Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Today is My Thursday

Bob has finally agreed to see a doctor.  His OK came in no small part from a talk he had with his sister about the health of their father. Turns out Bob’s dad has some health issues that are genetic in nature and one of them MAY explain Bob’s weird blood/bloating/breathing difficulties of 2003.  So Bob wants to talk to his doctor about it…and while he’s there he might as well talk to the doc about the back thing too.  Good plan.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  It seems as though everyone I work with knows someone with critical health issues;

      a.)  My Manager’s MIL has lung cancer that has moved to her bones and is in excruciating pain.  She finally received a referral to head to Mayo for some treatment.  My Manager’s dad died around this time of year 3 years ago from brain cancer so she is feeling the effects rather strongly. Her mom also has a form of Leukemia and her sister in law is battling breast cancer. 

      b.)  Another co-worker’s mother fell and broke her hip/leg last week.  It doesn’t help that her mother also has Alzheimer’s.  This poor little old lady has been in the hospital since last Wednesday night and is confused and in pain and not understanding where she is or what she is doing there.

      c.)  Big Boss’s mother in law passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago.  Her father in law passed away about this time last year.

Add Bob’s pain/back issues and my grandma’s fall and Bob’s dad’s ill health and we have a cavalcade of family health issues here at work.  It certainly makes us conscious of one another’s feelings.  Suddenly we’re all careful, serious, and caring towards one another.

This is the recipe for the Bundt cake I am making for our Thanksgiving festivities, sans raisins:

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with Rum-Plumped
Raisins and a Spiked Sugar Glaze


3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
2 large or 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for salting the water
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk

Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, and all-purpose flour for greasing the pans

1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream (35 %)
Remaining rum macerating liquid from raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt cake pan. In a small non-reactive bowl, soak the raisins in the rum for at least 30 minutes or several hours. Meanwhile peel the sweet potatoes, cut them in half and then cut each half in 4-inch slices. Place the slices into a pot of cool salted water, cover, and then bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and then cook until the sweet potatoes are very, tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain off the water, and allow the potatoes to air-dry for a few minutes, then use a potato masher or large fork to roughly mash them. Measure out 2 cups of the mask and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl with a whisk or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs a little just to break them up. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and pale, about 2 minutes with a mixer, 3 if whisking by hand. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla, then beat to blend. Drain the raisins and set aside, but add 1/4 cup of the rum macerating liquid to the batter. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and mix until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

3. Into a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in the raisins.

4. Pour the entire batter into bundt pan. Bake in the center of the oven 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake is just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the rack. Set the rack over a baking sheet or large plate to catch the excess glaze. This cake must be glazed while still warm, so it absorbs the maximum syrup--so don't take it out of the oven and go to the movies!

5. For the glaze, combine the brown sugar, butter, and cream in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens somewhat, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the rum. With a long wooden or metal skewer poke holes all over the cake, concentrating on the top. Spoon about half the warm glaze over the cake and let the cake and remaining glaze cool for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has thickened slightly. Pour the rest of the glaze over the cake, letting it dribble down the sides, then allow the cake to cool completely before cutting and serving or wrapping and storing.

In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley (Artisan/Workman Publishers, 2001). Featured in Eat Cake: A Novel by Jeanne Ray.

   This is the recipe for the cheesy potatoes I plan on making:


·       10 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup

·       8 oz. container sour cream

·       1-1/2 cups shredded Cojack cheese

·       32 oz. pkg. frozen hash brown potatoes


Spray 4-6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine soup, sour cream and cheese in medium bowl and mix well. Pour half of potatoes into prepared crockpot. Top with half of sour cream mixture. Top with rest of potatoes, then remaining sour cream mixture, spreading evenly. Cover and cook on high for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours. 12 1/2 cup servings.

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