Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Honeymoon and A Honey Cake

"The honeymoon is over after a scant five years. The unique quirkiness that first attracted me is now nothing more than a mere annoyance. I can’t precisely pinpoint when it happened. It was a gradual and slow shift from being utterly rapt to now, where I look for opportunities to get away."       Sarah

My first two years in this windy prairie town were surreal. Here I was, in a ranch and cowboy scene straight out of a Hollywood oater. As a child growing up in the farmed southeastern Saskatchewan prairieland I longed to visit Val Marie and the infamous prairie dogs of the southwest. Well, here I am. Pinch me. 

I wiled away my Sundays on long drives through the glacier carved Frenchman River valley beautifully juxtaposed with the alpine Cypress bench creating a natural diorama. I passed by a little-known gurgling world class trout stream, on a road where the road sign tells me that chains are highly recommended in the winter (the prairies are not so flat after all, in the Cypress Hills) and down to into the valley where in 1991 an excavation found one of the largest and most complete T. Rex skeletons in the world. Rodeos, both professional and deeply hidden local treasures, were my weekend entertainment.

In the beginning I found it rather quaint that businesses closed at lunchtime. And restaurants still served 'super juice'. Soup or juice is some kind of prairie meal formality I grew up with.  Just as every diner meal comes with dessert, which is usually jello or ice cream. The same old 70's tunes still blared on the car radio. It was kinda like I never left. This return to my home province was a real-life walk down memory lane some three decades later.

It was bound to happen. I mean it is rare for the honeymoon phase to last forever. I don't even think it is healthy. Now after five years of living in the middle of nowhere I am feeling disoriented. If you can call Calgary (previously my home for more than 30 years) a city in step with the world, then I no longer feel I have a touchstone to reality from this prairie outpost. I see myself as a grown up version of my small town teenage fashionista self who idolized the likes of fashion guru, Jeanne Beker. I feel as though I am hopelessly sinking in quicksand without Jeanne to buoy me.

Brenda’s Honey Citrus Pound Cake

Brenda and Kevin Epp sold the farm. I mean, they sold the farm. And went into the bee business. Kevin is driving a truck and Brenda is a nurse while they build the honey business and raise their children. They have three boys, one is a foster child. Her table is two down from mine at the farmers' market. 

They are the first to admit it has been a learning curve. When I asked for honeycomb they thought, oh, yeah, I guess we could give you some. No, Brenda, you sell honeycomb. People love it. I have watched their market table grow from a little six foot table to this year, where they will have a 20 foot stall. Her standard polyester tablecloth is now a fitted earthy jute drape adorned with a fresh bouquet every week. In addition to liquid and creamed honey, they have added beeswax candles, beeswax by the block and lip balm.

This is one of her honey recipes. Be careful. It's addictively delicious. Bake it in two loaf pans or in a bundt pan. Don't you think this honeybee bundt pan is the most adorable cake pan?

1c. butter
1 1 /2 c. honey
5 eggs
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. lemon lime soda
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lime zest   

2 c. icing sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lime zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. water   

Cream butter and honey, beat in eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients and zests. Slowly incorporate the lemon lime soda. Pour into a bundt pan or two loaf pans. Bake at 325 F for about an hour.

Test for doneness with a skewer that comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert on a cake plate while still warm. Drizzle with glaze while warm.


  1. Love the design off the cake. It is pretty special as I am sure the cake is as well. Living in a small town is fine as long as there is a larger centre close by; at least that is my experience. I lived in Winfield for 16 years, a half hour drive to the main centre and enjoyed the quiet of a rural town.

  2. I am telling myself that when I am 80 I am moving back to the big city. So much more for old people, than gossip and pablum.

  3. I love that pan..and I like this chapter too..what will you do?
    Don't wait until you are 80 to do anything..because anything can happen before 80.
    Thanks for the recipe also:)

    1. Yes, isn't that an amazing pan. No, I am not sitting here waiting for 80 but I always wondered what I would do when I was old. There is nothing here for me. So now I feel relaxed knowing I'll just move again. Until then I will live my life and love it.

  4. It really is a little showstopper.
    Good for you! Must be exciting..