It has been a really long and stressful week. As much as you would like to plan life, you never can. Things come up and you have to deal in order to move on. If you do not, you get stuck and nothing good will come of it. Like the saying - “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”
I had to make a trip back to New Jersey this past week because my father had a heart attack. I did not tell the family I was coming, I just packed my bag and flew out early the next morning. I went straight from the airport to the hospital. I surprised my father and mother standing in the doorway of his hospital room and stayed by my mom and dad’s side the whole week. I made sure my dad was comfortable, and that my mom was taking care of herself. I made many phone calls, countless texts, numerous emails, and checked Facebook constantly (as it was a main source of getting in touch with so many).
My mother and I spent about 14 to 16 hours a day in the hospital. We came home only to get a bit of sleep, shower; turn around and to do it again. As it turns out, all seems to be much better with my father. His cardiologist made sure of it. Knowing that, and my mom telling me she was just as well, I grabbed a flight back to Seattle to head home. As I was back I explained to Brian I was happy to go and help, but I was happy to be home. I was drained, tired, and had eaten nothing but hospital cafeteria food all week. I needed to bake something.
I walked to the market with my two dogs and looked for inspiration. I saw the bags of cherries on display…oh, how I love cherry season. I had to get them and make something. But then I started to think how nice they would go with a lemon pound cake. I headed home with my dogs and started in on baking. I whipped up a lemon and lavender yogurt pound cake. On the side, I mixed the cherries (after pitting them) with some sugar and brandy. It was great together, and I cannot wait to eat a little bit each night until it is gone. I guess sometimes when life hands you lemons you need to make a pound cake.
Lemon and Lavender Yogurt Pound Cake (Serves at least 10)
2 ½ cups of AP flour
¼ tsp of kosher salt
¼ tsp of baking soda
2 cups of sugar
8 oz of butter (room temperature)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tsp of lemon zest
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of lavender, heaping
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 5 loaf pan and set aside. In a bowl whisk together your flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, place your butter and sugar and mixed together until light and fluffy.
Next, add in your vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and mix it all in well. Add in one egg at a time while you are scraping down the sides of your bowl constantly to ensure that all is incorporated well.
Then, once your butter mixture is all light and fluffy add in your flour mixture. Mix it until just incorporated. Then stir in your yogurt and lavender. Be sure all is well blended and pour into your prepared loaf pan. Place it in the center of your oven and bake about an hour until a toothpick is inserted in the center of it and comes out clean.
Finally, let cool in the pan at least an hour before removing it. Slice and serve. Can be eaten alone; or with the Fresh Brandied Cherries. This pound cake can be made a day ahead, and/or wrapped in plastic wrap and left at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Fresh Brandied Cherries (makes 3 cups)
*I know that this process can be tedious, and your fingers will be cherry stained, but there is nothing like a bright and fresh cherry. It is well worth your time to stem and pit them. I usually use and old movie to pass my time while I do something like this!
4 cups of cherries, well washed
1 tbsp of sugar
1 oz of brandy (or more if you wish)
First, remove stems and gently cut youth cherries in halve. Once they are halved you can remove the pit with your fingers. You might need to slice the side of the cherry holding on to the pit in half again in order to get the pit removed. Place all your pitted cherry halves in a bowl.
Next, sprinkle your pitted cherries with the sugar and the brandy and toss well. Let it all macerate in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. You are looking for the sugar and brand to flavor the slight tartness of the cherries and have the cherries release a bit of their juice.
Finally, toss your mixture again before serving. Place in a jar or container and keep refrigerated for up to 4 to 5 days.
Note: These cherries are great with this recipe, but also great when served with something chocolaty or even ice cream.