Thursday, May 10, 2012

A random day in the life

This is the color of today's scarf.  Not really pink, coral or red.  But it is my splash of color against the background of a black dress.  Black dress, black skirt or black pants.  My "uniform" of choice for school days.  I love this scarf.  I found it at an outdoor market in Sarlat, in southwestern France, back in 2008.  The reunion trip of the Arles 6.  A lovely week spent visiting a different market everyday and preparing wonderful meals together.
Our house--
The Three Mousquetaires (we were near Bergerac, by the way)
I tend to always look confused.  Even when I'm not.  Arles Lucy and I are holding on tight to Pat.
Anyway, I always tend to head down memory lane even when I don't set out to.  I love looking at my photos.
Here's what I look at on my desk as I sit at my computer.
My inspiration, I guess.  Eiffel Towers, gargoyles, Charles de Gaulle, dry erase markers...
I wear inspiration around my wrist, too.

Since it's so close to Mother's Day, I am wearing the charm bracelet my boys gave me when they were little.  A baseball glove, a basketball, a Hershey's Kiss, a football, an Eiffel Tower, a J, a G, a smiley face.  Precious souvenirs. 
Lunch at school today was provided by parents in appreciation for our work with their children.  It was delicious and I got to sit and talk to my colleagues/friends as I ate.  I didn't take photos.  But I brought a little container of strawberries back with me.  (I ate vanilla pound cake with a bunch of strawberries topped with whipped cream for dessert!)
I love these lovely red little darlings.  The taste of summer.  We had a strawberry patch when I was growing up.  I always asked for strawberry shortcake for my birthday cake (in July).
Try it for yourself since the berries are in season now.  Make the cake yourself or buy it if you don't have the time or inclination to bake.  Get the ripest berries you can find.  Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Your choice.  You'll feel closer to summertime.  I promise.  14 more teaching days.

All good Southern cooks worth their salt have a favorite pound cake recipe.  It's a staple.  Trotted out for potlucks, deaths, sicknesses, faculty meetings, book club get togethers, any number of social occasions.  Or just to show off.  And say "Oh, it's just something I threw together when I got the news."  Mine comes from the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties' Even More Special.

Pound Cake

2 cups butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 8-ounce carton sour cream, at room temperature

1.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar well.  Add 2 eggs, beating well.
3.  Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl.
4.  Add the flour mixture to the butter alternately with the 4 eggs until all is added.
5.  Stir in vanilla extract and sour cream.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.
6.  Place pan in the middle of a cold oven.  Set temperature at 325˚F and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Do not open oven door for the first hour of cooking time.
7.  Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.

16 servings

This cake freezes well and may be kept for a month in an airtight container.
You may substitute almond or lemon extract for vanilla.

Bon appétit, all my hardworking colleagues!

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