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Mother asked for a cake for Valentine's Day, but not just any cake. Instead of the family recipe pound cake that I made her for her birthday, she wanted the Classic Southern Pound Cake from Southern Living magazine.
I've been baking pound cakes for years. This shouldn't be so hard, I thought. That was my first mistake.
Pro Tip: When making a cake, make sure you use the right ingredients.
We have two identical, large yellow Tupperware containers, and they both have flour in them. One of them was the right one. I used the other.
They aren't the only flour containers in our pantry. The bread flour is in a third yellow Tupperware container, but that one is smaller. The cake flour — necessary for sponge cakes — is in a transparent container with its box top. Therefore it's only the containers for the self-rising and the all-purpose flours that look identical. One of these days, I'll remember to label them.
Anyway. As they say, if at first you add the wrong flour, try, try again.
I hate to admit it, but it really might be the best tasting pound cake I've ever made. Totally worth the trouble.
You're welcome, Mom.
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In honor of Valentine's Day, today's blog post is about abortion.
There's been talk here in Georgia that the state legislature has been working on a new resolution to finally pass the long languishing Equal Rights Amendment. The local paper reported that one of the resolution's sponsors recently withdrew his support after talking with "people I know and people I trust" (who are, presumably two separate groups of people).
Before we go any further, to refresh your memory, this is the whole text of that very controversial proposed amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
That's simple enough. Why would someone want to go on record as being against that? To answer that question, I did a little Googling. You may be surprised to know that the Internet is full of opinions on the topic.
Some people say that the ERA isn't necessary because it duplicates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which promises "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." If that were true, women wouldn't have needed the 19th Amendment to cast votes.
Some people say that the ERA would prevent women from receiving favorable bias in paternity cases. They say it could also force women into the draft. Are either of these such a problem? I would hope that women would have to prove their fitness to be a parent in court. If a war is so damn important that we have to force our citizens into the armed forces, it seems to me that women should serve their country just as men do. (If the thought of your daughter going to war makes you think twice about the need for warfare, all the better.) And God forbid that anyone should have to use a uni-sex bathroom.
Some people say that the ERA is bad because it is just another example of the federal government stealing rights from the states. That's true. Granted, the "right" it would be stealing is the states' ability to treat women like second class citizens, but it's the principle of the thing!
However, the "people" who talked our representative out of supporting the ERA didn't use any of those arguments. No, the persuasive argument against guaranteeing women and men equal rights was — you guessed it — abortion. They said that if we give men and women true equality, they can no longer tell women what to do with their bodies. Horror of horrors!
Frankly, that strikes me as a bullshit reason to deny or abridge equal rights for women. I'm no girl or priest, and I'm generally pretty good at "keeping it in my pants," so I try to have no opinion on the subject, but the logic seems simple. If abortion is murder as the bumper stickers tell me, it should be illegal whether a man or woman is carrying a child. If it's not, then what difference does it make what gender does it? Neither case should have any bearing on whether women should have the same rights as men.
But what do I know? I try not to have an opinion, remember.
If you ask me, the best argument against the ERA is the existence of Valentine's Day itself. If women and men are so damn equal, someone should be buying *me* chocolates today, dammit.
Today is Groundhog Day. By the time you read this, you will know whether or not we should expect more winter based on whether or not it was overcast when a particular groundhog woke up. (The most famous prognosticating groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has seen his shadow in 104 of 131 years, and his chroniclers say he has been "right" only 39% of the time.)
The last time I mentioned Punxsutawney Phil on this blog was in 2008. That was also a Saturday, one day before the Super Bowl. The Patriots were playing in that game, too. The Patriots lost in 2008. Could the same happen tomorrow? I think that's the question we should be asking the groundhogs. Even if it always picked the Patriots, it would still be right more often than it is about spring.
I heard on the radio that pessimism is a waste of time. Maybe the invisible person in my car is right. To that end, I'm starting 2019 with a new daily affirmation:
I get up, and nothing gets me down.
You got it tough. I've seen the toughest around,
and I know, baby, just how you feel.
You got to roll with the punches and get to what's real.
Can't you see me standin' here?
I got my back against the record machine.
I ain't the worst that you've seen.
Can't you see what I mean?
Might as well jump.
Ooh, yeah. I should go ahead and jump. We all should.
May your 2019 be as delightful as my 1984 was.
Excuse me while I slip into something more comfortable....
These were found in the CVS Christmas aisle, the place you go for gifts that say "I never loved you."
And if a little poo in your shoe isn't enough for you this holiday, try some scat for your hat.
Unlike last year, this year I tried to make gingerbread houses all by myself from recipes I found on the Internet. Mm-hmm. Operative word: "tried."
I've just about mastered the cookie recipe. The gingerbread itself is soft and delicious. The icing, on the other hand, was a bit of a problem (as you can see).
The icing was so thick and stiff that the pastry bag might as well have been filled with quick dry cement. In hindsight, I probably added too much sugar to the amount of egg whites I had. I'll try to remember that for next year.
At least my mouth doesn't care how they look.
My aunt's contribution to our Thanksgiving feast included stuffing, chocolate ice cream, and three dozen sugar cookies bought from the Kroger bakery.
The others ate the stuffing and ice cream. I ate the cookies. All of the cookies.
To be honest, I ate too many cookies. I don't know what Kroger put in them, but each was more delicious than the last. I. Just. Couldn't. Stop. Now I'm going through cookie withdrawal.
I thought I was through the worst of it when Mom went grocery shopping today... and returned with another three dozen cookies.
"I came around the aisle," she said, "and there they were, the only cookies on the table. The last batch. They wouldn't have been there if I wasn't supposed to buy them and bring them home for you."
So that's my Mom, who thinks that fate is trying to bring me and cookies together. Fate is not the boss of me! I'm an independent, rational, strong-willed individual. I can resist the allure of a basket of sweet, sweet sugar cookies.
DAMN YOU, COOKIES!
Something to think about when you're done with your turkey and watching the Saints beat up on the Falcons tonight:
Kickoffs are simultaneously the most dangerous and most boring plays in football. To make the game safer for the players and more exciting for the fans, some propose replacing the kickoff with a punt. The solution, they say, isn't a big change. Just give the kicking team the ball at the 35 yard line as is currently done, and run a regular punt play. This solves the problem of two teams running at each other from opposite ends of the field, XFL-style. The obvious problem with this solution is that it eliminates the opportunity for an onside kick to allow the kicking team to retain possession. (Punting rules prohibit the kicking team from possessing the ball unless the receiving team has touched and dropped it.)
Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, who is a proponent of replacing the kickoff with a punt, suggested an onside kick replacement in 2011. Line up the teams at the 35 just as you would for a punt, he says, and give them the option of throwing a pass instead. If the pass is complete for more than 15 yards downfield, they get to keep going as though they had recovered an onside kick. (Otherwise, the "receiving" team gets the ball at the spot of the catch or the line of scrimmage if incomplete.) The obvious problem with Schiano's suggestion is that teams with high-powered offenses may never have to relinquish the ball at all. That's not an improvement to the current formula, as it only makes games more lopsided.
I like what Schiano's thinking, but I think it could work better with one small change: make the punter be the one to have to throw the ball. This makes a post-score "kick-off" just another play from the line of scrimmage but with dedicated personnel. The game gets safer without overbalancing to offense while still allowing occasional trick plays in late-game cases where maintaining possession is necessary. Win-win!
There, now. Wasn't that a more fun Thanksgiving table discussion topic than politics? You're welcome.