Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sugar Skulls at Short Street Cakes, and more Dias De Los Muertos Celebrations!

From now through Wednesday, November 2nd, Short Street Cakes will host our 3rd Annual Dias De Los Muertos altar to celebrate Day of the Dead. We have blank sugar skulls for sale ($5, with a portion of proceeds to benefit COLA- Coalicion de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas), a table with icing, glitter, and sequins to decorate the skulls, and an altar where participants can leave offerings to the souls of the departed. Please feel free to join us, and bring your family to participate in the sacred act of honoring the dead.

From Wikipedia: "Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures."

I first learned to make sugar skulls two years ago from Suzie Millions, and I blogged about it, along with the recipe and more history of the holiday, here.

The lovely and wonderful Miss Glo will be hosting her altar again this year in the back courtyard at Mayfels on Tuesday, November 1st, starting at 5pm, and we will be bringing the altar at the Cake Shop there to join in the festivities. You can see photos of last year's celebration here, and read the write-up of the festivities from this week's Mountain Xpress, here.
Also on November 1st, Nuestro Centro, Asheville's Latino Community Center, located at 441 North Louisiana Avenue, in West Asheville, will be hosting a Noche de Alteres/Dias de los Muertos Celebration. I feel grateful and excited to be part of celebrating the season of honoring the loved ones who have passed on. I feel we need their guidance now more than ever. It also feels really wonderful to continue to root the Cake Shop in a community where we are building traditions and have moments throughout the year to come together and remember the cycles of the seasons and our souls. Each year that we celebrate Dias de Los Muertos, I feel more grounded in our families, our community, and our rich and beautiful history. Much love and many blessings, Jodi

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cedar Grove Pig Pickin: Cake, Music, and Homemade Love.

This is Keri. Keri and I were freshman college roommates at the University of Georgia. 17 years later, we are still best friends, and our children are like cousins to each other. Last year, due to a long, complicated, and of course very serendipitous turn of events, I met the Cake Lady Betty Compton through Keri and friends at the Anatoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, NC.
Last night, I returned to Cedar Grove, for a book signing I had scheduled to take place at the garden. I got to reconnect with old friends, like Meghan (pictured below) and I sold and signed copies of the book, both of which I expected.
What I didn't expect, however, is what an amazing event the community would come together to create. Completely unbeknownst to me, Betty's family and community was so excited that she was featured in the book, that they took my little book signing in the garden and turned it into a full-blown, country-style Pig-Pickin', Cake-Walkin', dance party. Betty brought her famous pound cake:
And eight other people brought cake for the cake walk, like this one, which was later won (and eaten) by Keri's son, who graciously shared it with the rest of his family, me, and Jasper.
The music group that Betty has been playing and singing with for the last 10 years, "Pickin' and Grinnin,'" not only provided the musical accompaniment to the cake walk, but they delighted everyone with their renditions of songs by Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and other traditional country and bluegrass artists. Betty herself, even though she was the guest of honor, managed to find time to sit in on a few songs.
And then there was the pig.
Betty's husband, Dwight, bought a whole pig, and her son roasted it, starting at 5am yesterday morning. Betty's sisters made the two hour drive from Nash County to be there. Friends and family brought side dishes: all manner of baked beans, breads, banana pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes, macaroni salad, green salad. It was nothing short of an extravagant feast, and it was delicious. I was absolutely blown away by the generosity of each and every individual that gave to this event, and it reminded me of some of the wisdom I had learned from Betty: "when you are in a community, you know each other's gifts, you wrap around each other's gifts." From the set-up, to the eating, dancing, celebrating, cake-walking, and clean-up, there was a natural and spontaneous sense of that wrapping around each other's gifts, and the responsibility was shared, and therefore lightened, by everybody. In this time of social and political uncertainty, dare i say, upheaval, I was struck by how the simple act of creating fun and celebration with your own head and heart, and the things and the relationships you have available to you, can create a richness that money can never buy. I think this is sustainability in its highest sense, and I think it is healing. The garden has a history of this healing; as Anathoth's website explains: "The story of Anathoth Community Garden began in 2005 after a murder occurred down the road from the Garden site. Cedar Grove United Methodist Church held a prayer vigil for healing and peace at the site of the murder. Mrs. Scenobia Taylor was present at the vigil and had a vision that she was to donate 5 acres of her land to the church for the healing of the community." This has become what Anathoth is today, and I experienced a little bit of that healing last night. Thank you to keri, Betty, Dwight, Anathoth, and the community of Cedar Grove, for wrapping around each others gifts. I am grateful to be a part of it.
And later that night, Keri and I enjoyed some cake:
The next morning, Jasper and I enjoyed that distant cousin of cake, the Pancake, and meandered around Hillsborough until we found the local bookstore, The Purple Crow. The proprietress, Sharon Wheeler, was happy to learn about the book, and ordered some for her store. So here's a footnote about buying local: most any bookstore you walk into will order a title if their customers ask for it, so asking for Cake Ladies in a store that doesn't carry it is a great thing to do. And if you want the convenience of online ordering while still supporting your local bookshop, you can order on and have it shipped to you through your local bookstore.
The end. xo

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall 2011 Book Tour: Pig Pickin' in Cedar Grove, NC

My friend Keri and the community of Cedar Grove, NC, home to one of the Cake Ladies from the book, Betty Compton, have put together the following event down east in Cedar Grove, NC to celebrate Cake Ladies.  This people of this community garden have been a friend to me and to the Bountiful Cities Project here in Asheville, and I feel so deeply honored to be in such fine company.  I feel so grateful, too, that the community put this together on their own, to celebrate this wonderful woman Betty who has given so much to their community.  I'm getting a little teary again.  

You Are Invited to a
Book Signing, Cake Walk & Pig-Pickin’ Potluck:
 At Anathoth Community Garden!
On Tuesday, October 18th
From 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Please bring a dish to share!

The book, Cake Ladies, Celebrating a Southern Tradition, written by Jodi Rhoden will be available for purchase at the event as well as one of the featured cake ladies, Betty Compton! Jodi and Betty will be there to sign your copy of this amazing new cookbook, featuring delicious cake recipes, inspiring stories, and beautiful photography.  Betty will be the guest of honor at the cakewalk with her famous pound cake. You can also bring a yummy cake to put in the cakewalk.
There will be live music with fellowship, fun and great food. 
Come join us and bring a friend!

Directions: Hwy 86 North from Hillsborough - 7 miles; take a left onto Carr Store Road; go 1 1/2 miles to flashing stop sign. Continue straight on Carr Store Rd. approx. 1 miles & take a left on Mill Creek Rd. & 1st right onto Lonesome Rd. The Garden is on the Right.
(In case of rain, the event will move into the Cedar Grove UMC Fellowship Hall at the corner of Carr Store Rd. & Efland Cedar Grove Rd. - next to the post office.)
For more info go to or call the church office at 919-732-8405.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cake Ladies Book Release Party, Sunday October 16!

Please join us for a cake-filled, kid-friendly, cocktail-licious celebration of the publication of Cake Ladies. This will be my home-town send-off before a few months of travel promoting the book, and I would love to see your beautiful face before I go. We're gonna raffle books, flowers, cakes, and t-shirts; Calliope Cut Flowers decorates, Miss Glo pours and Michael Tangelo DJ's. $3- $5 suggested donation for the raffle, no one turned away for lack of funds. Books will be on hand for purchase and signing; a few of the book's featured Cake Ladies will be in attendance, too! The venue is the lovely, renovated church on Forsythe Street, in the 5 Points neighborhood. From Downtown, go down Broadway and pass 5 Points, take a Right on Woodrow. Take you first left on Forsythe and park anywhere that's legal. Respect the space and the neighbors; we gonna have a good time!