Julie Anne Rhodes

It is indeed my fault that I absent mindedly left my computer on the back seat of the taxi. Believe me, I have not stopped kicking myself since. I was tired and had a lot on my mind. I saw there was a man anxiously waiting for the cab outside my hotel so I hurried, making a horrid mistake. However, when the “gentleman” failed to notify the taxi driver of his fortuitous find, then walked off with it into the night and didn’t turn it in, the computer legally went from lost to stolen goods.

My frustration is that we were surrounded by NYPD. After watching me stand there in tears long into the wee hours, naively hoping the passenger would be honest and the taxi driver would return – many officers and plain clothes detectives offered me advice that I followed to the letter.

Security for the president directly across from my hotel

I called 311 as advised, filed a report, kept checking back with the 17th and 22nd precincts every hour to see if it had been turned in, will continue to do so, and spoke with the TLC as soon as they opened the next morning to trace the driver who says the passenger never mentioned the computer. The driver does have the man’s drop off address, and the hotel security cameras will have footage of the man getting into the taxi.

Jewels and the computer before the loss

Losing a computer is far different to losing a wallet. Money can be earned again and credit cards are easily replaced. Precious photos, all of my recipes (for some reason they did not back-up properly on my external hard drive), several blog posts, and chapters of the book that were not yet backed-up since I was still traveling are all gone. The loss far outweighs any monetary value. I would happily buy the man a brand new computer just to recover my data! I am gutted and struggling with letting it go.

I can’t believe I am grieving a thing!I keep reminding myself what a fortunate person I am – I’m healthy, I had some amazing meetings with publishers, fun with friends, got to take part in an awesome event, and saw fabulous art while in New York, so the trip was successful (even if I can’t share it with you pictorially). I still feel tremendous loss.

PLEASE, if you are reading this, and still have my computer – please, please, PLEASE contact me to arrange for it’s safe return. That data is useless to you, but so very dear to me. Please do the right thing, and you will be heavily rewarded. I give you my word that I will not press charges in exchange for finding the kindness in your heart to return it to me.

Still kicking myself. Photo by the Tatjana Rhodes

Apart from precious childhood photos lost, there were the incredible WIE Symposium photos, superb photos of Mario Batali’s new Eataly, and spectacularly surreal ones my cousin helped me take at the MoMA’s Modern Kitchen exhibition for the blog. I will still write about those adventures in the weeks to come, but have to apologize in advance for the lack of photos. I hope the departure from my blogs’ usual formula will not be too off-putting, and I still have not given up faith that the computer will resurface.

My great cyber friend, Aussie Mum, had this comforting advice from the Zen philosophy to say about my misfortune which translates as, ‘Touch the hole in your life, and there the flowers will bloom’. Okay, thank you for letting me vent, I still hold hope in my heart, and it is now time to move on and let those flowers bloom!

Back in LA, still hopeful but moving on

PS. After a week filled with travel inconveniences and disruptions due to staying across the street from the president (in New York to address the UN), I’m happy to report I was able to find my humor again when my flight home was also delayed by our commander and chief. Air Force One decided to take our scheduled departure slot, so once again our paths crossed and delays ensued. If I didn’t know better, I’d think President Obama was stalking me.

All of this calls for a little indulgence, and what better comfort food than my favorite cake? Especially when it originates from the very hotel President Obama stayed in (and indeed all our presidents stay in when in New York), the Waldorf Astoria. It is the only presidential suite in New York city approved by the secret service, most likely due to the easily secured wider entrances into the presidential quarters.

The Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake

Serves: 12


For the cake
1/2 cup Crisco
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces red food color
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla


For cake
1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 – 9″ cake pans, or 3 – 8″ cake pans.

2). Cream together Crisco and sugar in a large mixing bowl with electric beater, then and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

3). Mix red food color and cocoa in small bowl, and add to mixture in #2.

4). Mix salt into buttermilk; then add to mixture #2 alternately with flour. Using the fold setting on the beaters, end with flour.

5). Add vanilla, soda, and vinegar (in that order). Beat 2-3 minutes after everything is added.
6). Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake layers comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand in pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto cake racks to cool. Cool completely.

For icing:
7). Add flour to a large saucepan, then add milk gradually , stirring until smoothly blended. Cook milk and flour over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of oatmeal. Cool completely before continuing on.

8). Beat room temperature butter and sugar for 15 minutes, using a timer, until butter becomes pale yellow. Add vanilla, then fold the cooled flour-milk mixture into the butter cream icing.

9). Spread just enough icing over bottom layer(s) to secure next layer on top, then ice entire cake and decorate as you please.

TIP: You can substitute any color you like for the red…my daughter’s favorite color was blue, so she always had a Blue Velvet (one of her father’s favorite films) Cake for her birthday.

Note: The next time I make this cake I am going to try substituting coconut oil for the shortening. It will certainly be heart healthier even if it isn’t any figure friendlier.

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