I thought about Dean while I was making it. One of the first red velvet cakes I ever made was for a singing friend whose birthday was coming up right around the monthly Chicago northside singing. I was hosting that singing, and I told her I'd make her a birthday cake for it, and she could choose the kind. I gave her a list of the kinds of cake I knew how to make, and she chose red velvet. I'd gotten a recipe out of the Trib that originally came from a Southern cookbook called "A Gracious Plenty." So I made this cake -- it must have been the first or second red velvet cake I'd ever made -- and it dyed my entire kitchen red, but the singers loved it. Dean (who was originally from Tennessee, where they eat red velvet cake) took one bite and said, "You can tell this is the real thing, because you can taste the flour in it." I have no idea what he meant by that, but it was clear it was a compliment, and Dean was not the sort to give idle compliments to people's cooking. I hope that wherever Dean is now, he's got a nice big piece of red velvet cake where he can taste the flour.
And I saw fireworks! They're legal in this state, which means that it's not so much that you go out hunting for a fireworks display as that you can't avoid a fireworks display. The municipal display was Saturday night, but all the people know that you have your fireworks on the Fourth of July. So, right around sunset (9:00), I took a little walk. Pretty soon, I heard the telltale booms and crackles. I followed the sound and came upon a little housing development about five blocks away from my house, where the residents must have spent their entire entertainment budget for the month of July on fireworks.
These were not dinky little squibs, either. They had boxes and boxes of every kind of professional firework I'd ever seen, and they just kept on setting them off and setting them off. A municipal display is carefully choreographed and lasts maybe twenty minutes; these guys kept going for over an hour, bang bang bang. There'd be a display, then ten minutes of firecrackers and Roman candles while they hauled out and set up the next round, then the big ones would go off again. I stayed for about a dozen rounds of this, just across the street from the housing development. You'd think that Gandalf the Grey had brought his entire arsenal to that one development. And that was only that one place. Everywhere you looked, rockets were going off tonight. When I started walking home around 10:15, the air in my neighborhood smelled of gunpowder all the way home.