Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Once again, it’s time for my monthly affair at My Kitchen Café. Every month I try to work whatever little charm I possess on bloggers whom I enjoy reading to get them down here to share a bit of themselves through their food.
This month it is my pleasure to have Jamie over for tea, actually coffee since that’s her brew of choice. She should have been here last month, but couldn't as she wasn't feeling too well.
I first met Jamie at the place where I have met many other bloggers, Twitter. Her sense of humour and ever cheerful outlook on everything makes it very easy to like her and I’m happy to count her as one of my friends, even though I have’t met her yet.
She blogs about food and life in general at her blog which is aptly called Life’s A Feast! She has a unique style of writing and an unusual way of presenting her posts, each of which is a story in itself.
Jamie, an American living in France, finds that both writing and food are emotional, sensual, therapeutic and a magnificent source for sharing with others. Her blog is inspired by her passion for baking and fueled by the story of her life!
In this post she talks about “Friendships And Time Travel” while sharing her Lemon Blueberry Tea Cake with us.
I had a lot of time to think about things as I stared out of the train window, chin cradled in the palm of my hand, mesmerized by the blur of the landscape rushing by, as I headed for Paris. Time and space and friendships. How much has changed since the last time I saw this friend I was off to meet. 30 years! My mind flew back to those days of long-distance friendships when we counted the days and weeks we would next climb on an old Greyhound bus and make the long trip for a weekend visit, or those telephone calls, few and far between, spent gossiping and giggling as only high school girls can do.
I grew up at the beginning of the Space Age right smack on Florida’s Space Coast. We watched men head off into space, men walk on the moon. But the changes that I’ve seen, changes that our worldly, technically-savvy kids take for granted as much as eating and drinking, have also changed the substance of our friendships in ways that I had never even dreamed of back in those days and which still leave me stunned and amazed. Is it any wonder that I find this invention, these advances so much more amazing than even walking on the moon. We are over the stars!
30 years ago, that gangly, awkward girl that I was would never have dreamed that I could be face to face with someone, chatting away to our hearts content with just a click of a button or two. How could we have imagined that friendships could and would be made simply and easily through a lap-sized box that could be folded closed and tucked under one arm?
To think that I am off to Paris on this high-speed train to see a friend with whom I had lost contact for so many long years yet found again thanks to this strange, fascinating, magical technology! So many friends from so long ago are now sitting across the table from me, day in and day out each time I turn on my computer. I have reconnected with so many that I would never have spoken to again, old friends that I never would have imagined simply bumping to on the street.
And new friends. Wow! That girl that I was, running barefoot on the hot Florida pavement, biking to school and wishing she was popular, well, if she had only known. That girl that I was sitting on the front lawn eating peanut butter sandwiches and potato chips whose only chance to travel and discover worlds outside of her simple, small town existence was through the pages of a book, traveling to farms and green pastures, across oceans and continents, if she had just bottled her impatience and bided her time. She never dreamed that one day she could have it all at her fingertips.
I saw my friend and how incredible to see this woman hovered over by two daughters now the age that we were when we last hugged, giggled and gossiped together. Friendships are so easy now. We are drawn together by common interests, finding each other on any number of blogs or forums or social media outlets. We send a message and find an answer before we have even poured ourselves that second cup of coffee!
As I sit down for lunch one friend is starting dinner while another one is heading off to bed – last night! We turn on live chat and 4 friends are chatting and laughing over 4 continents as if we were sitting around the same coffee table in someone’s livingroom. My closest friends are scattered far and wide across the globe yet here we sit every day giggling, gossiping, sharing information and stories, baking together in our virtual kitchens as if we were elbow to elbow, living together as only next door neighbors can. And now thanks to internet we are next door neighbors.
Aparna is just such a friend. We live on opposite sides of the globe yet we see each other every day like the best of neighbors. When Aparna invited me over for coffee – all the way in India – how could I say no to this wonderful friend, this smart, talented woman.
Of course I’ll come for coffee! How exciting! And I knew just the thing to bring: a Lemon Blueberry Tea Bread. Luscious, dense and delicious yet so much lighter than a cake thanks to the vegetable oil and only one egg.
This delicious teatime treat is tangy with lemon and the barely sweet cake-like bread allows the full, sweet taste of the berries to burst through. Perfect with coffee or tea but wonderful for lunch or brunch served next to a salad.
Thank you so much for inviting me Aparna, and isn’t it just amazing how close two friends so far apart can be?
LEMON BLUEBERRY TEA CAKE
Adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook recipe
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk (I use low fat)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (toss frozen berries in a large pinch of flour just to coat)
A handful of slivered, blanched almonds to decorate *
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
* I sprinkled a handful of slivered almonds generously over the top of the bread to add a delightful crunch when eaten. If you would like a sweeter cake simply sprinkled on your favorite streusel topping, but eliminate the Lemon Glaze.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease (with oil) and flour a 9 ¼ x 5-inch loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the grated lemon zest.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil, vanilla, lemon juice and egg.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the well-blended liquid into the center of the well. Using short, brisk movements, whisk the liquid together with just the center dry ingredients until you have a well-blended, smooth, thick paste.
Slowly as the dry is incorporated into the liquid, make wider circles with your whisk pulling more and more of the dry ingredients into the smooth batter as the dry is blended in. Gradually whisking and blending the dry ingredients into the wet will allow for a smooth batter without lumps.
Using a spatula, fold the blueberries into the batter then pour into your prepared loaf pan. Generously sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top.
Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes. The bread should be puffed up and deep golden on top and a skewer plunged into the center of the bread should come out clean with no batter sticking to it.
Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.
Stir the lemon juice and the sugar together to make the Lemon Glaze and, while the bread is still warm and in the loaf pan, brush the Glaze all over the top to coat. Allow to cool and then remove the bread from the loaf pan to a serving platter.
The copyright for this post and photographs rests with Jamie Schler of Life's A Feast, and are reproduced here with her permission.