How we do hospitality, and Gluten Free Lemon Cake Recipe
When we returned from our honeymoon in 2005 and were living together for the first time, Jeff and I started trying our hand at fancy cooking with our brand new beautiful copper pots and pans that had been gifted to us. Within weeks, these meals became HUGE and elaborate and there was no way we could finish them alone! So, we started calling friends over to eat with us on weeknights. Our apartment was ugly and empty, but conversation with visitors over a meal made it feel like home. There's rarely been a time during our 11-year marriage that we didn't have guests over at some point during the month. Even during our long 16-months of extreme sleep deprivation with baby Heidi, we would invite over dinner guests every two weeks!
Life is so short — we want to spend meaningful time with people! And we’ve invited people into our home from a wide variety of backgrounds and age-groups and political affiliations — it feels like a view of Heaven on earth. It has added this amazing richness to life, that I always look forward to who we are going to invite next! Our kids get to hear viewpoints they’d never otherwise hear, and experience all kinds of personalities! Often, the conversation is so lively that our guests stay till 1 a.m., some holding their sleeping kids on their laps.
I want our guests to leave feeling encouraged and inspired to do whatever God has placed in their hearts. My parents’ home is this way! I can’t leave Glasgow Farm without feeling this overwhelming desire to CREATE! Somehow I always see my life as brighter and better than when I came. My mom and dad are the most intense listeners, and when they do speak, it is full of wisdom and love, without even a hint of preachiness. This is my hope and goal for anyone who enters my home too!
Growing up on the farm, we always had guests over for dinner — there were my dad’s employees and colleagues, carpenters and plumbers and electricians who were helping renovate our farmhouse, church friends, people who wanted prayer for healing or for their marriages, kids of single moms, families who needed diet advice (my mom had put us all on the Fiengold diet and seen drastic improvement in our health), school friends, strangers — and my parents became famous for their hospitality. Today, the farm is a wedding venue and there’s nobody who comes that doesn’t want to STAY!
What is it that people feel there?! My parents radiate love and generosity — the Holy Spirit is very evidently at work. And when you genuinely love and want the best for your guests, they feel it.
Some of the practical things I’ve learned to make my guests feel at home are these:
(Note: These are ideas, not rules!!!! There are times when the best you can do for guests is offer them a glass of water, as you sit and chat surrounded by babies and dirty diapers, and the bigger kids go climb the curtains ;) The MOST important thing is to INVITE people into your home! The rest is just extra!)
- Go all out. Make each visit to your home a memory for the visitor. If you’re having people over just for coffee, then make it special with homemade whipped cream or add in vanilla and cinnamon. If it’s a play-date, offer to make lunch for everyone. Plan dinners in advance and do your absolute best — make your guests feel like royalty. Use your best dishes and linens! Once they arrive, stop dish-cleaning and leave the dinner mess (even leaving the dishes till the next morning!) so that you can be fully present with your guests every second that they’re there!
- Ask *them* lots of questions.
- Buy the foods that you know your guest loves (and that they’re not allergic to). If they like red wine, buy the best you can afford! If they eat organic or vegan or keto and you don't, ask around for the best recipes and shop for the ingredients that will be the most delicious! Taking on the challenge of the limited menu will make your guest feel loved and cared for. Put them first, above what you like and are used to.
- Be flexible! Expect people to generally show up late, especially if they have children. Noisy kids? They’re bored—let them go play while adults talk! Put away stuff that you don’t want broken, and don’t get upset if it does. We have had so many spills, torn fabric, broken dishes, and lost toys when guests have come, and I honestly do not care — the people matter more than the things. I want their memory of their time with us to be only love.
- Make the ambience conducive to conversation and relaxation. Dim the lights and add unscented candles and lots of clean cozy blankets. Overhead lighting is a NO, unless it’s on the dimmer. At parties, I actually take out lightbulbs so that no one inadvertently turns on overhead lighting! Clean the powder room meticulously and stock it with lots of extra T.P.
- Put away distractions—turn off the TV, stash your phone for the entirety of the visit, put the pets away (or in the yard if someone has allergies).
- Don’t have ulterior motives. This is supposed to be fun for everyone. Don’t DARE try to sell your guests anything or talk business.
- Even the temperature of the home matters. Is the pregnant person fanning herself? Are the kids' cheeks all bright red? Did someone just ask for their coat from the closet? Can you see goosebumps on their skin? A good rule is never below 67 and never above 72 when you have guests. Remember — them first!
- Pray before the meal and give God your visit.
When we have dinner guests, I like to make a really special dessert. But of course, I will never compromise on my belief that we should never consume artificial ingredients like food colorings or hydrogenated vegetable oils or gluten or GMO sugar! This cake is one of the yummiest things I've ever made. It's loaded with organic sugar --definitely not an everyday type of food! But for celebratory occasions, this is perfect.
Gluten Free Lemon Cake with Blueberry Frosting
- 3 cups Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix
- 2 1/2 cups organic sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups grass-fed unsalted butter (I used Kerrygold), softened (DO NOT MELT)
- 1 cup raw whole milk (best from Guernseys or Jerseys because of the high fat content!)
- 5 pastured eggs
- 4 organic lemons, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp organic gluten free vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 and set out your butter to soften. Zest (avoid getting any of the white pith in the zest) and juice your lemons. Butter and flour (with Pamela's) two 9" round (2" deep) cake pans. In a stand mixer using the flat beater, combine dry ingredients (Pamela's, sugar, baking powder) and then add in the softened butter and 3/4 cup of the milk and mix just until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the milk, eggs, vanilla and the juice and zest from the lemons. Add the liquid to the ingredients in the mixer in parts small enough that they won't splash when you turn on the mixer, and mix just until well combined. Do not over-mix!!!
Pour into two cake pans, filling each pan to 2/3 full (if you have excess, put it in a smaller third pan — don't overfill the pans or they'll overflow onto your oven), and bake for 36-38 minutes or until the middle doesn't really jiggle. Don't go much over 38 minutes or it will over-caramelize the sugars and be too brown!
Place pans on the stove-top and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife along the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Gluten-free cakes tend to stick! Place parchment paper on top of the cakes and then flip out onto cooling racks, and allow to fully cool, around 45 minutes. Then put them in large ziplock bags or wrapped in saran (keeping the parchment on) and cool further in the fridge for ease of decorating (overnight).
- 2/3 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1/8 cup water
- 5 cups organic powdered sugar
- 3 sticks (1.5 cups) grass-fed unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 tsp organic gluten free vanilla extract
Place the blueberries and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat on the stove. Heat for 10+ minutes until much of the water has evaporated and the mixture is bubbling. Pour the mixture into a strainer over a bowl, pressing on the blueberries so all liquid comes out. Refrigerate this liquid and allow to fully cool. Cream butter in large mixing bowl using a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Slowly add in powdered sugar, a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla and thoroughly mix. Begin to add the blueberry liquid a tablespoonful at a time, mixing after each spoonful, until the texture is perfect for frosting the cake and the color is what you want! It can range from hot pink to dark purple depending on how much blueberry liquid you add. Whip for 2-3 minutes. If you need more liquid, add a tablespoon or two of heavy raw cream and beat well. Frost that cake with a piping bag and tip :)