... a little something extra thrown in

Gabby Abby

Gabby Abby
Florida, USA
December 31
I've had most of the jobs ~ daughter, student, wife, parent, employee, business owner and now once again, job seeker ~ but I'm still looking forward to lottery winner, retiree and regular blogger. Email welcome at gabbyabby.jax@gmail.com


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DECEMBER 14, 2010 2:46AM

For Me? You Shouldn't Have... You REALLY Shouldn't Have!

Rate: 35 Flag


christmas present


My mother used the scent of cinnamon, cider, and coffee beans to wake those who hadn't already been dragged out of bed by small children.  Dressing was a necessary distraction before quick stepping to the dining room where Christmas Breakfast awaited across a table that sported two extra leaves for the occasion. It was a sight to behold, a true southern spread on Christmas morning. 

Arriving family swelled the crowd around the table. After coffee fortification and gossip over egg casserole, ham biscuits, and ambrosia, we allowed sugar amped children to tow us to an eye popping Santa sized pile of gifts around the tree.

The look of largesse testified to the number of people gathered, because there were just a couple of gifts from Santa for each of the kids and one for the adults, based on a name draw done around Thanksgiving. Since my husband and I were holiday house guests, we exchanged our family gifts as well.

My mother was not a supporter of the ready-set-go chaos which had dominated at my grandmother's house during her reign as matriarch.  By decree, gift giving progressed from youngest to oldest, one present at a time, so all could admire the gift before it was engulfed by the wasteland of shredded wrapping paper that my father liked to ball up and free throw toward the open fireplace. Bounce outs didn't count unless they were flaming at the time, sending mother into conniptions, flapping around with a tea towel. My father and brothers firmly agreed that was what the hearth rug was for.

I fell somewhere in the middle of the age range that year.  A parent of two little guys, but below my own parents, their siblings, and assorted cousins. When my name came up, my smiling husband thrust his gift out, a small box - the kind that says oooh, jewelry!

We'd had a five year anniversary right before the holidays, and it was also my birthday the following week, so I thought this might account for the grin and the size of the box.  It was touching, as he had never bought jewelry for me, not even a wedding band. Sitting on the floor next to him, pleasure and felicity bubbled up, which was rare, and delightful.

I looked up at family watching expectantly as I unwrapped a tiny silk, oriental patterned box, then glanced at him as I opened it. I slowly lifted the lid and peered into the box.

It was empty. 

He reached over and offered a note that said, "To My Wife, Buy Anything You Want, Love F."

I blinked. Uncomfortable titters moved around the room, Mother jumped up for coffee refills. 

For what it was worth, our matching dual incomes were modest, so the idea of anything I wanted was out of the question but the reality was, if I wanted to buy myself jewelry, I didn't need my husband's permission to do it.

Deeply red faced, I sank the box under the clutter and we moved on wordlessly.  Looking back, I suppose he would have liked to have been killed on the spot to avoid the embarassment and the private guy-teasing that went on for several years after.

As for me, this moment underscored the importance and meaning of mindful giving

My mother's gift on Christmas morning was a good reminder of what that meant. It was the food she prepared from her heart and the table she set for our pleasure. She nurtured family and friends with tradition. Not just the family gathering she carried on after my grandparents could no longer lead, but also with dishes that had been the foundation of holiday memories in her childhood. She passed these on to us and later, to our children.  Mindful gifts.

I began making my grandmother's Sour Cream Pound Cake standing on a chair by her side when I was 6 years old.  I was allowed to participate only after I could read the recipe, a critical part of the success of any baking endeavor, according to Mother. 

As in the Aesop's Fables of old, the moral of this story is, Love is in the details (so be sure to follow the recipe exactly!).




sliced lb cake



The cake originally gets it's name from the addition of a pound of each of these ingredients, but follow these measurements, rather than weight, for a perfect cake.

3 cups sifted flour (sift 2 times, then measure)

3 cups sugar

1 cup butter

1/4 t baking soda

6 eggs (separated)

1 cup sour cream


If you have a stand mixer, lucky you!  A good hand mixer also works.  Hand mixing is best left to a baker with a strong whipping arm!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

Grease and flour a large straight sided tube pan (a bundt pan is not recommended). The recipe makes a single large cake for a crowd, but you can also use loaf pans to make smaller gift sized portions for the holidays.


Cream butter and sugar together well

Add egg yolks one by one

Add soda to the sifted flour, pass through sifter one last time (yes, you have to)

Alternately add flour and sour cream to creamed mixture 

Scrape sides and beater and stir into batter, set aside

     To each his own way...

what not to do


Beat egg whites until stiff, but not shiny

Gently fold into batter, lifting from underneath until incorporated

Pour into greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours

Crust will be firm to touch. Remove from oven and turn cake out at once, flip back onto cake plate to cool. 


Baked lb cake


When we choose a gift for someone, we bestow it with our well wishes and share our caring, along with the appreciation that is in our heart.  So from my family to yours, I hope you will accept this gift and create a wonderful tradition for yourselves. 

All the Best of the 2010 Holiday Season to my OS friends~


pound cake plate

















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It is Tuesday, right? Happy baking because this one is too easy to be so delicious.
This story is lovely and poignant -- as is your writing! The photographs are wonderful - and the cake looks delicious. Your family and traditions are a lot like my husband's. We've visited his parents in New Orleans on several Christmas vacations and go through almost the identical routine.
It is great that your family comes together like that...Maybe we should not give only those gift cards...
Thanks for the warning--I'll be sure not to do that! And for the recipe too. I'm thinking Yum!
No, he REALLY shouldn't have.

The family traditions that pass down from one generation to the next ... YES!

Great post, Abby.
Yum, I'll get on this. As for "buy what you want?" Guys - no. Better to be wrong and seen as sincerely making the effort than to appear careless. That way lies...well, never mind.
Wonderful story, well related to. I don't bake, but the cake sounds delicious.
Thanks, Abby! I will try this on the weekend!
I gotta get, and head down the road.
'that' was great. 6- broke, separated,
double yoke duck eggs, cooked long,
Cook for jest eleven hours. Feeds 2?
My O,
Mine turned out to taste like a Nuns,
Devil Food.
Burnt Cake!
What's today?
Bars open yet?
On Tuesday?
Knock hard?
Walk in bar?
Apply fire engine red lipstick. It's Tuesday?
It's Sunday?
Not Tuesday.
I still implore.
Cook two poached eggs.
Tomorrow's breakfast?
Broccoli with red wines.

LuLa's Cake add pounds.
Eat a devil food cake too.
It's better than touting a`

Dose of 'Viagra' @ FOX.
Oy that-that-them huh a`
Plates of limp parsnips a`
dinners make audience a`
News on teevee gag dog a`
them/they jackal hyena a`
sorry to speak of ill politic.
Thanks for a`no politico blog.
Invite lumberjack and OS'ers.
But, please no open door to a`

FOX warmonger butcher killers.
Fox smear lipstick on vain mouths
Meter maids who tell the bad news.
Breast forecasters. Meteor pawns.
Fox have dens. Rudolph Murdock?
Stop being a pig
Hire Bib Farmer. Metempsychosis.
That's transmigration of Ya Souls.
It's essential to consider the Truth.
Be a reindeer.
Lose weights.
Justice comes.
Wait 1,000 yrs.
Bake and eat it.
Sip Abbey Ales.
Belgium Leffe`
What a brew.
Use chalice.
Wide glass.
Ay Cheers.
Best burp.
So what did you buy??? This happened to me one year. I got what I wanted, but it was not what he was expecting.
I can't wait until my own grandaughter is old enough to stand by my side and cook, bake, share all that with me. What a wonderful gift to have.
Your poor husband I can just imagine the puppy dog look on his face and then the oh shit moment when he realized what he had done...good times :)
I have been there and received that.
Two years ago, my partner gave me a PHOTOGRAPH of a hotel I had always wanted to visit, implying that he would take me there for a one night visit. Needless to say we never made it, and this year I threw out the photograph.
The smallest token is better than an empty box (or photograph) on Christmas morning.
I hope you bought yourself a fabulous piece of jewelry.
Cheers to mindful giving and a cake recipe even I could muster. Thanks Gabby. Happy Ho-ho ...
I never got an empty box, but i have gotten plenty of "I was gonna get you bla bla blah but ,," a lot of excuses
I needed a recipe for pound cake and will be making yours.
rated with hugs
Great story and the recipe looks yummalicious. I hate the tradition of opening gifts from youngest to oldest, one at a time. My husband's family of around twenty does this and it is EXCRUCIATING. I guess I'm a grinch on this subject. Loved the fireplace tradition your parents have. Indeed that is what hearth rugs are for.
So, how's the cake? delicious huh? Just like all of your comments, which are treasures to me.
What a beautiful cake! and Merry Christmas to you, too, Abby!
Thank you, Gabby - both for your memories and the family recipe. Your story was very moving for me. Happy holidays and the best in the new year. ~R
The cake sounds delicious. The sound of the uncomfortable silence that followed after opening the gift, not so much....
I am sorry. I thought I was the only one who had an ex who told me to buy my own present with my own money. He didn't wrap the sentiment in a box though ;0)
I've made some foolish choices on presents over the years, but fortunately I haven't made the mistake of a "buy what you want", although I sometimes feel that's what I'm doing when family recommends I send gift certificates.
The recipe looks yummy and your storytelling is, as always, scrumptious. I went back twice to read the part about your husband's "gift". The only word that kept coming to mind is DOOFUS. Sheesh.
Wonderfully written. I hope your husband has been otherwise instructed, since that time. And that cake...wow!
That looks delicious, Gabby Abby! So what did you buy for yourself?
Sweet man! You know the real meaning behind that southern expression, right? ha! Great post, great recipe! : )
How did I miss this post?! I loved how you described your dad's way of disposing of the wrapping paper...and I'm sorry for your awkward moment...I would have really gone all out to make him pay! R!
You make me so hungry while reading this. Thanks for the recipes too. Seasons Greeting to you !
To all those who asked... a divorce (eventually). Hohohoho!
How did I miss this!? I love reading about your Mom and your Christmases past. I also have that same recipe and you're right -- it's a winner, every single time. (I did treat myself to a stand mixer about three years ago -- a discontinued model from Williams Sonoma. I don't usually spend money on myself so taking the plunge was difficult, but it was worth every penny, and I do find I bake more. Maybe you should cash in that note...)
Bell, so glad you agree! I bet if we compared recipe boxes, 1/2 of the box would be the same oldie goldie favs. Add berries and whipped cream and I could just die and go on to heaven with that plate in my hand. Toasted for breakfast? heaven, again. Thanks for weighing in on the pound cake (geez, that was terrible)(Oh, and that note, along with the author, are long gone. Humph.)
i'm with all those other commenters right above me: how did i miss this? what did you do, abby, hide it somehow? sheesh. i'm not liking being this late to your blog.

crappy gift-giving is, well, crappy. if it isn't well-meant, it shouldn't be anything, and that goes for expensive gifts or not; it isn't about the money spent, ever. and the recipe sounds really interesting - never saw a pound cake with whipped egg white, so i'll have to give this one a try. have a lovely christmas, abby, dear friend.
holy cow. one year my boyfriend of 18 months offered me a darling ring sized box at the family get together. everyone was watching and holding my breath, i opened it to find a lovely cartridge for my turntable. i almost puked.

your cake looks really good though.
Yum, pound cake. Lovely memories and wonderfully told. Merry Christmas to you and yours. R.
Femme! Yes, I blend in well around here, glad you found me. The whipped whites give a light, fluffy consistency instead of a dense cake. The sifting also creates a small crumbed texture and a crust on the top that is so lovely. It's so simple, and well worth the few ingredients and little time it takes to make it. Enjoy! and happy Christmas to you as well.
Oooooo! Hearing it told in person was hard enough. Reading about it was brutal because you told it so well! Thank God those days are behind you! Now it's time for the cake! Yum!
Meh. More embarrassing than brutal. It was really just another confirmation of the distance that was growing between us. It prompted a long conversation in the 6 hour car ride back home. (imagine)
I'd love to join you and yours for dessert and conversation.
Msr. Chariot, you are welcome in my parlor anytime. It would be my pleasure, and an honor.
Thank you for having a birthday that allowed me to find you---and thanks go out to your mother, too, where ever she may be! The cake recipe is a gift, and very appreciated. Thank you!

I am looking forward to a post on mindful receiving next. While one can count on regular old algebra to make things equal when needed, there is such a different math when it comes to gift and thankfulness.

I've asked a few scientists about it, too. They agree. The science of gift-receipt is different, but no one really studies it much in the lab.

Perhaps this explains why I was so happy with last year's set of knives and this year's set of 12 drinking glasses! I can't wait to see what ends up in my kitchen next year!
@ MHold - so right! Do a post on it after thinking it over, I'm a terrible receiver. It's a gift when you can receive with grace, instead, I find I'm just a little embarrassed (which may be why I don't get much!)