Frenzy and Family

I have some leftovers and lots of great memories of a wonderful weekend with S’s family. Given that we live closest (by more than 800 miles) to Grandma, we were the locus of the activities for this past weekend’s celebration of her 80th birthday.

Family started to arrive last Monday (scrambled eggs for dinner day) and dinners at our house began with Wednesday’s meatball feast.

Thursday was a pretty calm dinner of chicken picatta – my sister-in-law, JM, showed me how to make the sauce after I cooked up the chicken breasts. It was a little of this and a little of that while I watched. I’ll have to polish the proportions (or find her base recipe) before I can post. I didn’t have time for pictures – that is for sure!

Friday brought more family in town from opposite corners of the country. We ordered pizza for delivery before our dessert open house. Something had to give!


The dessert crowd started to arrive at about 7:30. We had fresh strawberries, butterscotch brownies, orange pecan biscotti, chocolate chip cookies (which got a little overcooked because I was helping L and my twin nieces make togas for a little show that they performed), and Grandma’s Jewish Apple Cake, plus plenty of wine and coffee.

The final guests left, very well fed, at about 11:00 – and they were on East Coast time!


Saturday brought the final planning for the big party, so my sisters-in-law made a big pancake breakfast for the kids while I got the errands done. J photographed her “whipped cream with pancakes”. How much calcium is in whipped cream?

The party was a big success, at a local french restaurant, with great food and atmosphere. But it was truly great because Grandma was so happy to have her friends and family around. The kids all performed poems and songs. Family and friends made warm and funny toasts. JM orchestrated the production of a great “this is your life” slideshow – a treasure of wonderful photos and memories that all the siblings had a hand in amassing.


And, Sunday the family gathered at our house again for a morning and afternoon of hanging out together, sharing stories and catching up on the details of life that you don’t get in quick e-mails. For brunch we served the sour cream coffee cake (with its maple icing); blueberry muffins; bagels with salmon, cream cheese and all the accoutrements; two types of quiche (from a local market); lots of fresh fruit; big pots of coffee; and mimosas. The extended family helped with everything – set-up, replenishing, clean-up.


By the time I took S, my sister-in-law, JC, and niece, JMM, to the airport (with a big hunk of apple cake for my nephew who couldn’t make it to the party weekend), almost everything was back in order.

When I got home, there was a sort of calm around the house. I took a deep breath. Happy to have a little quiet and the place to ourselves. Happier to have the rich memories of a truly incredible family weekend.


Grandma’s Jewish Apple Cake

(source unknown, but there are many recipes like this on the web!)

3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 cup cooking oil (I used corn oil)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
3 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
4 large apples, peeled and sliced (about 1/4 in. thick) – I used Granny Smith

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (angel food cake pan).

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil. Add the juices and the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine (no lumps).

In a separate large bowl, mix the sugar and the cinnamon together. Add the sliced apples and mix together until all the apples are covered in cinnamon sugar. Taste one to make sure it is good….mmm.

Pour half the cake batter into the prepared tube pan. Top with about 1/2 of the apples, horizontally across, overlapping (it will look like a big daisy). Top with the remaining batter and then the remaining apples, in the same fashion. If there are extra apples, eat them.

Crumble small pieces of parchment paper and place lightly on top of the cake to keep the apples from burning.

Place the cake on the middle rack of the preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 75-90 minutes (***Remove the parchment after 45 minutes). The cake is done when a toothpick, inserted in the middle of the cake, comes out clean and the top of the cake is uniformly golden.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until fully cooled. Remove from pan and serve, or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.


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