I grew up on simple and healthy food. My mom would listen to a nutritionist named Carlton Fredericks almost every day on the radio. Those were the days when the milkman delivered full-fat whole milk to the back door, the bread man delivered full-of-air white bread to our front door, and sex came after marriage. Well, both Mom and Dad agreed on the first and the third, but as for that full-of-air white bread...Mom told the bread man that white bread just had to go.
Our family was the only one I knew of that had heard of whole-wheat bread, no less actually swallowed it. I knew I was doomed to sissyhood. I knew it for sure one day when Bobby Mack, the best football player in town, said yes when I asked, "Wanna drop by for lunch after tomorrow's game?"
I thought I was home free when Mom gave in to my pleading to get white bread just once. But Bobby spotted the old whole-wheat bread hidden in a cupboard. When he begged for it, said it was great for building muscle, and made me plot to tell his mom to get it for him, well I developed a sudden fondness for whole-wheat bread and gained an intuitive understanding of the value of celebrity endorsements, even from guys who hurt themselves to get attention.
As great as Mom was about nutrition, when it came to cooking for crowds (defined as anything more than a family of four), it overwhelmed her. So Dad cooked on the holidays - the greatest homemade white and whole-wheat bread, turkey, stuffing and what he called "Poor Man's Spice Cake." Fortunately, I didn't know what a calorie was, much less a fat gram, so after a 50,000-calorie meal and a week's worth of fat grams, nothing deterred me from my favorite Poor Man's Spice Cake.
When I got married, I enjoyed my wife's family's fabulous Christmases. By Thanksgiving I could smell Christmas coming...well, almost. One smell was missing. When my wife asked me what it was, the only thing I could remember was something about powder and a musket. Wrong smell, she said. Dad's was the last stop on Christmas rounds, and when I went to the oven, there it was, the smell of Christmas, the moistness of Christmas, the taste of a cake that knew to never let the orchestra of baking powder drown out the song of the Muscat raisin.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
|1 box (15 to 16 ounces) seedless
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
| 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves |
2 cups water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chicken Soup Bkgrd.gif