Friday, September 11, 2009

A taste of support

ON MY trip to France earlier this year, I headed to Monte Carlo for this year’s Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

The steep, cobblestoned streets were full of excited cycling fans milling about, checking out the sights, ogling the giant superyachts in the harbour, staking out their positions for the start of the time trial that would begin the three-week race.

And each and every one, all 40,000 of them, was wearing a yellow LiveStrong wristband. Every person there knew the story of the cycling star who had won seven Tours de France, the toughest sporting event in the world, and - a harder battle yet - had fought, and beaten, 14 cancerous tumours.

Each and every one knew Lance Armstrong’s story and had come to see his return to the race that has almost become synonymous with his name. When he flew past us on his way up the first hill of the time trial that summer's day in Monte Carlo, the cheer that went up was defeaning.

The thing about Lance Armstrong's story that I think reaches most people, cycling fans or not, is this: I bet every person in Monte Carlo to watch his return to the great race would know someone with cancer. Everyone bought a yellow wristband and wore it proudly to show that they might not be able to come up with the cure for cancer, but they were going to support the fight any way they can.

That, too, is why I'm writing this as part of Barbara from Winos and Foodies' annual LiveStrong With A Taste Of Yellow Day, along with dozens of other bloggers from around the world. We might not be able to cure cancer by cooking, but we can show our support and love with a lemon cake or two. And with support like that, this battle against cancer is a fight we must win.

While I’m on the subject, can I urge every woman out there who hasn’t done so yet to talk to their doctor about having the cervical cancer vaccine. I know there's been a lot of talk about possible side-effects, but I have had the entire course, experienced nothing worse than the usual pain from an injection, and am so happy to be doing one extra thing to help stop cancer's spread. And since experts now think it helps older women, and maybe even men, as well as the younger women at whom the vaccine has previously been targeted, clearly the benefits far outweigh the risks. Please, go get it today; put a note on your phone calendar and go back for the full course of three shots. It's seriously well worth it.

Lemon butter cake

This is one of my favourite cakes because it's bloody easy and bloody versatile. I made it today as a simple lemon butter cake with lemon icing, but it also works really well as a syrup cake and it works with any type of citrus.

125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
the rind of a large lemon

Preheat oven to moderate and grease and line a loaf tin.

Cream butter well, add sugar and beat until combined and mixture is almost white.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift flour and salt and add alternately with the milk.

Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cake springs back and a skewer comes out clean.

for lemon butter icing

80g butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbs lemon juice or to taste

Cream butter well. Sift icing sugar and beat into butter. Add lemon juice and beat until the icing has reached your preferred taste.

for lemon syrup

Juice of that large lemon you zested earlier
1/4 cup caster sugar

Mix juice and sugar together and stir until sugar dissolves. When cake is cooked and still warm from the oven, pour lemon juice mix over the top. Leave to cool in tin.