Earlier this year, our ten year old lad, on the cusp of eleven, said he wanted to sleep on the floor of our bedroom. When this happens, you stay calm (try not to let your excitement show). As the Jets gang sang in the iconic West Side Story movie, keep cooly cool, boy.
He brought along a mattress, a doona, his pillows with once again wrestled off pillow cases and a book.
He said that he loved our room, it made him feel safe. This was because it was on the second story and always felt comforting to him.
I told him you are always welcome here.
He read and shared some of his thoughts whilst I also read. Be cool, I thought. It was like entertaining a nervous gazelle. One false move and you could scare him off. I kept my breathing light.
‘Mum, did you know that Aztec children played a game of ball where they would rip each others limbs off?’
‘Really?’ I replied. (Gross was what I actually thought but ‘get cool’ I reminded myself.)
‘Mum, how old can you be before you get your drivers licence?’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I think it is 16 for your learners licence.’
‘Is that too young do you think Mum?’
‘Maybe,’ I said. (Playing it very cool.)
I went to him, kissed his still soft cheek and told him I loved him and was proud of him. ‘I love you Mum,’ he said.
He fell asleep and his breathing evened. I am getting older and somewhat wise enough to know how rare these times are. I know I have been a less than perfect parent, that my impatience and temper have at times ruled the day when they should not have.
No-one can ever tell you how very scary this parenting journey is, how imperfect we all are, how many mistakes we will make. My new parenting motto for myself?
All too soon, Kid 1 returned to his own boudoir. A fleeting moment indeed. He adores this orange and poppyseed cake recipe that the dearest of friends bakes on a regular basis. So, before the lad embarks on a school camp this week, I baked this cake, especially for him.
Slightly nutty tasting poppy seeds (which are actually considered a spice) combined with citrus in baking, is a long-standing tradition in many European countries. The zingy aroma of orange that permeates your kitchen as this cake bakes is drool worthy. The buttermilk adds a lovely moistness and the entire cake is low in fat. This fact is greatly appreciated by those of us older than eleven and keeping a close eye on their ‘ice-cream’ pants. The Yak stared at this speckled delight with great sadness and maybe (just maybe), a tear welled up in his coeliac eyes. A gluten-free version will be baked very, very soon.
Kid 1 was happy not to share.
ORANGE AND POPPY SEED CAKE
WHAT YOU NEED
2 cups self-raising flour, (I used white but you can use half white and half wholemeal.)
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
3/4 cups caster sugar (raw or white, my friend has used coconut sugar as well and it also works)
2 tbls poppy seeds
2/3 cup oil (grapeseed or rice bran oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
grated rind of 1 orange
60g cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
2 – 3 tsps orange juice
shredded orange rind, to garnish
HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C, grease and line a 23 cm round cake tin with baking paper. (I used a 20cm deep baking tin and my friend uses a bundt tin.)
Sift flour,baking powder and sugar together into a large bowl.
Stir in the poppy seeds.
Combine the oil, buttermilk, eggs, juice and rind in a separate bowl of jug.
Blend this mixture into the flour mixture and beat for one minute.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for five minutes.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
My friend never ices this cake and nor did I, choosing instead to dust with a light rain of icing sugar. I have provided the icing recipe in case you would like to.
Beat cream cheese and icing sugar until well combined.
Beat in the orange juice to achieve a spreadable consistency.
Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the orange rind. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe from a friend, who found it, she knows not where.