Everyone needs a Kathy.

I wish everyone had a Kathy in their life. I seriously do. I met Kathy within about 6 months of moving a thousand miles away from the 30 mile radius within which I had lived nearly all of the first 33 years of my life. Our sons were in the same 2nd grade class and we were both chaperones on the “community day” field trip. She was so friendly and kind to me–a total stranger. Sadly, moms are not always welcoming to newbies. To this day, we still laugh at the questionable appropriateness of our grocery store tour guide telling the gaping 2nd graders that our local store, in our town of just 25k, sold more wine than any other of that chain’s stores in the whole state of Oregon.

Eight years later, and I still consider Kathy one of my very closest friends. My husband knows that whenever he hears me cackling like a fool in some random part of the house, it’s always because Kathy and I are texting. Thank God we didn’t go to school together–one of us would have surely been transferred because we’d always be having so much fun cutting up and no amount of basic separation would be adequate.

I love Kathy because she is not only truly hysterically funny, but she, more than just about any person I know, uses her actions, not words to make a difference in this world. My family had been shattered by some bad news earlier this year. There was a knock on the door, then the flooring of an engine, and on our door step were 5 pints of Ben & Jerry’s, caramel sauce and hot fudge, and two lottery tickets.  That’s so Kathy. And anyone who knows Kathy knows she is the consummate volunteer. She is currently PTO co-president for one of our two middle schools. Anyone who really knows me knows I am unlikely to count a PTO president as one of my best friends, largely because somehow, those moms tend to be a bit clique-y. A bit “the cool kids are in charge now–we’ll take it from here,” and that’s not my style. But Kathy is the kind of person who does this specifically so that someone in charge is looking out for the kids–and parents–on the fringe. The ones that are feeling left out or excluded. She’ll find those kids, those parents, and pull you in, fold you right in to the mix, and make you feel like you’ve been an essential part of the crew since forever.

Everyone needs a Kathy.

It is my great pleasure to make a cake for Kathy today. And of course, she would choose a Spiced Pumpkin Cake with cream cheese frosting, garnished with caramelized pumpkin seeds with sea salt. Kathy is all about tradition–she’s the only person I know who has actually been a member of the Charity League. And if spiced pumpkin baked goods aren’t tradition, well, shoot–then nothing is.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Salty-Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Salty-Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love this cake because it is moist and tender.  The frosting is a rich blend of cream cheese, butter, sugar, and a hint of cinnamon. The pumpkin seeds are glazed in caramel, then dusted with sea salt and bring a lovely umami note to the cake.


Frosting in the layers and on the top makes this perfect for any casual gathering.
Frosting in the layers and on the top makes this perfect for any casual gathering.

It is simple and rustic, frosted only in the middle layers and top, which allows you to enjoy the softness of the cake’s interior as well as the slightly more firm outer crumb. This is a fine cake that speaks of tradition, but with a modern twist. Which honestly, is so much like Kathy–quintessentially traditional with her values and commitment to community, yet thoroughly modern with her hysterically funny wit and her lack of pretentiousness. Everyone needs a Kathy.

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