So, you get the title of this piece, who wouldn't? Upon reading an article about caring, love and appreciating the senses while witnessing someone with Alzheimer's Disease, I was moved to talk about a man who was touched by the disease, Madison Cowan. Madison is a family man and chef with roots in London, Jamaica and Detroit. He is an author, producer, and Food Network's Iron Chef America & Chopped Grand Champion. Madison saw his father and father-in-law pass away from complications of the disease. The holiday season provides special memories for him: "My most prominent holiday memory is of my stepmum, who I consider my mum. I recall entering her home to the aroma of fresh-baked pastries wafting through the door. She had 10 children, and although her holiday party would include nearly 25 people, she would put together every cake, pastry and pie herself. She was astounding."
Food brings back memories to all of us. It doesn't matter that the foods that give us the most comfort are not necessarily the foods we eat today, what does matter is that they bring us joy. As he says, "Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us. The power is in the present moment, and it's imperative to enjoy each other. Focus on the things that are most important. My policy is this: if you're not a positive person, check it on the other side of the door. I am all about good times, warmth, happiness and food. Be kind to one another."
See below for two of his favorite family recipes.
JEAN BEAN'S 7-UP POUND CAKE
This cake has a feather-light texture and a buttery, crunchy topping. Serves: 12-15 people.
- 3 cups unbleached cake flour, sifted
- 2 cups unrefined cane sugar
- 1 pound unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- ¾ cup 7-Up lemon soda, room temperature
- Heat the oven to 375 F.
- Place the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients and blend with an electric hand mixer until smooth (begin slowly then increase to medium speed.) DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Butter and lightly dust a fluted cake tin or two to three loaf tins with flour. Carefully pour the mixture into the tins as to not pack tight and bake mid-oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted paring knife or cake tester comes out clean.
- Another tip is to keep the oven door closed and check doneness only after the first 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes and remove from tins.
- Serve simply with fresh seasonal berries and whipped cream.
This recipe pairs beautifully with a cheese board and holiday roasts. This can be made several days in advance. Makes 1.5 quarts.
- 2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
- 2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cubed
- 1 ½ tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
- Generous pinch red chili flakes
- 2 pinches sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ½ cup raw cane sugar
- ½ brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup full-bodied merlot
- 1 cup fresh apple cider
- Combine everything together in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until boiling.
- Reduce heat and simmer partially covered, stirring frequently, for 25 minutes until reduced.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool uncovered.
- Store in a mason jar in the fridge until ready to use. Bring to room temperature and remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks before serving.
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