Monday, May 24, 2010

Cooking Corner: Spring Celebration Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups grated fresh carrots (about 2 large)
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple (see Cooks Note)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 (4-ounce) jars pureed carrot baby food

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (1 pound), at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) square cake pans, line them with buttered parchment paper, and dust with flour. Toss the carrots, walnuts and 1/2 cup pineapple with 1/2 cup of the flour in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In another large bowl beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and light, about 5 minutes. While continuing to beat the eggs slowly, gradually add the oil, and then the pureed carrot. Scatter the dry ingredients over the wet and then gently fold them together to make a loose batter. Gently fold the nuts, carrots, and pineapple into the batter. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake the cakes until firm to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on a rack for 25 minutes. Turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on the rack.

For the icing:
Beat cream cheese in a large bowl, with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the butter until smooth. Sift the sugar over the cream cheese, and beat until smooth. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate to set slightly for about 20 minutes. To assemble the cake, place a cake layer on a cake stand, plate, or cake board. Spread about half of the icing over top, but leave the sides bare. Sprinkle icing with about half of the pineapple. Top with a second cake layer, and repeat with remaining icing and pineapple. Serve.

Cook's Note:
You will need about 1/2 a fresh medium pineapple, trimmed, cored, and finely chopped for the whole cake and frosting.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Right To Dry

I recently read about a town in Massachusetts that recently under went an environmental movement to not only ban the sale of bottled water but also to gain the right to dry your clothes outside. The town did not outlaw outdoor drying, but homeowner’s and condominium associations within the town did. Can you imagine that in uber-tidy communities in Naples Fl where you are not allowed to even park your car in your drive way (it must be in the garage)? But, speaking of Naples, the real Naples (Italy), tourists find it charming to see laundry hanging across the balconies of the Old World buildings. As a matter of fact energy hogging clothes dryers in general are much less prevalent in Europe then the US, 50% verses 75% of American homes.

In Key West there are no codes against having a clothes line any where on your property. Your back yard as well as your front yard is equally acceptable, even in the Old Town historic district. As far as the City of Key West imposing outdoor drying on home owner associations, not even in an alternate reality would that happen. Don’t worry Truman Annex or Golf Club Property Owners Associations, Key West can’t even get it together enough to do anything but a miserable job at recycling, much less make you allow your residents to hang their under wear on the front porch to reduce energy usage.

If you are further interested in outdoor drying laws you can find out more from an organization called Project Laundry List it is a nonprofit that has helped to fight anti-clothesline ordinances in many neighborhoods, and to urge the First Family to line dry their clothes occasionally on the White House lawn—visit

What are your thoughts on this matter?