The Key to Flavor City

Maxie was mortified.

I’ve been friends with Maxie for forty years.  We met when we started tenth grade at Northeastern High School, in Elizabeth City.  I was a loud fat girl, and he was a very quiet, studious young man, and one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever known.  A few years after graduating, we moved separately to the Triangle.  Unfortunately, after a few more years, we lost touch.

During a class reunion, we reconnected.  I wasn’t fat, but I’m still loud, and Maxie, although remaining quiet and sweet, had turned into a hunk.  This time though, we didn’t lose touch and since then try to see other for lunch every month or so and are as close as we’ve ever been.

A couple years ago, I was honored and thrilled to be a part of his wedding.  Maxie married Mark, whose heart is as big as his booming voice, and who is happy to take charge, make a fuss, or order another round, whatever’s needed at the moment.  He’s also a darn good cook who loves to experiment and try new things in the kitchen.  We bonded over our mutual love of tacos and astonishment at Maxie’s almost total taco indifference.  

The last Tuesday of every month, their church has a potluck/community dinner.  Everyone’s welcome for a meal, regardless of church membership and ability to bring a dish.  It’s a pretty awesome tradition. 

For June’s dinner, Mark had organized a dessert competition.  They invited me to join Maxie as a celebrity judge, using the very loosest definition of the word, “celebrity”.

I made up a batch of my horseradish potato salad with peas and carrots, and Petey and I went to a potluck. 

Petey was ecstatic, because there was fried chicken.  I was pretty happy to find I had to sample ten desserts.  There was a gluten-free peach cobbler, a brownie pie, two sweet potato pies (including the best sweet potato pie I’ve ever eaten—working on the recipe for it), along with some other treats, some great, some…interesting.

The winner was a light, citrusy, very unusual key lime pie Bundt cake.

Mark’s Key Lime Pie Bundt Cake

(originally from the website,


1 white cake mix, dry not prepared

1 small box instant vanilla pudding, dry not prepared

4 eggs

½ cup sour cream

½ cup sugar

¾ cup oil

¾ cup key lime juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 drops green food color if desired


12 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

Zest of key limes for garnish

*Debbie here: to up the whole key lime pie vibe, add 2-3 crushed graham crackers to lime zest for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, sugar, oil, key lime juice and vanilla. Beat for three minutes. Add green food color if you desire.

Pour into a Bundt pan that has been greased and floured.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely.


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth. Spoon frosting into a piping bag and pipe the frosting over the top.

Sprinkle top with lime zest and graham cracker crumbs if desired.

So, why was Maxie mortified?

Because Mark made the winning cake.

And even though Maxie hadn’t been home when Mark baked the cake, and it was a blind taste test, my friend was convinced that people would think that the fix was in.  

But nobody questioned Mark’s win.  Because it’s a ridiculously delicious cake.

Thanks for your time.

2 thoughts on “The Key to Flavor City

  1. You are so sweet and so funny. One thing though in my not so loud voice it is the last Tuesday of each Month (not Wednesday ) . Next one is July 30th. Everyone is welcome .

    Liked by 1 person

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