how to win friends and feed people

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Beef and Bean Chili

Like most things in my life these days, the holidays usually revolve around The Food. What kind will there be? Will there be enough? Who is making it? Can I make it? Can we make sure there is salad? And chocolate? And breakfast? What about Second Breakfast?

You get the idea.

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lemoniest lemon cake / rachel getting married

finished lemon cake

When I was 22 years old, I was engaged to be married. I was also a senior in college, frantically trying to graduate from nursing school and look for a job and buy a house and plan a wedding all at the same time. Basically I was a train wreck. I remember looking at the wedding budget I had and the enormous guest list of friends and family and thinking This is not going to work! There’s not enough money! There won’t be enough food and everything will be UGLY!! I remember sitting on the floor of my brother’s apartment, sharing my sorrows and generally freaking out, and there were lots and lots of tears. Through what must have been a mixture of love, pity, and a strange desire to fill their limited spare time, my brother and sister-in-law volunteered to participate in my hand-made wedding. They would create two of the main wedding components themselves: David would screen-print the invitations by hand, and Jennifer would bake the cakes, and it would be so much cheaper. It will all work out they soothed, and that was that. I’m not sure they realized what they were taking on, because there ended up being 600+ (!!) invitations hand printed and hundreds of cakes baked. Maybe not hundreds of cakes, but I’m sure it felt like it at the time.

wedding cake 1

wedding cake 2(photo credit for the above two images: W + E Photographie)

The cakes (and the invites) turned out to be perfect and exactly the way I wanted them to be. It was truly a labor of love, helping two people celebrate their new marriage and their commitment to one another.

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Almost four years later, and The Lemon Cake is still talked about in hushed, reverent tones. Multiple people, relatives and friends, have admitted to me that it was the best cake they’ve ever had. “Share The Lemon Cake recipe with me!” they ask. “Bake The Lemon Cake for me!” they plead. “Tell me how to make The Lemon Cake or I’m writing you straight out of my will” they threaten.

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