Several of you have asked me to bring back Pieday Friday. Alas, the unfortunately timed post-pie bout with the stomach flu has kept me from embracing your entreaties. However, I have decided on a new food-themed serialized post. For now I am calling it For the Boys.

The idea is this: Both my family and my wife’s family have deep food traditions. Her grandfather owned a diner and supposedly made donuts that people traveled a tri-county area to get. And my family…well they’re from the South which means food is in the blood.

Some of my favorite and closest memories are of food. Some dinners I can still conjure scents from. It’s that strong to me.

Very early in my two year-old’s life my wife started the spice game with him. She would hold him, standing by the spice rack and pull down spices, letting him smell them as they went. Some of the first things he could tell by sight were spices. He was never too keen with the whole baby rattle routine, but he loved to shake his cinnamon sticks. There was a time when he couldn’t sleep without them.

I’m pretty sure my boys will love their food. So I thought I would begin compiling a family cookbook for them. Since my mother’s birthday is on the first of July, I thought I would run each new recipe on the first posting of each month, so here it is.

Nearly every night my mother asks my father what he wants for dinner. Nearly every night he says, “Whatever.” One night she put together a heinous dish—I still don’t remember what was in it, but I think it might have had shrimp cocktail sauce and mini-sweet gherkins— which she called Whatever. No one ate it. But it did not have the affect she wanted. He still answers whatever.

There are only three things that my father asks for: Cornbread-beans-n-potatoes, sheet cake, and rum cake. I’ll hit all of these as the months go on, but I will begin with my favorite:

Dad’s Rummyrummy Rum Cake

This was probably the first alcohol I ever had. I love this cake. It is the special cake. Mom will make dad a sheet cake at the drop of a hat. But Rummyrummy Rum Cake—it only comes out for special occasions. That’s because it takes time. It doesn’t take time to bake, oh no. The time it needs is to soak, so enseep, to ingest the heady rum and sugar so that your head will begin swimming well before the fork reaches your mouth. Oh, god! I love this cake!

The Cake

1 cup chopped pecans
1 box pudding in the mix yellow cake mix
3 eggs
½ c. water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
½ c. white rum (you can use dark or spiced, if you like)

I like to toast the walnuts and cool them before chopping them.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan.

Sprinkle the chopped nuts into the bottom of the pan. I like to roll the pan around a little.

Mix the rest of the cake ingredients.

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan.

Bake for 1 hour.


The Glaze

1/2 lb. butter
1/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
1 c. rum

Melt the glaze butter and stir in sugar and water.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. No longer! If you go too long the sugar will recrystallize.

Remove from heat. Stir in rum.

The Magic

Turn cake out onto a serving plate (I prefer something with a ridge to hold the glaze in). Poke the top with a toothpick. I like to use a skewer because it gets in deeper.

Pour or brush the glaze all over the cake. I like to pour some around the ring of the cake. Then I like to brush glaze along the sides so that there is glaze all over the cake.

Allow it to soak up the glaze, then repeat until it’s all gone. This can take a while.

Sometimes, if I don’t think the cake has the right, shall we say, nose, I will pour rum directly onto the cake. It should smell rummy.

I like to let this cake sit for a day before serving. It really makes it delectable.