A Letter To My Daughter

(by Beth Johnson)

Dear Annora,

I am in a nostalgic mood these days, thinking a lot about family and food, especially because Thanksgiving will be here soon. So I’ve been reminiscing.

I remember the sweetness of Grandma’s preserved figs. They’ve been on my mind almost every day this week, probably because I miss her and her food and the time spent together. Life was simple and good back then, at her farm in rural Mississippi and later when she lived with us in Chicago. She made great biscuits that I loved to sop up with syrup and butter for breakfast, and her melt-in-the-mouth egg pie was one of my favorites. I keep asking Mommy, but it doesn’t seem like we are ever going to figure out her recipe for tea cakes. She must have been seasoning that delicacy with generations of love and magic.

I loved the peace and kindness of Grandma’s spirit; she was strong, loving, and patient like no one else I have ever known. Your middle name is in honor of her. You have taken on all her qualities and mixed them with your own beauty, strength, and intelligence. Yes, I am getting all teary-eyed thinking about you growing up. (You know how I am.) I miss your tender little baby face with those big dark eyes; I always look forward to seeing how you have grown during the months we are apart. And I love sharing foodie adventures with you because you always bring me back to the sweetness of life. How you delight in the simple pleasures of a hamburger (cooked medium, and ketchup only). Our search for the biggest and most decadent dessert continues.

Did I ever tell you that when I first started my culinary adventures in the kitchen, I baked? (Once I left for boarding school, I took a very long hiatus.) On the weekends, I would pick (mostly cookie) recipes from Mommy’s McCormick recipe book. I wasn’t that impressive, but what I made could be doctored with some ice cream or a little melted chocolate. My favorite recipe is for pound cake; the recipe I have was passed from Mommy to me, and now to you. I’ll make it for you the next time you are home. We can eat it with tea or hot chocolate or have some for breakfast with eggs and bacon. Mmmmmm. Hurry home.

I love you more than anything in the world,



Beth Johnson, mother of two, lives in Chicago with her border terrier, Oxford. She buys/sells/leases real estate, grows and rescues orchids, and works as a model and actor.

Mommy's Pound Cake

1 lb. butter, softened (plus extra to coat tube pan)

3 c. sugar

6 eggs

2 t. vanilla extract

1 t. lemon extract

1 t. coconut extract

1/2 t. salt

3/4 c. milk

4 c. cake flour (plus extra to coat tube pan)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Coat a tube pan with butter and flour.

Cream butter and sugar together.

Add eggs one at a time until combined.

Add extracts, salt, and milk.

Mix in flour until fully incorporated and batter is smooth.

Pour evenly into prepared cake pan.

Bake 1 1/2 hours on middle rack.

Remove from oven and cool on rack.