Birthday Feasting

Yesterday was my birthday, and I actually made and ate one of my favorite recipes on my blog  Sweet ‘n’ Sticky Baby Back Ribs.

I started thinking of what other things I would eat for a birthday feast, and came up with a menu for my birthday. Mind you, I didn’t actually make all of these things, just the ribs. But I am going to be ready for next year!

 

Sweet 'n' Sticky Babyback Ribs | Black Girl Chef's Whites

Sweet ‘n’ Sticky Baby Back Ribs

 

Red Cooked Oxtails

Red Cooked Oxtails

 

Slow Cooker Caribbean Oxtails
Slow Cooker Caribbean Oxtails

Caribbean Oxtails

 

 

Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese | Black Girl Chef's Whites

Southern Style Macaroni and Cheese

 

Warm Potato Salad with Bacon and Fennel | Black Girl Chef's Whites

Warm Potato Salad with Bacon and Fennel

 

Avocado and Potato Salad with Hatch Chile Vinaigrette | Black Girl Chef's Whites

Avocado and Potato Salad with Hatch Chile Vinaigrette

Avocado, Mandarin Orange and Jicama Salad with Key Lime Dressing | Black Girl Chef's Whites

Avocado, Mandarin Orange and Jicama Salad with Key Lime Dressing

 

Lemon Glazed Pound Cake
Lemon Glazed Pound Cake

Lemon Glazed Pound Cake

 

Chocolate Ale Layer Cake
Chocolate Ale Layer Cake

 

Chocolate Ale Layer Cake

 

Yes, that does see like a lot of food, but your birthday is only once a year. It’s my party and I’ll eat if I want to!

 

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Lemon Glazed Pound Cake

I cannot find any words to express who my mother was better than my “Brother from Another Mother” Kevin used at my mom’s memorial service.

His words brought the entire chapel to tears, not from sadness but from the realization that he had captured the essence of Vera Mae Lee in his thoughtful tribute.

 

Memories of Vera Mae Lee (Edited Version)
Feb. 14, 2013

Good morning.

I feel so privileged to be able to share a few memories today about my dear neighbor and friend, Vera Mae Lee. Vera and her family moved next door to my families’ home when I was 4 years old – 46 years ago.

I was fortunate to have grown up, playing with Cheryl and Karen, rumbling through Vera and Bill’s home and yard, and having countless lunches in Vera’s kitchen. I think all who knew Vera, knew how good a cook she was.

When I was a sophomore in college, my parents called me home one weekend and told me that they had both been diagnosed with terminal cancers on consecutive days earlier that week. Despite our best efforts, both my mom and dad succumbed to their cancers just months apart.

As a 20 year old single person, I knew the first holiday season after losing my parents would be emotionally brutal. It just so happens that my birthday also falls between Christmas and New Years. On New Years Eve, my 21st birthday, I had lunch with Vera. Just her and me — talking about my parents, but also about how wonderful life was. She knew how to look for the positives in any situation.

Vera’s support never ebbed. Each year, I got a reminder that she was thinking of me…because every year on my birthday, Vera baked me another homemade lemon pound cake. Vera never forgot my birthday…not even one.

I now have two daughters — and getting a homemade birthday cake has become a 30-year family tradition. Every Dec. 31, my daughters wake up and ask “Dad, when is Mrs. Lee going to call you to tell you when you can pick up your cake?” You see, my entire family has grown to love those cakes as much as I do.

After having had a taste of one of those cakes several years ago, my wife Myrna looked at me, smiled and said, “The only thing that comes out of Vera’s kitchen is perfection.” As usual, my wife was right. Vera knew just how much lemon flavoring to add, and just the right amount of sugar to use. She baked her cakes just long enough that they retained the ideal degree of moisture.

But creating “perfection” requires more than culinary skills. There were a few special ingredients that Vera added to her cakes. Less tangible ingredients perhaps then flour, eggs and milk, but even more important to the substance of what she was baking. To each cake, Vera added a few teaspoons of her heart, a few dashes of compassion, a cup or two of support, a few smiles, several warm hugs and always more neighborly love than any traditional recipe called for. Carefully mixed together and baked at the right temperature, those ingredients truly made…perfection.

As I got older, I realized that those birthday cakes were a metaphor for all that is good about humanity. Each of those cakes gave me the comfort of knowing that I have a life-long friend looking in on me, the comfort of knowing that someone is thinking about my well being, and the security of knowing that I had a friend I could always depend on for support. Those were the confections that I truly craved…that satisfied my emotional appetite, that nourished my soul and that warmed my heart. Vera was a tremendous human being.

Vera fought her disease hard and valiantly — and each time I saw her, no matter how poorly she felt nor how much weight she’d lost, she managed to smile and to talk about how she needed to get back on her feet because she had so many things to do. As you might guess, most of those things involved helping others.

Myrna, our children and I, will always be inspired by the size of Vera’s heart, by her character, by her courage, by her optimism, by her graciousness and especially, by her thoughtfulness. I have always believed that the true measure of our lives is the positive impact that we have on others. To Vera, life was always much greater than her own concerns. She strove to brighten the world each day.

I know I am a better, and more thoughtful person, because Vera was my neighbor and my friend.

Thank you.

And now I must continue the tradition, to not only keep my mother’s memory alive but as a tradition for Kevin and I to share with our children. So today, I made Kevin a cake.

 

Recipe: Lemon Glazed Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (any fresh lemon juice will work)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 16 cup angel food/pound cake style pan.
  2. In electric mixer cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beat until incorporated. Add flour and milk alternately, ending with the flour. Add extracts, beat well, making sure to scrape down bowl as needed.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 1 1/2 hours until pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, then remove cake from pan.
  4. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice to form a glaze, then pour glaze over the cake while still hot.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)



Life Happens… and the Recipe for the Best Pound Cake Ever

Meyer Lemon Tree

Life Happens…and it has been happening to me with a vengeance! In the past few weeks I threw my baby girl a 3rd birthday party, nursed her back to health after she got sick, then I got sick, then my mother got sick. But then my mother got sicker, and sicker and is now hospitalized.  She will recover, and is getting stronger every day, thank goodness!

But my other baby, Black Girl Chef’s Whites has been neglected.  I will be back with more of my original recipes soon, but for now I am re-posting a recipe for my fabulous pound cake, which is one of my mother’s favorite cakes to make and to eat.

Organic Meyer Lemons

Some may disagree with my rather opinionated title, but this really is a special pound cake.  I grew up eating this cake (and have the hips to prove it) and I have not tasted a more scrumptious pound cake.

Many years ago in Louisiana this pound cake recipe was handed down to my mother Vera Lee by her cousin Zephyr Stephens.  And years before it had been handed down to Zephyr.  And now it is mine.

Growing up in Pasadena, CA everyone had some sort of fruit tree in their yard.  We have Meyer lemons, so that is what I use to make the glaze for the cake.  Because Meyer lemons are sweeter and more floral than other lemons, it really makes a difference in the flavor of the cake.

The cake is called “Millionaires Pound Cake” and you can find variations on many recipe websites.  The common link seems to be that the recipe was passed down from one generation to the next.  If anyone knows the exact origin of the recipe I would love to know.

Best Pound Cake Ever

1  lb butter, room temperature

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

4 cups cake flour, sifted

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon extract

Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (any fresh lemon juice will work)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour 16 cup angel food/pound cake style pan.

In electric mixer cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beat until incorporated.  Add flour and milk alternately, ending with the flour.  Add extracts, beat well, making sure to scrape down bowl as needed.

Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 1 1/2 hours until pick inserted in cake comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, then remove cake from pan.

Mix glaze ingredients and pour over the cake while still hot.

Let the cake cool (slightly at least) then devour.  And you will devour it…

Cheryl D Lee on Foodista

Recipe for the Best Pound Cake Ever

Organic Meyer lemons from my tree
Organic Meyer lemons from my tree

Some may disagree with my rather opinionated title, but this really is a special pound cake.  I grew up eating this cake (and have the hips to prove it) and I have not tasted a more scrumptious pound cake.

Many years ago in Louisiana this pound cake recipe was handed down to my mother Vera Lee by her cousin Zephyr Stephens.  And years before it had been handed down to Zephyr.  And now it is mine.

Growing up in Pasadena, CA everyone had some sort of fruit tree in their yard.  We have Meyer lemons, so that is what I use to make the glaze for the cake.  Because Meyer lemons are sweeter and more floral than other lemons, it really makes a difference in the flavor of the cake.

The cake is called “Millionaires Pound Cake” and you can find variations on many recipe websites.  The common link seems to be that the recipe was passed down from one generation to the next.  If anyone knows the exact origin of the recipe I would love to know.

Best Pound Cake Ever

1  lb butter, room temperature

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

4 cups cake flour, sifted

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon extract

Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (any fresh lemon juice will work)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour 16 cup angel food/pound cake style pan.

In electric mixer cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beat until incorporated.  Add flour and milk alternately, ending with the flour.  Add extracts, beat well, making sure to scrape down bowl as needed.

Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 1 1/2 hours until pick inserted in cake comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, then remove cake from pan.

Mix glaze ingredients and pour over the cake while still hot.

Let the cake cool (slightly at least) then devour.  And you will devour it…

Cheryl D Lee on Foodista