Many months back when my husband and I knew that my parents would be coming to visit with us from Europe for the summer, my husband had a wonderful idea of taking a special “boys” trip with our son and my dad.
See, my hubs is a beautifully, wonderfully sentimental type, and that's one of the very things that I love best about him.
We both realized that this would be one of those unique summers where all of us would be together, possibly for the last time, in this specific way. Our son will be entering his senior year in high school this coming school year, and has the tentative plan of joining the Marine Corps after graduation; and as far as my parents are concerned, we really only see them every couple of years as they mainly live abroad these days.
So it became quite clear to the both of us that if best-laid plans played themselves out, who knows when it would be that we'd all be coming together in this way again?
When a child/grandchild grows up, things change drastically. So with a new “chapter of life” looming on our horizon (regardless of whether it's the call of military service or something else), we thought there'd be no time like the present for our men to endeavor on this special “boys” trip together.
A week ago Friday, with the SUV packed full of snacks, pasta salad, fried chicken, fishing gear and personal travel bags, our boys left on their excursion, leaving us ladies behind in southern California, driving eastward to set their sites on the Grand Canyon, Zion Park, the Hoover Dam, and the hottest place on earth—Death Valley.
It would be a jam-packed three-night, four-day trip for them, and their vision was one of bonding, creating memories, laughing, bickering, belching and taking some extraordinary photographs. My mother and I, on the other hand, would hold down the fort here at home, relaxing without having to worry about our boys for a few days, and taking some time for ourselves.
(As I said; those pesky, best-laid plans...)
My husband has always been really great at keeping me in the loop with info, and sweetly kept my mom and I updated while they drove all those miles each day (at times with no cell service—always a bit scary) by sending little texts with photos and letting us know that they arrived safe and sound at their daily-changing hotel.
And the first afternoon after they left, mom and I went out to browse at a couple of shops, in order to “do something different” and “girly” (right?), then came home and enjoyed an icy sangria that I quickly put together to sip on as the evening light fell. That was fine. It felt great!
The next day was swell, too, as we grabbed a little lunch together and strolled a couple of streets lined with shops in a neighboring city for a couple of hours.
We took my dog Lola out for a little walk, and came back and even took little catnaps ourselves (oh, the luxury!) before watching “The Majestic” together later that night. But even though we were enjoying ourselves, and “relaxing”, much of our conversations had to do with our boys!
We wondered where they were at that moment? Were they safe? How was the car? What were they having for breakfast? What were they eating for lunch and dinner? (My dad's on a very restrictive diet for health reasons, so that made my mom quite nervous—what will he eat while on the road? Will his hip be hurting him if they're walking around a lot? You know...)
So I kind of chuckled internally to myself, “so much for time not having to think about our boys.” Ah, the woman's attempt at relaxation!
By Sunday morning, my mom and I were both just looking for things to do. A wee bit pathetic? Perhaps.
So I washed both my husband's and my car late that morning, and did a couple of other chore-related things. And then I started my recipe development for this delectable Fresh Raspberry Swirl & Greek Yogurt Cake, which, mind you, I had to tweak/re-bake a number of times with various changes (thank God for something to do!), so I threw myself into that deliciously merciful activity.
And then, finally, we just resigned ourselves to counting down the hours, then minutes, to our boys' return. Why pretend? We were way past that, at that point.
So while our guys were frolicking in the summer sun on their “boys” adventure, and taking helicopter tours above the Grand Canyon, my mom and I “relaxed”.
At least it was time for just she and I, and that is a rare thing, in and of itself.
So I'll take what I can get from our four days “off” from our boys, and just say that mom and I had our bonding time, too. We bonded over the fact that we're both eternal nurturer-types, and can't relax if our lives depended on it.
And the sweet topper? We've now got enough varying loaves of Fresh Raspberry Swirl & Greek Yogurt Cake in the freezer to last more months than I'd care to admit!
Taste what's good, and pass it on.
Fresh Raspberry Swirl & Greek Yogurt Cake with Tangy Yogurt Drizzle
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 8-10
• ¾ cup fresh raspberries
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp
• 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 3 extra large eggs, room temp
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup Greek yogurt (2% fat)
• Tangy Yogurt Drizzle (recipe below)
-Preheat the oven to 350°, and grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½” loaf pan with butter or cooking spray; then, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. (You can also use a standard 9 x 5” loaf pan, but I prefer the smaller as it offers a higher looking loaf, rather than a flatter one).
-Add the raspberries and the lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor, and processor until they become a puree; strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer, pushing with the back of a spoon, and discard seeds; set the puree aside.
-Prepare the dry ingredients by whisking together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
-To prepare the cake batter, add the butter to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and cream on medium-high for about 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
-Add the sugar to the butter, and continue to cream for about 2-3 more minutes, until light and fluffy.
-Add in the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next.
-Add in the vanilla extract.
-Reduce the speed of the mixer to low, and begin adding ⅓ of the dry ingredients into the batter; once incorporated, add in half of the yogurt, and allow that to incorporate; next, add in another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then the remainder of the yogurt, finishing with the rest of the dry ingredients; mix only until incorporated, taking care not to over mix.
-Spoon ⅓ of the cake batter into the bottom of your prepared loaf pan, and smooth it slightly; next, drizzle in about ⅓ of the raspberry puree over top, keeping a bit of a border around the edges, and swirl it into the batter using a skewer or small butter knife/off-set spatula; repeat with another ⅓ of the batter, smooth it slightly, then the raspberry puree, and swirl; finish with the remaining batter and raspberry puree on top, and swirl.
-Tap the loaf pan on the counter top gently, to smooth the batter.
-Bake for about 1 hour 5 minutes – 1 hour 15 minutes (loosely covering with foil for the last 30 minutes of baking to prevent too much browning), or until a skewer/toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes; then, carefully run a knife or small spatula around the edges to release any sticking, and turn out to cool on a wire rack.
-Once cooled completely, top with the Tangy Yogurt Drizzle, and allow that to set up for about 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
(This cake stays very moist if you cover any uneaten portion with plastic wrap, and store in fridge.)
Tangy Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:
• ¼ cup Greek Yogurt (2% fat)
• 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
-Whisk together the ingredients until completely blended, and use immediately; or, cover with plastic wrap.