Nature vs nurture…

Another thing that was touched on in Kung Fu Panda 2 was that Poe found out that the goose that raised him was not his real dad. While others seemed to know this Poe never really caught on and was definitely saddened by the fact that his dad had not told him. I have two brothers whom I usually never bring up on here. One is my half-brother, the other is adopted. They are both equally my brothers but I point out how they are related to me for a reason.

The movie got me thinking more on nature vs. nurture. Poe was raised in a loving way and yet all his life he knew something was different. He didn’t love noodles the way his dad did (he loved to eat them just didn’t get excited about selling them), though he did learn to make amazing soup from him. My brothers and I were all raised in the same nurturing environment yet each turned out in completely different ways. Very different. And all three of us took very different paths in life.

I relate most to my mom. She is the one that played/likes sports and not my dad. It is my mom who will willing sit and watch a hockey game with me. She is the one that will talk food and entertaining with me for hours. She is the one who though played sports is highly uncoordinated, as am I. :)Both my half-brother and I are gifted at math, so my father seems to claim that came from him since he is the parent we have in common biologically.

I’m not sure where I really fall on the subject to be honest, though I must believe somewhat in the nature side. One of the main reasons I don’t have kids is because I have a chronic illness that they could not say for sure wouldn’t be passed down genetically. Knowing how much more difficult my life has been with the illness, I could not in good conscious possibly inflict that on a child.

This dessert was made to mesh both of my parents together. My dad loves cherry pie and well, my mom just likes to bake. I found a random can of homemade cherry pie filling that someone gave me. It was hiding back with the missing Valentine M&M’s. So many of you were wondering why I could still possibly have leftover M&M’s that long…it’s because they fell behind stuff in the pantry, and when I cleaned it out, there they were. So was the pie filling.

I despise making pie so I decided to somehow make a cake with it. My father’s other favorite dessert is pineapple upside down cake, and so I thought why not combine the two and make a Cherry Pie Upside Down Cake, and that’s exactly what I did. I paired it with a milk chocolate ice cream that I will post the recipe for in a few days. Sounds weird, but chocolate and cherry go quite well together. This recipe has some almond meal in it, which helps keep it on the moist side.

So what are your thoughts, do you stand more on the nurture side or the nature side of determining how you turn out in life?

Cherry Pie Upside Down Cake

1 can (20 ounces) cherry pie filling
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
¾ granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk

Heat oven to 350°.

Spray a 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray.

Spread the cherry pie filling over the bottom.

Sift together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar.

Beat in eggs one at a time and scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Add the vanilla extract and beat for another 30 seconds.

Beat in the sifted dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Beat until well blended.

Spoon over the cherry pie filling; spread batter evenly with a spatula to cover the pie filling.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger.

Let cool for about 10 minutes. Loosen sides and carefully invert on a serving plate or cake server.


  1. I really don’t feel like I know that answer, but I always just figured it was sort of a 70/30 nature/nurture thing.

    In any scenario of good or bad childhoods, there are then good or bad people who are molded from that. (Just ignoring how simplistic the terms good and bad are, but you get what I’m saying?)

    Their inner spirit of who they are seems to prevail, I tend to think. Raised good or bad, who they are at the core will show through.

    Of course I can’t say this is true all the time. When you get past ‘normal’ childhoods and get to truly horrific experiences/abuse in some people, I think it pushes more towards nurture. Anyways I’m rambling :)

    Chocolate and cherry are always a win.

  2. That cake looks mighty luscious! Soothing too…



  3. Can’t really tell whether its nature or nurture. It is an interesting question that I don’t think we will every truly be able to answer. I see how my parents behave and I see myself sometimes doing things like them and its hard to tell if I learned by example or if I am genetically inclined. Although I see how their behaviors have changed over the years since I left home and I am steering down a different path. So maybe that’s the nurture side of it.

  4. I think nuture has a bigger role, but both definitely impact your life.

    As for not wanting to pass on illnesses to your children, I have a similar fear. My mom is manic depressant, but it didn’t show up until after she had children. This disease affects not only my mom but everyone around her, especially when she goes through episodes. It is for this reason that I am afraid to have children one day. I don’t want to be drugged for their entire lives and to never know who I really am.

  5. definitely nurture. i am also adopted [asian with white there wasnt ever the “big reveal”] and was raised with my adopted sister. it is more than obvious that i turned out frighteningly like my mother-mannerisms, ideals, thought processes etc. on the other end of the spectrum, we joke that my sister is the only one that was actually adopted.

    it would be interesting to meet my birth-parents one day to see if they are similar to my parents, but that is a moral issue id rather not deal with.

  6. Peabody says:

    @Erin- yeah, depression can be a hard one, especially since like you say, it not only affects the person but everyone in their life. I can see where you would struggle with that. I have watched depression really hurt some people in their lives and their children’s lives. :(

  7. Nature vs Nurture has never been an either this OR that discussion for me. I firmly believe that something are indeed hardwired from our genetics. I also believe that you can take a child from those genetics and things will change because of nurture. And then you throw free choice on top like a cherry. Even if we come from X and are raised by Y it is still our choice to follow path Z.

  8. Nature v nurture…I, too, am straddling the fence. We’ve all seen incredible people rise above horrible family circumstances (lack of nurture!). But then there are those who turn out to be “horrible” people despite being raised in well-nurtured homes. Perhaps environmental factors in, as well? As CW pointed out, I cannot attribute all of who I am to my family. In my family of 6 half-siblings, we all have wound up in incredibly different worlds, despite having grown up in the same household.

  9. I believe it is a combination. There are certain traits that are ingrained and unavoidable. In pets, I see breeds, let’s say labs, that are some of the most gentle forgiving in the animal kingdom and yet occassionally I will see some that will bite your head off. Sometimes, I do wonder about the owner, but there are plenty of times when the owner is sweet and loving. Also, pitt bulls. I see plenty of very nice ones and yet the news is filled with reports of pitts that snap – raised with a child and then turns on them and attacks. Also, serial killers. Some had horrible upbringings and yet some, Jeffery Dahmer, had relatively normal upbringings. I believe Dahmer’s parents divorced and that’s when his problems started manifesting, but how many people came from “broken” homes and don’t become serial killers. Personally, I have a daughter with ADD and a son that is on the austism spectrum. My MIL and I believe that my husband had many characteristics of mild autism when he was a toddler – or characteristics of sensory input issues – that he outgrew. I personally feel that those are some powerful genes. I think autism in all its rainbow of forms is genetic in some way. I believe my daughter is less affected than my husband, while my son is more affected. Finally, homosexuality is genetic. So, I’m going with a mixture.

  10. I think there is definitely both going on. I think I’d like to lean toward the nurture side but have seen many instances that defy it. There have been some fascinating studies done on adopted twins raised in very different environments and having uncanny similarities despite the fact that their upbringing and environment was so different. But twins are a different thing altogether so who knows.

    My dad would love this cake, he never gets cherries because mum doesn’t prefer them. ☺

  11. This looks delicious! Chocolate and cherry are a great combo… forest cake:) 50/50 on the nature vs nurture.

  12. “Sounds weird, but chocolate and cherry go quite well together.”

    How is that weird? I think chocolate and cherry are totally normal and yummy together!

    I think some things are nature, some nurture. I think it’s really hard to separate the two since you can’t only have one.

  13. Where would one buy almond flour? This seems like something the husband would enjoy.

    I also think it’s a combo of nature/nurture, but that nature plays a much stronger role than people like to admit. There is a member of my extended family who I know had to be raised in a very loving way (based on my knowledge of people who were raised in the same way, and my knowledge of the people doing the raising. But this person’s father was a very bad person and despite being raised by loving and kind people he is also not a good person.

  14. definitely leans towards nature i think…or maybe birth order stuff? i don’t know, but i am such an even mix of both my parents–my mom & i even decorate our houses similarly without planning/knowing it, and then there is my sister who is as opposite as can be… we were raised pretty much the same though, but her personality is like a mix of both of my parent’s sisters.

  15. Peabody says:

    @Amy- one buys almond meal at the grocery store. Bob’s Red Mill sells it, but Trader Joe’s sells it as well for much cheaper.

  16. I am of the opinion that for pretty much every choice (at least those I can think of :)) nature is reactionary, whereas nurture is discretionary. And that either can be negative or positive.

  17. Heather says:

    You should read ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm gladwell. He makes some interesting points on this. His focus is on who is likely to succeed and excel, but it has some interesting points applicable to a broad spectrum.

  18. I think Bobbi put it very well. :)

  19. Peabody says:

    @Heather- I have read Outliers, it’s an interesting read…and has hockey in it. :)

  20. I also think that Bobbi sums it up perfectly.

  21. I think it has to be some of each. I have 3 children and they are all sweet, loving people but different as morning, noon, and night. Or should I say, different as chocolate and cherry yet they get along great.

  22. Poppy Fields says:

    I’ve got great examples for both sides in my family, so I am firmly on the fence :)

    My maternal half-sister was adopted at birth; raised in a *very* different country, by *very* different people, in a *very* different culture and religion. She is absolutely One Of Us.

    My paternal half-bro and sis were raised largely by their mother, who did a good bit to… poison them against our father. As adults, my 1/2 sister is absolutely her mother’s child and my 1/2 brother is a free agent (with strong personality leanings towards our father).

    My father and grandmother are nothing like what they were raised with (high levels of all kinds of abuse); my mother and maternal aunt were apparently raised by two different families, if their personalities and behaviour are anything to go by.

    My dad isn’t big on dessert or sweet things in general, but the one thing he always made an exception for is my pineapple upside down cake :) He even had seconds.

    I have strawberry rhubard pie filling in the cupboard…

  23. mellisa W. says:

    My husband has two half siblings. Everytime he introduces them he says “I would like to you meet my brother/sister …” When they introduce him they say “I would like you to meet my half-brother…” this hurts his feelings as he loves them wholey and they don’t love him back as much.

  24. Peabody says:

    @Melissa- that is horrible. I bet that hurts his feelings. We never say step, half, anything like that…we just say brother or sister. That is so sad.

  25. Nature vs nurture… I believe both affect a child, but something makes one change the child a bit more. So I guess nature does it’s thing first and then nurture does it’s second. How much nurture affects depends on how much nature has decided to leave alone. Confusing… but it makes sense to me.

  26. Sharlotte says:

    It may seem corny, but I think that the nurture vs nature in children is similar to baking. You start with ingredients that have certain traits and potential to be so many things. Those ingredients somewhat limit the possible outcomes; you are not going to get a meringue without eggs.

    On the flip side, the raw ingredients can take you to familiar or new and exciting places depending on what those ingredients experience. They experience not only the loving or sometimes brutish hand of the baker, but also the chemistry of bringing different ingredients together, the heat of the oven that can vary depending on where it is placed in the oven, the mold the ingredients are asked to conform to, and the random power outage during the baking time.

    So many factors lead to the final product, but a parent/baker should love their offspring/baked good no matter the outcome.

  27. Peabody says:

    @Sharlotte…I like the baking anology!

  28. As an only child, I find every little nuance in my three children fascinating! The birth order idea…I see it play out almost every day! The middle child is MOST DEFINITELY the peace-maker of the three…..and the “baby” loves to rock the boat. The first born? Which way would he go? The leader personality or the non-risk taker? Unfortunately, he stuck with my “way” of it…..caution to a fault. Sometimes I struggle with guilt from that…..but always remind myself that it isn’t MY choice now.

    They will be who they will be and it’s MY job to help them explore the possibilities. I try to stay on top of who they are so my advice, when asked for, is solid, accurate, and appropriate.

    I’ve spent countless hours studying how my mother was raised…as one of 10…and how I was raised…to see how that impacted MY children. Same with their father and his parents. Genetics is definitely obvious! Often where you don’t WANT it to be! But, like snowflakes, no two will be exactly alike.

    I think that’s a GOOD thing though!

  29. Jeanne H says:

    I can sympathise with Mellisa W’s husband’s feelings. My older siblings and I were raised as brothers and sisters, even though they are all my half-sibs. The brother from my mother’s first marriage was of course the other’s step-brother, although I don’t recall him being called that. My dad was the only father he ever knew, and when John was a teenager my dad legally adopted him. Later when both of our parents had passed away, a SIL referred to him as ‘not really one of the family’ – aargh!

    When my sister’s husband passed away and I went to the funeral, one of her friends said ‘oh, you’re her half-sister.’ I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I replied that we never made that distinction growing up. Since I knew my sister was trying to cope with her husband’s unexpected death, I didn’t bring it up with her, nor did I clarify to her that ‘her cousin’ whom she asked me if I knew, is actually no relation to her at all, but is MY COUSIN.

    In the recipe you list 1/2 whole milk – should that be 1/2 CUP whole milk?

    Thanks – Jeanne

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