The other day, I found myself chatting with some coworkers about skiing over lunch. There was excitement over the snowpack building up in Tahoe. An amicable snowboarding versus skiing debate. All in all, a safe and banal lunch conversation.
Safe and banal because I didn’t regale my new coworkers with tales of my skiing prowess.
A few years back, I hit the slopes with a pack of novice skiers. While most of the group struggled their way down the bunny slopes I, along with two snowboarder friends, struck out for steeper pastures. We were soon zooming down the thrilling blue slopes, getting more exhilarated with each new trail conquered.
Then we came to a literal fork in the road. We took the right trail. As in, the trail on the right. But not the right trail. Because we were soon stranded on what can be best described as a 75˚-angled nightmare snow slide covered in big-as-a-small-boat moguls.
Bump. Bump. Bump. I was in elementary ski school again, slowly making my way down the hill with huge S curves at 5 mph, legs trembling and heart rate increasing each time I was forced to turn. My skis slid further and further from each other as I plowed through moguls and snow cascaded down the mountain from beneath my uncontrollable skis.
Further down the slope, my snowboarder friends decided they had had enough of the giant moguls. Without further ado, they sat down on their butts and slid down the rest of the way. As I watched them scoot down on their posteriors, I experienced a twinge of regret and mentally conceded a point to the proponents of snowboarding.
Well, too late for regrets. I had no choice but to continue at snail’s pace down the mountain, destroying mogul after mogul in my wake. Every few S’s or so I would tip over, but the sheer steepness of the slope meant that when I was lying on my side, I was at virtually the same angle as I would be standing up on flat ground. Sweet.
But good things always come to an end. I could see the bottom of the slope. I was so close. Then I was flying through the air, legs akimbo, arms flailing. I landed on my back, head facing downwards, one ski still attached, all limbs and ribs unbroken. After I slid 10 feet down the slope on my back staring up at the blue Colorado sky, I came to a gentle stop. Still alive!
I managed to reposition myself so that my feet and head were facing the right directions, remove my one faithful ski, and scan the slope for the rest of my gear. Then, for the next half hour or so, I crawled back up the mountain to retrieve my hat, my goggles, my other ski, and my two poles, all scattered at various inconvenient locations above me. For every two feet I inched upward, I slid back a foot on my stomach. A ski lift passed by directly overhead, and chair after chair load of skiers craned their heads to watch the great spectacle below. A passing expert skier took pity on me and used his poles to push one of my fallen poles closer to me before he gracefully finished his descent.
It was tiring to climb up the mountain I had just tried to ski down. Every few feet or so, I would lie facedown in the snow and take a break. During one of these pauses, my pocket rang. I realized my marvelous dumb phone had survived the Great Crash of 2013. I fumbled with my gloves, then picked up. It was one of my snowboarder friends who had ditched me on this hellish snowy chute.
“Uh, Claire? Where are you? We’re waiting down here.”
“Oh, I fell. I’ll be there soon.”
Eventually I picked up
the pieces of my shattered confidence all of my gear, then finally got to do what I had been wanting to do all along. I slid down the rest of the way on my butt clutching my skis and poles in my arms, purposely wiping out every few feet to put a damper on the scary acceleration created by slippery snow pants on a veritable snow cliff.
Bump. Bump. Bump.
That skiing conversation with my coworkers triggered this flashback. I laughed out loud when it popped up in my head as I prepared for bed that night. And, because I am a millennial who can no longer imagine life without a smartphone, the thought occurred to me – if the phone in my pocket had been an iPhone instead, would the screen have survived the Great Crash of 2013 intact?
We’ll never know. But though I’m never trading back my iPhone for a Nokia brick, I’m kind of glad I hadn’t made the switch before that fateful day in Colorado. Sometimes, old and uninspiring is just what we need.
That’s not to say this pound cake is old and uninspiring. It’s just…pound cake. Unexciting. I was making a last-minute care package for some friends. I had visions of madeleines and biscotti dancing through my head. This hefty loaf came out of my oven instead. It’s hardly the most photogenic or awe-inspiring treat that I’ve made, but it met the need exactly. And it’s delicious to boot. I know because I saved myself a loaf.
Raspberry Orange Pound Cake
Makes 2 loaves
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks, room temperature
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups fresh raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter and flour two loaf pans.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and baking powder and beat for another 10 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the bowl and add the juice, zest, vanilla, and salt, and beat until combined.
- Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the flour and mix until just combined, then gently fold in the raspberries. Your raspberries will break, but if you’re gentle some of them will stay intact and you won’t end up with completely pink batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans, then bake for 60-70 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool the pans on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes until the loaves firm up, then remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely.