when life gives you oranges: make Cake-in-an-Orange!

This week John and I went camping. I had a great menu planned, but because we fought (and lost) against the pesky buzzing hypodermic needles, our desserts remained uncooked. One of the desserts I wanted, I yearned, to cook was cake-in-an-orange. This delicacy hearkens back to my scouting days of yore, and it is one of the legendary feats of campfire culinary prowess that girls from my troop will still talk about.

Anyway, we didn’t make them. There.

When I got home, however, I still had the oranges, I still had the cake, I still had the yearning. So I made Cake-In-An-Orange!

It is really quite simple.

cleaned and waiting for batter

Take your oranges, cut off the tops. I cut around the inside of the oranges, too, so that spooning out the fruit was easier. A grapefruit spoon wouldn’t have hurt.

Ream out the fruit (and save it).

Joe helped me clean out the oranges
filled and ready to go

Use some of the juice of the oranges to make your cake batter. I used an instant muffin mix, because I knew I wouldn’t need so much batter. I replaced the water with the fresh squeezed orange juice.

Since I was without hot coals, I did not wrap my oranges in aluminum foil, instead I cut off a tiny bit of the heel, so they would sit with a solid base in my cast-iron skillet. (If you are at a campfire, it is crucial that you wrap them in foil. Otherwise they will taste like ash and spill. It doesn’t really work that way… though it was a good night anyway.)

ready for the oven


Top your oranges, (wrap them with foil), and toss them in an oven (campfire)!

mmm, tasty batter peeking out

I cooked them for a while. And I could have probably done them at a higher heat. But they still worked quite well.

spooky cauldrons

MMM. Now for some ghost stories…


When I was in Kenya, I craved apples. I saved money so I could afford them when I went to the capital, Nairobi, because a single apple was about the same price as a huge pineapple, about five mangoes, or twenty bananas. But to me, apples were a treat. I can remember buying a Pink Lady apple for the first time, and waiting until I had gotten home so I could soak it in bleach water so that I could enjoy the crisp deliciousness of the taste of home. As I child, apples were not my favorite fruit, I much preferred things that I could eat without having to bite through them. I was a neat child, and the apples were messy, the peel got stuck in my teeth, and they quickly turned brown. Even now I prefer to cut up my apples, so that I can eat them slowly, saving the best parts for last as I nibble on a single apple for close to two hours. They are still a treat to me, and I continue to have new memories about the ways that I have them.

Tending the Garden

The loamy smell of the earth, as it is worked and turned. This is what I love about gardens.

My father plants a garden each place we live. He has stories about one of the first he built, in Reidsville, where he plotted out everything in foot by foot parcels. He made the local newspaper.

I remember stories of planted gardens, and then a children’s story of a garden that was so wild that it won the prize for the best garden, precisely because it was not formulaic, and parceled out.

As the seasons change, we see what grows and what is preparing to lie dormant for the winter. And the possibilities that lie within what may yet grow out of the earth.

There is a participation in creation involved in the tending of a garden. It is a participation that is both a great responsibility and a freeing concept. Freeing because, ultimately, you can only weed and prune so much, at some point it is necessary to allow the plants to grow, and you cannot force them to grow any faster.

So, what is growing? What is building? And what is my part in this garden? What do I need to tend? Or prune? Or allow to take its own path? What planning is involved? For what do I need to cease to plan? How much to I need to release, and let just crawl along in it’s own way?

The fine balance between control and release is tenuous, and to go in either way could ultimately end up in a patch of unfruitful dirt. Instead, with planning, and release it is possible that the brilliance of the Master Gardener can shine forth, and encourage the things growing to blossom into that which I as a lowly tender could never before have imagined.

Let me grow.

What Kind of Fruit Salad Are You?

I had the extraordinary chance to attend youth group at the church I served last summer. It was quite nice to be reminded of the effect I had on these kids. And nice also to remember that I was loved, and am still missed there.

They have hired an associate minister at the church, apparently I did enough work there that they decided to hire someone to do it year round… Sweet. She led her first youth group on the Fruit of the Spirit. But before she began the lesson, she had us go around and tell the group what fruit we would be and why. I’m not really good at doing stuff like that, so I quickly though of a fruit I like and is kinda exotic.

“Mango: the fruit is stuck to the seed, the skin is tough and soft at the same time, it’s sweet, and you always get messy eating it…” (I’m not really good at checking myself for double entendres, hopefully that was clean enough.)

Others were: strawberries, because the seed is on the outside. Granny Smith apple, good in a pie, and sweet and tart. And the leader’s was a mulberry: multifaceted and the silkworm eats the leaves.

With everyone thinking about that, she read out the Galatians passage about the Fruit of the Spirit, and said that we need to work on getting our fruit salad more diverse. Getting more of the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Not a bad idea, actually. And her challenge was to pick two of the fruit that we were not as strong at, not to overwhelm us, to give us a goal to reach towards.

The important thing about it is that one of my youth from last year was surprised with my choice, and said so, telling me the fruit he thought I would have chosen. And he chose better than I did. According to him, I’d be a pomegranate. And he is right. Which is scary.

Pomegranates are sweet, intense, tart, exotic, have good stuff that makes you healthy, are sectioned into parts that are all self contained, the seeds get stuck in your teeth, the juice can stain you (make a memorable effect), and I first heard of them in a story about Santa Claus. So I guess that’s pretty good.