EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE… #6

CELEBRATING THE 6TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY BLOG WITH Maida Heatter’s East 62nd Street Lemon Cake

If Life tosses you lemons, put together Maida Heatter’s classic East 62nd Street Lemon Cake. This glorious cake was published to rave reviews by Craig Claiborne in the New York Times more than fifty years ago. According to many bakers, it’s the best lemon cake ever, one that’s stood the test of time and earned countless blue ribbons at county fairs.

AFTER 5 YEARS OF MAKING 300 RECIPES FROM DORIE GREENSPAN’S AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE COOKBOOK, THESE ARE SOME FAVORITES.

Heatter’s famous cake was my pick to honor the 6-year anniversary of this blog. I switched on these lights on February 22, 20l1. After setting up shop in 9 different kitchens, cooking, clicking and writing my way through 280 posts, I proudly say, “Let us eat lemon cake!”

THIS WEEK’S COOKTHEBOOKFRIDAYS RECIPE CHOICE IS A DELICIOUS FARRO SALAD with ROOT VEGETABLES & POMEGRANATE.

Be sure to try this week’s CooktheBookFridays spectacular recipe choice, Farro Salad with Root Vegetables & Pomegranate. I’ve suggested many variations to this dish and will be serving it often this year. (Donna Chase and Emma, this has your names on it.)

OUR GREAT HENDERSON NEIGHBORS IN ANTHEM COUNTRY CLUB HELPED ME GET MY BLOG UP AND ACTIVE. ADRIANA (L) IS ONE OF THE BEST COOKS I KNOW.
HER FOOD IS ALWAYS FRESH AND HEALTHY. DOM AND RAY, LOYAL TASTE TESTERS, OWNED A SUCCESFUL DELI IN NEW YORK CITY BEFORE MOVING TO NEVADA. ONE OF THE BEST MEALS I EVER HAD WAS AT THEIR HOME ON A CHRISTMAS EVE. BOBBY IS A GRILL MASTER AND, WITH ADRIANA, ARE ALWAYS FEEDING SOMEONE. MICHELLE IS NOT ONLY A LAWYER & JUDGE BUT ALSO GRADUATED FROM CULINARY SCHOOL. SHE WAS MY GO-TO-GAL.

Today’s post is a tribute to the Life I’ve rebuilt and the people who led the way. After scrolling through 6 years of photos, I admit to being amazed at the support of others. When I began this blog in 2011, we had been living in Henderson for 7 years. Hospice has just begun caring for Michael. I was so tired, just done, and inquired about my checking into Hospice also. They were only slightly amused and often hustled me out the door, allowing me time to begin picking up the pieces.

MY BLOG GAVE ME A REASON TO ENTERTAIN AGAIN AND I LOVED DOING IT. HERE I AM TRYING OUT SOME RECIPES WITH ACC NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY.

The tale of LOBNB’s is oft-repeated. The short version is I needed structure to my days. Creating a blog and joining a virtual cooking group appealed to me. I committed to cook, photograph, write about and post a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table cookbook every Friday. When my first post appeared, fifty-some food bloggers, calling themselves Doristas, welcomed me to French Fridays with Dorie. It was a game-changer.

WHEN DORIE WAS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR THE INTERNATIONAL FOOD BLOGGERS CONFERENCE IN SEATTLE, MANY OF US ATTENDED IT TO MEET EACH OTHER AND SUPPORT OUR MENTOR.

OUR FRENCH FRIDAY FAMILY HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME IN SEATTLE.

When Michael died 16 months later, Melissa came to stay with me. Among the many deeds she did for me while I sat at the kitchen table eating bags of Lay’s Fritos, was take over my French Fridays blogging chore. She never missed a deadline and my blog was in place when I returned.

WE WORK TO MAKE MEET-UPS HAPPEN. WHEN I TRAVELED TO HYDE PARK TO SEE FDR’S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, MANY DORISTAS FOUND TIME AND MADE THE EFFORT TO HAVE DINNER TOGETHER AT PAUL BOCUSE’S AT THE NEARBY CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA.

THIS CELEBRATION TURNED BITTERSWEET ON WEDNESDAY AFTER HEARING OUR WONDERFUL COLLEAGUE, KATHY VAN BRUINESSE (CENTER), HAD LOST HER FIERCE BATTLE WITH CANCER. BETSY POLLACK, WHO WAS AN ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SITE WITH ME, SAID IT BEST, “My sadness reinforces my amazement at the strength of the connections we have made through FFWD.”

What my friends and family quickly understood was my commitment would morph into a group effort. Polishing up forgotten cooking skills was a minor inconvenience compared to dealing with technical glitches. My grocery bills at Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s skyrocketed, the pantry was no longer bare and my collection of Penzeys spices grew in numbers. Most importantly, my food production quickly outgrew my ability to consume it.

It took effort to right my world. Although I’ve heard it takes a village, for me it took three, in Henderson, Bishop and Aspen. (And, still does.) This blog is about that ongoing journey. Here are some highlights from those first six years…..

MY BLOG IS A FAMILY PROJECT. “IT’S FOR GRANDMA’S BLOG.” TRANSLATES TO “DO IT.” UNFORTUNATELY SINCE I GAVE STEPHEN FOOD POISONING BY RE-WARMING A CORNDOG THAT HAD BEEN IN THE OVEN ALL NIGHT, HE IS RELUCTANT TO EAT ANYTHING I COOK!

AT HOME IN ASPEN

WHEN I FIRST MOVED BACK TO ASPEN, DONNA GRAUER SUGGESTED WE MAKE THE FRENCH FRIDAYS RECIPE, COEUR à LA CRÈME, TOGETHER. EVER SINCE I HAVE BEEN COOKING WITH THESE GALS FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS. CHAR MCLAIN (L) DONNA, DONNA CHASE

COEUR À LA CRÈME

THE GREATEST TASTE TESTERS EVER, EVER, EVER. THE STAFF AT THE GANT.

WHEN I RETURNED TO ASPEN MY SILVER KING DRIVE FRIEND, BLANCA O’LEARY, NEVER FORGOT TO INCLUDE ME IN ACTIVITIES I HAD LEFT BEHIND . WITH BLANCA, EVERY DAY IS A CELEBRATION WHICH REVOLVES AROUND GOOD FOOD (TASTE-TESTERS) AND GOOD PEOPLE. SINCE MY FAMILY LIVES SO FAR AWAY, MY SILVER KING DRIVE FRIENDS, CAVANAUGH, CAV AND BLANCA,AND STEVE, SUSAN, RACHEL AND JOSH PHILIPS HAVE STEPPED IN TO SHARE THEIRS.

EVERY BLOGGER NEEDS AN AUDIENCE AND THESE ARE SEVEN OF MY MOST LOYAL SUBSCRIBERS WHO ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT MY POSTS. IN FACT, I SUSPECT LUKY, (3 FROM LEFT) FORWARDS MY POSTS TO HER FORMIDABLE LIST OF E-MAIL CONTACTS EVERY WEEK INSISTING IT BE READ.

Travel + Leisure Magazine named the hot chocolate at The Little Nell “America’s Best Hot Chocolate.” So Jessica (L) and Kathryn (R) agreed to help me with the taste test. It was lunch time, too late for breakfast and too early for apres-ski but we forged ahead. It was delicious. It cost $12.

Maida Heatter’s EAST 62nd STREET LEMON CAKE from HER Book of Great Desserts

INGREDIENTS:

Cake
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (1⁄2 lb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
2 finely grated rinds of medium-sized lemons

Glaze
1⁄2 cup lemon juice
3⁄4 cup sugar

Topping
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Generously butter or spray 12-cup bundt pan 12-cup Bundt pan and dust it all lightly with fine, dry bread crumbs. (I did not dust with fine bread crumbs although Heatter insisted it provided a crisp finish to the cake.)
3. Sift in all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
4. In large bowl of electric mixer cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. On lowest speed available beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.
6. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add the dry ingredients and milk in five additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold the batter by hand until smooth. Stir in lemon rind. Turn the batter into prepared pan. Level top by rotating pan briskly back and forth.
7. Bake for 60-75 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
8. Let cake stand in pan for about 3-5 minutes before inverting it to remove from bundt pan to place on cooling rack. Put a large piece of aluminum foil or waxed paper under the rack.
9. Whisk the lemon juice and sugar together and carefully brush over the hot cake until absorbed. The glaze must be used immediately after it is mixed and while the cake is hot.
10. Let cake cool completely.
11. Mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice, if desired Pour or frost over the cake as desired. (If you wish to just sprinkle it with plain powdered sugar, that’s perfect also.
12. Do not cut for at least several hours.

WHEN I INVITE FRIENDS TO DINNER PLANNING TO DO A POST ABOUT IT, I ALWAYS SAY, “WEAR YOUR LIPSTICK.” ,

FARRO SALAD with ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES and POMEGRANATE by David Lebovitz

Six to Eight Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Salad
1 cup wheat berries or farro
one bay leaf
2 pounds assorted root vegetables : (carrots, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips or beets) and butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey or 2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
2. Cook the wheat berries or farro with the bay leaf, according to directions until tender, but still chewy.
3. While the wheat berries or farro are cooking, toss and then mix together the diced vegetables on a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, seasoning well with salt and pepper.
4. Roast the vegetables in the bottom third of the oven, stirring once midway during baking, for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on the outside.
5. To make the dressing, mix together the mustard, salt, lemon juice and honey or molasses in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil. (I mixed the dressing together in a jar and shook it!)
6. Once the wheat berries or farro are cooked, drain them well, plucking out the bay leaf.
7. First mix the grains with the dressing in a large bowl. Stir in the root vegetables, parsley and pomegranate seeds. Do a final check for seasoning and add more salt, black pepper, and additional olive oil, if desired.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature..
Storage: Can be made up to two days in advance, and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If necessary, add a few drops of lemon juice to liven it up before serving.

This salad is also good served warm with roasted meat or chicken with pan juices scraped over the top.

David suggests some possible additions to add to the finished salad:

Toasted and coarsely chopped pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts
Diced dried apricots, cranberries or cherries
Cubes of feta or bleu cheese strewn over the top
A big squeeze of fresh lemon or tangerine juice, or some zest
Sautéed mushrooms tossed in with the root vegetables
Wilted greens, cooked with garlic, coarsely chopped
A generous handful of spicy arugula coarsely chopped

COOKTHEBOOKFRIDAYS is an on-line food blogging group which is cooking its way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Check us out here.

 

Comments

  1. Ardyth Sohn says

    Didn’t you have an earlier blog about life and its opportunities and challenges? I remember you attending a workshop at UNLV where I think u knew more about the “new” medium than the instructor and generously shared some tips with the rest of us …lol

    • Mary says

      That’s the workshop where the instructor kept telling us to put our lights on bright. I got the idea for the blog from him. Do you remember that?

  2. says

    Mary, you rock! I look forward to “catching up” with you every week with your uplifting blog posts, giving me endless inspiration. I bought a big bag of lemons today and found another big bag of lemons in the fridge when I went to put them away. Who knew that one should check the refrigerator BEFORE writing something on the grocery list? So, your cake recipe is timely. I’m not sure picky Howard will eat it, but I might just make one this weekend. Your tribute to Kathy is so fitting. She was a very special woman.

  3. says

    BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! Mary! And a superb grand finale! Congratulations Mary! On your 6 years of producing Lights on Bright No Brakes! Congratulations on the excellent job you do sharing beautiful foods and photos, (and nature, and friends, and family) along with the exceptional stories that bring us along on your journey, as well as inspire in a much deeper sense. You’ve done good dear friend. Congratulations and I look forward to seeing your new paths and adventures in the next 6 years ahead.
    PS: I never realized your eyes were blue until today!

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us – I really enjoyed reading about it, and in particular, about the Doristas! It has been an amazing 6 years – congratulations Mary.

  5. Donna Grauer says

    What a documentary post card of your blog.
    There are So many of us who follow you and enjoy your photos , recipes and life stories. The picture of the kids at the Gant is my favorite but the “wear your lipstick” pix is a wonderful funny memory if times past
    Hugs

  6. says

    Happy 6 year blogiversary! I LOVED this post and reading about your journey. It sounds as though you have surrounded yourself with a wonderful support group, both off-line and on.

  7. says

    Happy 6th blogiversary Mary! Lovely pictures of the Doristas, and your tribute to Kathy. Love that picture of you and Julia, and that of you in What Would Julia Do T-shirt! Great to have been part of your journey at FFwD, Cottage Cooking Club and now CtBF with David! Your blog contents are always appreciated and enjoyed by me, the stories, pictures and recipes! Thank you Thank you for always visiting and leaving me some of the most wonderful comments – making me laugh! Cheers to many more blogiversaries to come! XOXO

  8. Cathy O'Connell says

    Great post, Mary. Glad to see I made a pic! Feel honored.

    The blog is always looked forward to and a fun part of the week for me. Excuse me for not commenting more frequently, but I spend so much time typing I am happy to just read and absorb. Love all the recipes and will try the cooked ones though, I, for one, am not a baker–too exacting!!! But always love consuming. xoxo

  9. TheKitchenLioness says

    Dear Mary, wishing you a very Happy 6th Blogiversary!!! You certainly are an inspiration to all of us! I love reading your posts and marvel at your pictures. I love learning all about your daughters, grand-daughters, family and friends, your nature hikes, your museum tours, the books you like to listen to when you are travelling and so much more. It is always fun to look at the recipes you chose and the creations that emerge from whichever kitchen you are cooking in!!!
    I might not always find the time to comment every single blog post but I love what you do and I admire you for your strength!
    Looking forward to the next six years!
    Many hugs and much love from me and the rest of the gang,
    Andrea

  10. says

    Happy, happy anniversary to your fabulous blog! I drove by your Ames house this morning—and started reminiscing about the path that led to our friendship. That Seattle trip created such a bond with the Doristas—treasured memories especially now that our dear Kathy is gone. Thank you for sharing your world with us. xo
    P.S. I must try this lemon cake!

  11. Chez Nana says

    I always enjoy reading your blog, so many beautiful photos wherever you might be at the time. A wonderful tribute to Kathy,
    I feel so sad at her passing, she was so lovely. I remember when we met in New York to see David L. we had so much fun and
    laughed most of the time. Great memories. By the way, the salad look terrific, and I must try that Lemon cake.

  12. says

    Mary, happy 6th blog-nniversary! That’s a long stretch of time when life events came and went. I’m a relative new comer to the scene. Reading your blog posts in the last year, I feel like I get to know you, as a blogger, grandma, naturalist and a friend. You make this blog space a fun, inspirational and friendly place to visit weeks after weeks. You’re a treasure!

  13. says

    Mary, it’s hard to believe it’s been six years since you’ve been blogging here. Time has marched on so quickly and I’ve loved all of your posts along the way.

  14. Rita Bernardi says

    Hey Blogger Extraordinaire,
    I am applauding you pushing through the toughest of times and creating a new life with meaning and some excellent friendships…oh, and sweetening the lives of others with all these tasty recipes to boot.
    Take a bow!
    Rita

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