Its very hot here. Unrelentingly hot. Hot comes and stays. Hot sets up a permanent camp. Hot repeats. Hot the Sequel. Hot the Third. Hot Returns. The Son of Hot. Hot: Revisited. Hot Unleashed. Hot and the boy band 98° come together to make an acoustic album: In the Heat of Summer.
It’s that kind of hot.
So I baked a cake:
(with a side of Wendell Berry. Its probably the farm atmosphere…)
Craziness to turn on the oven in the middle of a Texas July. Especially here. But this is a special cake. This cake smells like Fall. All kinds of spices fill the olfactory glands to bring sweet remembrance of cooler temperatures, spice-filled food, and brilliantly colored landscapes of oranges, reds and yellows. Tasting this cake reminds me of Thanksgiving, scarves, and my parent’s house filled with all my family. I could almost, (oh, but not quite, darn you Hot) feel a slight breeze with a hint of crispness float through the kitchen as I added the spices and poured in the honey.
I got the recipe from here. It didn’t turn out quite as moist as she describes, but still good. I also cut back on the sugar (her suggestion) which really lets you taste the spices, and the beer, but you have to be looking for it. I chose this seasonal favorite to add to the cake:
The recipe only calls for one, so that means you can share the other 5 with friends and start a Star Wars Episode IV viewing party. (In the air-conditioned apartment, on the new -donated!!- big screen, high-def TV)
-Side note: I attempted to make my own whipped cream. It didn’t work out, and somehow I got butter instead. So I went and bought a tub of cool whip. (as seen above) Totally worth it.
This past tuesday was my turn to cook lunch- At the farm, everybody takes turn cooking the noon meal, and everyone eats together. pretty much every other meal is self-serve, and the protocol is to plan for 30 people.
Now, thirty people may or may not sound like a lot to some. And in some cases, it may not be. If these were 30 mild-mannered air-conditioned suburban office workers, this might not seem like such a task. But these are 30 farmers. People that have spent the past 3-4 hours working in the hot July sun, leaving them ravenous and electrolyte deprived. Not to mention the men who sit down for the noon meal here tuck in and put away more in one sitting than I do in an entire day.
I’ve never cooked for such a volume before. Usually when I make meals its for 4 or 5 people. The most I’ve ever cooked for is 15, and thats really pushing it. Plus, when I plan a meal, I make lists. Oh the joy of a shopping list! After I spend a significant amount of time searching for what I want to make, I then spend a significant amount of time searching for the ingredients. No such luxury here. I must put to use what is already in the farm kitchen, which is a beast I’ve never faced before.
As I was musing on what to prepare, I found out that there would be a troop of girls coming for a few days, about 10 or so. So the guidance I used on the volume of food to prepare was more or less a stab in the dark, and I found myself petitioning the Lord to intervene in a loaves and fishes type manner if I happened to not make quite enough.
I have a friend named Alisha who celebrated a birthday this past week. Alisha and I have known each other for roughly the past four years, and our friendship has grown immensely in the last two. I can’t recall exactly when or how we decided to be such good friends, but it happened and I am ever-so-glad it did. What started off as a friendly acquaintance evolved into a support system for school, relationships, and delicious home-cooked meals when I have needed them the most. I am extremely blessed to have a kindred spirit who shares my passions about Jesus, medicine, food and music.
As a symbol of the birthday celebration, I baked this cake. Its a blackberry bundt cake with an orange glaze* that just feels like summer to me. Of course, living in south Mississippi it seems like the summer always feels you, but for the sake of friendship and summer berries, this cake is perfect.
I have a tiny kitchen, and being a college student my kitchen resources are limited at best. The original recipe calls for luxury appliances like mixers, which I do not have. However, I do have two fully-functioning hands, and I believe that people were making cakes years before there were mixers, and successfully. I’ll walk you through it, if the world of non-gadgetry is new to you. (more…)