It’s tradition in the South and, I
suspect, in most other areas of the country to take food to a
friend who is sick or has an emergency. You get credit if you
take over anything, more credit if you make it yourself.
For years in these situations, I took over a big bowl of my
“special” potato salad. Then the place that made it for me
burned down. Now little 7-Up pound cakes are my specialty. I
make them by the dozen and freeze them. If someone gets sick and
I’m out of town, my husband, Jerry, (a.k.a. “Left Brain”) takes
I was getting ready to leave on a speaking trip when I heard
that a friend was sick. I headed straight to my freezer, but
there wasn’t a pound cake in it. Left Brain announced, “A lot of
people have been sick. I’ve been running cakes all over the
county.” Then he mumbled, “I might have eaten a couple of ’em
Now, once you establish a tradition (taking pound cakes, for
example) and then miss a few times, another woman will jump in
ahead of you, start showing up with pound cakes, and declare
herself the pound-cake queen. We’ve all seen it happen. It’s not
pretty. I had to get a pound cake made before I headed to the
I was really in a hurry, and making a pound cake wasn’t in my
time plan. And to add to my dilemma, I didn’t have the
ingredients. I needed Left Brain to make a quick trip to the
grocery story while I packed.
He looked at his watch. “I can’t go,
honey. I’m trying to get to badminton.”
“I just need a few ingredients,” I coaxed. “That badminton
birdie is not flying away. And as you just admitted, you ate two
of the cakes.”
agreed—on one condition. “Just make sure I can get through the
express lane,” he said. I nodded.
He took the short list and left. I waited and waited. He didn’t
come back. And he didn’t come back. I figured he had gone to
badminton and forgotten me and the cake. I was about to call the
grocery story to have him paged (again), when I heard the car
pull in. Left Brain came hurrying through the door, grocery bags
is important that you know I’m married to a nice guy. Left
brained? Absolutely. Still, a nice guy. That noted, when he came
through the door, he glared at me as he put down the sacks.
“Gotta get the rest out of the car,” he muttered. I looked in
the first sack. There was a pound of butter and two gigantic
bottles of vanilla flavoring. Doling out a teaspoon and a half
per cake, it would take years to use that much vanilla
In the next sack were three dozen eggs. I only needed five eggs
and had clearly written on the list to get a “dozen eggs.” Must
have been a “special” on the eggs, I thought.
In the next sack was a 3-pound tub of shortening. No, two tubs.
In the next sack, two more. Twelve pounds of lard—enough to fry
fish for a civic-club fund-raiser! But in that fourth sack, I
found my list.
You also need to know that Left Brain is a smart man. He went to
Duke University on a basketball scholarship, played basketball
for four years, and graduated in the same four years. Then he
got a master’s degree and a doctorate at The University of North
Carolina. But I don’t care how many diplomas you have, if you
have a left brain, it is going to kick in on you. His kicked in
on him in that grocery store.
To make sure Left Brain could get through the express lane, I
had, for probably the first time in my life, numbered
1– pound of butter (No problem.)
2– large bottle of vanilla flavoring (Why did he get two?)
3– dozen eggs (One, two, three dozen—this man has a doctorate
4– can of shortening (One, two, three, four. Unbelievable!)
I could hear him coming back and quickly looked down at item No.
5. It was a 5-pound bag of sugar. I knew he was coming in the
kitchen with 25 pounds of sugar. Item No. 6 was a 5-pound bag of
all-purpose flour. Thirty pounds of flour!
He came stumbling in with bags in each hand, on both arms, and
between his teeth and started plopping sugar and flour in
5-pound thuds on the kitchen floor. “One more trip ought to do
it,” he glared.
I sneaked a look at my list. Item No. 7 was a bottle of 7-Up. I
didn’t want that big 2-liter bottle because I was only going to
make one cake. I wanted a six-pack of medium-size bottles that
hang down from plastic. I started clearing a space on the
a few minutes, he was putting the 42 bottles among the other
sacks. “Well, obviously, they wouldn’t let me through the
express lane,” he said. “Now, if you don’t mind, I have got to
get to badminton.”
He started to leave, then walked back into the kitchen. “For the
record,” he began, “I figured out what I had done wrong, but by
then she was ringing up the 7-Up.”
I was standing there among the sacks, when Left Brain stuck his
head in the room one more time. “Don’t tell anybody,” he said.
Three days later, the cashier ringing up my items in the grocery
store commented, “I think I checked out your husband a few days
ago. That was an interesting order.”
“Well, yes, let me explain,” I said. “Anytime a friend of ours
gets sick, I take over a pound cake.”
She thought a few seconds, then asked, “Is there an epidemic?”
Click here for Jeanne's 7-up pound cake recipe original article