Going Back to My Roots

I have been delinquent in posting because I have been traveling!  Radar will be leaving on deployment (too) soon, so he enjoyed a week of POM (pre-overseas movement) leave this past week.  We went up to Canada (spoiler alert: anyone who doesn’t know me in person, I’m actually from Canada!) to visit my dad’s parents and family for the week.  The weather was perfect, the kids loved being spoiled by their great-grandparents, and we had a nice, relaxing time.

But I’m not just going to leave my readers hanging, so after I bore you with a few pictures from my stroll down memory lane, I’ll share a recipe for the famous Grandma B’s Chocolate Cake (created by Grandma Beamish, who was my Grandma’s grandma!).

First off, I feel the urge to share a picture of the machine that I learned 90% of what I know today on.  My Grandma got it soon after she and Grandpa married in 1949 (I hear you doing the math, so I’ll make it easy for you – 2 weeks ago they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary!  Wow!!).  I haven’t asked for much when Grandma leaves us, but this machine means so much to me.  We spent countless hours hunched over this machine making dresses, doll’s clothes, and whatever else struck our fancy.

IMG_2464I also have to share some shots of her sewing room.  It’s a sort of organized chaos, where only Grandma knows where to find things!  I dream of having a room this large for all my sewing and crafting stuff.

Sewing Room

Don’t you love all the natural light?? The bottom left picture is ingenious – she put sound insulating material on the wall, then pinned a table cloth fuzzy side out onto it so she can pin papers and let fabric cling for ideas and putting quilts together. The bottom right picture is about a THIRD of her sewing books!

I know it’s taken her decades to build up her “stash,” but I just sigh lustily when I look through what she has… for instance, this is a shot of 4 drawers of her 10-drawer thread holder!

IMG_2468 And here’s a picture of me with my awesome grandparents 🙂


It’s like we all decided to wear only blue! Grandma and Grandpa will both be 91 by the end of the year!

OK, your patience will now be rewarded!  Time for the recipe I promised.

Grandma B’s Chocolate Cake with Fluffy White Icing

For the cake,


  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, dissolved in a bit of boiling water to make a paste
  • 1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar added)

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine wet ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs yolk, vanilla, cocoa paste, and milk) in a large mixing bowl.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda, adding to wet mixture half at a time and mixing until just combined.  Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans, and split batter between them.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from pans while still warm and cool on racks.

and for the icing,


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Put sugar and water in a pot and cover until boiling (use medium heat so it doesn’t boil too quickly).  Once boiling, remove lid and stir regularly until the syrup spins 6-8″ threads (about 15 minutes).  When the sugar mixture is almost ready, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks, then slowly add the syrup in a very thin stream.  Add vanilla.


This is the sort of thread you’re looking for. Click the picture to enlarge. By the way, that pot is as old as it looks – it was a wedding gift my Grandma got!

And here’s a picture of what Grandma’s cake looked like before we devoured it last week.


Don’t ice your cake until it’s cooled, or it gets a little goopy – but still tastes delicious!

I hope you enjoy this family favorite of ours!


5 thoughts on “Going Back to My Roots

  1. Pingback: Showing Off | Project Mama

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