Pineapple Pound Cake

Phew. This past week has been devoted to tracking down the date that the Detroit News printed a delicious pineapple pound cake recipe.

Pineapple Pound Cake Recipe
The recipe.

Allow me to take you through the process that we undertook to attempt to put this tasty recipe in a historical perspective.

First, we visited the Detroit News’ Web site. The home page gave me the option of perusing the last seven days or looking into the Rearview Mirror at the photo store of Michigan’s yesteryears. I could find nothing beyond that, not even a basic archive search.

Then I tackled ProQuest and Lexis Nexus. Lexis Nexus Academic doesn’t have the News, nor does it have the Free Press. The Daily Yomiuri, yes. Detroit News? No.

I finally had to contact my talented copy editor friend, Benita, to help me out. She found the archive search page at, which was a battle in and of itself, but even that only went back a year.

Dan & Benita
The lovely Benita with Freep copy editor Dan Austin, Detroit’s biggest fan.

She hooked me up even further and went through the News’ internal archives, but those only went back three years. “The font recipe exchange is totally ’80s type,” said Benita, which would obviously put us back much further than three years. We seemed to be a dead end.

But why stop there?

I sent off an e-mail to Neal Rubin, metro columnist at the News. I thought he might be able to unearth something Benita didn’t, because he often writes posts about figuring out random stuff. I also knew him from a high school internship, and we stayed in one-e-mail-a-year touch, so it seemed like a better option than contacting someone random in the News’ library.

Neal was back with answers in a day or so:

Recipes aren’t indexed as far back as this one goes. What I do know is that [reporter] Andrea Wojack worked for the News prior to the JOA, which means before 1989.

So we know that it was, indeed, from the late ’70s or the ’80s.

I just found out today what Wojack is doing now, so I’m planning on contacting her soon. Not that she probably remembers this one particular recipe, but it’s worth a try.

Bottom line: At some point in the 1980s, the News printed a fantastic recipe for pineapple pound cake.

I can wager a guess that the Detroit News reduced its free archived content because it wanted a way to make more money from the Web site. But how can it make money if it won’t even tell me what it has hidden in its archives?

Anyway, onto the cake.

I just skirted disaster when I attempted this recipe, as I was under the mistaken impression that a “tube pan” was just a longer, thinner version of a loaf pan. I needed a ten-inch tube pan and my loaf pan was 9 3/4″, so I assumed I’d be close enough. I called Mom to confirm, and was surprised to discover that a tube pan actually means a Bundt cake pan. Whoops!

Clearly, my background weighs more heavily on the reporting side than the baking side of this endeavor.

That crisis averted, I cautiously brought my laptop into the kitchen so I could bake.

MacBook in the Kitchen
My MacBook meets my kitchen.

The recipe was crazy easy, and although I was skeptical about the pineapple glaze (because it looked pretty gross), the finished product was remarkable. And now, you can make it too!

Crushed Pineapple Pound Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup butter or margarine
2 3/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup crushed pineapple with juice

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1. Don’t preheat the oven!

2. Cream together shortening, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

3. Sift flour with baking powder and add to creamed mixture in small quantities, alternating with milk.

4. Add vanilla and stir in crushed pineapple. Blend well.

5. Pour batter into well-greased 10-inch tube pan.

6. Place in cold oven. Set the temperature to 325 degrees and bake 1 1/2 hours or until cake springs back in pan when lightly touched.

7. Let cake stand a few minutes in pan, then loosen and invert on rack.

8. For glaze, combine butter, sugar and pineapple. Pour over warm cake. Cool before serving.

Finished Pineapple Pound Cake

Notes and Modifications
• We had regular canned pineapple on hand, but it’s worth it to go out and get diced/crushed pineapple instead so you don’t have to mess with a food processor or anything.
• Obviously, this cake needed to be placed on a larger plate. Don’t make the same mistake we did, as we came dangerously close to a glaze disaster.
• A big THANK YOU to Benita and Neal for all their help!

And just think, without my mother obsessively saving recipes, this one would have been lost for all eternity.

Coming up: the history of the Bundt pan revolution, and a test kitchen adventure.


Published in: on January 27, 2008 at 8:52 am  Comments (5)  
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Salmon Burgers with Yogurt-Dill Sauce

I stumbled upon this recipe when Toby and I went up to Everett to celebrate his mom’s birthday. We were just going to enjoy something simple, like pizza or burgers, I was told.

Imagine my surprise to discover a newspaper clipping on Norm’s counter when I padded into the kitchen for a root beer. It was a recipe for salmon burgers, and it was being used so Toby’s sister Jessie could join in the feast. She’s vegetarian.

Salmon Burger recipe
The recipe.

Jessie doesn’t like critter flesh, but I suppose fish are OK because they’re not fuzzy, cute critters. (I discovered this class of vegetarian is “pesce-vegetarian” which apparently irks “real” vegetarians, as evidenced by these passionate forum responses. Additionally, I have a title too. I am apparently a Vegetarian Sympathizer.)

I asked Norm why he pulled a recipe from the paper, especially because vegetarian cookbooks are every freaking where, especially, it seems, in the Northwest (Unless these veggies shun pesce-vegetarians too).

“It just caught my eye,” he said. He said other quote-worthy material, but as I’ve long run out of reporter’s notebooks since leaving the profession and had no paper on me, I don’t feel qualified to quote him properly.

(A brief note, and then I promise I’ll be done with parenthetical comments. In searching for a link for reporter’s notebook, I discovered that A. Lot. of people think it’s witty to name their blogs “Reporter’s Notebook” or the more plurally-minded “Reporters’ Notebook” like it gives them street cred or something. It doesn’t. But then again, that’s coming from the girl without enough street cred to even own an empty reporter’s notebook.)

Anyway, here’s the cook:

Norm cooking salmon
Norm Keseric, chopping salmon like a pro.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the whole “It’s vegetarian, but kind of not” debacle is the fact that the salmon isn’t deboned. Hopefully the bones are pulverized enough, I guess. Jessie did a pretty spot-on impression of what salmon bones might sound like while being crushed.

Jessie and the burger
Jessie, eating this week’s creation.

Anyway, to omnivores such as myself, the salmon burger was decent. The recipe doesn’t call for tomato, and Norm tried to stay true to its instructions, but I guess the burger needed the extra oomph the tomato provided. If you want to try it yourself, here’s how:

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 13, 2008.

Salmon Burgers with Yogurt-Dill Sauce

1 pound skinless salmon fillet, finely diced (see note)
1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plain, dried bread crumbs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
Romaine lettuce, for serving

1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat.

2. In a medium bowl, combine salmon, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, egg, scallions, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; mix gently with a fork.

3. Form salmon mixture into four 3 1/2-by-1-inch patties; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil without turning until browned on top and opaque throughout, 6 to 7 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine yogurt and dill in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Serve burgers on buns with yogurt-dill sauce and lettuce.

Note: To finely dice salmon without crushing it, start by thinly slicing the fillet with a sharp knife. Cut the slices lengthwise into strips, then crosswise.

Jessie’s Salmon Burgers. Lovely work, Norm!

Notes and modifications:
• I already mentioned the benefits of the tomato addition.
• Be careful not to let the patty burn. Charred salmon doesn’t have quite the same appeal as the smoky taste of a regular burger.
• I learned this was kind of a cheating recipe (guilty again, Seattle P-I!) because it wasn’t originally from the newspaper. It’s from a Martha Stewart publication. Bah.
• This can be a pricey meal to make because you need to increase the amount of salmon. The recipe calls for a pound of salmon, but Norm pointed out that salmon’s weighed with the skin, which isn’t used in the meal.


Published in: on January 20, 2008 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Yucatan Chicken with Peach-Avocado Salsa

This award-winning recipe was the talk of the town in Hilton Head, S.C., where it won the 42nd Annual National Chicken Cooking Event in 1997. I wanted a fool-proof chicken recipe for dinner tonight, because I was definitely not in a chicken breast mood.

I hoped that Teresa Hanna Smith of Santa Rosa wouldn’t let me down. When she won the 1997 competition, she was already a five-year veteran of the program. I trust people who have more experience than me.

The judge chairman that year said she noticed some trends in the 1997 finals:

This year’s recipe trends were influenced by international flavors, according to Carol Haddox, judge chairman and editor of the Chicago Tribune’s “Good Eating” section. The recipes included flavors usually associated with Thai, Greek, Moroccan, Mexican, Indian, Tuscan and Italian dishes. The creative blends of ethnic ingredients resulted in some tasty poultry dishes.

Another tendency was toward recipes with “quick, fast preparation,” says Ms. Haddox. “People want dishes that are easy to cook.”

I’m not sure if her observations would still be considered trends at this point, more than ten years later, because I think many of those ideas still drive new recipes today.

Excerpted from the Chattanooga Free Press

Chattanooga Free Press. April 16, 1997, Gwen Swiger, E1.

($25,000 winning
recipe by Teresa Hanna Smith)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon garlic pepper seasoning
1 orange, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Peach-Avocado Salsa (
recipe follows)
Lime slices

Place chicken in shallow glass dish; rub all sides with garlic pepper seasoning. Pour orange and lime juices over chicken; drizzle with olive oil. Crush oregano with fingers and sprinkle over chicken. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken from marinade and place in large nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Saute, turning, about 12 minutes or until lightly browned and fork can be inserted in chicken with ease. Serve topped with Peach-Avocado salsa; garnish with lime slices.

Peach-Avocado Salsa
In medium bowl, mix together 1 fresh peach, peeled, pitted and diced; 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and diced; 1 tomato, peeled seeded and diced; 1 1/2 cup diced jicama; 3 tablespoons chopped red onion and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. In small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 2 teaspoons olive oil; pour into peach-avocado mixture, stirring gently.

Yucatan Chicken with Peach-Avocado Salsa
It. Was. Delicious. 

Our notes and modifications: 

• The chicken is ridiculously moist. Deliciously, ridiculously moist.
• Peaches are nowhere close to being in season in mid-January, so we debated for a while whether we should use canned peaches, nectarines, or mangoes instead. We went with the mangoes, and we were pleased with the results.
• If you’ve never peeled jicama before, here’s how.
• The chicken is buried beneath the salsa in the picture. The tortillas were fried soft corn tortillas. The beans were Top Foods store brand, and the rice was Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice. The meal was delicious overall, but I could have done without the rice.
• If you would like to enter the National Chicken Cooking Contest, you have until August 31 to submit your application.

Finally, we chose to accompany our meal with Rising Moon, the spring ale from Blue Moon. Toby and I are both familiar with Harvest Moon, Honey Moon, and Full Moon (Blue Moon’s other tasty seasonal ales), but we’d never heard of Rising Moon. Regardless, it’s tasty. Not as delicious as Harvest Moon, but nice nonetheless.

Coors Brewing Company didn’t say whether Rising Moon was a new release, and yet we couldn’t find any images of it online, which indicates to me that it’s probably new-ish. Coors’ fact sheet (link downloads a PDF) doesn’t even have an image of it. Google Images doesn’t have one either, so here’s one I took:

Rising Moon
Rising Moon, Blue Moon’s spring ale 

Because this is a recipe introduced to the world through a food competition, I figured I should mention that I just ordered an interesting-sounding book called Cook-Off: Recipe Fever in America. I’ll let you know how it is once it arrives.


Published in: on January 13, 2008 at 8:48 pm  Comments (3)  
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A gift from Father Time

I’ve mentioned before that I find 50’s housewife-chic particularly interesting (and horrifying, in many ways). It should come as no surprise, then, that the neatest book I’ve read so far over break is the 1941 career story, Connie Benton: Reporter. I bought it at my favorite store in the entire country for vintage periodicals, Curious Book Shop in East Lansing, MI.

In it, Connie delivers this information (of particular relevance to this blog):

“Seriously, there’s a need for women who can write entertainingly about food, homes and clothes. Dad claims that women who write for women’s pages entertainingly, don’t know anything about it  — and the women who know their stuff, can’t be interesting!”

(In searching for online information about Connie Benton: Reporter I found a fantastic bibliography of sob sisters in popular culture, by the way. I must investigate this project more.)

My mom has noticed my growing obsession with mid-century journalists, probably beginning with my feverish pleas for anything in the Sally Baxter, Girl Reporter series last Christmas.

And so, she revisited her own past. She showed me her old home ec notebook from 1968, and let me rifle through her manila envelopes full of clipped recipes.

Recipe envelopes
Labeled & categorized recipe envelopes.

But my mom usually keeps her archived material close to herself (which, frankly, is the safest option). So imagine my surprise and delight when I received the full 1970 Detroit News cooking guide AND a general guide to good cooking.

A cooking little Christmas
Merry Christmas! Thanks, Mom!

I haven’t had a chance to read through all the recipes yet, but I’m eager to begin. What a treat, both for me and for you, fair reader.


Finally, some news related to food memoirs and food reporting. Author Amy Stewart did a great piece on NPR this morning regarding all the people eating local for a year (apparently, they’re called “locavores“), growing their own food for a year, etc. Stewart’s the author of one of the billions of nonfiction books I want to read, Flower Confidential.

Happy New Year!


Published in: on January 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment