4 posts

The Best Carrot Cake Ever!

This was part of an article in (I think) Southern Living from about 15 years ago. Submitted by Phyllis Vanhoy of Salisbury, NC. I’ve put my personal notes and tips in italics. It’s a freaking amazing cake!

2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
½  tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 C sugar
¾ C vegetable oil
¾ C buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 C grated carrot
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3 ½)  oz. can flaked coconut (I buy a bag and weigh it out)
1 C chopped walnuts or pecans (I use pecans)

Buttermilk Glaze
Cream Cheese Frosting

Line three 9-inch round cakepans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside. You can use parchment paper as well and in fact you may find that it sticks less.

Stir together first four ingredients. Set aside.

Beat eggs and next four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

Add flour mixture, beating at slow speed until blended. Fold in carrots, and next three ingredients. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 F for 25 – 30 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean.

Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over the layers; let cool in pans on wire racks 45 minutes.

Do not, DO NOT turn them out of the pans before you’re ready to assemble each layer of the cake. The cake is really moist and will come apart if you take it out of the pans before you’re ready to frost each layer.

Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between the layers and on top and sides of cake.
Yield: One 3-layer cake

Buttermilk Glaze

  • 1 C sugar
  • ½ c buttermilk
  • 1 ½  tsp baking soda
  • ½  C butter or margarine
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Yield: 1 ½ cups

First of all, this foams quite a bit so don’t be alarmed, and be sure to use a pan big enough. A dutch oven is great, but any deep, heavy-bottomed pan should be fine. Also, I generally cook mine until it’s a lovely deep caramel color, which may take you longer than 4 minutes. Do stir frequently or it will burn.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3/4 C butter or margarine
  • 1 8-oz. pkg cream cheese, softene
  • d1 3-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 C sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixture until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.
Yield: 4 Cups

A few additional notes from my years of making this cake:

I double the recipe for the frosting. It doubles just fine and who doesn’t like a little extra when everything is said and done? I don’t double the glaze.

I like to top the frosted cake with sliced almonds that I’ve toasted in the oven just a tad too long. Alternatively, I top with toasted coconut.

I have made this as a sheet cake as well, just keep an eye on it in the oven. If you do that, you won’t need to double the frosting, but you lose the layered effect, which is ridiculously delish. This past Thanksgiving, I made a double sheet cake since we were expecting 30 people. I had to double the glaze, and I quadrupled the frosting, but I could have gotten away with tripling it.

Also, regarding the layers—I usually insert 3 wooden skewers into the cake once the layers are assembled, before frosting the outside of the cake. It helps keep it from ending up looking like the leaning tower of Pisa.

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as my family/friends and I do!

ETA: One thing I forgot to mention is that you can make the glaze and use it to top any number of other cakes or breads. It’s especially delicious on bread pudding!

Name the Nibbles of Crasstalk!

Nibble’s cousin, the evil squirrel, had been wreaking havoc here on Crasstalk with his tiny, twisted paws. This little bastard needs a name that we can curse to the high heavens! Post your suggestions in the comments…if ______ will let you!

(I tried to post an image, but motherfucking _______ won’t let me!)

My Personal “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” Moment

Big Bend National Park

I took a road trip back to Texas to see my family. I hauled ass along the 10 through Arizona and New Mexico. But once I cleared El Paso, I took the scenic route and swung down through Ft. Davis, Marfa, Terlingua, and the top of Big Bend, then back up to Junction and on to Austin.

I really miss road trips. I had forgotten how much you can see, even from the big highways. But the real pleasure comes from taking the smaller back roads. Sometimes it’s fun to take a little road, just see where you might end up.

Even when speeding along one of these county roads, you can still see a ton of wildlife. I saw deer, rabbits, turkeys, javelina, tons of different birds. But the highlight was seeing this red-tailed hawk and badger.

Mine, all mine. Muahahaha!

I was headed out of Big Bend and I saw some roadkill—no big deal, there’d been plenty of it on this trip. After all, I’m pretty much in the middle of nowhere. But then I noticed a hawk, on the ground. This is really unusual so I made a u-turn and went back to check it out.

When I got back, I saw that the hawk was actually a red-tailed hawk and was happily sitting on the roadkill. That bird was not going to move for anything! He’d rather have faced me down in my car than give up his meals for the next few days. It was only when I took out my camera and started to take pictures that I noticed the roadkill was a badger!

I’m going to geek out here for a minute and tell you guys that I have this sort of unofficial list of wildlife in my mind that I want to see, so when I see something new it’s a really big deal. I kind of freaked out and got really excited.

The other thing that was interesting is that hawks are birds of prey and don’t usually eat roadkill. They prefer to hunt and catch their prey live, which leads me to believe (along with the state of the entrails) that this must have been a very fresh kill that the hawk stumbled upon.

Several times, the hawk tried to fly away with his prize, but the badger was just too heavy and the poor guy (or girl) couldn’t really get off the ground. Didn’t keep him from trying though. Eventually he gave up and just started chowing down.

I took a few more photos, made another u-turn and snapped a few more, and drove away. Once I got to my hotel, I did a little research and found out that badgers are actually somewhat common in Texas, especially in desert scrubland like Big Bend. I’ve never seen one and neither has anyone in my family, including  my grandmother (who grew up on a farm/ranch).  But according to what I read, they are solitary creatures and tend toward being nocturnal. They are also burrowers (check out those long claws) so I guess that explains it.

Must. Get. It. Up. (Sadly, not the first time I have heard this)

Anyway, I thought you guys might find these photos interesting. The hawk is just gorgeous (the badger a little less so in this state). It’s nature in action!

Deming, New Mexico’s Very Own Executive Inn, Reviewed

Sign advertises amenities and prices and misspellings don’t render it unreadable. It’s not attached to a church so no fear of threats to send me to hell: +3

Adorable family who either owns or manages. Mom offered me Advil because she knew I’d been driving for 11 hours. Dad offered me bottled water and moved his car so I could park right in front of my room. Kids were cute, even the one who was picking his nose: +4

Cheap ($36 including tax): +20

The motel doors all face the parking lot (no interior corridors): -6

Acceptably clean—no bugs, no toilet ring or hair in sink, smelled OK from what I can tell while recovering from a cold: +7

No visible bullet holes (or they are patched really well): +2

Weird bathroom curtain that must be totally sheer with the light on, and the cracked and non-locking window in said bathroom is creepy. Until it is light outside, I’m not turning on the light on to go to the toilet: -25

Continue reading