Let’s rewind the tapes a little bit back to the early 90s. Imagine a young(ish) woman with brown hair and a to-do list as long as the Mississippi walking through Harris Teeter on the prowl for the meanest and most spicy salsa for her husband stressing over a business school exam. Now add her two year old, won’t-keep-her-mouth-shut, curly blonde haired daughter to the mental picture. They walk down the freezer aisle, pass the frozen peas and veggies, and pass the six-packs of beer. The two-year old daughter starts chanting “Dad-dy! Dad-dy!” as the mother quickens her pace and exits the aisle before any more onlookers judge her life at home and what she is teaching her daughter whilst she isn’t coloring Disney princesses at preschool.
The mother doesn’t stop the cart but clumsily picks up a container of hummus on their way to the chips and salsa aisle. While crossing off one of the dozens of items on her list, her daughter voices a truly unfortunate and incorrect observation about a larger-than-average woman closely examining two different tubs of ice cream. Showing off her vocabulary, the daughter exclaims, “Look, Mommy! That woman has a BABY in her belly!” As the larger-than-average woman turns her head with the award-winning death-glare of the decade, the mother’s eyes widen in horror, shock, and disbelief, and she rapidly turns the corner and seeks refuge in the chips and salsa aisle.
After picking out a salsa seemingly hot enough to boil, roast, and burn a Thanksgiving turkey, the brunette and blonde duo head to the checkout. Of course, the only checkout open is the one with a woman checking out enough items to feed the entire population of North Carolina (from now until Christmas) with an employee scanning items as slowly as a turtle swimming in molasses looking as if she would rather be dusting one million treasured trinkets in a retirement home.
Sighing, the mother and daughter get in line. The mother takes her eyes off of the child for a split second to scratch many of the items off of her list. When she glances up to check on the progress of the woman in front of her, she realizes that she would rather have never taken her eyes off of her grocery list. That deceivingly cute two-year old daughter of hers has both her hands around the leg of the woman in front of her and is running her hands up and down along her pantyhose. Who else has a daughter extremely fascinated and googly-eyed when it comes to pantyhose? The “this-is-extremely-awkward” look is frozen on both the face of the mother and the owner of the pantyhose. What the heck are you supposed to do in this scenario? The mother surely did not read about this situation in any of her Parenting for Dummies books.
Thankfully, the moment passes (despite the fact that the mother and owner of the pantyhose are scarred for life), and the mother and daughter depart Harris Teeter with numerous bags of groceries and a variety of different images that will haunt the mother’s dreams for years to come.
Now fast-forward to June 5th, 2011. My mother and I are sitting at a table surrounded with family members to celebrate my grandfather’s, my brother’s, and my own June birthdays. Everyone throws their head back in laughter, and a couple members of the family attempt to hold back the laughing-tears as my mother recounts the story of one of our many crazy mother-daughter trips to the grocery store sixteen years ago.
It’s times like these that I love. We are happily seated inside at my grandparents’ lake house (with air conditioning, my favorite summer friend) and can look outside at the lake without breaking a sweat in the 100ºF heat. We first chow down on juicy burgers and dogs, and as the hours pass and the stories continue, the amount of wine and birthday cake diminishes. And let me tell you about this cake. I’m not much of a cake person, myself, but if I were stranded on a desert island, I would pray for this cake to relieve me of my hunger pains. The lemon blueberry cake with a lemony glaze was light yet rich and elegant yet easy. It was the perfect summery cake to fuel our laughter and to superbly satisfy our stomachs. Want to give it a go? Here’s what you need to know:
Lemon Blueberry Cake
Source: Willow Bird Baking
Yields: about 8-10 pieces of cake
Ingredients: 1 cup butter (room temperature), 1 cup granulated white sugar, 4 large eggs, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, zest of 1 large lemon, 2 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1-1.5 cup blueberries
Icing: 1 cup confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted 2 tbl fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9” springform pan or a 8” round cake pan.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the batter along with the lemon juice. Mix only until incorporated, adding the blueberries at the very end.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Note: If you notice the cake is done on top but not in the middle, shield it with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time. Place on a wire rack to cool, then gently remove the cake from the pan. Wait until the cake is completely cool before icing.
- For the icing, combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar with the 2 tablespoons lemon juice. (You want the icing to be thicker than a glaze but still thin enough that it will just run over the sides of the cake. If not the right consistency add more lemon juice or powdered sugar, accordingly.) Frost the top of the cake, allowing the icing to drip down the sides. Place blueberries over the top as you like.
- Note: This cake is another of the many baked goods that tastes better after being refrigerated in an airtight container (such as a cake dome) overnight. The lemon and blueberry get a chance to mingle and chill. Glaze before refrigerating.
Add a scoop of vanilla and some extra blueberries to garnish, and if you’re feeling festive, throw in some candles and warm up your vocal chords for a loud and proud verse of Happy Birthday for all of those amazingly-awesome Gemini babies out there (for we are the best). So cheers to June-babies, the beginning of summer, and goofy grocery jaunts! Enjoy.