cakeI have a new appreciation for my pioneer grandmother—and all the pioneer women who helped build our country. It’s all because of how I spent this past Saturday.

Yesterday morning Don and I picked up our Bountiful Basket order over at the local elementary school. Two baskets, really—one filled with fruit and the other vegetables. Then it was off to the dollar store to see what great buys they had—something that wasn’t in our Bountiful Basket order. We scored with fresh strawberries—one buck per large carton.

Then it was the grocery store. We decided to hit Albertson’s yesterday because of the meat sales. And then it was home. That’s when my work started.

I cleaned vegetables and strawberries. put together a week’s worth of salads in the jar. Made meatloaf—five batches—meat balls and portioned out the other purchased meats to freeze—rearranged the freezer to fit everything.

That took me most of the day—and then I started seven new spider plant, made dinner for Don and the moms, and then baked a homemade chocolate cake for mom’s birthday.

When it was all done I was exhausted. Totally wiped out—I could barely move. I was going to make a batch of laundry soap but decided to do that another day.

So why did this give me a new appreciation for my pioneer grandmothers? Because considering what I did yesterday—it could not compare with the daily routine of my pioneer grandmothers. My produce was purchased—I didn’t have to plant and harvest it. I have an electric dishwasher to help clean up my mess and a modern refrigerator/freezer for storing—no canning needed.

Even if I had made that laundry soap yesterday, it wouldn’t involve lye and weeks of curing as is necessary when REALLY making soap from scratch.

The photo is of the chocolate cake I baked, using my grandmother’s recipe. I made a few healthy changes—swapping apple sauce for oil and white whole wheat for white flour. Mom and I each had a piece after breakfast, because we read an article explaining how dessert after breakfast (not after dinner) can help burn the pounds.

That wasn’t something my pioneer grandmothers had to worry about—calories. They were too busy working their asses (and calories) off just surviving.

The cake recipe will be included with my upcoming recipe book, Recipe Traditions a New Generation. But here’s a sneak preview.

Chocolate Cake Recipe


2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup milk
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dice up the chocolate squares. I use my Alaskan ulu knife. Bring the water to a boil (in the microwave or on the stove). Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.

Beat together sugar, apple sauce, eggs, milk and vanilla. I use my electric mixer. Sift in the flour and baking soda. Blend well.

Pour the batter into two 9-inch round cake pans (buttered first) and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.


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