Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gladys’s 99th – Happy Birthday!
What’s cooking? Apple Pound Cake

Not everyone gets good in-laws. And very few get really great in-laws. I am one of the lucky few. Adding to that good fortune, yesterday, my mother-in-law celebrated her 99th birthday.

It’s amazing what can happen in 99 years. In addition to outliving fellow 1911 babies Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan, and Mahalia Jackson, Gladys has watched a sea change in our daily lives. Just to give you an idea of what was happening in the world when she was born, here are a couple of milestones from the year of her birth.

■ An expedition led by Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole.

■ Chevrolet officially entered the automobile market in competition with the Ford Model T.

■ President Taft presided over the dedication of the New York Public Library.

■ The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the largest industrial disasters in the history of New York City, caused the death of 146 garment workers, almost all of them women, who either burned or jumped to their deaths because ladders couldn’t reach them on the 9th or 10th floors. It was the worst workplace disaster in NYC until September 11, 2001.

■ Calbraith Perry Rodgers, a pioneer American aviator trained by Orville Wright, made the first transcontinental airplane flight across the U.S. The trip took from September 17 to November 5, and included some 69 stops, both intentional and accidental.

■ The number of motor vehicles in the U.S. was 470,000.

My sons can’t imagine life without cell phones or computers; when Gladys was born, there also were no electric traffic lights (invented in 1912), household refrigerators (the earliest, in 1922, cost almost twice as much as a car), zippers (1913), or ballpoint pens (1938).

So we celebrated on Sunday, with a family gathering at which Gladys’s daughter (my fabulous sister-in-law) baked one of her mom’s most delicious cakes.

Gladys’s Apple Pound Cake

2 cups sugar
1½ cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups finely diced apples
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine sugar, oil and eggs in bowl and beat until thick and creamy. Sift together the flour, soda, and salt (or combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and stir well). Beat the dry mixture into the wet, and stir in the vanilla. Fold in apples, nuts, and coconut. (Kitchen Goddess note: It's a stiff batter, but take heart – it’s a great cake, and needs no icing.) Pour into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350º for 1 hour 20 minutes.


  1. Could it be that this fabulous cake has no ingredients loaded with saturated fat?!! I'm going to try it this fall when the apples are coming on.

  2. Happy Birthday, Gladys. What a great blog. You should post it asap on facebook because it's just so darn interesting to think about what has transpired in her amazing lifetime.

    Kind of reminds me of the news this week about what the incoming college freshman never experienced. ex: cords on telephones, for one...

  3. I LOVE it when you post recipes!

    What a wonderful tribute!!

  4. My mom has had a remarkable lifetime and a remarkable life! But do not remember the pound cake nearly so well as scones and cinnamon rolls. Refrigerators must have come into use before 1922, and I would have guessed many fewer cars in 1911. The house I first lived in had an icebox that mom used as a pantry cupboard; it had been built in 1915. Dad shovelled coal into the furnace that heated that craftsman style bungalow until I was about 5 or 6. Lee's husband probably doesn't remember the coal furnace, which was replaced with gas when he was about 3 or 4. Mom worked hard in that house, as she did in the next one, and she made great cinnamon rolls, a good life for her family, and wonderful scones.