Energize Relationships With A Little Home Cooking

In the scheme of culinary talent, I cook a little better than average. The operative word is "cook". I cook killer soups: soups that vary in ingredients and size; soups that range from stick-to-the-ribs to light-and-fancy; soups that contain whatever leftovers haunt the Tupperware containers. But baking? That's another matter. Personally, I have this aversion to following recipes. Maybe that's why I like soups. Broth is pretty forgiving about whatever you add to it. But baking—there's the rub. Fail to follow directions and angel food cake tastes like the devil. Brownies turn into blackies. And lemon chiffon pie tastes like Chiffon dish detergent. All this makes my lemon cake nothing short of a miracle. I don't follow the recipe (natch!) and the result is a tangy confection that can be frozen and sliced into delicate pieces of pure delight. It has become my signature dessert for guests and a gift I send to friends, to colleagues, and to clients. Besides its mouthwatering sweet/sour deliciousness, folks seem just blown away by the fact that I took the time in this too time-intense world to bake them a cake. I realize the power of the old Pillsbury ad: "Nothing says lov'n like something from the oven…." Lemon cake has become the metaphor that connects our relationship. You, too, have your own version of lemon cake. What time will you spend to connect with someone who is important to you?

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