The New Normal—Reflections and Stories from the EAT Family—Cooking from the Heart by Susan Worrall

As the world shifts and changes below our feet right now, EAT thought it might be a good time to check in with our family of contributors, supporters, and friends to see how they are dealing with daily life in this new reality. This is a temporary stage in the world timeline, we realize, but one few of us will forget. Read on for the fourth story in our series.


Cooking from the Heart

by Susan Worrall

In these times, community pulls together. At least that’s my experience on Salt Spring Island. 24 Years ago, I left Toronto, where I had a wonderful community of family and friends. It was a leap that I never thought would bring me to Salt Spring Island, where I live with my beloved and Tansi, the wonder dog, on a half-acre of very fertile soil.

After the initial shock of C19 wore off, I have settled into a routine. I still do some work, walk the dog, and cook and bake.

What brings me comfort is drawing from my roots. Half Italian on my mother’s side, I cook many of the dishes my grandmother and mother made. It’s a family joke. How do you prepare spinach? Sauté in a little olive oil and garlic. How do you prepare beet greens? Sauté in a little olive oil and garlic. And the list goes on.

My brother Rick had the following recipe, written in my mother’s hand. It is an Olive Oil cake made in the style of the region where Grandma came from, Abruzzi. Her little mountain town, Caramanico del Terme, is there looking much the same as it did over 100 years ago when Grandma first came to Toronto.

I have modified the recipe to suit my gluten-free needs. I used about ½ cup less Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose and would suggest adding another egg. Otherwise, it was perfect and reminiscent of many days sitting around our table, eating this cake and drinking coffee. I serve it with homemade blackcurrant jam (which reminds me of my English grandmother) and yogurt.



Grandma DeMarco’s Cake

Preheat oven to 350F


3 eggs (for gluten-free, play with adding another egg)

4 oz. olive oil

2-1/2 cups flour (for gluten-free, I used Bob’s Red Mill and used about 2 cups. You might have to adjust to get the right cake batter consistency)


cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins (soaked and drained)

for gluten-free, add a pinch of salt


Beat eggs until light

Add sugar and continue to beat until thick

Add oil

Alternate adding in flour with milk

Add vanilla, raisins and salt if you’re using, stir to combine

At the very end (and grandma always said this was very important to add at the end), add baking powder and mix carefully

Optional: sprinkle some sugar on top before you cook

Pour into greased pan and cook in a pre-heated oven at for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out dry). Serve with fruit or preserve and a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream.


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