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.

Image credit: Christie Purifoy (@ChristiePurifoy on Instagram)

Image credit: Christie Purifoy (@ChristiePurifoy on Instagram)

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.

Best Banana Cake
Serves 8
A moist, delicious banana cake with a secret ingredient: summer squash.
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  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  7. 3/4 cup safflower or other vegetable oil
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 1 tsp vanilla
  10. 1 cup finely grated yellow squash
  11. 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two six-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper circles.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. 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.
  1. 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!
Adapted from Honey & Jam, by Hannah Queen
Adapted from Honey & Jam, by Hannah Queen
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Christie Purifoy / Posts / Blog
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for an old farmhouse and a garden. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four children, where she is witness to the seasonal beauty of God's good creation. Her book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons is out now from Revell. She blogs at www.christiepurifoy.com
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    I feel the same way about my attitude to my kids. Thanks for this reminder, Christie. Sometimes celebrating for no reason is one of the best ways to nurture love in my heart for my family.

    September 21st, 2016 6:12
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      Christie Purifoy

      It’s true! Celebration is such a powerful thing. And cake is always a good idea. 😉

      September 21st, 2016 8:59
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    September 21st, 2016 7:54
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      Christie Purifoy

      It is! I find seasonal cooking to be the most inspiring (and delicious), so I really love the idea of having a go-to recipe for a seasonal celebration cake.

      September 21st, 2016 9:01
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    Lori Harris

    Such a great reminder, Christy! I so often fail to prepare the table for my own children.

    September 21st, 2016 9:25
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    Lynn D. Morrissey

    A powerful message, Christie. Why don’t we treat those we love as well as the guests we lavish? I know I don’t do this, and this pricks my heart in a good way. And what is there about a beautiful cake that is so celebrative, when cookies simply won’t do? And I love the imaginativeness of yours–to take something (squash!) we would expect to be served one way, and to dress it up to be served another? . . . And I will think about dressing up my imagination today to reflect upon how I serve my family one way, and how I could make my consideration of them so much lovelier if I would serve in other ways, more hospitable ways, more flower-on-top, end-of-summer days! Thank you so much for sharing–ripe recipes for cakes and camaraderie. Love all you write!

    September 21st, 2016 9:57
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      Christie Purifoy

      Yes, well said, Lynn. There is a world of difference between a cake and a batch of cookies, isn’t there? Both good, both delicious, but that element of celebration – we can cultivate it in different ways, but it certainly does require cultivation.

      September 22nd, 2016 9:05
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    I love this so much! It is hard to admit that our own family gets the less than best that we reserve for guests! But, I also know that the pancakes on paper plates dinners are grace filled memories that my kids (who are all grown) remember with fondness too. It is the love that lingers, not the linen napkins so be encouraged! Oooh, and I printed out the recipe! My husband will love this and I think I may be able to convert it to GF easily so I can have some too! He will thank you because with the two of us he seldom gets special guest treatment 🙂

    September 21st, 2016 10:20
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      Christie Purifoy

      Thanks for your words of encouragement, Susan. I hope the cake turns out well!

      September 22nd, 2016 9:06
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    Michele Morin

    Yes, Christie! Any excuse for a party!
    Also, I realized years ago when I carried meals to people who needed help that I had better be ready to do something at least as yummy for my own family for dinner that night.

    September 22nd, 2016 11:07
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    This reminds me of my son asking last week why I made the best food when we had guests coming over. Gulp. I argued (instead of listening) that no I made delicious food most nights. Yes, but you only make chicken enchiladas when company comes over, he countered. Two gulps. Yup. He got me. And so I made chicken enchiladas the next day just for him. And boy did he appreciate them.

    September 22nd, 2016 22:31
  • SimplyDarlene

    Like your book, this piece is filled with such beautiful prose – giving new vantagepoint angles to how we see ordinary things.

    “…for no reason. And for every reason.” Indeed!


    October 11th, 2016 10:34

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