So I'm back--back to Georgia's uncanny combination of sweltering heat and booming thunderstorms. I feel sluggish, and I can't decide if it's because of the weather, or because I drove a really long way during the last couple of days, or because of all the thoughts swimming around in my head.
The trip was wonderful in some ways. I got to spend a lot of time with my mom and stepdad. I got to see my brother and sister-in-law twice, which is especially excellent considering that they live in Columbus and are doctors, which means they are neither nearby nor blessed with a lot of free time. And my grandmother, the visiting of whom was the main purpose of my trip, has improved a little (although in the end she is still 94 and has a weak heart, and seems to be ready to let go). We had some good talks.
Unfortunately, while I was there--between my first visit and my second--her husband, my grandfather, had a stroke. His long-term prognosis is unknown.
It's been a weird week. I think it has helped me come to terms with the changes that will inevitably come. But I feel very, very tired.
The Eat Local Challenge somehow thrived in the midst of all this. Part of it was the awesome 100 percent enthusiastic buy-in from my mom and stepdad. How can a person fail with support like that? And of course, there was Ohio itself. I've said it before and I'll say it again--Ohio in August is the place to be. There is an embarrassment of riches. I brought some of the food on the car trip home: plums, peaches, apples, "Buckeye" chocolate candies (urp!), a second jar of elderberry jelly. I brought a whole nother quart of lima beans, too, even though I knew I'd end up cooking them here (where they're not local).
Speaking of which, here is tonight's menu:
Leftover BBQ pork shoulder (brought in the cooler from Cantrell's in East Nashville*)
And then I really, really wanted a particular something, so I threw localism to the wind** and made a recipe of my mother's. The only thing I can say in my defense is that there are Ohio apples in it:
COCOA APPLE CAKE
Cream together until fluffy:
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
2 T cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
Add to creamed mixture and mix well.
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits
2 cups grated apple
1 T vanilla
Mix well till distributed evenly.
Spoon into a greased & floured 10" loose-bottom tube pan or 9" x 13" cake pan.
Bake in 325-degree oven for about an hour. Serves 12.
So now it's time to go whole-hog (bacon! sausage! ham!) into Southern food again. I'm looking forward to it.
I'm off to the farmer's market tomorrow! I'm very excited and I will post about what I find. Cross your fingers that there are still figs left, but I doubt it. When I bought them before, the farmer told me that torrential rains tend to make the figs burst their skins, cutting short the harvest season. I suspect that's happened several times over by now.
* Cantrell's is simply the best BBQ place on earth, and I'll stand on the coffee table in my Nashville thrift store cowboy boots and say so.
** I'm sorry. Very penitent. But it had to be done. I'm going to be working a yard sale with my friend Julie tomorrow and I really wanted something delicious to take along. Cocoa apple cake popped into my mind and wouldn't go away.