It's an unbelievable truth that my oldest child is now 18. However, it is also an undeniable truth. Things happen, babies come along, mommies and daddies blink, and the baby becomes a young lady with an adult future. Just typing that word 'blink' brought specific moments, sounds, smells, feelings. . . individual things that can each be categorized as its own 'blink', yet put together create a collective blink. I wish I could show you the film that is now playing inside my head. It's not continuous, but rather snippets of time replayed, jumping to another time, pausing at another one. They are vignettes of memories that make up what we must refer to now as Em's Childhood. Gratefully, we made videos (gotta get those transferred to DVDs!) and I've done scrapbooking (I'm so far behind!), so we have some of those moments stamped somewhere and recorded. Sometimes, my memories have to be spurred by the videos and pictures (I AM over 40, ya know!), but it will never compare to what happens inside me each time I relive a memory in my own heart, mind, and soul. I'm not much for corrective or cosmetic surgery, but if 'they' (whoever 'they' are) ever invents an implantable camera/video recorder, that's a surgery I'll undergo! (imagine this: "I need to adjust the aperture. . . let's see, what did the doctor say? You're kidding! Just tweak my ear? Cool. Easy enough! Oh yeah! Great picture. " Maybe it would be less painful to have a wall of TV screens in my home like the one on the 'blink' link that continually plays scenes from this great life we live. That is Art!
Enough sentimentality, ramblings of future inventions, and wishes for many TV screens. . . on to something you can really use! A recipe! Ever since her 6th birthday, Emily has always wanted a Carrot Cake for her birthday. I know, strange request, especially from a 6 year old. Most of them don't like carrots and many others would find putting vegetables in a cake a bizarre happening, indeed. Emily is a bit picky about her Carrot Cake, but will show appreciation, and even taste other recipes besides mine. The first time she had a 'boughten' carrot cake, she came home and said, "Mom, can you believe there was pineapple and raisins and even nuts in it! Why?!" She was polite and ate it, but swears to this day that the best cake is "my mom's" (which really isn't MINE, per se. My rendition of it evolved from Aunt Margie's (who is not really my aunt), Mrs. Cook's, and my own mom's versions. The original recipe, however, I can't trace. Sorry. Confession: I didn't really try.)
As I was getting things prepared to make the cake, (WARNING: big parenthetical thought ramble—(which I don't always do—get things prepared, that is—then I end up in the middle of the process and have to call my rescuer, neighbor Lori, to supply the needed ingredient. She ALWAYS has the ingredient I need, like cream of tartar. Her husband jokes that I only call when I need something! Totally not true, of course!). Anyway, as I was getting ready, I read "Pour into 3 greased 9-inch layer pans" and immediately remembered that the last time I made a layer cake, I made a mental note to get another set of 9-inchers. Mental notes are not enough for me anymore, evidently, (reference 1st paragraph) and I immediately started talking to myself (again, reference 1st paragraph): "Why, in Heaven's holy name, do they sell cake pans in twos, when, clearly, many recipes make a 3-layer cake?! Shouldn't we have an option? Here's a set of two. . . . Here's also a set of three. Or better yet, here, you can buy them INDIVIDUALLY! Novel idea!" (The painter who was here on repairs was probably wondering, "what the. . . " Whatever, you have earphones on anyway, so I'm really not bothering you. Get on back to painting.
So, who do I call? Yup. Lori to the rescue. She has a 9-inch I can borrow and Glen is standing there just smirking as I enter the door. My tail immediately goes between my legs as I skunk into the house. Lori and I spent some time talking about making 50% more batter than is called for because the recipes that actually DO call for three layers don't always make tall, pretty cakes like in the magazines and cookbooks. So I decide to "times-and-a-half" the recipe.
Peel and grate the carrots first. Life will be much smoother later. I have a food processor, and another food grinder as well, but I love my little box grater. So, that's what I used today.
- 2 c. flour (or 3) (I always buy 'unbleached' flour. I wonder why they think they have to bleach it. Like it's not white enough already? Besides Carrot Cake batter isn't white at all so what does it matter? And who needs additional chlorine in their diet?)
- 2 c. sugar (or 3)
- 2 t. baking soda (or 3)
- 2/3 t. cinnamon (or 1)
- 1 t. salt (or 1 ½ )
Mix and add to dry ingredients:
- 4 eggs, beaten (or 6)
- 1 ½ c. oil (or 2 ¼ )
Stir 3 c. grated carrots (or 4 ½ ) and ½ c. nuts (or 1) (optional) into batter.
How many carrots makes 3 cups? Ummm. . .
I guess five, since that's what I peeled.
Pour into 3 greased 9-inch layer pans.
Hope you can fit three cakes into your oven. . .
Then, bake @ 300˚ for 45 minutes or at 350˚ for 25-30 minutes.
Oooh. Looks like they'll just get done in time to get the kids from school. They're out early today.
Take out and let cool 10 minutes. Turn out of pans and jump for joy if they don't fall in the middle or if they don't stick to the pan.
Jumping for joy!
(I decided that since I "times-and-a-halfed" the cake, that I would "double" the frosting—can't have too much cream cheese frosting after all! And if you do, just put it on cinnamon biscuits tomorrow morning. You'll think you're having cinnamon rolls.)
FROSTING: Cream 1 (or 2) 8-oz. pkg(s). cream cheese and ½ stick (or a whole one) butter. Add 1 (or 2) (1-lb) box confectioner's sugar. Add 2 (or 4) t. vanilla.
- Put a bit of frosting on your cake plate or stand before you put the first layer down. My mother-in-law calls it 'gluing the cake down'. A Carrot Cake is quite moist though and you could potentially skip this step. You might become a swearing woman if it slid off the plate as you carried it proudly to the table, though. Dad says, "There's no price to high to pay for proper preparation." (Say that three times fast and glue your cake down!)
- Stack your layers so that the top layer ends up upside down. This will help give you crisp edges on top and not rounded ones. You're trying to avoid a droopy cake!
- If your cake drops in the middle (which this recipe ALWAYS did when we lived at 5000 feet above sea level!), just pile on more frosting. It's like caulk is to a drywaller! (found that out yesterday when they were here fixing our settling cracks!)
THIS is Art. (Notice the picture on the wall behind? It's me and Emily when she was about 2. –picture courtesy of then-budding, and now-proficient photographer, Suzanne.)
Aly just came downstairs and said, "Oh, prettiful! Love it Mom!"
Happy Birthday, Em!