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y father started cooking at age 14. He learned from his maternal grandmother, Caroline (Grandma) King, who, while a slave, had cooked in the "big house" for her master's family.

One summer he worked as a cook at a camp retreat for Wall Street brokers.

"I had to chop wood to make the stove fire," he recalled. "It was sort of difficult, because the stove would be hot one minute and cold the next, and I'd be cooking three-inch steaks and lamb chops."

For most of his life, he was too busy with other activities to put much energy into cooking. In the last several years of his life, however, he cultivated an interest in preparing desserts.

He had always made a very rich pound cake, but he developed a repertoire of desserts that had many palates tingling as guests approached the door.

Ironically, my father had diabetes late in life, so he ate very few of the desserts he spent hours fixing. The delight of his guests was sweet enough for him.

His major desserts were:

  • pound cake
  • grapefruit and lemon ice
  • brandy alexander pie
  • pineapple cream pie
  • ice cream pie
  • cheese cake
  • lemon glaze bread

Pound Cake

  • 5/8 pound butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 eggs

Let butter and eggs reach room temperature. Cream until fluffy and light. Add sugar 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon at a time. Cream butter and sugar with a metal spoon. Each time there should be 3 or 4 sweeps of the spoon against the bottom of the bowl (important for getting a crunchy crust).

With an electric mixer, add in eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Fold in the sifted flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and, then, cut bact to 325 for the remaining 75 to 90 minutes.


Grapefruit and Lemon Ice

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • grated rind of one grapefruit (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 cups fresh, unsweetened grapefruit juice (about 4 to 5 grapefruits)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil 5 minutes and add the grated rind. Remove from heat and let cool.

Add grapefruit. Add lemon juice. Stir.

Place in freezer. When ice begins to form, take out and stir with an electric mixer (to spread the rind out evenly).

Put back in freezer and repeat the step in the paragraph above, just before it begins to freeze solidly.

When frozen, cover and keep in freezer until ready to use. Yields two quarts—12 to 14 servings.

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