Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week in Review

I've spent the day indoors since it's windy and cold outside. With Thanksgiving Days away,  I've been flipping through cookbooks and recipes online looking for some new things to try.  My DIL brings her delicious apple pie, my daughter is making a new roasted veggie dish, the 18+lb bird has been purchased, so it's pretty much the stuffing and a few side dishes and of course in this family desserts are almost as important as the turkey! 

We always celebrate my son's birthday on Thanksgiving, as it always falls in the same week, so there will be a cake.  Since carrot cake is his favorite. I plan to try my first carrot cake ever. It doesn't seem too complicated. This one is from Martha Stewart, but I was surprised by the "ginger", which my SIL's recipe does not have.Anyway, I wish I had a piece now with some good coffee:)  I also plan to make some cream cheese bars.

Martha Stewart Carrot Cake Recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted plus more for pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) pecan halves
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Candied Carrot Strips


  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess. Set aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Finely chop pecans and set aside.
  2. Step 2

    Using the smallest holes (less than 1/4-inch in diameter) of a box grater, grate carrots, yielding 2 1/2 cups. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; mix until well combined.
  3. Step 3

    Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the butter and toasted pecans.
  4. Step 4

    Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.
  5. Step 5

    Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half crosswise. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place a second cake layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with third layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.
  6. Step 6

    If using the candied carrot strips, set a wire rack over a baking pan. Using fingers, lift one candied carrot strip from the sugar syrup, holding it over the container. With the thumb and forefinger of second hand, gently squeeze the carrot strip and slide fingers along its length, removing as much excess syrup as possible; lay the carrot strip on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining carrot strips.
  7. Step 7

    Gently place tapered end of drained carrot strip in center of cake, and gently press it down the side; place a second strip next to it. Continue applying strips around entire cake every 2 inches. Form 2 or 3 strips into a decorative bow, and place on top. Cut cake, and serve.
    Past Week in Books - I did something ODD this past week. I actually read the (3) books I said I was going to read last week! (I only reviewed (1) of them so far, but hope to get to the others this week.  Not sure I knew this going in, but all probably should have realized they were ALL going to be depressing in some way:
    • Survival Lessons; Alice Hoffman - 4/5 stars (eGalley) - review here
    • Enon; Paul Harding - 3.5/5 stars (arc/eGalley)  --- If you have read Tinkers, Harding's previous novel, you will notice that Enon, takes place in the same New England town. In fact the narrator, Charlie Crosby, is the grandson of George from Tinkers. The reader knows this book is going to be sad in some way as the story opens with this paragraph --- “Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children. I am the exception. My only child, Kate, was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September, a year ago.” What follows is the story of Charlie's life, the year following his daughter's death. It's a well-written story, but an extremely depressing account of "how not to grieve for a lost child."
    • Claire of the Sea Light; Edwidge Danticat - 4/5 (arc/audio) Set in the Haitian village of Ville Rose, on little Claire's seventh birthday, also known as her, "death day" since her mother died giving birth to her.  It's a day that includes a visit to the place where her mother is buried.  Since her father is a poor fisherman, struggling to care for her, he thinks about giving her away the a wealthy family, but on the day it looked like that might happen, Claire disappears.

      Just when I started to fall in love with Claire, she literally disappeared from the novel. Each new chapter introduced lot's of new characters whose lives in some way have crossed paths with Claire and her father.  The story goes back and forth in time and some of the chapters which follow Claire's disappearance felt almost like short novellas, instead of a continuation of the original story.  Although I loved the writing, it was hard for me to connect with some of the new characters.  However, as with Danticat's previous work, the writing is addictive, words you'll savor and the interconnected stories tugged at the heartstrings as well. I was left with even a bleaker picture of life in Haiti for many, but I do not regret my time invested. It deserves to be read.

    Coming Week's Reading Plans - 


  1. Love those turkeys! I hope your carrot cake turned out well.

  2. Have a wonderful time celebrating with your family, Diane. The cake sounds yummy!

  3. Ooh, it sounds like a wonderful week for you, both in reading and in the home cooking scents from your kitchen. I love carrot cake...that recipe looks good!


  4. I would also like to recommend the carrot cake recipe from Silver Palate. Not only is it delicious, but it uses baby pureed carrots, saving you loads of time and effort (and what a clever idea anyway!)

  5. I'll be trying a new recipe or two this week, too. Martha's carrot cake recipe looks like a good one!

  6. Carrot cake is my favorite too! Sounds like you have a wonderful holiday planned, surrounded by family.

    Have a wonderful week Diane!

  7. Cream cheese bars sound really good! Canada should start having Thanksgiving twice a year because I know so many Americans having yummy things. haha

    1. We actually have Turkey dinner for Christmas as well as my family prefers it to beef or ham. The cream cheese bar recipe is easy and so good. I'll post it soon.

  8. What a wonderful time to celebrate your son's birthday, on Thanksgiving. That cake looks grandeur! Happy Thanksgiving, Diane!

  9. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, Diane!

    P.S. After three depressing books in a row, you need something light and happy!

    1. I actually stated Sea Creatures today by Susanna Daniel and it's a nice change. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  10. Love your Turkeys - My mouth is now watering for carrot cake! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday to your son.

  11. It is funny how the books we choose have the same theme. The carrot cake looks so good. I am going to try a new sweet potato w/carmelized apples recipe.

  12. Oh that sounds interesting Nise --send leftovers:)

  13. I have to admit that I'm not a fan of ginger, BUT given the right carrot cake I;m sure I would miss it :) I hope you have a great Thanksgiving with your family!

  14. I love carrot cake. Are you making those cute turkey cupcakes too? Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. I love carrot cake! Are you making those cute turkey cupcakes too? Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. Carrot cake sounds delicious!
    Phew. Enon destroyed me. I haven't been so crushed by a book in a long time, I didn't even end up writing a review for it.


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