Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Funeral, a Pound Cake, and a Lesson on Manners

Photo by Jennifer Davick
To the man that was driving behind me on highway 316 headed out of Atlanta last week, I know you are not from here. There’s no way you are Southern and you acted the way you did. Your behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

I could spend all day writing about things in the South that we do better than anywhere else in the world. But if there’s one thing we can do with the utmost of manners and grace, it’s a funeral. As I drove out of the city several days ago, I heard sirens as I neared a red light. All the cars around me collectively slowed to see where the sound was coming from. With a glance in the review mirror, I saw blue flashing lights and the parting of traffic as if God himself had separated the sea. Behind the pulsing sapphire glow was a hearse.

I was in one of two lanes filled with cars headed home and we split. I pulled off the road to create an open area down the middle line for the funeral procession to squeeze through. Every car but one was doing the same. The car behind me never moved. It sat squarely in the middle of the lane. The procession had to inch around the rude driver. The blue lights passed, then the hearse, then a series of black town cars. I could then see a long stream of cars with headlights shining in the light of day to pay respects to someone who was no longer here.

I sat, just as everyone else did, waiting to see a car that no longer had headlights glaring. After only the third card following the hearse, the person behind me blew the horn and never let off. As the mourners passed, the horn continued to sound. The entire road sat still. Someone's life is over and their family and friends are grieving. Shouldn't we all be able to stop and wait a few minutes? There was no way my car and my manners were moving until the lights were no longer shining.

I’ve been in the procession of my fair share of funerals and there’s nothing quite like riding in a cloud of shock and grief and seeing absolute strangers pull to the side of the road as you pass by. It’s respectful and thoughtful.

As far as the man driving the car behind me, bless his heart. Maybe he was from far away and had no idea what was happening. A hearse is hard to recognize, right?

A sweet recipe is obviously in order. Again, bless his heart.

Pound Cake from Heaven

Perfect for a funeral or any other time. Pound cake makes all things better.

11⁄2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour (such as White Lily)
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 (5-oz.) can evaporated milk
2⁄3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, fresh strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 6 minutes). Gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Beat 1 minute more. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition.

2. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients. Combine evaporated milk and cream; add to butter mixture alternately with flour mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (16-cup) tube pan.

3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 1 hour; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour). Garnish, if desired.

Makes: 12 servings

Hands-on Time: 15 min. Total Time: 3 hr., 30 min.

Recipe from Around the Southern Table by Rebecca Lang
(Oxmoor House, 2012)

Copyright 2013 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved.