I have spent the pandemic in lockdown learning not only how to cook, but also how to bake.  Cooking is an art.  Baking is a science.  That’s what we’re told.  Both have certainly made me a bit fatter.  That is about the lack of discipline – indeed, human fallibility – more than either art or science, although art is the harnessing of human fallibility for a higher purpose, I suppose, and science is about utilizing it to discard it bit by bit as one seeks the infallibility of factual data.  Or something like that.

Cooking and baking do share one important aspect for me: they are meditative practices.  At least, they are when I am silent while doing them and not making videos.  Anyway, they do tend to result in my writing a paragraph such as the previous one

I explain in these videos in this installment of KITCHEN CONVERSATION why I so love orange cake and how baking several using different recipes lead me to experiment with combinations until I found the one that suited me.  Fallible, I tossed out a couple of cakes because one tasted like cardboard and the other never saw fit to rise at all.   Cooking teaches you to find a way to make allowances for mistakes and maybe even discover that because of those mistakes something even more delectable results.  Baking teaches you to let go and start over.   One thing these baking videos taught me once I made them on my MacBook Air was to let go of my vanity.  The lighting is not that great.  I hate the way I look in them.  I hope they get a bit more professional as I move forward.  But maybe the rudimentary aspect will become part of their charm.  That is one way of rationalizing it.

This series is, in fact, part of my starting over here on this site and refocusing on it and redoubling my efforts to make it the best online magazine I am capable of making it it.  But, hey, I’m fallible.  I’ll stumble at times.  I’m hoping the mistakes I’ve made in the past navigating this medium will have now made it even more delectable.

I am also staring a YouTube channel where you can watch these cooking segments.  It started out as a way to figure out how to load videos onto my site since I was having a problem doing it.  Even the workarounds were ceasing to work.  Someone suggested I just start the channel over at YouTube and link to it here.  It was what finally worked best.  You can subscribe by clicking HERE.

Oh, and here is a copy of the recipe for the cake I’m making.


Preheat oven at 340 degrees

In one bowl mix

1 and 1/4 cup of flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt

Mix together in another bowl

1/2 cup of either freshly squeezed orange juice or lemon juice depending on which cake you’re making

3/4 cup of olive oil

In another bowl blend together 3 eggs

Zest from 1 orange or 1 lemon – a bit more to taste if you desire it

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

3/4 cup of sugar

Fold in 1/3 flour mixture

then 1/2 juice and olive oil mixture

then 1/3 flour mixture

then 1/2 juice and olive oil mixture

then 1/3 flour mixture

Pour into 9 inch round cake pan that has been smeared bottom and sides with butter to grease it

Sift either Natural Demerara Unrefined Cane Sugar atop the batter, or I have also used a mixture of granulated cane sugar with brown sugar. This forms a sugared crust-like top to the cake

Bake for half an hour – or until done. Mine is always done at 30 minutes.

If you make the orange cake, it is really great with fresh slices of oranges served alongside each cut piece. Or even squeezing a bit more fresh juice on the piece you serve if you don’t want to go to the trouble of the slices.


The say the above video was 19 minutes within the video.  I was wrong.  I read the time log incorrectly.  I’m fallible.





  • Kevin Sessums is the author of two New York Times bestselling memoirs, Mississippi Sissy and I Left It on the Mountain.

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