Wednesday Cooking School

So tonight The Boy and I made carrot cake. It is one of his favorites.  I have made carrot cake for D&D_1233him many, many, many, years  – big birthday cake for him. When I said The Boy and I made a carrot cake, I really mean just him. I am kind of the director in this movie. Suggesting, demonstrating, etc. To me, you learn by doing, so I let him do the doing.

So I get home from work and he’s here already – good start. As I go up to change (I’m a mess when cooking, so I have to change my clothes), I say to him, start peeling the carrots. Simple enough, right?  A few minutes later he’s still peeling that first carrot … There was almost no carrot left. I said, what are you doing? Do you not know how to peel a carrot?  Apparently not. So I explained how to peel a carrot. And then explained for the cake we would be grating the carrots for the cake. Poor guy, he just didn’t know.

Lesson: don’t assume things in Wednesday Cooking School.

I am not a fan of making cake after work, but this wasn’t too horrible. Only about 2 1/2 hours, but excellent time spent hanging out with The Boy. Yes, that’s the best part.  Indeed.

I’m kind of excited that his next choice is Eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise. I started this stupid idea on New Year’s Day of 2009. What the hell – make a very complicated thing for New Year’s Day – does anyone do that? Apparently I do. And we did it weekend after weekend that year. But since The Boy is coming over after work, it will be for dinner, and in my small brain, that is a good thing.

Carrot Cake

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Carrot Cake

This is a recipe from a friend. It is her grandmother’s recipe. I love grandmom recipes. I have so few from either of my grandmothers that I just love those grandmom recipes from friends. When a recipe goes down through a couple of generations it means something: It works; it is a favorite; it is loved; it is important. That has a certain Siren call to me.

To my way of thinking, that is largely what this site is all about. Leaving behind what is important to me, and hoping that The Boy finds them worth something in the future. That sounds a bit depressing, but I do not mean it in that way.

From my friend Elaine – from her Grandmother. This is a half recipe. It makes a 2 layer cake, but you could double it to make a 4 layer cake which is what the original recipe does.

Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (local Renfroes) *
1 tsp orange zest

Prepare two 9 inch round pans with baking spray, line with parchment and spray parchment. Preheat ove to 350 degrees.

Sift together over a piece of waxed paper the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. In a large measuring cup add canola oil and eggs. Whisk with a fork to combine. Slowly add to dry ingredients while on low. Add carrots, pecans, and orange zest and mix until just combined.

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Carrot Cake – for The Boy to take home.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through. Do the toothpick test. Remove and cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out, remove parchment, and cool completely.

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and orange juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

Once cakes are cooled, frost those layers, and the sides if you want. But we did not do it.

Notes: This is the first time I’ve made the recipe and I’ve made just a half recipe because I only have two 9 inch round pans – that’s how it goes. I have been using a recipe from Mrs. Fields (you know, the cookie lady) since about the time The Boy was born and it has been a huge birthday cake for him for donkey’s years. But this was so much better. I think the canola oil (my choice of vegetable oil because it so neutral) made it so unreally moist.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be ugly about the originally recipe that I made, but this was one of those – wow! – moments. I am just going to say that some times, really old recipes are the best. Next time, I will add raisins because they really add something to carrot cake.

This is the L year. Ugh. This will be a theme. Unfortunately.

Wednesday Night Cooking (Baking) School

 

Wednesday Cooking School

Well the Boy has taking an interest in cooking and so we have started some cooking lessons, especially for the things he loves which are mostly things I don’t have recipes for. They are things that you have to make by doing.  Wish I had learned how to make cornbread dressing this way, but I did not. Sigh. D&D_0329

So we started a couple of weeks ago with his perennial favorite. Home-made sloppy joes. It may sound odd, but this is an excellent non-recipe recipe. I love this way to much to admit. And the cole slaw to go with it, which is a bit of riff on cole slaw with Eastern North Carolina pulled pork barbecue.

So I taught him how to make both because it is just a taste-as-you-go kind of thing. Which is why it really is stupidly-wonderful as long as you get the hang of it

So we’ve had another lesson which I need to make again and post here, but it is my mom’s homemade mac n cheese. The Boy has never had anything out of box, only this. Yes, he’s a bit spoiled, but then again, so was I. It is not difficult if you know what you are looking for – it is a bechamel and then you go from there. Should have taken a picture, but – damn, but that means I will have to do it again soon – such a burden. I’m sure the Boy would not mind having some more homemade mac n cheese.

I have to say, I’m having so much fun doing this. The next project is a serious baking deal, but again – one of his favorite things and it is a new version of a recipe I love from a friend – it is her grandmother’s recipe and I am really looking forward to it. Yep – I am that food nerd. Do not care – spending time with the Boy is great.

Cannot wait to see what happens next.