Monday, January 11, 2010

Does cold weather make for better (clearer, more...well, golden) Golden Hours?

It's still cold here. In northern Florida we think it's cold when the daytime high is less that about 60 degrees; today we felt the warming trend because it was (I am not making this up) nearly 48 degrees, and this felt warm compared to yesterday, when the high temperature did not rise above 38. So here we are, and at least we have the beautiful golden light, for which, as one of our old favorites might say, O, be joyful.

And there is so much more to tell. I should tell about my children, my precious sons who changed everything for me; my dogs, who change everything every day, my dear husband, whose constancy began to shift my landscape long ago and has never wavered, and so much more about the friends, my heart's sisters, whose magic is with me every day. I should tell about the crazy work of Boxer rescue, where some of the dogs will look just alike in photos but whose spirits are like unto nothing else. I should tell about walks through our small bit of land, where winter sunsets really do look like this:

And no matter what the landscape light shows you, we're all in agreement that you need dessert. This is something I've made for the entertainers at the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival for some years. It's easy and wonderful. And it's one of those cake recipes that will start to convince you to abdandon cake mixes. When you make cake from scratch you find it's really not that much more trouble than using a cake mix. But what's most shocking is the difference in taste. I don't know what they do to cake mix, how they treat the flour, what they add...but I can tell you that one or two of my cakes (which aren't mine, really, and which I'll credit as we go) will change your mind. Really. So try this. I make this in two round cake pans, about 9-inch pans, because they can be shared. I know, I know. It's a rich, fattening cake. So make it and share it. A tiny slice of this much chocolate can't be bad.

Melt together 1 cup butter and 4 ounces unsweetened Baker's chocolate (you can reduce the amount of butter if you substitute a combination of butter and cocoa for the Baker's chocolate). Cool slightly and combine 4 beaten eggs, 2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (you can leave out the nuts if you like; I never use them). Bake in the two round cake pans I described or a 10 x 15 inch pan at 350 for about 24-26 minutes - and don't overbake. For the frosting (and you need to have this ready before the cake comes out of the oven), beat together 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, and 1 egg white. As soon as the cake comes out, pour this frosting over the top so the egg white is cooked. Credit where due: This comes from a cookbook called Southern Sideboards, a wonderful wedding gift Rodney and I received from Eileen Ronan (I have an amazing note from her but alas, my dears: a story for another evening) and is credited in that lovely cookbook to Mrs. Howard Nichols.

Make it. I can't wait to hear how you like it. Tomorrow I'll probably have a new story to tell you - I'm thinking a LOT about the intersections of people I love and how they've changed what I do every day. Until then, here is an evening picture of my own sweetheart and me, and a fond hope you'll stay warm and toasty on this chilly evening. Thank you to our dear friend Lorie, whose camera's eye is always affetionately open and who commemorated Gatorbone with this picture. Love, love, love.

P.S. Thank you to Dylan, resident copy editor. I'd be lost without him.

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