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Archive for the ‘childhood memories’ Category

Aunt Helen’s Almond Torte

I’ve been enjoying this cake my entire life.  It was a family standard, introduced by my great-aunt Helen.  She probably started making it some time in the 1940s.  It is a beautifully elegant, light cake.  Perfect for summertime or to follow a heavy meal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds*
1/2 pint heavy cream
2 heaping tablesppons cinnamon sugar

Grease two 8- or 9-inch cake pans** with butter or shortening.

Sift flour together with baking powder. Set aside.

Seperate eggs and set aside. You can add vanilla and milk to the yolks to save trouble later, because they go into the batter together.

Cream butter. Beat in sugar and salt. Add egg yolks, vanilla, milk, then sifted flour mixture. The batter will be very thick. Don’t be alarmed. Spread it divided between two round greased cake pans (it will just cover the bottoms of the pans, don’t worry).

Beat egg whites until just stiff. Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, without stopping the mixer, continuing to beat
until it holds a stiff peak. Spread on unbaked batter in both pans.

Sprinkle each pan with 1/4 cup of almonds and 1 heaping tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. The cinnamon sugar makes a lovely crackly surface after baking.

Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans.

Whip the cream with your preferred amount of sugar and vanilla extract.

Put together, with whipped cream between the two layers.

NB: Cakes may be frozen individually.

*Really, any sliced almonds will do, if you don’t happen to have blanched sliced almonds on hand, as I often don’t.

**Eight-inch pans are probably better but 9-inch will work.

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From noon to dusk on November 22, 1963, history went dark, locked inside the closed and crowded cabin of Air Force One. Fifty years later, what happened after JFK died has fully come to light.

President John F. Kennedy

Esquire‘s Chris Jones tells the story of President Kennedy’s last flight from Dallas to Washington, DC.

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From A Gift from a Flower to a Garden

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About three weeks ago I put two children’s books in an envelope and mailed them to a friend for his daughter. Today I got word that they were received and the child is delighted.

Southern Palestine, Hebron, Beersheba and Gaza area. Hebron, the town, between 1950 and 1977. (Library of Congress)

Sounds like ordinary news, doesn’t it? It’s not, for me or for the little girl. She and her family are Palestinian and live in the Gaza Strip. I live in the United States.

When I was a kid, I borrowed books from the public library every week. I don’t know how I could have survived without it. I was horrified to learn that there is no public library in Gaza, but I am absolutely delighted that I am able to help alleviate that deficit to a small degree.

Now if only I could get my hands on some Arabic language children’s books …

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