Sunday, June 25, 2023

Vanilla Sugar Blog Tribute to Dawn with Blueberry Muffins and Lemon Crumb CakeI

This is not the way I'd like to be out of "retirement" in the blog world.  I haven't blogged since November of 2020.  It's a bummer to me and I can't tell you how much I miss the old days of blogging about the fantastic things I would bake and share.  Besides not baking like I used to, I'm reminded that typing up posts is my least favorite thing about blogging (as is probably true for most bloggers).  Over the years since starting my blog in 2008, I have made some wonderful friends.  I've been blessed to have met many in person and also have some great friendships with some I've never met--one of the things I love about social media!  There are so many wonderful people out there!

Dawn at Vanilla Sugar Blog was someone whose blog I started reading about 15 years ago.  We both started our blogs early in 2008.  I've always enjoyed her posts.  Besides her great treats and savory food and lots of recipes, I loved that she would do a "Friday Links" post every week with things she'd seen on the world wide web that she wanted to share.  She'd post thing like that on Facebook, too.

On June 8 of this year, I saw Dawn's husband Bob post that she passed away June 1.  What?!?  I never met Dawn and I'm not sure I would have ever made it to her hometown, but I did talk to her quite a bit on Facebook over the years.  She was always commenting on my posts, even just to take the time to say I looked great, my skin look great, etc.  We had some great DM conversations and enjoyed talking about our favorite tv shows from time to time.  Dawn lived on Cape Cod.  She loved seeing all the new candies and flavors of treats that would come out.  But being on Cape Cod she was always a bit dismayed that the new things we never ended up on Cape Cod.  They were never available there.  So I saved up the latest finds, new M&M flavors or others candies and cookies and I sent her packages a couple times.  She was thrilled!

She posted on Facebook often, sometimes quotes she liked, or photos, usually of the Cape, water or animals, birds, sharks, etc. or facts about one of her greatest loves--blueberries!  In January, I noticed I hadn't seen her post for a bit, so I messaged her to see if everything was okay.  She responded that she was just taking a social media break.  I replied, "Okay, that's allowed.  Glad that's all it is. Take care."  She then posted a couple times not long after that, but not as frequently as she had been before.  I didn't think anything of it.

Then her husband posted on her page about her sudden diagnosis with cancer in December of last year and that it took a turn for the worst and she spent the last month or so of her life in the hospital before passing.  My heart is so sad.  I didn't know him at all.  He seems pretty devastated, as expected.  He's posted a few times since then and my heart goes out to him and her family and loved ones.  I'm sad that I won't get to talk to her anymore.  

I haven't been able to get Dawn out of my mind.  Not really sure why.  What could I do?  There isn't anything, really.  I've known a couple food blogger friends who have passed away over the years and it's surreal and heartbreaking.  I guess it has made me realize how much we all need to make sure we are keeping in touch with our loved ones, telling our families and friends how much we love them and even talking to friends and acquaintances more often just to let people know we care and are thinking of them.  I'm glad I took those few minutes in January to message Dawn.  I told her someone said the word blueberry and it made me think of her.  I think of it this way--even when just a simple word makes you think of someone and you haven't talked to them for a while--take the time to do so!

I decided to make a couple things from her blog and share them here.  Since Dawn loved blueberries and knew all the facts about reasons why they are so good for you, I decided to make her blueberry muffins,  I followed her recipe and you can find her recipe on the link.  Okay, I lied, the only difference I made to her recipe was I used buttermilk instead of whole milk.  Dawn loved crumb topping!  So these muffins have a crumb topping.  She even suggested doubling the topping if you like it as much as she did.

Speaking of crumb topping--the other thing I decided to make from her blog was a crumb cake.  She LOVED crumb cake and would make every flavor imaginable.  It was never about the cake.  It was all about the crumb topping!

I decided to make Dawn's Lemon Crumb Cake.  As much as I'm a chocolate lover, I'm really liking lemon things lately.  I was easily sold on how much lemon was in this cake.  Lemon zest and juice in the cake.  Zest in the crumb topping.  And more lemon zest and juice in the icing drizzle.  I could get behind this cake.  I did only make a half recipe of it and used an 8x8 pan instead of a bundt pan (I think she made a bundt cake since my birthday is on National Bundt Day, November 15.  Yes, I'm sure that's it.) πŸ˜‰ She also mentioned using a 9x13 pan, so since I was halving the recipe, I used an 8x8 pan.

Besides quite a bit of zesting and juicing, the cake is pretty simple to make.  I followed Dawn's recipe exactly!  That's saying a lot for me since I'm known for never sticking to a recipe.  Making just half the recipe, I used five large lemons to get the right amount of zest, so plan accordingly if you're going to make the full recipe or half.  It's worth it to make this cake sometime!  I did taste the cake and it's fabulous.  With me trying not to eat much gluten and sugar, my new goal is to make my own version of this gluten free and with different sugars.  I'll do it for Dawn.  She'd like it if I did that.  Facebook life won't be the same without Dawn commenting on all my posts and I'll miss her posts and our chats now and then.  

I will forever think of Dawn when I'm doing anything with blueberries or even see them somewhere.  I will and always have for years thought of her when I see any crumb cake and I'm sure I'll make a number of her other crumb cakes--she's made at least a dozen different flavors over the years!  Dawn is to crumb cakes πŸŽ‚ and blueberries πŸ”΅ as Katrina is to chocolate chip cookies πŸͺand chocolate 🍫.  Sending love and prayers to her husband and her family and friends.  I know everyone thought the world of her.  I did.

Hug your loved ones.  Check on family and friends.  Let them know you're thinking about them.

I'm doing well, by the way.  It's been two and a half years since I've blogged.  Life is crazy and busy and somewhat day-to-day life as usual, but I am super blessed with pretty good health since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013.  Family is growing way too fast.  Kevin spoils me rotten.  Maybe I'll try to blog more often.  I hope to.  I want to.  We shall see.