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Having lived without grandparents for the majority of my life, I feel a little lost when it comes to my family’s history. I am without those classic stories that have been passed down for centuries. I am without an elder’s wise and sage advice regarding life and it’s many ups and down. I am without treasured mementos that once meant the world to someone.

Most tragic of all, I am without  any close personal ties to my grandparents. My mother’s mom died when my mom was young, and my mom’s dad passed away about 10 years. By the time I was born, my dad’s mom was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, and passed away before I reached the age of 13. But, I was lucky enough to get to know my dad’s dad. As a child, I was closest to him, until my parent’s eventual divorce separated us on different teams. I look back at my childhood and feel blessed that he was there, taking me trick-or-treating on Halloween and telling me classic historical tales that I didn’t really understand but didn’t care because the sound of his voice lulled me to sleep.


My grandparents, 1948

My grandparents, 1948



my grandfather, full of teenage angst

my grandfather, full of teenage angst


Despite my young relationship with him, I know little about him. He was a fairly quiet man, rarely discussing his personal stories. When did he have his first kiss? What was it like to live through WWII? What was college like? What’s worse is that I know absolutely nothign about my grandmother. What was her favorite perfume? What did she want to be when she “grew up”? Who was her secret  celebrity crush? What was her favorite novel? All these details, I will never know. Ladies & gentlemen, cherish your grandparents because they offer a wealth of information about life. Honestly, call them up right now and beg to be told anything and everything…

Anyways, I luckily discovered a huge stack of my grandfather’s old photographs. It was a goldmine! A little fact about me: I’m obsessed with history. Seriously. I was that weird girl who actually LIKED the subject in middle and high school. Forget Art, I just wanted to hear about the Lewis & Clark Expedition or the Salem Witch Trials. My love for history has grown to epic proportions now, so finding this stash was like winning the lottery.

While I sorted through old photographs, I thought about what I would pass down to my future offspring. How will they know what it was like to live in the era of weapons of mass destruction? Or what it was like to watch thousands perish on September 11? Or what it was like to have global borders broken down with the creation of the internet? It’s from these questions that I decided that it was time to start cataloging and labeling all my pictures, news pieces, and yes recipes. Hopefully, I can pass down these treasures to my family and they can see life through my eyes.

This simple yet fantastic Sour Cream Raspberry Swirl Loaf is bound to be in my recipe collection. It represents all the characteristics of baked goods that I adore. Quick yet tasty. Simple but elegant. Quaint yet gorgeous. The sour cream gives this cake flavor and texture while the jam adds a subtle sweetness to the cake’s bite. It can be adapted to fit anyone’s pantry as you can swap the jam for your preferred mixture. Instead of raspberry, I used Whole Foods Organic Blackberry Jam but next time I will use my favorite Trader Joe’s raspberry preserves… I personally think nutella would work as a decadent addition here but that’s just me! Although, anyone who opposes adding nutella to anything must be insane.

I have one request: please keep the walnuts in. They give such great texture and crunch to the cake. If you don’t like walnuts, I think pecans or almonds would do really well in this cake too. This cake kept me going as I scanned and tagged each and every photo I could find. Who knows, maybe my grandmother made a cake just like this? I’m told I got my baking gene from here so it’s entirely possible…

Sour Cream Raspberry Swirl Loaf
Origin: Cooking Light
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 55 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 10 minutes

● 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
● 3 tbsp. chopped walnuts, toasted
● 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
● 1 tsp. baking powder
● 1/4 tsp. baking soda
● 1/8 tsp. salt
● 3/4 cup sugar
● 1/4 cup butter, softened
● 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
● 1 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
● 1 large egg
● 1 large egg white
● 3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
● Cooking spray
● 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
● 1 1/2 tsp. 2% reduced-fat milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine raspberry jam and walnuts in a small bowl.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine sugar, butter, lemon rind, 1 teaspoon vanilla, egg, and egg white in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Spread half the batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Spoon raspberry mixture over top, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Spread remaining batter over raspberry mixture.

Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Combine 1/8 teaspoon vanilla , powdered sugar, and milk in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over loaf.

Printable recipe here.

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January 7, 2009 - 2:30 am

Alya - I know what you mean about cherishing your grandparents. Although I didn’t lose my grandparents at such a young age, I still think about the conversations I would want to have with them, now that I’m an adult. My mom’s mother is still alive and I cherish the moments spent with her. She’s a funny, complaining old lady with so many tales to tell!

January 7, 2009 - 9:42 am

cindy - i recently saw some photos of my grandparents when they were newly married and one of my grandfather in full-on cowboy gear…so awesome and so special. you are completely right on with wanting to catalog and save for the future. good stuff!

January 7, 2009 - 12:16 pm

stephchows - What a wonderful story, I love the pictures!! We found boxes of pictures after my Nana passed, it’s amazing going through them, I adore it!

January 7, 2009 - 2:06 pm

snooky doodle - It’s always interesting discovering new things of the past. I cherish every moment spent with my gradparents wheter hearing my grandma s childhood stories or making a cake with my grandma. I’ll never forget those moments. This cake is surely a keeper . Looks so delicious and it hasn’t got loads of butter in it. I ll surely try it. Thanks for sharing

January 7, 2009 - 5:23 pm

Susanna-Cole - The pictures look delicious and so warm, and aw, so glad you were able to at least get to know your grandfather. And the old pictures you posted are beautiful, so glad you found them. :)

Thanks for your lovely comment, by the way! <3


January 8, 2009 - 12:46 pm

joythebaker - Great post Amanda. Those pictures of your grandparents are absolutely priceless! Just beautiful!

January 8, 2009 - 1:38 pm

Kim - Good grief, your angsty teenage grandpa was a looker! That hair! So awesome.

And I can totally relate. My mother was adopted so I only met my grandma once or twice as a child during their futile attempts to reconcile the past. I never knew my dad, and thus, no grandparents. Everything you described in the beginning of this post is everything I’ve always been envious of others for having!

January 10, 2009 - 12:27 pm

Fuji Mama - I think organizing your recipes is a beautiful way to pass on a legacy. I think I’ve learned a lot about who my grandmothers and great-grandmothers were by cooking from the recipes they loved.

January 11, 2009 - 11:54 pm

elaine - I am with you, knowing nothing of my grandparents My mother’s mom died in childbirth, her father died when mom was a teen. My own father died when I was under 5, and we never knew his parents at all. It is such a loss, I tell all my friends how lucky they are if they grew up with grandparents (and parents actually) Any little tidbits you find now are soooo amazing, so meaningful.

March 30, 2010 - 5:44 am

Spring break + recipes « Slow Like Honey - [...] Spring recipes: Blackberry Jam Cake Buttermilk Cookies Carrot Tea Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Lemon Curd Tartlets Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Orange Berry Muffins Sour Cream Raspberry Swirl Loaf [...]

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