Easter comes so early this year–the Minxes have their Spring Break a week after the Easter holiday, and that seems weird and unnatural to me. The good news? Even though the girls are ten and fourteen years old, they still find joy and excitement in the old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. This makes me so happy. Watching them dash around, baskets in hand, scouring every corner and cranny–it never gets old. It’s a grateful reminder that they haven’t lost that inner child yet. They’re growing, sure, but they’re not yet grown. Although I stumbled on this picture the other day and almost died of grief and nostalgia.
I have no idea how I’ll handle life when the “grown” thing happens. I imagine it will involve tears, whiskey, pharmaceuticals and months of hibernation, but luckily, we’re not there yet.
But boy, are they growing. Miss M. is in the throes of a ferocious growth spurt; she came downstairs this weekend in the pajamas she got for Christmas and the dang things are now capri-length. I guess that’s a better length for spring weather, but Sheesh. And then there’s her sister. I took D. for a checkup last week and she’s standing proud at 5’8 1/2 and I don’t think she’s done yet. I’ve threatened them both with bodily harm if they don’t quit this growing stuff, but those lanky gazelles aren’t afraid of me at all.
I see some spring shopping in our future. Those girls are bustin’ out of every item in their closets.
I think I’ll hold off for a couple of weeks, though. Just because it says that it’s spring on the calendar, it doesn’t mean that winter’s finished with us in the Rocky Mountains. Last week, we got 6 inches of fresh snow in our neck of the woods, and the mountains got several feet of the stuff. March and April are capricious little devils. Only a fool packs away the snow boots in early spring.
My tastebuds are ignoring that memo, because I’m definitely craving spring fare. Soups and stews can stuff it–I’m eagerly turning my attention to lighter, fresher meals. I’m getting excited about eating salad again and even though it’s not quite time for asparagus and strawberries, I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation.
To me, spring means lemon. Something about that sunny, yellow color and that bright, zingy bite screams, “Sayonara, winter!” I love lemon-flavored anything at all times of year, but it’s especially welcome in spring.
Lemons were on special at the market last week, and I couldn’t resist buying a bucketload of them. I was thinking of making a batch of fresh, tart strawberry lemonade (with maybe a little vodka in mommy’s glass) but then old man winter blew in, took a dump on us and sent that idea packing.
So I settled for this cake. I was drawn to it because a) it features lemons (duh) and b) it’s easy enough for a slacker-baker like me to churn out and c) it uses coconut oil instead of butter, which is a little
strange different, and I like different.
Lots and lots of celebrity chefs are jumping on the coconut oil train. I’m routinely seeing the likes of Katie Lee, Damaris Philips and Haylie Duff swapping out their olive oil for coconut oil, touting its health benefits. It’s definitely the up-and-coming darling of fats (if there’s any such thing as a “darling” of fats).
I’m not sure the jury’s out yet on the health benefits of coconut oil, but time will tell. Used to be, coconut oil was a huge nutritional no-no; it’s a saturated fat, for Heaven’s sake. Saturated fat (like butter, bacon fat, lard) is a cardiologist’s nightmare; tastes delicious, plugs your arteries faster than you can say “double-bacon cheeseburger.”
Some recent buzz indicates that coconut oil might be different, that the body metabolizes coconut oil differently than other saturated fats, making it a healthier choice. Again, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon just yet. Listening to (and/or having a knee-jerk reaction) to any nutritional fad or diet advice seems like a bit of a fool’s errand. I mean, how many of you Generation X-ers were told to embrace a mostly vegetarian, carb-heavy diet? Encouraged to drink diet soda? Warned about the danger in eating more than one egg a week? Yeah, me too. And then a decade or two later, we hear the complete opposite from the mouths of dieticians and health professionals.
It can make a girl go mad, all of that conflicting advice. Gah.
So I think it’s best to listen a little, take grand proclaimations re: miracle ingredients and regimens with a grain of salt (unless you believe that sodium is the root of all evil) and make your dietary modifications with some modicum of good humor and common sense. I’m not going to abandon my use of butter or olive oil any time soon, but I’ll definitely monkey around sometimes with coconut oil, just in case.
In this case, it yielded a lovely, berry-studded cake that’s wonderful served with some cream and fresh berries or toasted lightly for breakfast. It keeps well for a day or two, so you can even sneak little slivers of it during that mid-afternoon slump or if you wake in the night feeling a little peckish.
It’s not overly sweet and let’s face it, this cake is a looker. It would be a welcome addition to Easter brunch, if you’re one of those brunch-y sort of people (I’m not). In any case, it won’t last long.
Happy Spring, Readers!
Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Cake
from Food and Wine magazine
makes 1 loaf
3/4 cup refined coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for greasing pan
2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
For glaze (optional):
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil with the sugar until emulsified, about a minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between additions. Add the yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three stages, beating well after each addition. Fold in blueberries.
Grease a 9×4-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper, allowing at least 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides (this will help you easily lift the cake out of the cake pan). Pour in batter and smooth with a spatula.
Bake an hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.
Cool cake on rack for an hour. Using parchment “handles”, lift cake out of pan.
If using the glaze, mix powdered sugar, salt and lemon juice together in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Drizzle over cake and let set, about 15 minutes.