There is something about Christmas that makes a body pull all they hold dear close to their heart. Though it may seem to focus on material things on the onset, most of us quickly see right through the commercial aspects to the underlying motive of just wanting to show someone you love how much they mean to you. Christmas day serves as a reminder of all of the gifts we enjoy each day in our lives, things that are far too grand to ever fit inside a box or stocking.
It’s this affirmation of values and sentiment, of the true meaning and wealth of our lives that serves to get us centered the rest of the year. So today, in light of all of this, I’m thinking about diamonds.
Stay with me now, it’ll all make sense in the end and if it doesn’t, at least you’ll have a new recipe, right?
About twelve years ago, I met the man I wanted to marry. Fortunately for him, he had the good sense to want to marry me, too. He was in his last semester of college, I was right smack dab in the middle of getting my degree, and we lived in two different states. Now when you meet the person you want to marry, living in two different states simply won’t do. So as soon as he got closer to graduation, we made plans to get married so that we could remedy the problem.
The day we went ring shopping, neither one of us were focused on “the ring”, but what it symbolized for us. I knew roughly what shape that I wanted but that was about it. We walked into the store and glanced around, looking over all of the cases with stomachs in knots. Some folks thought we were marrying too soon but we were confident that this was what we wanted to do. I was concerned over finances, having no desire to go immediately into debt and also wanting to make sure folks didn’t think I had looked around merely to pluck up the first promising graduate I could find (it is humorous now, me worrying over people thinking I was a gold digger, I know). After a few minutes, I led Ricky over to the case of synthetic diamond rings (czs) and there I saw the most beautiful set of rings I’d ever laid eyes upon.
The entire set cost around $200, which is a drop in the bucket compared to what most sets cost nowadays but even now, I consider that expensive. They were both placed on my finger August 8, 1998 and I have never been so proud to wear a piece of jewelry. The original plan was to replace the czs with diamonds later on but over the years, that ring began to mean even more to me. It became a symbol in my mind of my own value system. Sentiment and meaning – where the heart was in the giving of the ring itself- far outweighed what a jeweler would call the stones.
When Brady was a baby, he used to toy around with them, sliding them around on my fingers and oohing and ahhing at how they sparkled. One day as he got older he asked me what I was going to do with them “when I grew up” and I told him that if he wanted, he could have them one day. His face beamed and sparkled every bit as much as my rings did at hearing that.
When Katy was born, I had a bad habit of accidentally scratching her with the rings and so I took them off for a bit, only to dazzle her when she was out of diapers by beginning to wear them again. To her they were magical jewels that just appeared on her mother’s hand one day and she, too, took to turning them around, watching them sparkle with delight just as her brother had done at the same age.
I’ve worn them for years, sometimes taking them off and placing them in my jewelry box for days or even weeks at a time as life calls me away to extensive cooking or housework, but I always come back to them and pull them out, thinking of how beautiful my rings are and how lucky I am to have just this one particular set – the prettiest I’ve ever seen.
One day my kids will have these rings, the ones they’ve spent their childhood seeing on my left hand. They’ll have grown up knowing what a treasure they are and the meaning behind them and I can’t imagine them wishing “real” diamonds into the settings any more than I would.
At this point, any other stone would cheapen them. I wouldn’t trade my rings for all of the diamonds in the world and I hope my kids will grow up understanding the weight and meaning behind that. Of course, my writing this is not to lessen the meaning of diamonds at all, but to just speak to the sentiment adding value to any piece of jewelry. Sometimes the most expensive items in all of the world ring empty and hollow but the least expensive things turn out to be the greatest of treasures. It is a wealthy person who knows what to truly value.
And now for my recipe (that means y’all need to wake up if I bored you too much with my tangent).
This is a cherished one of my mothers that her mother used to make her as a child, especially at Christmas time. I’ve heard her talk about it for years and it’s been decades since she had one so I decided to snatch the recipe and surprise her with it last week. Merry Christmas, Mama!
You’ll need: All Purpose flour, chopped nuts (I used walnuts because they are cheaper than pecans), eggs, cinnamon, sugar, baking soda, allspice, vanilla, buttermilk, oil, and dried plums.
Pretend you see salt in this photo, too. there always has to be a shy ingredient when the camera is out!
and yes, you heard me right. Dried plums. We’re not going to say “prunes” because folks don’t like prunes nowadays but they like dried plums.
This cake is DELICIOUS so just do whatever it takes to get ya through the day…
Chop those puppies up.
If you get any with the pits in them, remove them and discard (that’s fancy talk for “throw away”)
I buy the ones that area already pitted.
They need to be about the size of raisins (or dried grapes)
Of course, you can use a chopper or food processor to chop these up but I’d just as soon save the trouble and grab a knife. Besides, makes me feel all pioneerish and rustic, like cooks in the old days who didn’t have food processors and choppers and all these gidgets and gadgets.
They just used a good old knife.
Place them in your mixing bowl and add your flour.
Toss that up a bit. This will help the dried plums to keep from singing all the way down into the cake when it is baking.
(~giggles~Lisa Botts pointed out my type-o here. It is supposed to say “sinking” in that previous sentence but Lisa and I got such a good laugh out of the Type-O that I hate to change it! hehehe Thanks, Lisa!)
Now don’t you be thinking “prunes” in your head…say it with me in unison now: Dried Plums.
and nuts (which you can leave out if your life is nutty enough)
and spices, baking soda,
Okay so I could have just said “add all other ingredients” but then we wouldn’t have gotten to see all of those purty pictures, right?
I knew you’d see it my way 🙂
Go grab some child labor and have them flip the switch on your mixer for ya.
My child laborers are just a sitting around at all times in my house and every time they hear me in the kitchen call out “OOH! Can I help?”
Of course, this only works for the fun part. They poof pretty quickly when it comes time to clean up.
Can’t says I blame ’em.
While your munchkin is mixing that up really well, grease your cake pan. I’m using a bundt but Mama says her mother used to use a 9×13 so go with whatever is easiest for you. If you’re going to use a 9×13 though, just spray it with a little cooking spray and you’ll be fine.
Us Bundt users need to smear shortening in our pan …
and then sprinkle some flour in…
Pat that around a bit to coat it and then discard the excess (I used that fancy word again…)
Here is our batter all mixed up.
Go ahead, you know you wanna lick the beater!
Pour that in your pan…
and bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
When that is getting ready to come out of the oven or shortly after, you need to assemble your sauce ingredients.
Vanilla, buttermilk, sugar, margarine, and baking soda.
You can use real butter here, too, if’n ya got a hankerin’ to.
I don’t have those kind of hankerin’s often myself. Why?
~chorus calls out in unison~
“Because you’re too cheap!”
Add all of that together in a pot.
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. It will foam up a little but that’s okay.
Keep stirring and cooking until it thickens a bit, about two minutes.
Poke holes all over the top of your hot cake.
and pour sauce over.
Let sit for about ten minutes or so in the pan until it absorbs all of the sauce.
Then turn it out.
Serve warm or cold, excellent with homemade whipped cream!
Now I see why Mama has missed this cake so much. It was WONDERFUL!
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 ½ C Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp cinnamon*
- 1 Cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Cup dried plums chopped
- 1 ½ Cup chopped nuts I used walnuts
- 1 stick margarine or butter
- 1 1/2 C sugar
- ½ tsp soda
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ C Buttermilk
- Grease and flour bundt or 9x13 cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for one hour.
- Just before cake is done, place all sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and continue boiling gently until sauce is thickened, about two minutes. Remove done cake from oven and poke holes all over top with a fork. Pour hot sauce over hot cake. Allow to sit in pan until sauce is absorbed.
*This recipe calls for 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg but I really, really, really don't like Nutmeg and so willingly and continually discriminate against it in all of my recipes. Feel free to give Nutmeg a chance :).
Serve to thrilled guests, remember to call it "Sugar Plum Cake" to the younger crowd, but you can tell the older folks its just good old fashioned "Prune Cake"!
And speaking of things worth more than diamonds…
Check out Patrick here!
He is the son of Dora, a member of our Southern Plate Facebook Family. She posted this on the SP page, what a treat!
Dora made this reindeer shirt from the tutorial found here.
I don’t know who is luckier, Patrick for having such a fabulous mom or Dora for having such a handsome son!
The difference between an ordinary life and an extraordinary life
is finding extraordinary things in an ordinary life.
~Submitted by Judy. Submit your quote here.