Fresh & Fluffy Sun Drop Pound Cake


When you’re a kid growing up in the American South, you have the opportunity to contribute to shelves full of cookbooks. Your schools, churches, civic organizations and other community groups constantly compile and release volumes of recipes. At least that was true back in the 1980s and 1990s when I navigated grade school in western North Carolina.

Recently my mom introduced my wife Molly to a “Springfield Specialties” cookbook produced by my first elementary school, Springfield in Stanley, N.C. Children and their parents submitted recipes for the book, which was accompanied by student drawings of food and kitchen implements.

Cookbook Cover

Molly gravitated to the dessert sections of the cookbook, and she ultimately landed on a Sun Drop Pound Cake to make and sample first. Sun Drop has always been somewhat of a preferred drink on both sides of our family, particularly for our dads, so it seemed a natural choice to bake into a cake.


Here’s the Sun Drop Pound Cake recipe, straight from the book:

Sun Drop Cake Recipe

We discovered that the Sun Drop flavor is actually pretty subtle in this recipe. The impact of the cake flour it recommends is much more profound! Molly and I had neither one baked with cake flour previously, and we learned in this experiment that it produces a fluffy, spongy cake that is quite delightful in texture and flavor, much different than the result of regular baking flour options!


Our small town grocery stores didn’t offer many options for cake flour, so you might have to look closely or ask what’s available. I found this box hiding on a top shelf, the only one of its kind.

Adding the glaze over the hot cake leads to a very sweet, satisfying confection that we recommend you sample as soon as you make it for the best experience possible! We also found that, like many pound cakes, this Sun Drop Pound Cake pairs quite nicely with your favorite vanilla ice cream for an extra special treat.

As a #FoodieScore Pro Tip I learned from my parents during my childhood, you can rejuvenate slices of cake after it’s several days old by cutting hunks and toasting them lightly in a toaster oven or conventional oven. A slightly browned piece of pound cake with freshly and slightly melted icing is a nice surprise when you expect it to become much drier as it sits. The method really preserves cake nicely!


Thank you to my elementary schoolmate Marinda Teague and her family for sharing the recipe all those years ago. When the Springfield cookbook debuted in 1991, my wife had just been born. The experience of baking the cake together is a reminder of the timeless beauty of cookbooks, family and community recipes, and food that connects generations of people.

Foodie Travels: The Wood Shed, Stanley, N.C.


The round chopped steak, baked sweet potato and grilled bread at The Wood Shed

Walking into The Wood Shed in Stanley, N.C., is like entering a fine steakhouse in the American West.

You’ll hear country music. You’ll see the wood accents all around you. There’s even a model train that tracks an oval above the dining area. But the smell, that’s what you’ll experience first, and that’s what you’ll enjoy the most – at least until you taste your dinner.


Growing up in the Stanley area, I remember many nights driving through town and breathing in the delicious aroma from the grill at The Wood Shed. It’s a steakhouse-style restaurant that serves up some of the tastiest beef, chicken and salmon off the grill that you’ll find anywhere. And whatever your entrée choice, you’ll enjoy it with one of the best salad bars around and delicious grilled bread.

Many people frequent The Wood Shed for the succulent prime rib the eatery’s known for. But I’m not a prime rib kind of guy, so I’m more likely to enjoy a NY strip, the chopped steak or the beef tips. You really can’t go wrong with anything you choose. There’s even a service plate option for diners who want to share a main course with someone else.


The tender and smoky rib tips at The Wood Shed

The Wood Shed’s been owned by local businessman Bill Withers for decades, and it hasn’t changed all that much, other than the tomato-and-onion sandwiches that used to be complimentary on the salad bar and now come as an appetizer option.

Next time you’re looking for a place to have a nice meal – maybe to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary – check out The Wood Shed on Main Street in Stanley. The intoxicating scent will lead you there, and a happy stomach will lead you home.

Foodie Travels: Kim’s Kitchen, Stanley, N.C.


Remember a time in your life when something you loved suddenly was gone? What if, one day, it came back?

That’s the experience I’ve had with Kim’s Kitchen Family Restaurant in Stanley, N.C. I grew up eating Kim’s Kitchen food with my family. Mom and Dad even delivered my favorite meal, the Kim’s cheeseburger basket, to me in Alabama, South Carolina and other parts of North Carolina. Then, in 2013, Kim’s Kitchen closed, as owners Kim and Clyde Millman pursued retirement and opportunities to travel together.

Four long years passed without a delicious Kim’s cheeseburger, the best burger I’ve ever had because of its fresh, hand-pattied beef, melted cheese and soft bun. It’s a generous sandwich, with one juicy patty and any toppings you like. I’ve talked up the Kim’s burger everywhere I’ve lived, and any other cheeseburger I’ve eaten has come with a side comparison to the measuring stick that I enjoyed at her restaurant.

Earlier this year, my family heard that Kim’s would reopen in the coming months. It felt like a dream, but not as much of a dream as actually visiting and enjoying a cheeseburger on day one of the renewed Kim’s Kitchen.


We’re so glad you’re back

It was almost surreal for this foodie to watch Kim greet her loyal customers as they streamed through the doors on re-opening day. My parents and I walked to a corner table and pulled up three chairs in what felt like a flashback to 1997 or 2007. But it was 2017, and it was real.

Not much has changed as far as décor goes. The wood-colored walls, the tables and chairs, the front counter, the kitchen window, the swinging doors to the dining area. All just as we left them several years ago.

Kim always walked around the restaurant to visit with her diners, and that hasn’t changed either. She stopped at our table and hugged me as we awaited our lunch, and then she proceeded to give out hugs all around the restaurant. “We’re so glad you’re back,” customers kept saying. Kim and her staff shared the same sincere sentiment in each conversation. If the first day of a new era of Kim’s Kitchen was an indication, the revived local dining icon hasn’t missed a beat.


That’s the taste

When our order came to the table, the anticipation reached its highest peak. I ordered the sandwich I enjoyed so many times in the past: cheeseburger with lettuce and mayonnaise and a side of fries. In fact, that exact order with those toppings has become my standard test of the cheeseburger a restaurant makes, anywhere I go. I figure if they can’t make a solid basic cheeseburger, there’s not much hope for the remainder of the menu.

Dad ordered his favorite cheeseburger toppings, too: chili, mustard and onions, with a side of broccoli casserole (you can get fries, or you can enjoy one of the restaurant’s other side items with your sandwich). Mom had her customary chicken filet sandwich with fries.

Dad took a bite. “That’s the taste.” Those were the first words out of his mouth after tasting his first Kim’s burger in several years. Well said, Dad. Soon afterward, I took my first bite and felt the same way. The cheeseburger was just as delicious as I remembered.

Mom said later that she could’ve accompanied me and Dad and just watched us enjoy our meal. It would have been worth it, she said, just to see the smiles on our faces. We were home because Kim is home.


What you’ll find at Kim’s

Kim’s is about the cheeseburger for me, but there’s so much more on the menu. You can enjoy a wide variety of sandwiches with accompanying sides of fries, onion rings, potato salad and more. There are also salads and daily specials of meat-and-three-style plates. And ask about the dessert specials that are available.

Just as important as the food, though, is the hospitality and tradition at Kim’s Kitchen. The Millman family has invested more than a quarter of a century in the Stanley-area community. For that reason, walking into Kim’s feels like walking into a dear friend’s house. And now it feels like that good friend has come home after moving away for several years.

I can’t wait to enjoy my next cheeseburger, and I hope to see you there. After all, it takes both outstanding restaurateurs and outstanding customers to build a legendary #FoodieScore spot, and that’s just what Kim’s Kitchen has become over all these years.


Kim’s Kitchen

106 Mariposa Road, Stanley, N.C.