a pound of obsession


as i threw the swimsuits and beach towels in the washing machine last night, i thought, this is really it. the summer is officially over. the first two weeks of school are just practice i guess. now that labor day weekend has come and gone we are seriously into fall. and the summer heat in arkansas is finally giving up her fight. no more hundred degree days, hopefully. it might even rain. and no more swimming, probably.

we gave our last weekend and even our last evening of summer our best shot…you know, without going to colorado for the weekend. taido was preaching, so we had to remain in the general vicinity. taido let the kids pick out chinese takeout for dinner and one last movie. i bought a lime pound cake, because i have been dying to make my favorite lemon pound cake from the barefoot contessa, but i just couldn’t squeeze all those fresh lemons and then have to write in my food journal,

1 half of 1 slice of the best lemon pound cake ever.

but still, i am craving it. and i really like to bake. i mean i really. like. to. bake. but i just didn’t think i would put the right amount of love into the cake knowing how little of it i would eat. i mean if i were less selfish, maybe i could think…i am just going to enjoy how much my sweet family will love this cake. they will be so excited when they smell it and that will be enough for me. i don’t have to eat half a pound cake to be satisfied. really. but not really. and i firmly believe that food doesn’t taste right when you don’t make it with love. i know this to be true because i made some very mediocre cookies last week sans passion because i was aware that i would not be eating any of them.

so when i saw this little lime pound cake, i thought…if i buy a good pound cake then i won’t feel like i’ve slaved over it and i won’t have poured my heart into it and i can just eat a little wee sliver of it and give the rest to the herd of pigs with whom i inhabit this house. (i mean that in the most endearing way…those chinos can flat eat.) so i snatched it up. i ate my little portioned out dinner, without even whining inside that i wanted more because i had cake waiting. and even a decaf latte to go with my little sliver. i gave the kids their cake. they gobbled it up. more more more. no more, i say. more tomorrow, maybe. i take my little after dinner treasures and get all snuggled up on the couch (after the baby has gone down…this is key…sleeping babies make all things better), and i take a little bite of my lime pound cake. and, oh. no. no lime juice oozing from the cake. my lips don’t even pucker from the tart. because there is none. i’ll wager not one fresh lime was squeezed for this imposter. so sad. come on fresh market. you are upscale. quality ingredients. superior food. but this pound cake. alas, it was just a pound cake. a good one. with a very far away hint of citrus. but nothing like the WOW and the TANG of the barefoot contessa’s lemon pound cake. it just didn’t compare. such a disappointment. i just wanted to throw my plate.

it is possible that the somewhat drastic response to this less than worthy cake is revealing other problems, other issues in my life. perhaps i am frustrated over this whole food journal bit. of course i would have given it up by now if someone else wasn’t writing their food down as well and we weren’t trading notebooks weekly. or maybe i just felt sad that the summer was over, but it was still hot. and it had not rained (yet). taido said to me, as graciously as possible. you seem very discouraged. is there something going on besides just food here?

perhaps. i will have to think about that later. because right now, i have a lemon pound cake in the oven.

and should you find yourself in the sad position of not coming to my house tomorrow because you are not a leader for the 9th-12th grades at fellowship north, then you can make one too. here’s the recipe.

Ina Garten’s Lemon Pound Cake


½ pound unsalted butter

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

4 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)

1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease two 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ -inch loaf pans. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine ¼ cup lemon juice, the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.