Only once as a child was I made to strongly urged to eat my dessert. Our family of five, plus my uncle and his new wife were gathered around our maple dining table. Each of our wintry faces was warmed and brightened by the candle’s winking light. Mom, in her fancy apron, her hair pulled back in a thick high ponytail, was beaming. She’d worked hard on this dessert.
Sounds innocuous enough. To some it might even sound a tad romantic. A dessert of a time past when people cooked in black pots placed on grates in large fireplaces, when people wiped their mouths with their sleeves or aprons, and hunting dogs curled around the legs of the table and caught the scraps that fell. Everyone basked in the glow of candlelight back then. Christmas pudding….
Ahhh! Lovely, dear!
At first whiff I knew this was going to be nasty. I declined as politely as I could by pushing it away and making a face. “You haven’t even tried it.” “But I don’t need to, I know I won’t like it!” “Well, you’re going to try it.” “See, I told you I wouldn’t like it!” “Maybe you just need another bite to be sure.”
The story doesn’t end well. I had several bites that night, and then lost a good portion of the dinner I had liked. I had a very weak stomach back then, a nose that could sniff green pepper or alcohol a room away, and a very – discerning – palate for a seven-year-old.
(Don’t think a single dark thought about our Mom. She’s a sweetheart and a mighty fine cook, and I’ve got plenty of stories and recipes to prove it!)
Why are we here then, you ask. Certainly not to share in Mom’s recipe for Christmas Pudding!? (No, our smarter-than-average Mom never made that ghastly thing again.)
I’m here (once more) to strongly urge you to eat your vegetables – AS your dessert this time! Fortune smiles!
AND you ‘re going to love it – at first bite! (So will seven-year-olds.)
WHY will you love it? (Good of you to ask.) It’s aromatic, tender, light, flavorful, not-dry (I know some people despise the word moist), it’s soft in the mouth, sweet on the tongue – and what? good for you! Warmed for breakfast, packed in a kid’s lunch, a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, a light bit of sweet after dinner. This makes 2 loaves, and you only add ½ cup of sugar – yet it’s delicately sweet. (It does have some fruit butter which has a bit of its own sugar, but we’re not going to hold that against it.) We do like this – ever so much – around our house!
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour (the white variety of whole wheat works best for tender baked goods like this but any will do)
2 Tablespoons hulled Hemp Seeds (Optional – but so packed nutritionally and with a delicious nutty flavor)
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 medium carrot shredded
1 medium parsnip, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
3 large eggs
¾ cup apple butter or pumpkin butter (I’ve only made this with pumpkin butter, but either would be equally good)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (yes, that much)
2 Tablespoons pumpkins seeds for the top
Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C) Either oil two 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pans with olive oil or line with parchment paper. (Loaves will lift right out of the pan, cleanly, with parchment paper.)
Wash, peel and grate your vegetables.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, hemp seed, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine well. Add the shredded carrots, zucchini and parsnip. Stir to coat the shreds evenly.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, fruit butter of your choice, the olive oil and vanilla extract.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined, but be careful not to over-mix which would toughen the loaves.