Thursday, August 14, 2008

What A Sailor Wants, A Sailor Gets

There are a lot of people in Iraq and Afghanistan who are spending precious time away from their families and seeing things they'd rather not see and pining for a cold glass of milk and a little air conditioning.

One of those uniformed people headed over to far-flung nooks and crannies is my brother-in-law. His and my sister's three beautiful children, the two old enough to understand, know that Daddy won't be home until after Christmas but he will be thinking of them, and of Mommy, every single day. Interestingly, my niece and older nephew have become obsessed with camo after a long talk about what the uniform means.

Anyone have a cute denim skirt in pink camo, size 6x? Call me.

Anyway, due to distance I couldn't make the going-away party that my Mom hosted (though I suspect the menu was much the same as it was for my 1987 graduation party, my sister's 1990 graduation party, and other events since then...). Hey, when you find something that works you stick with it, and Mom's deviled eggs are unparalleled.

On request I shipped this apple cake for the event. When a departing serviceman wants apple cake, by God he gets apple cake. Unless Mom is lying to me, which isn't really her style, it's still fairly moist 5 days after baking (it was VERY well-wrapped).

Be safe, Marc - wear your helmet, and we'll all take care of T and the kids while you're away. Another cake will be waiting for you when you come home.

Apple Spice Cake

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 ounces) low-fat cream cheese (also called Neufachtel), softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup chopped, peeled apple (Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, or Fuji work well. DO NOT use Red Delicious or Golden Delicious - too soft, too bland)
2 TBSP brandy (optional) - I've never used it

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place dark brown sugar, cream cheese, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until well-blended (about 3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper if necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Lightly spoon flour into dry easuring cups, level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg, stirring with a fork or whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beat well after each addition. Stir in the apple and, if desired, brandy. Spoon mixture into an 8x8-inch square bakign pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely on wire rack.

The recipe says to sprinkle with powdered sugar; personally, I've never thought it needed it.

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