Hope springs

Remember these? 

cherokee purple & abe lincoln tomato sprouts

Look at them now, one month later! 🙂 

cherokee purple & abe lincoln tomato seedlings


They did great in the blocks, although the blocks are small enough that it wouldn’t be good to miss a day’s misting – they dried quickly, plus I found out well after I’d sown the blocks, that I should have soaked the growing medium first, prior to even making the blocks, so they ended up starting somewhat dry. Live and learn. 

In any case, tonight if I’d had the bigger blocker (4″), I’d have just plunked’em into the next size block. But this should be ok too, and I set the existing small block into the very bottom of the pot, so part of the seedling would be buried (if there’s one thing I know about growing tomatoes, it’s “bury the plant”… the rest I’m still learning/winging as I go).

For Casey, by request

The CS team at work has our weekly meeting on Thursday mornings, and one tradition that came with our boss when joined the company, is that it’s a breakfast meeting; each week we take turns providing edibles.

This week it’s my turn for breakfast. During the week my colleague spent a bit of time Pinteresting and made a suggestion for a dish she wanted to try but felt that she’d like me to try making first: baked eggs in avocado halves.

Hey, avocados, I’m down with that pretty much any day & any time of day. I read through a bunch of recipes and found the consensus is that 425° is better than 350° for the baking part. Beyond that, the field was wide open.

Knowing my colleagues’ meat-loving ways, I hit my local Weggie’s for inspiration. 

I decided to do two different varieties, while also being sure to leave one meatless for myself. Since I needed so little meat (it really doesn’t take much to top an avocado half!), I stopped by the deli counter and got three slices of fancy chorizo, and two slices of organic hickory smoked bacon. 

The meats were fully cooked, which made the task of tiny-chopping marginally less icky. (Don’t ask how many times I washed my hands; it’s probably more than you’d guess.) My husband had to work late tonight so I had no one to beg to please chop this for me, LOL. It was still a pretty icky job but with such a small amount it went pretty quick. My pup Maxtla sure enjoyed cleaning up the dropped bits though (no avocado was dropped – don’t let that near your dog!).

So I have a veg one (just sweet peppers and cotija) for me, some that have peppers, cheddar, & hickory bacon, and the rest which have peppers, cotija, & chorizo.

They are prepped and ready for morning, and ridiculously simple:

Pick your toppings and mince,  small dice, or grate them as appropriate. Halve some avocados. Remove the pit. Take out a little avo so you have some room for the egg. Buy the smallest eggs you can, or cheat like me if you want, and beat the eggs. 

Choose a baking dish where you can fit the avocado halves snugly, so that when you pour in the eggs (whole or beaten) they won’t all run out. Put your avos in, balancing them snugly and levelly, add some of your toppings if you like, then fill the cavities with egg. Add more toppings if you want. Bake at 425° for 20-30 minutes. 


snug halved avocados

toppings started – this is minced sweet pepper


cheddar to go with hickory bacon, cotija to go with chorizo


tiny cubes of the meats added, with one meat-free


I’ve par-baked them tonight, added more cheese, and popped them in the fridge. In the morning, I’ll bake for just a few minutes, pack them up and go to work.When they’re served, I have minced herbs – cilantro and chives – and a bit of sour cream (ok, I cheat there too and use fat-free Greek yogurt) to add.
I’ll update this post after we decide on a verdict!

PS The floating “U” up there – I’ve tried selecting and deleting multiple times but this WordPress phone app isn’t letting me correct. The best I got was to change it to U from an I; when I successfully select it then tap the backspace, it just jumps and adds another blank line. It kills me to leave it, so ugly there, but it is what it is.


February work birthdays – my turn for dessert

With staffing changes in the department I work, only Jonathan has a birthday in February, so this was really for him. I know he likes peanut butter, and when my sister sent this recipe from Epicurious, I knew I had to try it.

It was fussier than most pies I’ve made (I mean, peanut butter custard?! Cooked on the stovetop and poured in to chill & set up), but in spite of that ended up being really good. I would not recommend cooking it on a weeknight, but it’s a good made-in-advance pie… on the day of its be super easy to just do the toppings fresh. 

I don’t know how the honeycomb candy would do frozen; it got weepy after a day in the fridge. It’s super easy to make though. I used this amazing honey from Sweet Betsy Farm and it smelled so wonderful while being made, that I might have to make the candy itself on occasion just to take advantage of the yummy honey!

All I have for the recipe is a screenshot, but here ya go.  

In terms of changes, I used twice as much chocolate as specified, and added a splash of cream – the butter-only was seizing up on me in the microwave at work. I also was careful to temper the eggs, a point not mentioned in the instructions, and I passed the custard through a seive before returning it to the mixing bowl. The seiving might not have been totally needed, but I ended up with a perfectly smooth texture so I decided it was worth the time.

 Just for fun, video of the honeycomb candy fizzing in the pot:  


Readying for cold weather

Hmm I really do need to get back to sewing too, but some things are just easier and more enjoyable to do when the weather is still reasonable! (Although I do still have a cut-out-ready-to-try pair of pants on the sewing table waiting for me.)

This year the hubs & I are going to try our hand at having some produce in the garden overwinter. After a bit of research, we hit the local Home Depot for a pile o’PVC. 

1/2 -inch PVC

We also got 1/2″ rebar in two-foot lengths. Luckily, most of them were not bent much, and didn’t have a lot rough edges sticking out – there was just enough room inside the PVC for the rebar! – although we did end up having to use a ten-pound sledge on one to smooth it out a bit.

We hammered the rebar into the ground, then used those stakes to prop the PVC.

the hunk of wood didn’t take well to the hammer


Sliding a PVC pipe over one rebar, bending it over to other side and sliding it onto the opposite rebar gave us hoops. Adding a cross piece gives structural stability as well, and that was attached with zip ties. It’s too warm yet to put any plastic or garden cloth over the hoops (that is not a complaint, Mother Nature!!), but they are ready when it’s time. 

hoops, hoops, and more hoops


The further garden (Blair Block) has kohlrabi and garlic, the closer one (Squish Square) is full of young beets. It sounds like you can’t really start plants in the cold – at least outside – but you supposedly can at least keep the existing ones happy enough. It’s a first try for us, so we’ll see how it goes.

PS You can kind of see Martina at the far right – full of kale seedlings. We’ll be trying floating row covers on that bed, and assuming that the groundhogs won’t be around to get the hog’s share like they did this summer!

For Julia

Ok, ok, I’m posting! 🙂 Warning, photo heavy.

So Joaquin has been upgraded to a hurricane and is supposed/likely to bring some pretty fierce rain this coming weekend. Seems like a good weekend to tuck in with indoor stuff. So tonight, I prepared.

No, I didn’t hit the grocery and ransack the milk, bread, and toilet paper aisles. (Hubby made a Costco run this past weekend, so we’re pretty well stocked.) 

A few things made the evening list.

  1. Postpone clothing donation pickup in case Friday is bad.
  2. Call my sister to reassure her that so far all is well with the weather.
  3. Run sprints in the backyard with Maxtla. Since I didn’t get home from work til close to sunset, these were kind of in the dark, but not too bad. I was nearly immediately ready to change my mind but he was having too much fun. We did it again a little later too.
  4. FINALLY mix up a batch of soil blocking mix. This was solidly in the dark. We have a motion sensor back porch light, and I used a headlamp. I’ve decided I cannot further convince the neighbors I am crazy: 

    Headlamp halo


Yeah, changed into grungies and started making block mix, in the dark; what can I say? It’s remarkably like mixing up dough ingredients, but with some of the ingredients measured in buckets full, instead of cups and spoons.  

the soil measure


soil, peat, & compost


next, blood meal, lime, greensand, & rock phosphate


I didn’t think it was as appetizing as Maxtla did.


Unmixed bits kept turning up (ha) as I dug and stirred and folded (er is that too “kitchen” a term? same movement though.)


Maxtla is a very patient pup, most of the time. We did sprints after I noticed him sitting so forlornly! I think he forgave me.


This is looking really homogenous.


During the sprints, we got sidetracked. I remembered some raspberries were soon to be ripe, so I picked them. 6 1/2, biggest haul yet! (Scruff planted it this summer.)


The raspberries were guarded.


Ok! 7-8 gallons of soil block mix, ready to go – hope the pickle smell doesn’t stick too long. But the bucket $$ goes to a good cause.

But in any case, the soil blocking mix is now ready. So this weekend – blocks! I’ll try them with micro greens now, up in my lovely IKEA containers, and vegetables in the spring.I also have a pair of pants that have cut out ready to sew for what feels like ages. Hopefully I’ll get to start those as well!

PS It’s my turn to bring breakfast tomorrow for our team’s weekly meeting. Better go decide what to make now!!

In the pits

Apologies for not getting a post up on Tuesday this week. It’s been just a little crazy lately. I’m getting better at managing the timing so please be patient with me! 🙂  

Caroline, a colleague, had told me several times about U-picking at Homestead Farm, but I never quite made it to pick. About a week or so ago, the topic came up again on Skype chat, and she mentioned she was planning to pick tart cherries that weekend.
My ears of course perked right up, and Caroline graciously let me invite myself along (thanks, Caroline!). I adore cherries of nearly any kind except maraschino, which really? Dyed? Anyway….  

 I hadn’t ever actually seen cherries on trees that I recall either, but I was not disappointed in their gorgeousness:


And Jubileum: 

We spent nearly two and a half hours, and I picked about 17 pounds of cherries!! (Caroline stayed after and also picked blueberries, so I’m not sure how much her box full ended up being.) I neglected to take a photo of the full containers, but if you look at the pic above with me in it, it’s two of the containers I’m holding, plus two additional that are slightly smaller. The darker cherries are semi-tart, and called Jubileum. The brighter ones are very tart, and are Montmorency. There was a third variety as well, but I don’t think I ended up with any of them.

I’m not 100% sure what I’ll do with them yet. In the meantime, I’ve pitted and frozen them. Pitting 17 pounds took nearly as long as picking 17 pounds did!

Can you kinda see the juice in the bottom of the pit jar? I strained that into a glass and topped with soda water. No, I did not pay close enough attention, and even though I only got the glass about half full of soda water, adding soda water to other things often results in a minor volcanology modeling; pink fizz went all over the counter, but the remainder of the glass was the best cherry soda ever!

Tomorrow morning I’m off to North Carolina to celebrate my birthday with my twin sister. (As long as the weather holds, I’ll be taking off on LME. Whee!) The cherry pits are soaking, and my husband will drain them and spread them out on a baking sheet to dr for me, so I can figure out what’s next when I get back. I’ll be googling how to make those cherry-pit microwave heat packs – there’re definitely enough pits to make a small one, but I also definitely don’t want rotten pits. I’ve heard they keep the heat longer/better than rice bags, but wow are they expensive in the store, so I haven’t tried one. Now, how can I not try, with free pits? 🙂

Fancy cake, definitely for an “occasion” (aka, adventures with gelatin)

Two beautiful  young ladies at my office are getting married in August. We had a dual shower/party last week, and I volunteered to do the cake, which of course had to be fresh and beautiful like them. After checking what allergies or dislikes either had, I found myself with complete free reign! 

Sometimes that’s not good – sometimes, you just need a “limit” or an idea to work within, but sometimes it’s awesome, if I do say so myself. 

Having fond memories of Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego, I looked up Karen Krasne’s cookbook, Extraordinary Cakes. While it didn’t have the recipe for the chocolate green tea cake with sesame ice cream concoction that I remember so vividly, it does have plenty of showstoppers!

I opted to make Marco Polo, a layered joconde, custard, fruit, whipped cream fantasy with a streusel side crust and a blackberry miroir glaze on the top surface. If you read reviews of the book, you’ll know in advance that you need to plan out your steps in order to get them all done. Thankfully, she helps with this!

My only issue with the whole recipe was that it called for leaf, or sheet, gelatin, and she’s pretty adamant about it. A little internet research showed that leaf-vs-powder is a raging debate, especially when it comes to conversion factors. I hit AmazonSmile (did you know your Amazon orders can benefit for your favorite charity? Check it out at smile.amazon.com!) and ordered the leaves, which would arrive Saturday, in time for the Sunday preparations. 

Saturday came, and my husband wanted to shop for plants (we’re working on creating a native habitat out of our little postage stamp), so we headed to Frederick. Unbeknownst to me, while a package containing, say, a computer my husband ordered, gets left at the door – a 6×9 package of shelf-stable, non-perishable gelatin does not, and although we arrived home at 4, about 6 pm I receive a “delivery attempted” notice. Knowing full well the gelatin will not be on time no matter who I call, I spend my time researching who might carry it locally. Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Rodman’s, Glen’s, Balducci’s, MOM, Williams-Sonoma… I drive to several and call others but it is not to be found. I buy several extra boxes of the powder just to be sure and try working out the conversions. 

The first step was the joconde. I hadn’t seen that term before in spite of having once owned an entire 6′ bookcase of just cookbooks; it appears to be a nut-based sponge cake with whole eggs instead of just whites. 

The cake was ridiculously easy and came out as close to perfect as I get:  

While the joconde was cooling, I started the first filling, a vanilla custard. Suffice it to say it was an interesting challenge. The custard (which I normally make only with egg yolk, never before with gelatin added) broke, so I took it off the heat and beat well, which was enough to save it. (I realized then I should have added the gelatin more towards the end of cooking. Gelatin 1, Amy 0.) I set the custard aside to cool. After it was close to room temp, it still looked soft, but I pressed on – wrapped and fridged. 

When I came back to it, having decide if it sucked I’d just make a standby custard recipe without gelatin, I found a large flat pencil-eraser – I could literally flip the custard out of the bowl in one solid piece! Unfortunately I was so flabbergasted I didn’t grab a photo. Gelatin 2, Amy 0. Determined to save it, I chopped it up and tossed it in the KitchenAid. Quite a few minutes later, it actually resembled custard, thankfully. Amy 1, Gelatin 2.

I also made whipped cream, and a simple syrup in which I steeped the namesake tea, Marco Polo. Smelled heavenly! 

Assembly entailed slicing the cake, then layering with cake soaked in simple syrup, custard, halved blackberries, whipped cream, repeat:   


Then it needed to be frozen so when I poured in hot glaze all would remain well. In the meantime, I made streusel out of ground almonds, ground tea, sugar, and butter, baked, cooled, and crumbled, then pressed into the sides of the cake. (Right about then, thankfully before adding the crumbs, I also remembered to put little strips of wax paper under the edges of the cake – which, when later carefully pulled out, would leave a clean edge on the serving plate.)

The blackberry glaze, miroir, also used gelatin, plus blackberries and a bit of jam, cooked down. For some reason mine would not hit the temperature she specified, so due to the long cooking time as I waited and stirred in vain, it was much thicker than her instructions implied, and definitely not mirror-like, but it did get an intense blackberry flavor that worked out great.  Amy 2, Gelatin 2.
That went back in the freezer. The next day at work, I topped it with a few fresh roses (well washed, stems wrapped in plastic wrap, and even a small “flag” of wrap sticking out from the stems, under the flower heads, to keep them off the glaze. Just didn’t know how organic they were – they are edible so I wasn’t worried about the flowers themselves but the potential pesticides.), and a pile of fresh blackberries.  


(Even the inside looked ok:) 

It went fast, and everyone seemed to love it. Since the purpose, for me anyway, of making cake, is for people to enjoy it, I counted it successful. 🙂 (Take that, gelatin. Amy 3, Gelatin 2; I win!) 

Plus, I kept the extra roses from the bunch I’d gotten, at my desk all week, where they smelled wonderful, and reminded me of a former colleague who always kept fresh flowers at her desk.  

PS The recipe is long, and several pages, so I’ve not included here. 

Pint and a halfs

Thanks to my twin sis, I now have 9 pint and half Ball canning jars… they are however not going to be (generally) for canning!

I’ve had some nice plastic containers, with happy spring green latches and seals, for some time, and recently I’ve noticed the seals are less effective than they used to be. That combined with my effort to use less plastic overall makes these new jars destined to be my new lunch containers, and they’re just the right size.

Lately I’ve been slackin’ a bit, buying lunch out too much, so this is perfect for multiple goals. I spent the afternoon grocery shopping, washing & chopping, assembling… Now I’m good to go for the week.

I made a nice tangy vinaigrette with coconut oil, cider vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and a couple of dates so it didn’t end up too tangy.

That got whizzed in the VitaMix, then a couple of tablespoons went into the bottom of each jar. Next I dropped in a pile of chopped veggies (mixed sweet peppers, zucchini, chickpeas), followed by a few drained capers – OMG, so tasty and no salt needed for the dressing – then protein. A couple jars have tuna, and the others more chickpeas. This is all topped by torn-into-pieces mixed greens. It doesn’t look like much greens, but you can push a lot in there… plus I get more greens in smoothies.

Speaking of greens, I found a new mix by Earthbound Farm at Costco today – Power Deep Green Blends, and it has baby kale, chard, and spinach.


I did make a smoothie with it when we got home from Costco and it was tasty (the greens, blueberries, coconut milk, chia seeds, and two dates since the berries weren’t very sweet). Worth a try if you haven’t purchased that mix yet!

The other lunch item, highly experimental, is cukes stuffed with a mix of cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, and a few remaining chickpeas. I mixed in a little bit of protein powder as well, going on the assumption that it would help firm up the mixture. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow. The dill is from our backyard.


Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake

So a colleague did me a big favor and I promised him a cake… He asked for a carrot cake, like I had made once before for a work event, and I said “sure, but I can make lots of cakes, carrot, chocolate, pumpkin, chocolate strawberry, coffee….”. He pondered a bit and came back to me with the selection of chocolate strawberry. I say “sure”, but in my head I’m like “yes!!! Fistpump! I have the perfect recipe!”, LOL!!

I have made this a few times before. It’s a VERY chocolatey cake, and fresh strawberries are the perfect sweet-tart counterpoint. This recipe is from “Death By Chocolate”, by Marcel Desaulniers, of The Trellis restaurant. (Side note: just googled that link and did not realize it was that close to me now that I’m back in the DC area. Anyone up for a road trip??!)

The first couple times I made this, I used block chocolate, chopping and chopping…. and if you want it ultra-fab and purist, go ahead and do that. I have discovered that good semisweet chocolate chips will work (good ones, not cheap ones), and that’s what I did here. Definitely pull your scale out – no need for extra chocolate because there’s already more than two pounds of it in this cake!! Oh, and if you have gluten-intolerant friends – no flour to be found. This cake has butter, cream, sugar, chocolate, eggs, and strawberries, nothing else, and it needs nothing else…

20140601-205141.jpg (sorry, forgot to grab a shot before it was cut!!)

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake

1/2 lb unsalted butter (2 tbsp of it melted)
8 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz pieces
8 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
4 egg whites

2 pints strawberries, stems removed
16 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz pieces
4 oz white chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz pieces
6 egg whites
2 tbsp sugar
1 c heavy cream

1 c heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
12 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-oz pieces

Lightly coat the insides of three 9×1 1/2″ cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment, then lightly coat the parchment with more melted butter. (Blogger note: this is the 2 melted tbsp.) Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place remaining butter and 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. (Blogger note: I use a small saucepan and a stainless steel bowl here.) Tightly cover the top with film wrap. Allow to heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir until smooth, and hold at room temperature. (Blogger note: this is hands down the single best method I’ve ever used for melting chocolate!)
Place the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on high until slightly thickened and lemon-colored, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for an additional 2 minutes.
While the egg yolks are beating, whisk 4 egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl until stiff but not dry, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolk mixture. Add a quarter of the beaten egg whites and stir to incorporate, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading evenly, and bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. (During baking, the surface of the cakes will form a crust; this crust will normally collapse when the cakes are removed from the oven.) Invert 1 of the cakes onto the bottom of a springform pan. Invert the other 2 cakes onto cake circles. Remove parchment paper and refrigerate cakes for 30 minutes.
To prepare the chocolate strawberry mousse, reserve the 12 best-looking strawberries to decorate the top of the cake. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, purée 4 ounces of strawberries (12 medium-sized berries should yield 1/2 cup – 4 ounces – of purée). Set aside until needed. Refrigerate the remaining berries until needed (that includes the 12 berries for decoration).
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 16 ounces of semisweet chocolate, the white chocolate, and the strawberry purée in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap. Allow to heat for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl, using a rubber spatula to remove all of the melted chocolate mixture. Keep at room temperature until needed.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip, whip the 6 egg whites on high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Continue to whisk on high while gradually adding 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until stiff but not dry, about 30 seconds. Set aside at room temperature until needed.
Using a hand-held whisk, whip the heavy cream in a well-chilled stainless steel bowl until stiff. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the whipped cream. Now fold in the remaining egg whites. Set aside at room temperature until needed.

Assemble the springform pan. Spread 1/2 cup of chocolate strawberry mousse onto the cake layer in the assembled springform pan. Arrange 1/2 the amount of reserved strawberries (not including the 12 for decoration), stem side down, into the mousse. (Blogger note: when I make this I always forget the he must have a really, really deep springform, the likes of which I’ve never seen, because even with smallish berries, there’s no way for me to pack two layers in there – so I end up with a top & bottom cake only. I made a smaller “scrap-pile-looks-messy-but-eat-up-cake” for the chef and Scruff, out of that cake, a little mousse, and berries. Scruff was happy!) The berries should be arranged in 2 rings: the first ring being 3/4 inch from the outside edge of the cake, and the second, inside ring, 3/4 inch away from the first. Distribute 3 cups of mousse over the berries, being careful to keep the berries in position. Holding the pan by the top rim, gently but firmly tap the bottom of the pan 2 to 3 times on your work surface (this will eliminate air pockets). Position a cake layer on top of the mousse, then repeat the process used on the first cake layer (1/2 cup mousse, remaining strawberries, and 3 more cups mousse). Top the mousse with the remaining cake layer and gently press into position. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours (do not freeze).
To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place the 12 ounces semisweet chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate 1 cup of the ganache for at least 1 hour. Keep the remaining ganache at room temperature until needed.
Remove the sides of the springform pan (do not remove the bottom of the pan from the cake; this will make it easier to handle later). Use a cake spatula to smooth and fill in the sides of the cake with 2 to 3 tablespoons of room-temperature ganache. Evenly spread the remaining amount of this ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour.
Transfer the chilled cup of ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a large-sized star tip. (Blogger note: I put the warm ganache in a decorating bottle and chilled it in there.) Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Pipe a circle of 12 evenly spaced stars along the outside edge of the top of the cake. Place a strawberry, stem side down, into each ganache star. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.
Cut the cake with a serrated slicer, heating the blade of the slicer under hot running water before making each slice. Allow the slices to come to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. (Blogger note: Coming to room temp is good in theory, but I didn’t find many willing to wait that long! However, it’s a rich enough cake that you can force yourself to eat it slowly and your last few bites will have the texture Marcel created here.)



If you’re looking for more experience with simple and complicated chocolate recipes, “Death by Chocolate” is definitely worth picking up. As you can see, he goes into plenty of detail so you can get it right! 🙂

Carrot Cake for a celebration

Last week a colleague had a birthday coming, and the group’s tradition is to have the birthday person choose take-out, then we put in a group order, with the others buying the birthday person’s lunch, and someone tries to make a dessert the birthday person would like. This time, it was carrot cake, and when the holler over the cubicle wall “Amy, do you know how to make carrot cake?” came… this recipe immediately came to mind. Everyone seemed to like it, and plus, my husband hadn’t ever had my carrot cake, and since I made him one too – I was granted “bestest wife ever” status! LOL If you like a carrot cake with LOTS of carrots, give this one a try.


Amy’s Carrot Cake (adapted from Moosewood Desserts)


Step 1 – prepare the carrots

5 c shredded carrots, parsnips, or a combination
1 ½ c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 ¾ c water (if added the optional canned pineapple, use up to maybe ¾ c juice)
1 c raisins

Combine Step 1 ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes then remove from heat and let cool completely.

Step 2 – After carrots are cool, preheat the oven to 300*

3 c white whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 c chopped macadamia nuts (optional)

Whisk all Step 2 ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the dry stuff, and later, also the carrot mixture. Be sure you’ve preheated the oven, then grease and flour a Bundt cake pan.

Step 3 – Mix and bake

1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 can pineapple tidbits, well-drained (optional)

Beat the egg, then combine all Step 3 ingredients together and stir them into the carrot mixture. Add the carrot mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix just until you don’t see any more dry flour. Transfer to the Bundt pan. There may be a smidge too much batter, so you might a need to fill a couple of muffin cups or something. Bake approximately an hour, until a knife test comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate and let cool completely.



16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c heavy cream, COLD
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Beat first three ingredients until smooth and light. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar with a spatula until it’s mostly incorporated, then beat with and electric mixer until the mixture holds stiff peaks, then put it on the cake however you like. Depending on how much icing you like, this may be halved.