Enjoy the now….


When we would go back to visit my maternal grandparents it meant a few things. One, my diabetic grandmother would slip us money to go buy her doughnuts and we could “keep the change”(my cousin Chad and I were always to young and foolish not to know that you don’t go and buy a diabetic doughnuts). It meant picking raspberries while trying not to be stung by bees(Summer only). It meant breathing in the fumes of Vlassic pickles the couple nights I would stay at my cousins(the factory has since moved and sadly I miss that smell). It meant getting to swim in the mayor’s swimming pool(Summer only). And it meant the torture that was Sunday drives with my grandfather.
Oh how that man loved to get in a car and drive absolutely nowhere…for hours. Hours and hours. My uncle has this same trait but he is smart enough to sucker you in to a 5 hour trip to Duluth, Minnesota  by saying we were going for the “best pie you ever tasted” and I am stupid enough to be lured by it. But my grandfather you had no choice. He said get in the car. We got in the car. For hours. Did I mention the hours part? Nothing can be more fun for a 10 year old then sitting in the back seat of a Oldsmobile listening to big band music and not being allowed to bring anything to do. It “took away from the scenery”. Ugh. Those car rides would draw out my morbid imagination. For with nothing to do and not really being involved in the adult conversation about second cousins and what not that I knew nothing about, my mind would wander. It would wander into all the different ways we could crash the car. Now keep in mind it was not totally morbid, as I never did kill anyone in my day dreaming. If the car was engulfed in a fiery inferno, I made sure in my mind to get everyone out of the car. Sometimes it was just a simple crash into a tree. Other times we would go over an embankment by swerving to miss a cow in the road and would launch off a big ravine in the Duke’s of Hazard style.
Though I hated those car rides so, they were really only the memories I had of my grandfather. He was a very quiet man. One who showed little emotion. He was the kind of man who would hug you but they whole time he was doing the side hug you knew he was thinking, “she’s touching me”. My grandfather ran the pharmacy in the town where my mother grew up(my aunt still works in that pharmacy). The town didn’t even have a stop sign(when they eventually got the one yellow blinking light in the middle of town, that was big news). My mother’s high school graduating class had 8 people(mine had 532). He usually spoke about 2 words to me when they would come out to visit or we would go there. Those two words were “uh-huh”. I would ramble on and on about something, and no matter what, I got the uh-huh. Despite all of that, I always knew he loved me.
When I was still in high school, my grandfather, a man who smoked most of his life and then switched to chew, developed pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic is not a kind cancer. Now before you say what cancer is?..none. However, some are more kind in the fact that they give you time to fight it.  Pancreatic cancer tends to be quite aggressive and your prognosis is usually poor. This was the case of my grandfather. For just months after hearing his diagnosis, my grandfather was laid to rest.
What a horrible story you say. Yes and no. For of course, death is never a good thing, it did make me realize how very little I knew about him. Only years after he passed through stories told by my mom and uncle do I really know anything about him. Spend time with people now. Get to know people now. If you have a recipe that you always wanted to learn from your mother or grandmother go and have her teach it to you now. Appreciate the time you have with others even if it is just sitting in a car for hours at a time starring at miles and miles of farmland.

When I saw that Chris of Mele Cotte’s grandmother passed away from the same form of cancer my grandfather did, I knew I wanted to contribute something to the Cooking to Combat Cancer event. This Black Forest Chocolate Bundt Cake comes from Canadian Living and was chosen because my grandfather did love chocolate and I always used to see him eat cherries(I just remember the bowls of pits). I encourage you to participate in both this event as well as Barb’s A Taste of Yellow…there is still time to do both!


Black Forest Chocolate Bundt Cake

Serves 16
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup  cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp  baking powder
3/4 tsp  baking soda
1/2 tsp  salt
1-1/4 cups  sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries
1 tbsp powdered sugar

Grease and flour 10-cup Bundt pan; set aside. I used 6 mini Bundts.
In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Into separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and sift again. Stir into butter mixture alternately with sour cream, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of sour cream. Stir in chocolate chips and cherries. Scrape into prepared pan.
Bake in center of 325°F  oven until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour(about 30 minutes if you are making mini). Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. With knife, loosen rim of cake. Place rack on pan. Wearing oven mitts, grasp pan and rack; turn over. Lift off pan. Let cool completely. (Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap and store for up to 2 days or freeze in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.) Dust with powdered sugar.

Canadian Living Magazine: December 2004

The glaze is just some melted cherry jam that my mom made with a little sifted powdered sugar. I didn’t actually pay attention to the amount…sorry.


  1. Your cake looked so moist and enticing. I lost both my grandfathers and my dad who was very dear to me to cancer, one of them passing on from pancreatic cancer, therefore I know how scary cancer can be. I will definitely participate in the events.

  2. Peabody, it is scary how our grandfather’s were similar! Maybe that is how they made men then.
    I like the description of the town not having a stop sign. A hick town was a proper hick town! I remember walking behind some teenagers when I was about 11. They were hicks. How could I tell? One of them said, ‘Let’s go to The Bon Marche and ride the escalator!’
    Yes, back in the olden days, escalators were dead cool.
    Your cherry bundt sounds delicious.

  3. Don’t know what to say first. You are so right. The car rides? I hear you! We would spend hours in the car on Sunday afternoons, allowed to bring a book but not allowed to read because of the scenery..which my mom would point out every 5 minutes or so. We were promised ice cream though. And that makes me think about my Dad, fighting prostrate cancer, we were there yesterday and I’m afraid things don’t look promising, but I’m not sure since they won’t say anything. Yes, now is the time although I rather do the ostrich thing at the moment.

  4. Never was better advice given!!! Spend time with people now and don’t regret it when they’re gone if you can. This is a very touching story altogether and you have lovely memories, this cakes looks divine to and I am sure your grandfather is saying uh-huh in agreement looking down at it!

  5. A beautiful post! I share your thoughts regarding the importance of the present moment…

    A delicious and very pretty cake!



  6. Peabody, this post really resonated with me. I have such fond memories of MY diabetic grandmother (she died when I was 6 years old), as well as my grandmother (who, at 91 years old, is STILL alive, thank goodness – seriously, he looks like he’s in his 70s and is quite “sharp”). I agree with you – it’s important to cherish the time that we have in life, and especially with our loved ones.

    That Black Forest Chocolate Bundt Cake, with melted Cherry Jam (makes a wonderful glaze, indeed!!), is a lovely, decadent tribute to your grandfather – wonderful!

  7. What a beautiful post! My uncle died of pancreatic cancer and it was shocking to see him go so quickly. That is delicious cake and a wonderful dedication to your grandfather!

  8. Actually I have never know any of my grandfathers.
    Very nice and touching post.
    One of our friends died from pancreatic. And it was so sad to see him get really ill in the end.
    Cake looks super delicious

  9. Peabody,
    Thank you so much for participating and supporting CCC2! The cake looks irresistible.

    This was a lovely posting from word one. I am thinkging that most of us who are fortunate to know/have known their grandparents can totally transport themselves in your words. “Took away from the scenery” – Ah!! I heard my grandfather’s voice so clearly. And, I remember my mom telling me that, on a girl trip to FL when she was young, she remembers crossing the street and thinking – wow, that looks like daddy’s car. It was! He told he they were in the mood for a “sunday stroll”. Those were the days!

  10. 1. the dukes of hazzard rule.
    2. your cake is lovely.
    3. i truly appreciate your heartfelt words–thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Until I recently started making my own birthday cake, I always had black forest, with cherries from my grandparent’s orchard.


  13. My grandfather was “at arm length” much like this and I’m not sure I ever got much more than “um” from him.
    This is just amazing chocolate cherry cake. I know Gorn would love it with the cherries.
    And yes Peabody pancreatic is some of the fastest spreading and silent cancers that are.

  14. Another wonderful event! And your photos of this cake are so inviting – I just need a fork to dig right in!

  15. Beautiful post Peabody. Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories with us and honoring your grandfather.

    Your cake looks amazing.

  16. My only memories of my grandfather are visiting him in the nursing home and bringing those dutch butter cookies that come in the blue tin. He called me Maria. Alzheimer’s is a tough thing to explain to a little girl. Those cookies always remind me of him.

  17. What a beautiful (but sad) story from your childhood…I’m glad that you do have at least some memories of your grandfather, even if they’re of long drives and bowls of cherry pits :) I’m sure he would’ve loved that gorgeous, gorgeous cake!

  18. Pea, your post is beautiful. And very moving.
    Those long drives sound boring, but at the same time, amazing for being with someone we love.
    That cake looks equally wonderful.

  19. Lovely story and a great looking cake. I’ll have to bookmark it as I love black forest gateaux, but don’t always want something quite that rich with all the cream.

  20. So glad that you have memories of your grandpa and know that he loved you. I can still here my grampa’s voice when he called me Little Lynnie. Your cake is beautiful. I’m sure your grandpa would have loved it.

  21. Peabody,

    That was so sweet and funny! Your grandfather sounds like a typical man of his time and those car rides … brings back memories!

    The cake is so yummy and you know I’ve been thinking about Black Forest lately. What a lovely tribute!

    (and of course I can’t leave without a GO FLAMES!!!)

  22. My grandfather, too, loved drives in the car. Of course cars were a bit of a rarity back then — not everyone had a car, or two cars like many families do now. And even though those drives were boring for a little kid, I’d give anything to have one more day driving around with my grandfather now. Thanks for reminding me.

  23. That was a completely different generation. Showing emotion had not been taught to them so they didn’t know how to do it themselves. My grandfather didn’t speak much either but he always had a smile on his face and he always wanted us to tell him stories about school and out friends. he would just listen and smile.
    When I was younger I also hated car rides with adults that weren’t my parents. I always felt tense and bored and car sick….
    Anyhow, but I wanted to tell you that the bundt cake looks really really good and you made it for a very good cause. thanks for sharing!

  24. My grandpa hadn’t spoken to me or my cousins in years, until a few months ago when we played dominoes and he said some things relating to the game. It’s strange. He’s had a hard life.

    My other grandpa…sometimes he talks to me too much:D

    Your story was beautiful, and the cake looks delicious:)

  25. A Black Forest bundt cake is a great idea! Black Forest cakes are one of my favorites. It looks great!

  26. For a moment there I read “Enjoy the snow”..and the cake was dusted with snow powdered sugar …so that was making sense until I continued to read. Great story about your grandfather and sad at the same time. You know I wholeheartedly approve of your philosophy! The cakes look wonderful!

  27. One of my grandfathers died from this as well. He was one of those that just didn’t go to the doctors. He found out and died a week later. He was 82.

  28. Great post, Peabody.

  29. Beautiful post.

  30. Beautiful post, Peabody, and a very important message! I try to instill this in my daughter all the time (especially when we are arguing). When you’re a kid, you think everyone is immortal and nothing ever changes, but we’re not and they do.

    I love the cake too! :)

  31. Beautiful story and lovely photos – you’re absolutely right. We have to enjoy people while we have them.

  32. I know you’ve said previously that sometimes your mom gets uncomfortable when you tell family stories, but I hope you continue to do so, I really enjoy them. Of course, I love the food and photography, too, but hearing it in the context of the family story elevates them to another level altogether. Thank you.

  33. A lovely post Peabody.

  34. Great story and what beautiful cakes. I have those little pans. I want to try this.

  35. what a wonderful event.

  36. Ah yes, long car rides to nowhere on Sundays…but in our case the station wagon was packed with eight kids.
    This is a lovely looking bundt cake…can’t beat chocolate and cherries.

  37. That is a nice story, which matches very well with a lovely cake.

  38. Lovely story, and gorgeous bundt cake!

  39. Your grandfather sounds a lot like one of my dearest friends’ father.. that’s all he says too, “uh huh”. It’s amazing though, that you still know how much they love you even though they don’t speak the words or give the hugs often.

    The cake looks amazing.. and my guess would be that he’d say a lil more than “uh huh” if he had a slice of it. This was so nice to read. :)


  40. thanks for being so open and sharing such heartfelt stories with your blog readers. it’s really touching.

    beautiful bundt cake too :)

  41. I loved your post. Truly an important message to us all.

    I’m sure your grandad would have loved that cake.

    A small request. Would you please stop using dried cherries in your recipes. We can’t get them in NZ and it’s not fair! I am of course just kidding – keep your yummy recipes coming.

  42. We had a friend pass away recently from cancer as well, and if I learned anything from that, it was this lesson to enjoy the now. Great post.. very moving!

  43. Just wanted to let you know that your post is featured on BlogHer, Techniques to Improve Blog Writing! ~ AK

  44. Tumbled from google to Mele Cotte and then here! That cake looks so good, I just had to say it…hmmm I will have to look for some egg substitution..can you help?

  45. I realize you posted this a long time ago, but I just made the cake this past weekend. It was incredible! It is the first recipe I’ve tried from your blog and I can promise you I will be trying many more.

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