Ten years ago, she confessed to me that hospitality wasn’t for her. The tasks that brought me life brought her only unbearable stress.
She sloughed off a burden of expectation that wasn’t hers to bear. She said no to hosting friends for dinner and said yes to so many other good things.
Today, that same friend is mom to a houseful of kids. They arrived through birth and adoption and the foster care system.
Hers is a radical, daily hospitality. Hers is an invisible hospitality.
I like hospitality that photographs well. I like menus and pretty dishes and home-baked cakes.
Who is the stranger? Who is it we welcome in Christ’s name? I believe it is the dinner party guest. I believe it is a neighbor.
I am learning it is also my own child.
I have four children in my home. Each one was unknown to me at birth. Each one is a mystery to me on too many days. I am sorry to say that I often find it easier to welcome an actual stranger knocking on my door than I do these four kids.
Lord have mercy on me a sinner.
Lord teach me your better, harder way.
Your sweeter way.
Some days are for rest. Some days are for easy. And some days are for frozen pizza.
But if I love menus and pretty dishes and home-baked cakes, why would I hesitate to share these loves with the little strangers who share my dinner table?
I am the hostess in this house, and today I will bake a cake for no reason.
And for every reason.
This cake is a recent discovery in our family. The recipe is adapted from a gorgeous baking cookbook called Honey & Jam. My kids don’t like summer squash, but I always grow too much of it in my vegetable patch. This recipe feels like alchemy: a golden vegetable is transformed into a gold-winning treat. My oldest likes this cake so much, she’s requested it for her September birthday.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup safflower or other vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup finely grated yellow squash
- 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
- Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two six-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper circles.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in squash and bananas. Add dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. I begin checking at 40 minutes, but it might need quite a bit longer.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Due to my son's dairy allergy, I top one layer with a cream cheese frosting and the other with a simple icing sugar glaze. This cake is delicious without frosting, perhaps as an after-school snack. Stacked and frosted, it is worthy of a celebration.
- This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite dessert cookbooks, Honey & Jam, by Hannah Queen. It's a beautiful book of innovative recipes inspired by the fresh produce available each season. I highly recommend it!