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cooking with Col (grain-free chocolate cake)

2015 April 23
by Rachel Turiel

This happened the other day:


And this:cooking3

First, crack a beer. Next, put on Pandora. Accept that he refuses to wear an apron. Take 5 deep breaths. Explain to Rose that no, when you take a deep breath it doesn’t mean you’re annoyed, just that you’re remembering to calm your system. Get out the ingredients for the chocolate cake Col visioned up this morning, lobbying for “recipe creation” to replace your ideas of homeschool writing practice.


When Col forgoes your suggestion to cut the butter in even pieces for melting and instead drag-zooms the whole stick around the hot pan, sizzles of smoking fat shedding off the yellow rectangle, remind yourself that Col comes from a long line of men who don’t like taking instruction from others. Feel the jungle drums of your nervous system signaling the dictator has stepped into your psyche.

Let the dictator off for the night and say with what you hope is a gentle voice, Honey, is it fun to melt butter that way? Do you notice the butter is smoking? Remember that while Col is a beginner in the kitchen, he sees himself as contender for Top Chef of Tupperware Heights.

Take 5 more deep breaths and a long swig of beer. Remember that you also rarely follow recipes, that you haven’t mastered taking instruction from Dan after nineteen years together. Remember that Col wants to be here, that he turned down his sister’s invitation to play outside so he could cook with you. Remember that the rebel genes come from your side of the family and did not skip over you.


Watch Col spill, accidentally, copious amounts of poofy tapioca flour on the countertop, on the floor, watch him lick butter off the spatula, wonder why beating four eggs has to be so loud. Remind yourself that this cooking together is a new iteration of your relationship. Be determined to show up for it.

Find a way to casually remind Col to fold the flours into the wet ingredients with a light touch, we’re not mixing concrete, even though you’re quite sure you’ve mentioned this once or twice or ten times before.

Feel thankful that in your own home you can sing along loudly to Pandora. In fact, this may be the crucial ingredient, the back up support to cooking with a ten year old. Spirit in the Sky. Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall. Late for the Sky. Notice that belting out, Gotta have a friend in Jeeeesus, loosens something in your jacked up spine.


Hold the pot while Col scrapes the batter into the cast iron. Together, lick the spatula, the fork, the chocolately-gooey sides of the pot, congratulating yourselves that this is gonna be a good one. Feel the excitement and satisfaction of creating something together. Put the timer on for 35 minutes and let Col run outside to find his sister while you happily, singingly, clean up the kitchen.


Chocolate grain-free cake

4 eggs

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups almond meal/flour

1/2 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup plain yogurt (can be omitted or substituted with applesauce or half as much milk or coconut milk)

1 tsp each: salt, baking powder, vanilla

Mix wet ingredients, fold in dry ingredients. Bake in greased pan at 350F for 30-40 minutes.

Let cool and celebrate.

p.s. This cake is delish. Moist and light and full of flavor. When we’re feeling extra fancy, we mix cream cheese with fruit sauce for a frosting.

21 Responses leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Awesome Rachel. I needed to read this before making ‘lemonade’ with Marguerite (5) the other day.

  2. Dan permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Great post Rachie, what a great way to share this recipe and more: the experience with our Boy. You are the master of taking our challenging/sweet life and making it so Delish and digestible…like you! Love, Dan

  3. Dan permalink
    April 23, 2015

    P.S. what happens if there isn’t “that much” cake left when ya’ll get home?

  4. Ellie permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Thank you, Rachel. I, too, will have to reread this each time one of my children offers to “help” in the kitchen. Also, we are going to try that cake.

  5. Becky permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Rachel – such awesome memories you brought back to this mom whose baby is 34 – wish I had known all this back then BUT I have learned it and loving it with my 5 grands. Your kids are just so lucky and blessed you know it now

  6. Anonymous permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Hi, Rachel. It’s Sara from Aztec who recently moved to Cortez, whoopee! I made your latest dandelion pesto posted in the latest edible San Juans (can’t shake it) and it was the best. I had to tweak the recipe due to fridge contents: 1 part dandelion to 3 part parsley to 1 part cilantro, roasted pecans, juice of one fat lime. Boy! Good stuff, thank you. And also been wanting to make something ‘baad’, so this cake may fit the bill as well. Thank you!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 23, 2015

      Favorite: juice of one fat lime. Sounds awesome. Now, go get baaad.

  7. Jennifer permalink
    April 23, 2015

    This sounds exactly like my kitchen experiences with Elliot, those 10 yo boys! I also have the hardest time with control and messes (half the flour on the flour and counter). Although, I have to admit, tapioca flour is one of the messiest of all, even for me.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 23, 2015

      Tapioca is like powdered clouds.

  8. David Brown permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Rachel – With your kids, you always go to the place that’s the best — even without Norman Greenbaum’s help, but what a great way to put a smile on your face after the 5 deep breaths!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      April 23, 2015

      Hey – did you have to look up his name? Because if you didn’t that’s pretty impressive.

      • David Brown permalink
        April 27, 2015

        We clearly share a bit of the “soundtrack of our lives” and I am looking forward to more references to your playlists in your blog. I’m a huge Jackson Browne fan but hadn’t paid enough attention to “Late for the Sky” until you pointed me there. Wow! Here come those tears again. Thanks!

  9. Elizabeth permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Oh man, I’ve got a three year old version of this who absolutely adores cooking… but I often think he is going to be the end of me while we do so together. If it were up to him, he’d assist with every meal. So I try to do my cooking secretly. Have you ever done that? It’s very hard and involves very quiet chopping and stirring while he’s absorbed in play.

    Good to know that it’s still virtually the same when a boy is ten. Must. Be. More. Zen.

  10. Andrea permalink
    April 23, 2015

    Yes. And, lord help us all. This same exact thing happened to me today. Only it was clothes shopping, instead of cooking in the kitchen. Identical breathing and self dialogue. Lots of talking down the nervous system. Both mine, and boy child’s.

  11. April 23, 2015

    This sounds delicious I want to try it!

  12. Brenda permalink
    April 24, 2015

    Loved this… :) So glad Col loves to cook! I remember a LONG time ago when I was raising my daughter she wanted to bake. I told her she could, and I got out a cookbook/recipe. She looked at it, and proceeded to taste every ingredient that was to go into her cake. If it didn’t taste good, she wouldn’t put it in…no baking powder/ no soda, etc. etc.. I argued, I tried to convince her it wouldn’t work, to no avail…. (she was 8 years old). finally, I said “ok, do it your way!” I figured she would find out she needed some of those nasty tasting ingredients… she did it her way, she found out, and she learned you need those nasty tasting ingredients! :) It was life-changing for her. BTW, she is now 29 years old and an awesome cook and baker. She learned her lesson, and I didn’t need to argue with her too much anymore….We just had a few wasted ingredients! :)

  13. Annie permalink
    April 25, 2015

    That flower that Col drew with the chick! I love it!

  14. April 25, 2015

    mind boggling
    your temperament,
    capacity to
    continue to dive deep
    into the trout-fin thin dimension
    which hazily suggests a separation of the mundane
    and the Divine within the fabric of family yoga…

    your blogs reMind feeble ilg of how much of nothing i know…


    Dewa’s daddy

  15. April 30, 2015

    by Dalal Street Journal consecutively for two years.
    How is there going to be a meaningful recovery with that going on, and why isn’t the mainstream media reporting on this huge Fannie
    and Freddie taxpayer rip-off. It is important that this person is able to be given appropriate training when it comes to handling health and safety properly.

  16. same0art permalink
    May 8, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I tweaked it a bit, as half of our household is on a glutenfree/dairyfree diet. So I used a mix of glutenfree flowers, plus xantham gum, added some shredded coconut flakes. It came out really nice!
    And I can try this with my daughter who loves to help in the kitchen (talk about messes).

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