Friday, February 28, 2014

Michigan Crack Coffee Cake and a Storied Wedding

Weddings are something that can bring out the best and worst in people both individually and collectively. As a caterer and Event manager I have seen my share of Brides, Mothers and Fathers acting out in the most insane and inappropriate of manners. True Bride-zillas I have only seen twice but the stories are varied and amazing.

Drunks, fights and screaming matches on the dance floor are par for the course. And let's not forget just plain old bad taste taken to the extreme on someone's special day. In short I hate weddings but I am kinda drawn to them because like a train wreck you just can't take your eyes off of them. Over the course of the years I have had friends ask me to help with their weddings and with one exception I have always politely declined. I just would never want to be responsible for one of my friend's special days. Too much pressure and the possibility of ruining a friendship, no thank you.

The most amazing story is from a wedding which was designed by a fellow in NYC, who we will call Eric. He's a great guy and very lovely to work with. This story started apparently when he was designing the wedding with the family. They were spending untold amounts of money on this wedding and during the planning process it became apparent the Bride was not very engaged in the whole thing. Instead of the usual involved, hands on manner most Brides take, this one simply did not seem to care if it was, "that shade of pink" or "that flower arrangement". Her mother did of course. Spending tons of cash to ensure a spectacle deserving her status and her daughters station. But the Bride was non plussed about the whole thing and this made Eric slightly suspect.

Well the big day came. The Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue had never looked so grand. The flowers, the music and the decor for the ceremony alone had cost a fortune. The Parents greeted their endless guest list as they arrived and waited for the ceremony to start. Eric went upstairs to check on the Bride who had strangely asked to be alone while she prepared not wanting the company of her entourage of dressers and bridesmaids.

As he approached the hotel room he could see that the door was slightly ajar, a strange sign he thought. He knocked. No response. He called out still no response. He slowly pushed the door open revealing the rooms contents. The Bride was no where to be found but on the bed was the dress and atop it a note and her ring. He lifted up the note and read these words, " Sorry Abe, I can't go through with it. Here's your ring back, Claire". Eric's heart sank into his shoes. There were 400 people waiting downstairs and the Bride was obviously not coming down. Oh Shit!

So he went downstairs and pulling the Groom and the Father of the Bride aside informed them gently of what was going on. The Groom was livid and was whisked away to a private room by his groomsmen with a bottle of brown liquor. The Father of the Bride seemed unmoved calm even. Eric explained that he needed to inform his guests, suggesting that perhaps the verbiage should be something akin to "I regret to inform you but my daughter has a had change of heart thank you for coming etc etc.". The Father shook his heard and said " Yeah Yeah Yeah....Got it". He then mounted the stage and took the mic hitting on it..."is this thing on".  Then he addressed the crowd. "I want to thank you all for coming today, to be with us, we spent a lot of money on this wedding and you can all go to the bar since it's paid for.... but there's no ceremony happening.... because my F&*%ing daughter FLED! Thanks!"

Now that's a wedding story!

Now as I said I have only helped one friend with a wedding and that would be my roommate of many years in NYC, Cristin Hubbard. Cristin is a Broadway actor and an amazing vocalist. She was also practically family. So when she became engaged I agreed to help put the reception together for her.

The wedding was set in upstate Michigan near the Sleeping Bear national seaside on the coast of northern Michigan. A fantastic place of natural wonder. The natural beauty aside the charm of the beach houses and the towns and the lovely natives were enough to entrance. It was a whole week of wedding activities with about 30 to 50 people, mostly family, participating. Cook outs on the beach at night followed by bonfires and sing alongs. Day trips in canoes and kyaks or antiquing. And a BBQ dinner after lake swimming and sun bathing.  A Buffet dinner at the house on the first night let to mornings spent over amazing breakfasts at the Bed and Breakfast.

This of course was coupled with the fact that I had agreed to help design and run the wedding. Her friend Mark also had agreed to help so between the two of us we came up with a plan. We visited the sight for the reception which was a rustic lodge building in a Church camp nearby the beach house she had spent every summer in growing up. A very connected and emotionally grounded choice, just like Cristin. Solid and soulful it hit the mark providing the perfect backdrop for a very special person's, special day. We visited the caterer, helped tweek a few menu items and service points and offered up my help the day of.

So then Mark and I armed with 3000 dollars in cash her father had given us set out to design and decorate the old Church Camp lodge for the reception. Aside from almost killing each other in the process we did an amazing job I think. White tuille and white christmas lights, flowers from a friends garden, sea glass and candles, blue, green, white and grey linens all came together to make a wonderful picture.

But it was Cristin, walking down the aisle of the church of her summer youth,  a beautiful family quilt adorning the altar, that really was the star of this wedding. She was the most stunning of Brides. The wedding and reception in their elegant simplicity were amazing. But the love so evident for these two people filling the room was the highlight of my experience of that wedding. I was moved beyond words. Hoping in my own heart that someday I might feel how she and her husband must have felt as the center of so much loving devotion. For after all, when the pomp and superficial things are stripped away, it's the love that makes a Wedding real. No show necessary if that is present. It speaks volumes louder than any floral arrangement or buffet dinner ever could.

So what has this to do with coffee cake you might ask? Well I discovered this recipe while staying at the bed and breakfast for this wedding. It's a simple almost stupid recipe and not an unknown or uncommon one. But I think if you try it you will agree it's addictive and ridiculously good! So I offer up with memories of weddings large and small. Memories of my dear friend from Michigan and this recipe. Enjoy Ya'll!

"Bob King Cake"

2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits 

3 Tbsp. butter melted
1/2 cup pancake syrup not real maple!
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Place all ingredients in a pan and melt together over low heat 
Place in the bottom of a bundt pan
layer biscuits overlapping in the pan
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 30 mins or until nice and brown on top
Invert onto a plate and yum yum yum!

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