JAPANESE CAT REMIX — PISTACHIO LIME CAKE

In July 2012, I posted a recipe for Gingered Tuna Salad that was inspired by this carved Japanese cat:

014-225x300

I’ve since learned that it’s not a cat.  Not even close.  Color me embarrassed.  It’s a Tanuki–a “magical fox-like dog with shape-shifting powers, trickster and spook, original evil, now benevolent modern-day icon of generosity, cheer, and prosperity found often outside Japanese bars and restaurants.”  I also learned that it’s made out of keyaki or zelkova wood.

The “fun-loving Tanuki” is characterized by a big tummy, straw hat, puzzled facial expression, and giant scrotum (no kidding), and he carries a sake flask and a promissory note.  This explains several of the features of my carved guy that I couldn’t identify, particularly the giant scrotum (no kidding).  It gives new meaning to the phrase “grow a pair,” and I’m afraid I can’t look at the little fella now without blushing.

The Tanuki is not just a mythical creature, it’s also a real animal, sometimes called the Japanese Raccoon Dog — “an atypical species of dog with distinctive stripes of black fur under its eyes.”  Once upon a time, they were hunted for their meat, fur, and their scrotal skin (of course), which according to Wikipedia, was “used as a malleable sack for hammering gold into gold leaf.”

tanuki

Watcha hidin’ little fella?

So I was totally wrong about the Japanese cat.  Don’t you hate when you think something is one thing and it turns out to be something else?  For example, my neighbors have a prolific lemon tree in their front yard.  I may have, from time to time, “borrowed” a lemon or two from their tree:

Well, it turns out that the lemons I’ve been “borrowing” from my neighbors are actually limes.  Color me embarrassed.

Inspired by the Japanese cat Tanuki and the juicy lemons limes that are falling from my neighbor’s tree faster than I can steal borrow them, I baked a Pistachio Lime Cake.  The recipe is only slightly adapted from this recipe from the Tasting Room in Houston, originally published in the April 2012 edition of Bon Appetit.  This cake may look like a simple pound cake, but don’t be fooled — this is an extraordinary, tender, buttery cake, with a well-defined hit of citrus and subtle nuttiness from the pistachios.

PISTACHIO LIME CAKE
Print
Recipe type: Cake
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting pan
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios, divided use
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a 9x5x3" loaf pan* with nonstick spray and dust with flour. Shake pan over sink to remove any excess flour.
  2. Place butter in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy. Add sugar, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add juices and zests and beat until well combined (mixture will look curdled). Fold in baking powder, salt, and flour until just blended. Fold in ¾ cup pistachios.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup pistachios over batter. Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1-1/2 hours. Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool completely in pan. Run a sharp knife around sides to loosen. and unmold cake.
  4. *Can also be made in 4 mini loaf pans, and reduce baking time to approximately 1 hour. Excellent for gift-giving.

042

 Pistachios add color and crunch

043

 Steal borrow a few lemons limes and make this delicious cake

STARS AND STRIPES PIE

Happy 4th of July!  This week my inbox was flooded with recipes for foods in every shade of red, white, and blue, but one in particular caught my eye.  It was a blueberry and strawberry rhubarb pie that resembled a flag.  The recipe was from Tiny Pies in Austin.  I haven’t previously been there, but you can bet I will be sure to stop by on my next visit to Austin!

I adapted the recipe slightly, and used all strawberries instead of a mix of strawberries and rhubarb, because I couldn’t find rhubarb anywhere.  It was fun to make, easy as pie really.  :)

STARS AND STRIPES PIE
Print
Recipe type: Cakes and Pies
Author:
Ingredients
  • I package refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts)
Blueberry filling:
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Strawberry filling:
  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • Juice from ½ of an orange:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For blueberry filling: In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, and cornstarch. Add sugar mixture to blueberries and mix gently until thoroughly combined.
For strawberry filling: In a medium bowl, combine strawberries and orange juice. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, and cornstarch. Add sugar mixture to strawberries and mix gently until thoroughly combined.
Place one pie crust in a 9" pie pan. Add blueberry filling to left corner of pie, then add strawberry filling to remaining area. Cut stars out of half of the second pie crust using a small star cookie cutter, and cut free-hand wavy stripes out the remaining pie crust. Add stars on top of blueberry filling, add stripes on top of strawberry filling.
Bake until fruit is juicy and bubbling, and crust is light golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool, allowing fruit juices to thicken.

IMG_4498

Blueberry filling

IMG_4499Strawberry filling

IMG_4500 I used pastry cutters to keep the filling in place, but it really wasn’t necessary

IMG_4501

 Stars and stripes

IMG_4505American Pie!

IMG_4510

 My lovely assistant

I also made some Rice Krispie Treats for the holiday:

IMG_4506

See the red and blue cereal?  That’s Fruity Pebbles.  While I sat waiting for a batch of muffins the other morning, I sorted out blue and red ones for my special treats.  Pretty sure I’m gonna want those 20 minutes back at the end of my life.  Especially since my dog Jasper ate most of them off the counter when no one was looking.  He apparently confused Rice Krispie Treats with Dog Treats.  :)

 

EASY PINEAPPLE COCONUT CAKE

003 (2)

This darkroom timer was an estate sale find.  It looked vintage to me, but I was surprised to find you can still purchase these new for about $200.  I thought it would make an awesome kitchen timer.

Tick tick tick.  Like every year, the month of May has felt like one big countdown to the last day of school.  This year is a little different, in that in a few hours my son will “graduate” from middle school.  In my day, you “finished” middle school, as required by the state, and went to high school.  My children, however, have “graduated” from day care, elementary school, and now middle school.  The graduation ceremonies have become more elaborate with each level of education, and today’s festivities are no exception, beginning with the ceremony and ending with an over-the-top party put together by a bunch of well-meaning helicopter parents.

So as of 5:00 today, I will have two high-schoolers.  I haven’t enjoyed the middle school years, and hated them when I was a middle-schooler.  I always said that if I was given the opportunity to live to 100, but as a condition I had to repeat being 13, I would have to turn it down.  Yet, as I picked my son up at school yesterday, I realized that maybe I’m not quite as ready for this as I thought I was.  It won’t be long now before when people ask me if I have kids, I’ll say, “Yes, but they’re grown.”

For now, though, I’m looking forward to the summer break from homework, uniforms, packing school lunches, early mornings, practices, rehearsals, concerts, game schedules, school projects, and exams.  May is always hectic, with all of the year-end activities and final exams.  This time of year it’s hard for me to find time to do anything, much less cook.

Sometimes, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I can be a little snobbish.  With a few exceptions (for example, salsa and Rao’s marinara sauce), I prefer homemade.  When I was home for over a month with my broken ankle, I watched a lot of daytime Food Network, and Sandra Lee was one of the daytime regulars.  Oh, how I hated her show!  I called it Sandra Lee Semi-Insane, and if I ever use the word “tablescape” in a sentence, please shoot me.  The show reinforced my commitment to cooking from scratch.  So when I see a cake recipe with 2 or 3 ingredients, and one of those ingredients is a cake mix, I usually ignore it.  But then my friend Linda offered me a slice of a cake made with just two ingredients — canned pineapple and angel food cake mix.  It was warm out of the oven and it was delicious.

006 (4)

The beginning of an easy and delicious cake

So I searched for the recipe on the interwebs and found it on about a million sites. Where have I been?  There were lots of variations, too — add shredded coconut, rum or vanilla extract, lots of frosting ideas.  Several people mentioned to mix it in a large bowl because the batter “expands.”  They were not kidding!  I think you could probably strap a few boxes of angel food cake mix to yourself and use them as a personal flotation device.

What makes angel food cake mix foam up like crazy?  Sodium lauryl sulfate is the secret ingredient.

001 (3)

A whipping aid?  Oh please!  I’ll show you a whipping aid!  :)  According to my research, sodium lauryl sulfate is the same ingredient found in soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste that makes them foam up.

Inspired by the darkroom timer and the ticking of the middle school clock, I made the cake with canned pineapple, angel food cake mix, and 1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut.  You can use other fruits (like frozen blueberries), but the acid in the pineapple reacts with the leaveners to help the cake rise — the other fruits will result in a much flatter cake.  The cake  came out perfect, and my husband loved it.  It’s fine on its own, but is even better with a dollop of whipped topping.  Yep, I’m keeping a box of angel food cake mix in the pantry — right next to the Ghirardelli brownie mix!  :)

EASY PINEAPPLE COCONUT CAKE
5.0 from 1 reviews
Print
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 box angel food cake mix (I used Duncan HInes)
  • 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pineapple with juice. Mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in coconut.
  3. Pour batter into prepared 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and springs back when touched in middle. Let cool in pan.
  4. Serve with whipped topping. Garnish as desired.

007

1, 2, 3 — into the oven 

009

 Golden brown, hot from the oven

012

 5-ingredient garnish for a 3-ingredient cake?  Why not?

CHERRY-O CREAM CHEESE PIE

016 (3)

I found this vintage wooden box at a local estate sale.  Although I liked the box enough by itself, its contents were even more interesting to me:

013

It was a collection of handwritten recipe cards and yellowed recipe clippings.  I’ve been asking for my Mom’s recipe collection since she passed away last year, but my Dad is not quite ready to part with it.  There is something about her recipes–in her distinctive cramped hand, with her personal notes about the recipes (Delish! Use nonfat milk!)–that provides a glimpse of her personality.  They tell a story about her–the way she loved to entertain, the way she was always watching her weight, the friends who shared their recipes and good times with her.  In an article by Kate Murphy published recently in the New York Times, entitled “Between the Recipes, Scribbles Speak Volumes,” the author mused that cookbooks are “possibly the most annotated form of literature.”  As she describes, “[w]hether practical, historical, sentimental or smudged with chocolate ganache, marginalia in cookbooks can tell the story of a life and be a lasting memorial to the scribbler.”  I want my Mom’s recipes, not so much to make them, but to channel my Mom.  A stranger’s will have to do for now.

My personal recipe collection is more OCD than my Mom’s or this woman’s.  Years ago I started printing my recipes on the fancy papers that started showing up in stationery stores.  It was fun to fit the papers to the recipes.  There are no handwritten notes on my recipes, but my cookbook is pretty to flip through.  Here’s a few examples:

018 (2)

019 (2)

As I was going through the recipes in the old box, I came across this one for Cherry-O Cream Cheese Pie:

photo2

photo

My Mom used to make this pie all the time.  This clipping must date back to the 1960s.  Looking around the interwebs, I see that this recipe is still popular today.

Today happens to be George Washington‘s birthday.  The Father of Our Country, he is consistently ranked among the top three presidents of the United States (no idea who the other two are).  In 1968 Congress passed the “Monday Holiday Law” to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.”  By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.”  So today, instead of celebrating Washington’s birthday on February 22, his actual birthday, we celebrate it as a federal holiday, unofficially known as President’s Day, on the third Monday in February.  Interestingly, this guarantees that his birthday will never be celebrated on his actual birthday, because the third Monday in February can never fall any later than February 21.  (In other words, the latest the first Monday could be is the 7th, which would mean that the third Monday would be the 21st.)  I think George gets ripped off having to share his birthday on a random date with every other president — like having a birthday in December and getting combined birthday and Christmas presents.  On the other hand, I think the idea of moving a birthday around can be good.  For example, I might have liked to have moved my kids’ birthdays to the summer, when you don’t have to send cupcakes to school, and don’t really even have to have a party because no one is around.

Anyway, to many kids, George Washington is best remembered for chopping down a cherry tree.  As the fabricated story goes, little George used his hatchet to chop down his father’s cherry tree.  When his angry father asked who did it, George said, “I cannot tell a lie — I chopped down the cherry tree.”  His father was supposedly so pleased that George told the truth, that he considered it payment for the tree.  I don’t know about you, but lying always worked better for me.

Inspired by the decades-old clipping in the recipe box, memories of Mom, and in celebration of George Washington’s birthday, I made a Cherry-O Cream Cheese Pie.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s pretty darn tasty.

Print
Ingredients
  • 9-inch prepared graham cracker crumb crust*
  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 lb. 6.oz. can prepared cherry pie filling
Instructions
  1. Place cream cheese in a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, mixing until well blended. Mix in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust. Chill 2 to 3 hours before covering top of pie with cherry pie filling.
  2. *To make your own graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 12 whole graham crackers), 6 tablespoons melted butter, and ⅓ cup sugar. Press into a 9-inch pie plate using the back of a spoon, being sure to press it up the sides of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

004 (6)

Baked graham cracker crust, waiting for its filling
021
Happy 281st birthday George Washington!
001 (9)
I cannot tell a lie — this pie is really good

MACE CAKE

 

morningstar

I found this decorative weapon at an estate sale.  My son told me it was a mace, but my research revealed that it is actually a morning star, the difference being that a mace does not have spikes.  (The Cave Troll in the Lord of the Rings movies wields a morning star.)  Personally, when it comes to medieval weaponry, I think I’m gonna stick with spikes.

morningstar spikes

Ooohh — spikey!

I spotted it on top of a cabinet from across a room.  I think someone probably stuck it up there out of sight, hoping to come back for it the next day when the seller would start discounting.  That is not proper estate sale etiquette.

Yesterday I witnessed another example of bad estate sale manners.  As my friend and I entered the house, the seller was saying rather loudly to a departing customer, “I cannot believe how much you lie.”  What a great line — I wish I could use it in a deposition.  It turns out the customer had placed a number of items on the “I’m buying these table,” shooed other customers away when they wanted to look at them, and then after about an hour or so, decided not to buy them after all.  As a general rule, if you declare you are buying something at an estate sale, you have pretty much committed yourself to buying it.

Back to my fancy weapon.  Even though it wasn’t a mace, it got me thinking about the spice mace.  I couldn’t remember if I had ever used mace, or if I even had any.  Mace is the dried, lacy reddish covering of the nutmeg seed.  Nutmeg is not a nut, but the kernel of a fruit, much like an apricot.  Mace’s taste is similar to that of nutmeg, with a distinct pepper note, and maybe some steroids.

Turns out, I did not have mace, which was reason enough for me to run to the grocery store and get a bottle to add to the spices in the M section in my pantry.

004 (6)

Enjoying its new neighbors Mustard and Mint

maceSo now that I own mace, what do I do with it?  I found a recipe, originally published in Gourmet in 2005, for Mace Cake.  Inspired by the morning star, and intrigued by the spice, I gave it a try.  This was an interesting cake.  The directions call for beating the eggs and sugar together for approximately 15 minutes with a hand held mixer (or 7-8 minutes in a stand mixer).  If you are using a hand held mixer, I suggest painting the wall in front of you right before you start mixing — that way you can at least watch the paint dry while you stand there for what seems like an eternity beating eggs and sugar.  Another unusual technique the cake called for was boiling the milk and butter together before adding them to the cake.  The 1/2 cup of mace sugar sprinkled over the top, which forms a delicious crackly sugar crust, is also a little unusual.  Then, of course, there’s the mace.

I loved this cake.  Tasty on its own, it is even better with some sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.  But I have to admit, it is a sophisticated cake, and the strong taste of mace did not appeal to my kids.  The texture of the cake is so nice, however, that to please them, I am going to try using some of the techniques in the recipe with some other flavors.

MACE CAKE
Print
Recipe type: Cakes and Pies
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar, divided use
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon ground mace, divided use
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 13" baking pan.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs with 2 cups sugar in a large bowl. Beat at high speed until tripled in volume and thick enough to form a ribbon when beater is lifted, 7 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer, or 14 to 16 minutes with a hand held mixer.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon mace.
  4. Bring milk and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring until just combined. Stir in hot milk mixture until combined. Batter will be thin (like pancake batter).
  6. Stir together remaining ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon mace in a small bowl.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and sprinkle evenly with mace sugar. Bake until lightly golden, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

mace cake  Ready to go in the oven

mace cake

Hot from the oven with its crackly sugar crust

001 (6)

 A-mace-ing cake

CRANBERRY ORANGE POUND CAKE

009

011

I found this Italian porcelain Capidomonte hibiscus at a neighbor’s estate sale.  Fran, herself a delicate flower, had moved to an assisted living facility.  I assume she took her nicer things with her, because there wasn’t much at the sale.  But standing out among the yellowed books, aluminum cookware, and midcentury furniture, was this fragile hibiscus.  It was a pretty thing among all the junk.

According to my interwebs research, in Hawaii, where the yellow hibiscus is the state flower, a hibiscus tucked behind a woman’s right ear indicates the woman is spoken for, a hibiscus behind the left ear indicates the woman is available, and a hibiscus behind both ears means the woman is trouble.

Muumuus — those loose, usually floral-print dresses, that hang from the shoulder are also popular in Hawaiian culture.

Lilo[1]

Lilo in her muumuu

mrs.-roper[1]

Three’s Company’s Mrs. Roper in her trademark muumuu

If you are young and slim and tan, you can probably pull off wearing a muumuu and flip flops (those cheap rubber thongs that slap against your heel as you walk making a “flip flop” sound) with a hibiscus tucked behind your ear.  But let’s face it — after a certain age, and definitely after a certain weight, a muumuu becomes a moo moo, and flip flops are more like waddle daddles, and wearing them in public is a definite fashion don’t.

Not long ago, I was waiting in line at the grocery store behind a woman over a certain age and certain weight who was wearing a moo moo and waddle daddles.  I am regularly guilted into donating a dollar to whatever cause the store is collecting for — like this one at Petco, for example:

photo

How can you say no?  Well, I’ve observed that most of us manage to do so, but we do it politely, as in “Not today, thank you.”  On this particular occasion, the shy young cashier looked at the moo moo woman and said, ” Would you like to donate a dollar to breast cancer?”  I suppose technically she should have asked if she would like to donate a dollar to the fight against breast cancer or breast cancer research or something like that.  But we all know what she meant.  Except moo moo woman.  She replied very loudly and very very obnoxiously, “NO, I DON’T WANT TO DONATE A DOLLAR TO BREAST CANCER.  WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT?  BREAST CANCER IS A TERRIBLE DISEASE.  OH NO, I DON’T WANT TO DONATE TO BREAST CANCER, BLAH BLAH BLAH.”  The poor cashier just bowed her head and tried to avoid eye contact with her.  Moo moo woman paid the cashier and waddle daddled out of the store, much to the cashier’s relief.  Needless to say, I donated a dollar to breast cancer that day.

At the grocery store the other day, I found something else to do with a dollar — buy cranberries.  Left behind after the holidays — much like Fran’s porcelain hibiscus — they were on sale for a dollar a bag, less than half the price they were just a few weeks ago.  They were big, firm Wisconsin cranberries, perfect for baking with.

001 (6)

002 (4)

Inspired by the delicate hibiscus and the memory of the mean old moo moo woman who embarrassed the cashier over a request to donate a dollar, I bought a dollar bag of cranberries and made Cranberry Orange Pound Cake.  This is a happy, sunny cake to chase away the winter blues.

CRANBERRY ORANGE POUND CAKE
5.0 from 2 reviews
Print
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar, divided use
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup orange juice (or combination of lemon and orange juice, if desired)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind (can use lemon or combination of lemon and orange, if desired)
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • For glaze:
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup orange juice (can use lemon juice, or combination of orange and lemon juice, if desired)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" loaf pans (alternatively, you can use a 10" bundt pan, or 5 mini loaf pans).
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Place butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1-3/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks 2 at a time. Beat in sour cream, orange juice, vanilla, and orange rind. Fold in flour mixture, just until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly add remaining ¼ cup sugar, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Fold half of whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites. Gently fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake approximately 1 hour, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make glaze by combining sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Unmold cake onto a plate and spoon glaze over warm cake.

001 (8)

003 (8)

 

MOM’S JEWISH POUND CAKE

I found this pressed glass cake stand at a local charity thrift shop.  I believe it was made by the Fostoria Company, although the shop had a tag on it that said Heisey.  Isn’t it classy?

What’s really cool about it, is that it has a well in the center of the plate.

I had no idea what this hole in the plate was for — flowers, maybe?  My interwebs research revealed that this was known as a “rum well.”  Now we’re talking!  What cake wouldn’t benefit from a liberal bath in liquor?

Every time I look at this cake stand I want to start singing “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake” — a popular song from the ’50s, which went like this:

If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake

Baked a cake, baked a cake

If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake

Howd-ya-do, howd-ya-do, howd-ya-do

My version, however, is slightly different, and doesn’t involve the questionable use of double contractions.  (I mean, really — I’d’ve?):

 If I knew you were comin’ I’d have locked the door

Turned off the lights, shut the blinds

If I knew you were comin’ I’d have locked the door

Please call before you come next time

The thing is, I hate when people drop by unexpectedly.  It’s never good.  All hell breaks loose — things boil over on the stove or char in the oven, the dogs go bonkers or get out and run halfway down the block, and I have to make up some excuse why I’m still in my pajamas at 3:00 p.m. — you get the picture.  Sometimes folks come by unexpectedly to drop off something in connection with my son’s scout troop — money, a CD with 800 photos on it, broken camping equipment — which I receive with the same delight as when my dogs drop a dead lizard at my feet.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not antisocial — I just appreciate a heads up when someone is coming by.

My mom, on the other hand, was always ready for company.  She loved to entertain, or, as she called it, En-Ter-Tain, enunciating every syllable.  She and my dad, who were both accomplished cooks, could put together a tray of hors d’oeuvres in no time flat.  And my mom always had a home-baked cake or pie in the freezer.  Her signature cake was Jewish Pound Cake.  She found the recipe in a newspaper decades ago, and must have made 500 of them over her lifetime.  It was once her secret recipe, but now, of course, you can find it on the interwebs.

So this week, inspired by the elegant cake stand and the memories of my entertaining mom,  I offer you Jewish Pound Cake — just in time for Rosh Hashanah.  I believe its name comes from the fact that it’s made with oil, not butter, and therefore, can be served with both a meat and a dairy meal.  It’s a simple, not-too-sweet, homey cake, best baked a day in advance, and perfect for noshing.  Or serving to unexpected company.

JEWISH POUND CAKE
Print
Recipe type: Cake
Author:
This cake is best made at least one day in advance.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt or tube pan.
  2. Place raisins and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, add baking soda, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together oil, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, and nuts. Add in raisin mixture, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Hot from the oven 

I knew you were coming so I baked a cake!

 Please enjoy your cake while I put on some clothes

and go chase my dogs down the block.