Bertha’s Lemon Pound Cake

Sweet, Moist, Lemony

Bertha was my husband’s mother. Like me, she moved to Greenville with her husband. She was originally from up north, possibly New York City. She was half Cherokee and half descended from African slaves in America, but she never spoke much about her life before coming to Greenville and raising her eight children. According to her husband she was a kitchen mechanic. He would sometimes sell her pies in the neighborhood. According to my husband, she didn’t use measuring cups or spoons to make any of the many treats he so fondly remembers. But his favorite was her pound cake. I got the recipe for Bertha’s Lemon Pound Cake from my niece, and have made it many times now. In spite of it being winter, we are getting about a dozen eggs a day. One way to use up eggs is to make this cake that calls for no less than seven. So last week I made a pound cake.

Bertha’s Lemon Pound Cake Recipe

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups), room temp.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 7 eggs, room temp.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. lemon extract
  • 1 cup milk, room temp.

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Gathering Grapes

In summer’s past we had a concord grape vine that offered us many gallons of grapes. We had enough for me to make a couple batches of jelly and also to can some quarts of grape juice. We liked the homemade (and organic) grape juice so much that we planted a few more grape vines. They are still babies, and unfortunately our original vine (that we brought with us seven years ago from California) finally died over the winter. This week I gathered together two and a half pounds of concord grapes, but I needed four for jelly, according to the recipe on the liquid pectin box.

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Grape juice, sugar and a teaspoon of pectin just before boiling point.

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Preserving Okra

Yesterday I fried okra in peanut oil. I had three gallon bags of sliced okra in the refrigerator. I put all that in a large bowl, broke a couple of eggs over it, then stirred it up. In another bowl I made a mix of flour and corn meal with a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. I drop about five large spoonfuls at a time of the okra into the fry mix and then put them in a strainer to get rid of the excess mix (so that it doesn’t all wind up in the bottom of my fry pot.)

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Eggplant Season

We have a lot of eggplants coming in from the garden right now. I have two ways that I prepare eggplant and am contemplating a third. I fry the slices or I make my own version of eggplant parmesan (which also involves frying the eggplant ahead of time.) Either way I prep the sliced eggplant first by sprinkling sea salt over the slices and letting them sweat for an hour two. I learned that from Molly, an Italian woman who used to watch my boys when they were very young and we were living in California.

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I acquired this waffle iron at an estate sale. It has removable cast iron plates.
The bright yellow of crook neck squash is inviting on a cold, grey winter evening.

Food and Sunshine

Sometimes the color of food is as appealing to me as the smell. The bright yellow of crook neck squash is inviting on a cold, grey winter evening. There was a lot of yellow crookneck squash this past summer, which I sliced raw and froze in vacuum sealed bags. Retrieving a bag from the freezer is a little like retrieving a bit of a summer afternoon to infuse into dinner.

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