Let there be cake!

Today is a very special day because two of my favourite people in the world – my NS BFF and my Ottawa BFF – celebrate their birthdays on March 6th. Isn’t that an awesome coincidence? I think so.

I always took it as a bit of a “sign” that Ottawa BFF was put in my path. She is generous, kind, smart, funny and knows more about wine than I could ever hope to know. We actually met because of one of her acts of kindness. Remind me to tell you about it sometime.

My NS BFF and I met in the first few weeks of our first year of university and we have been friends ever since. There’s nothing like a dry sense of humour and a mutual love of music to bond two people together so quickly! Also, you know someone is destined to be your BFF when you can call each other out on your B.S., pretty much right off the bat, which we did and it was awesome! Of course, there’s a story there, too, but I’ll also tell you that – wait for it – another time.

In honour of these very special women on their very special day, I am sharing a recipe for the most decadent and amazing chocolate cake in the universe… EVER! Yay, cake!

This cake is my NS BFF’s “Birthday” cake, made by her Mom every year. Isn’t that sweet? Since she is my BFF, I will not be telling you how many times this cake has been made. (Though, if you really wanted to, you might be able to figure out a round about number when you see the copyright information, but I digress..)

So, without further ado, I give you:

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

This is a rich chocolate cake that freezes beautifully and looks as good as it tastes. (Serves 8 to 10)

2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup sour cream (190 ml)

1/4 cup butter

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted (3 x 85g squares)

Frosting

1/2 cup butter

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into a large bowl and beat for 1/2 minute at low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Then beat for 3 minutes at highest speed. Pour into greased and floured cake pans: 2 9-inch pans or 3 8-inch pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. For the frosting: In the top of a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate over barely simmering water. Remove from heat and cool. Add powdered sugar, then blend in sour cream and vanilla, beat until smooth.

Important Rules that Make this my BFF’s Birthday cake

Use a bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 – 70 minutes. Bundt pans make cakes fancy without anything “extra” at all.

The cake itself is very rich and doesn’t really *need* frosting. NS BFF’s Mom uses a chocolate glaze rather than the frosting.

My thoughts

A little dusting of confectioner’s sugar would be beautiful and is one way to lighten up this cake. Filling the centre with fresh raspberries or a variety of berries is also a nice healthy garnish.

This recipe is from a cookbook called “San Francisco à la Carte”* (p. 432), and though I have a scanned copy of the recipe, complete with sweet and personalized hand written notes from my NS BFF’s Mom (I like to think of these as “historical documents”), you can still find this cookbook by searching online and maybe, if you are lucky, at a second hand bookstore or yard sale!

As often happens in my life when I delve deeper into things I am interested in or working on, I discovered two very fun facts today about this book.

The first is that it was a Junior League of San Francisco project. I had no idea, as I had never seen the actual book before.  This is interesting to me because another friend of mine – a new IRL friend – is a Junior League member here in Halifax and when I found the book online I had one of those “Eureka!” moments.

The second is that this cake recipe is featured in the beginning of “San Francisco à la Carte” in the suggested menus section, under “Barbeques-Picnics” as a part of a “Wine Country Picnic” menu. Ha! If that isn’t just perfect for my Ottawa BFF, I don’t know what perfect is!

Happy Birthday to my BFFs! My life is better with you in it and I am ever grateful for your presence.

Now, let there be cake!

* “San Francisco à la Carte” Copyright 1979 by the Junior League of San Francisco, Inc. A Main Street Book published by Doubleday

Talk On!

Talk, it’s only talk

Arguments, agreements, advice, answers
Articulate announcements
It’s only talk

Talk, it’s only talk
Babble, burble, banter, bicker, bicker, bicker
Brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo
It’s only talk, back talk

Talk, talk, talk, it’s only talk
Comments, clichés, commentary, controversy
Chatter, chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat
Conversation, contradiction, criticism
It’s only talk, cheap talk

Talk, talk, it’s only talk
Debates, discussions
These are words with a D this time
Dialogue, dualogue, diatribe, dissention
Declamation, double talk, double talk

Talk, talk, it’s all talk
Too much talk, small talk
Talk that trash, expressions, editorials
Explanations, exclamations, enfadulations
It’s all talk, elephant talk, elephant talk, elephant talk

“What the heck was that?!”, you may be asking.  “All those words! That’s just weird.”, you might be thinking.  That’s okay.  You have a right to your thoughts and your words.

So many wonderful words.  Out they fly in a funky rhythm that brings me back to a time and place that usually makes me quite happy.  Brothers playing records loudly.  Parents remarkably tolerant of, nay, encouraging the teenage weirdness.

This is a song that I love.  Throughout my life I have gone back to it.  Again and again. At first as a little kid just trying to figure out what the heck they were even saying.  Looking up words in the dictionary to find their meaning and then finding the exercise only led to more words. (It’s a terrific vocabulary builder, wouldn’t you agree?)  Then as a Tween, (No one ever referred to us as “tweens” back then.  We were just big kids.) feeling rather cool that I liked King Crimson when most of my friends were falling head over heels for the latest boy band or pop star. (Not that I didn’t.  Remind me to tell you about the time Corey Hart touched my arm.  *swoons*)

Then later as a brooding Teenager filled with angst (behind that big happy grin, there were some deep thoughts) (FYI, there still are)  I started to really listen.  They were right!  It’s only talk.  Just words.  Everyone going on and on about everything all the time.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Make it STOP!  No one even cares anyway, so why are any of us even bothering to try to be heard?

Teenagers are not fully formed humans.  I know this.  Now.  Then, not so much.

It can be very scary to feel hopeless.  To be young and hopeless?  Downright terrifying.  Scary for the one feeling it.  Scary for the one who knows.  As brief as a flash of hopelessness can be, it can feel like forever.

Thankfully, I am loquacious by nature and never (really) stopped talking.  I had friends who understood me and supported me through our broody teen years. Oh yes!  Our broody teen years.  You see?  We were never really alone.  All we had to do was reach out.  Make eye contact and know that someone else knew exactly what you thought/meant/felt.

We shared music like our lives depended on it and guess what – sometimes, it did.

It didn’t fix everything, but it sure as heck didn’t break it, either.

I started with the lyrics of “Elephant Talk” because ultimately, even if it feels like it’s all just talk, it is important to keep talking.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you make perfect sense to someone, whether you can pinpoint a problem with perfection or feel confused and scared and are unable to speak with the precision of an “articulate announcement”.  Just keep talking.  Eventually you will find, your words find their target. You will find your people.  It will happen.  I know because I found my people.  The best part about growing older is that you tend to be able to locate your people with pretty excellent accuracy.

And hope? Hope floats. You will never find it on the ground. So get up. Then look up. You might not always see it, but trust me, it’s always there.

Talk on!

“Elephant Talk” was written by Belew, Adrian / Bruford, William Scott / Fripp, Robert / Levin, Anthony Charles.

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Read more: King Crimson – Elephant Talk Lyrics | MetroLyrics