Friday, July 3, 2009

Fireworks: The Beginning of a New Life

Happy 4th of July! Having travelled the country visiting the history of America, this day sits deeply in my spirit. Trials and tribulations, the amazing Constitution, the bravery of my grandparents embarking on a journey across the Atlantic to start a new life - this day embodies the promise that is still the heartbeat of this country. Having had so many personal milestones occur around this day, it also sits in my heart. I have spent the 4th of July at the Statue Of Liberty, in Central Park- NYC, by various lakes but the most important one was the one at the State Capital in St. Paul, MN. Twenty-four years ago I had this friend I worked with, went on bike rides with and joined for an afternoon of cross-country skiing. We talked a lot. I mentioned the fact that I probably wasn't going to marry having grown tired of the dating game. He mentioned that he would never date anyone with whom he worked. It was a safe relationship.
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My sister visited in July 1985. It was after the 4th of July and it had rained the entire weekend. On July 7, 1985, the radio mentioned that the fireworks were finally on! My sister suggested getting friends together and going. With permission, she called my biking friend. My biking friend was thinking of going down to the fireworks anyway. His sister wanted to go and she suggested he call me. As it turned out, neither sister went. But my biking friend and I did go. We sat under the stars, listened to the Minnesota Orchestra, watched the fireworks, felt fuzzy and warm and comfortable and were dating by the end of the fireworks.
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On November 7, 1985 we got engaged. We were married on May 24, 1986. The self-proclaimed single and the guy who wouldn't date anyone he worked with! Since that night, we have had many 4ths together - at the Capital and on White Bear Lake, under the stars, complete with a small orchestra! We brought drinks, popcorn, blankets, mosquito repellent and my children. Who grew up going to White Bear Lake's Optimist Beach for fireworks. Gone are the days when my children sought shelter in our arms from the noise. What still remains is our annual barbecue for any family members available. I married into a traditional family. Tomorrow 25-34 members of Paul's family will gather for brats, turkey, watermelon and an enormous array of sides - provided by - everyone!


I usually make Panna Cotta with a berry compote. It is a way of honoring my heritage and the Day. But this year, I veered of course. One of my desserts is a Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life.

BLUEBERRY-RASPBERRY POUND CAKE (and sometimes strawberries, too!)
2 cups plus 8 T cake flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
5 large eggs
1-2/3 cup sugar
2-1/2 sticks (10 oz) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
2 T kirsch
1 cup blueberries - rinsed and dried
1 cup raspberries - rinsed and dried

Set oven rack to medium position. Preheat oven to 300F. Butter a standard 9 cup Bundt pan and dust with flour. (Nonstick may not need to dust with flour)
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In a medium bowl, whisk 2 cups plus 6 T flour, the baking powder and salt.
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In food processor blend eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow - about 1 minute. Add the butter and kirsch and blend until mixture is fluffy - stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl. It may look curdled and that's fine! Add the dry ingredients and process to just combine. Do not over mix. Batter should be thick and very smooth.
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In a large bowl, toss the berries with the remaining 2T flour. Pour the batter over the berries and using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine until all flour is absorbed. Pour the batter into prepared Bundt pan and spread it evenly across. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - 1 hour to 1-1/4 hours. (Mine took closer to 1-1/4 hours.) Transfer cake to a rack and cool for five minutes. Carefully invert the cake out of the pan onto a rack (mine went straight to a dish) and cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. Decorate at will - berries and whipped cream.

Red, white and blue - in honor of the day - a very special day for me in all ways. Happy 4th and a very special 4th to those who have given of themselves so I may enjoy my freedoms.

32 comments:

artful said...

Wow, a 4th romance. How wonderful, especially considering the fireworks as a metaphor. But you had the real thing kickstart your long and happy relationship. Congrats.

Ruth said...

I havent a sweet tooth but I could eat that right now!!

Wanda said...

The second I read the sisters didn't go I knew...it made me smile...such a nice ending of just a friendship. :)
I'm impressed with your encyclopedia reading...cover to cover!!!

Your photo makes me want to try this recipe...I just recetly bought some red curry paste and made your curry mango chicken recipe...I loved it...I really enjoy your blog Claudia with it's MIX of stories and recipes.

OhioMom said...

Happy 4th of July Claudia! What a great story :)

Katy ~ said...

Your cake looks amazing! I would enjoy a piece of it right now, YUM YUM

I love hearing stories of how people met. Yours was so sweet; you made me smile.

Reeni♥ said...

What a sweet story - never say never!! And a scrumptious cake - happy 4th! Have a wonderful weekend!

Ann said...

Oh! thats a wonderful story, Happy 4th of July. and that cake looks totally divine.

Donna-FFW said...

Lovely story. Your berry cake loooks fantastic. Yes, freshly whipped cream with that would be perfect. I hope you have a beautiful 4th.

burpandslurp said...

Wow, what a sweet, beautiful romantic story! I loved getting to know more background and personal story about you :-)

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

What a heart warming tale. I love panna cottas, my fave dessert from your beatiful heritage. But I'm thrilled to see this pound cake coz I've just bought 'A Homemade Life' & this cake caught my eye. WOW...have a wonderful 4th!!

girlichef said...

What a beautiful post (and cake)...Happy 4th! :D

Mary said...

What a wonderful story :-). It's only fitting that it be accompanied by such a beautiful cake. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What a wonderful way to feel the first sparks of love, Claudia -- and every fourth of July there is another reason to celebrate!

I love panna cotta ...thanks for your recipe! This blueberry raspberry bandit looks so delicious

Wanda said...

Claudia...please visit my blog...something awaits you.

Kevin said...

That cake looks really good with all of the berries.

Bernie said...

Hello, I have followed Wanda to your blog and am so glad I have. This recipe sounds and looks delicious. I look forward to reading your future post.
I hope you had a wonderful BBQ with your family.
Thank you for sharing....:-) Hugs

Ellie said...

I love your cake with the berries. Makes me want to eat it of the monitor :)

Christina Kim said...

Such a special story, Claudia, thank you for sharing!

Barbara said...

What a wonderful Fourth of July tribute that is, Claudia - congratulations and many more to come! Your patriotic pound cake looks inspirational. A slice of that would be perfect with my coffee right now!

5 Star Foodie said...

What a beautiful and romantic story - thank you for sharing with us! The berry pound cake looks really delicious!

Sara said...

That is a beautiful cake, very festive. What a great 4th of July story!

Juliana said...

Lovely pound cake...looks so yummie with all the berries in it. The firework picture look very nice.

Bunny said...

What a wonderful story, I loved it. This cake looks so good!! I have to make this!

Karine said...

I love that pound cake! It contains amazing fruits!

maris said...

This is SUCH A SWEET STORY! I wish my fourth of July was that memorable :)

Anonymous said...

I have to say that even looks good to me (chocoholic that I am) and I love that it's different from the blueberries-and-strawberries "flag" on a sheetcake. Next year!

Sophie said...

What a lovely story, Claudia!

Your filled cake looks stunning!

the ungourmet said...

What a wonderful story! I love reading things like this. I guess I really am a romantic at heart.

I met my husband after stating that I would never date again. :0)

Your pound cake looks terrific with the fresh fruit!

Katherine Aucoin said...

What a wonderfully romantic story; thank you for sharing it with us. Your blueberry cake is amazing. I've been on a blueberry kick and would love to try this.

Pearl said...

that cake must've been wonderful! thank you for sharing that story.

RachelleLouise said...

Hi Claudia! Popped on over to check out your blog. I have to say I feel we are kindred spirits already! For one, you also dislike cilantro. That makes us buddies right away! Then there is the fact you love jazz and Coldplay! Two items I just adore. Then you went and mentioned brats which my hubby brings up often, he lived in Wisconsin for most of his life. : ) I've wanted to make this recipe of Molly's since I read about it in her book. Did she make it over to your neck of the woods for a signing? I was lucky enough to have her come up here to Bellingham to do one. She even did a little sampling of the lemon cake, corn cake with bacon, basil creme, and a roasted tomato. She also served the meatball recipe. Tasty, tasty! Anyway, great post!

Nancy said...

What a beautiful story! And a lovely cake, too - so summery. Thanks for the great recipe, I look forward to trying it at home.