My newspaper’s bankruptcy filing, mice in kitchen cabinets, snow and days of below-freezing temperatures, a friend’s engagement (!!!), another best friend laid off, being denied an apartment, an interview set up (!!), still not having a firm moving date… This week, you guys, was too much. (In perspective, of course, thankfully everyone is still ok, my family and friends are healthy, everyone has a home.) But still, what a roller coaster few days, on top of this months-long state of upheaval.
Growing up, I’m learning, isn’t so easy. Decisions to make, relationships that change, jobs and homes and money on the forefront.
It wasn’t like this as a teenager with light-hearted responsibilities and few life-changing decisions to make. (Back then, I wasn’t too concerned/conscious about what I ate, either.) Some of my favorite memories are weekend-long camping trips with my small Girl Scout troop. We’d set up our tents at one of Virginia’s many great parks, like Douthat and Fairy Stone, and spend hours on the lakes, sunning and paddle boating, building campfires at the campsite, discovering itty bitty frogs on hikes in the woods, having fun and eating well. Menus stuck to this route–silver turtles in the fire, good ol’ sandwiches, biscuits in the Dutch oven with sausage gravy, and one of my favorites, sock-it-to-me cake. My longtime friend Sarah, would always bring this classic jacked-up cake mix, made by her mom, Ellen, who has baked it for as long as Sarah can remember. Not worried about calories, I could nibble on slice after slice at all times of the day.
I don’t know why I thought about the versatile coffee cake/dessert at this time of year–perhaps because Girl Scout cookies are supposedly for sale already; maybe because I enjoyed a good bit of time with Sarah last weekend as our pups, Rachel and Luke, chased tennis balls together; or, maybe because the cinnamon-y and buttery cake evokes that time of simplicity.
Yes, this cake starts off with a box full of things I don’t particularly like. But, sometimes, it’s OK. Having just devoured Michael Moss’s “Salt, Sugar, Fat,” I can’t say that lightly. Overall, most treats in my kitchen start from scratch, cream the butter and sugar, mix in some flour, you know. Breaking the rules occasionally won’t mark the end of the world. And maybe it’ll make our Sunday a little easier, a little sweeter, as we head into another week.
Note: This recipe is different than the one you’ll find on the side of the Duncan Hines cake mix. It’s rich, buttery, spicy, moist and light. Other variations call for a glaze, or for cream cheese instead of sour cream, but I like it just like this, for it’s not overly sweet. Add nuts, if you like, but I can’t recall them included. Slice off pieces for breakfast, for a mid-morning snack, for a 3 p.m. pick-me-up or dessert.
One box Duncan Hines butter golden moist deluxe cake mix (if you can find it, I used Butter Classic)
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons brown sugar (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat the cake mix, sour cream, eggs, oil, and sugar together for 15 minutes at a medium speed.
Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
Sprinkle 1/4 of the sugar/cinnamon mixture in the bottom of a greased bundt pan. Pour half of the cake mix mixture in the pan. Sprinkle half of the rest of the sugar/cinnamon mixture on top of the cake mixture. Pour the rest of the cake mix mixture down. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar/cinnamon mixture on top. Using a butter knife, swirl the batter together slightly.
Bake for 60 minutes, and let cool completely.