her eyes closed. Staring at the white ceiling just a foot from her nose was more than she could handle at 6am on a Tuesday morning. Maybe it was the exhaustion from the 4:30am wake-up time or the restless sleep she just endured but Ann found herself wishing for her mother. Tess would provide comfort once she endured her own anxiety. Medical issues were avoided by Tess. And Tess tended to assume the worst. “It’s probably cancer Ann.” “Why bother with the testing?” “ You don’t want to know what they will come back with.” “You’re a damn fool, Ann.”
Jesus Tess not now.
Now was not the time to think of her mother. As much as Ann loved Tess, she found her difficult when she was alive and even more so now that she was dead. Three years had passed, and the grief eased but a day didn’t go by when Tess didn’t come to Ann either in a memory or a dream. At times it was a relief to see her or hear her or remember her. Yet other times memories and dreams of Tess left Ann frustrated like a child seeking an answer to a question when the answer is not known. Ann understood grief changed forms. Now she understood. Whether what she felt was love, resentment, hate, or annoyance towards her mother it was all just grief. Grief, it turned never really ended. It wasn’t something to get over or bypass. Grief demanded attention like a needy lover. It required the bereaved to hold on with ripped bloody hands hoping at some point the pain would ease. And it did and then left what remains.
Ann pushed Tess out of her mind. Tess would be back but for now, Ann would silence her. Ann felt her wedding rings vibrate as the machine churned out images of her insides. She thought of the day that lay ahead- school drop-offs and pick-ups, sports, follow-up phone calls and looked forward to being busy. Maybe if there was time, she would bake a chocolate cake. She had been craving chocolate lately.
No Muss No Fuss Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe and Hershey’s
Ingredients for cake:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon espresso powder- optional
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with baking spray. Set aside.
Using a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined. Add oil, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir together until combined. Add hot water and stir until completely blended. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Tap on the counter a couple of times to remove air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on the wire rack before frosting. Once cool, frost the cake and decorate with sprinkles if desired. Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Enjoy!
Ingredients for vanilla buttercream frosting:
11 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Sift confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl or a large piece of parchment paper and set aside. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat on a low speed then increase the speed slowly as sugar blends with the butter. Once the sugar is incorporated add the vanilla, salt, and heavy cream. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Frost the cake as desired.
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