Holiday Recipe - Crumb Cake
Greetings! My name is Amy Winters-Voss and I write urban fantasy based on Japanese mythology. Being that the holiday season is a wonderful time to focus on family traditions and the things that bring us together, I'll be sharing one of my favorite recipes, passed down from my Aunt Phyllis—Crumb Cake.
This isn't a specific holiday recipe. But it's one of our most requested by the family for anytime we need to celebrate. This is the cake I always ask hubs to make on my birthday. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Crumb mixture: (part of it goes in the cake)
2 c flour
1 c sugar
2/3 c shortening
Rest of the cake:
1 t baking sode
1 t cinnamon
1 c milk
12 oz chocolate chips
Grease a 9x12 inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the Crumb mixture ingredients together until like cake crumbs. Save 1 c of this.
Add the rest of the crumb mixture to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until smooth. Then add most of the chocolate chips and stir.
Pour into greased pan. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips and the crumb mixture you set aside.
Bake for 1/2 hour. (I often have to cook it a little longer. Test it with a toothpick to ensure it's done.)
What is your favorite recipe to celebrate with?
“To make things worse, yesterday I heard you’re covered in irezumi tattoos. Nonogawa may be in the sticks, but we all know what that means here.”
I blink. Why are little old ladies so rude?
“Well? Are you?” she presses.
While I deserve the disdain, I don’t want my boss to take heat for me. “Ma’am, the community respects Satou-san. I’ll do my best for his sake.”
She draws out the syllables. “You dodged.” As she crosses her arms, her sharp eyes shift to a predatory glint. “If you won’t answer, roll up your sleeve. I know yakuza ink when I see it.”
My head swivels. Satou, where are you? Make your vicious aunt heel. She’s really causing my hackles to raise, but I don’t want to do anything stupid. “Ma’am?”
In the Hiragi clan, I was good at remembering names, because the alternative could be costly. What did Satou say her name was? Oh yeah—Nakamura Hisako, the town’s beloved matriarch. When I was yakuza, I would have never let a little old lady corner me. But I’m caught flat-footed because I can’t use any of the in-your-face phrases that bubble up to get her to lay off. I haven’t done a damned thing to her. What gives?
So, I take a deep breath. No attitude. “Nakamura-sama, it’s becoming more common in the cities. People keep ‘em out of sight to avoid the stigma.”
As if I’ll tell this biddy the full truth. Later, I can scream rebellion in gokudou drawl all I want. But her outburst is the proverbial piano hanging overhead, threatening to crash down on the little hope I have in this town.
At twenty-four, I should have a high school diploma and a college degree or employment experience. This is my only chance. Suck it up, Umeji. So, I bow deep. “I apologize that my tattoos offend. If I could turn back time, I’d not have done it. How may I help you?”
Harrumphing, she turns on her heel with the grace of a ballerina, leaving me with some serious heartburn. Hiro, my big brother in the Hiragi clan, had taught me to ferret out everything that seemed out of place. How does an old lady move that fast?
When I finish stocking, I grab my baseball-style jacket with its embroidered fox on black and gold silk and beeline it to Satou. Just my luck, his aunt beats me there.
I wait behind her and examine my shoes. Faint reflections of fluorescent lights show on the tile floor.
“That tattooed punk is bad for business.” She points, doubtless aware of how rude she’s being. “He dares to flaunt his past wearing that rebel jacket, instead of considering this store’s reputation. I’ve heard all manner of rumors. Mark my words, Kazuo, people will stop shopping here.” Full-to-the-brim grocery bags strain her arthritic knuckles.
While Nakamura’s concern is understandable, does she care that this ‘rebel jacket’ is the only one I own? I was fortunate someone dropped it by the penitentiary after emptying my apartment. My fists clench, pulling on the stitches from yesterday’s wound. Why does this town love her, anyway?