Evanescence is not just a rock band
Of late I'm preoccupied with the fleeting & frightening facts of life. A friend's only child was killed in a motorcycle crash. My partner, Michael, developed a small cyst and became drastically ill with shakes, fever and confusion. He was operated on almost immediately for a near-fatal bacterial infection which nobody can source. He's recovering slowly but has been in the hospital for two weeks. I knew he was coming around when he complained mightily about the hospital food so now we try to bring him meal treats to compensate. The nutritionist understands and always brings her own lunch and we gabbed about nearby restaurants like Ludi's downtown which reopened for Filipino comfort food. Dingfelder's is THE pastrami deli and Slab for burgers - the man needs protein to heal.
An army of relatives and friends have stepped forth to visit, help me and walk Leo who celebrates his fourteenth year in ten days. The reliance on the generosity of friends is huge. Twice a day someone materializes to take Leo out for a stroll while I usually go to the hospital or tackle phone calls. When he does come home, there will be nurses and therapists and health aides at the ready. The VA appears to be coming through for us, but we won't know and relax until he is discharged.
I've bought the great big novel from Abraham Verghese, The Covenant of Water, hopefully a welcome distraction. And I've started Lorrie Moore's I Am Homeless if This is Not My Home.
In my endless striving to be hip, I subscribe to Author (Steal Like An Artist) Austin Kleon's newsletter https://austinkleon.com/newsletter/ which always give me new music to try on Spotify, new movies or better yet old movies I've never seen, and most importantly he inspires the artist in each of us with his journals and collages and ideas. Look at kids' artwork! My grand nieces present boundless creativity with every piece of paper. And Kleon's reading lists - my notes file is made up of good reading lists: https://austinkleon.com/category/reading/my-reading-years/
Also, see The Believer reviewer, Nick Hornby, https://www.thereadinglists.com/nick-hornby-reading-list/, https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/litfriction and Molly Young's recommendations from NYT for subscribers https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/read-like-the-wind
My history was bookselling and I've never got over the thrill of opening a new seasonal catalog overcome by covetousness. Did I mention my gift socks from Michael? "It's okay to buy more books."
At the patient's demand, I made a simple vanilla pound cake
mentioned in the Seattle Times (2 Sticks of Butter!):
Makes 1 cake, 10 to 12 generous slices https://dishingwithkathycasey.com/?p=515
Butter or nonstick cooking spray and flour for preparing pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, measured by the scoop and sweep method (level off with a straight edge)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter (I like to use salted for that little flavor boost), at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons real vanilla extract
Extra flavor “goodies” (see Chef’s Notes, below)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Prepare a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan by greasing or spraying first and then lightly dusting with flour. Tap out any excess flour.
3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. (But sometimes I just stick these in a bowl, whisk them together to incorporate the baking powder, and forget the sifting!) These are the “dry ingredients.” Set aside.
4. In an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and mix with beater attachment on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until fluffy. This is called “creaming.” Halfway through mixing, stop mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, being sure to get down to the bottom of the bowl, too.
5. Next, add eggs and vanilla and mix on medium-high speed for 1 minute. When the eggs and vanilla are beaten in, stop the mixer and add half of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Turn mixer on slow speed just until flour is incorporated, then raise speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds. Turn off mixer and add remaining dry ingredients. Turn mixer on slow to incorporate flour, then raise speed to medium and mix for 1 minute. If you are adding flavorings and “goodies” such as lemon peel, chocolate chips, lavender, etc., now is the time to stir them in.
6. With rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being sure batter fills all the corners. Smooth out batter on the top and then tap pan sharply on the counter to release any air bubbles.
7. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a cake tester — or bamboo skewer or toothpick — inserted into the center comes out clean, without gooey batter stuck to it and it is not wet to the touch. If the tester does not come out clean, then bake cake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the tester comes out clean. Halfway through the baking time, carefully rotate the pan in case there are hotter or colder zones in your oven. Ovens vary and home baking is not an exact science, so use your best judgment on cooking time. When done, this cake will be rich golden brown on top and slightly coming away from the edges of the pan.
8. Remove cake from the oven and let it rest on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Then slide a paring knife around the sides to help loosen the cake, and turn cake out onto rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
9. To serve, slice cake (I prefer to use a serrated knife) into ¾- to 1-inch thick slices and top with seasonal fresh fruit, such as berries or peaches. Other options are whipped cream and ice cream … or just eat it plain!
Chef’s Notes: Try adding any of the following or a combination. Just use your creative juices and experiment, but keep the total additions to ½ cup or less.
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon or orange zest (colored peel only, no white pith)
½ cup mini chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped candied ginger
2 teaspoons dried edible lavender flowers
1/3 to ½ cup chopped dried fruits such as cranberries, candied pineapple, mango, etc. (presoak fruit in 2 tablespoons of water)
½ cup chopped nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
Copyright 2007, Kathy Casey Food Studios
Thanks for reading. Try the pound cake topped with peaches.