Tag Archives: Mondays

Family Recipes and Happy Memories

Last week on My Sweet Mama’s family group, Wertlink, my cousin, Marie got to talking about a Carrot Cake Recipe that had been given to her by our Aunt Alma Jean.  Aunt Alma Jean was a Home Economics teacher, having gotten her college degree in that field and she was known to have some really terrific recipes.  Some of the stories told about this particular Carrot Cake and its powers to enthrall those who were given a sample caused me to greatly desire the recipe.  There were memories of a Carrot Cake from somewhere in my childhood that have never been duplicated in the years since, and my interest was piqued.

So I wrote to her and asked her if she would mind sharing the recipe.  She was more than agreeable to that, and by return e-mail I got the recipe.  But along with the recipe, she also sent a link to a carrot grater that she said was the best kind to use.

Grater

That grater looked so familiar my heart felt a strange twist.  My Sweet Mama had one that looked a LOT like that one, but I don’t remember ever using it for anything.  And I suspect that when we went through things after she died, that it may have been disposed of.  At least I have no idea where it went.  The thing is, I struggle mightily whenever I need to grate anything that can’t be grated on my trusty potato grater, and when Marie said that this was the best grater to use to make the carrots fine enough for the best texture for this cake, I decided that I was going to find one and buy it.  It looked pretty vintage to me, so I decided that I would start with Ebay.  I found one, alright.  For $64.00.  Well, that wasn’t going to cut it.  Or grate it.  So I turned to trusty Amazon.  Sure enough there were a number of them on that exchange, ranging from $12 and up.  The one that really took my eye, though, was stainless steel.  I could put it into the dishwasher, I wouldn’t need to worry about it rusting, it was less that $20, and I promptly ordered it.  “Isn’t it beautiful???” (She asks the dedicated cooks among us.)

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It came through in the usual record time, for which I was grateful because I had decided that I was going to make Carrot Cake for our 5th-Sunday-Hymn-Sing-Dinner-On-The-Grounds-Potluck that our church has every time there is a 5th Sunday in the month! Usually I make a double layer, Devil’s Food, “straight from the box” Cake with chocolate butter cream frosting, but I wanted to do something different this time.

So, Saturday, I brought out my new grater, got some carrots ready for grating, and lured Love Bug into helping me.  She grated until she got skin into it and then lost interest.  Not that I blame her, you understand, there is nothing so disconcerting as grating your finger when you are trying to be all industrious and helpful.  It’s bad enough when you’re 65, but when you are almost ten years old it’s insulting and painful and discouraging.  Middle Daughter took over for a bit, then, and I finally finished.  This recipe calls for 3 cups of grated carrots, and let me tell you, that’s a lot of grating.  It’s also enough carrots that I’m inclined to call this cake a vegetable because it has to be healthy, what with all those raw carrots in it.

Once I got the carrots finished, I got the pans ready before starting the cake.  Again, Marie had suggested that I use parchment paper on the bottom as well as buttering and flouring the sides of the pans.  So I got that all ready and then I mixed up the cake.  When I was all done, I looked back over the recipe to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, and realized that the recipe (as given) hadn’t called for any vanilla.  H-m-m-m-m-m.  I didn’t want to miss anything, so I decided to double check.  I knew that Marie was on a Spring Break trip with her husband, Kirk Vedevelt, and their two children, so I decided to call Aunt Alma Jean down in Harrisonburg, VA.  I was looking for an excuse to call her, anyhow, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Aunt Alma Jean wasn’t sure where her copy of the recipe was, but she allowed as she would put vanilla into it anyhow, whether it called for it or not, and so I put a teaspoon in, and then got my three pans of carrot cake into the oven while I had a wondrously good conversation with my Auntie.  Soon after we finished talking, it was time for my deliciously aromatic cake to come out of the oven, and I brought it out and put it on cooling racks to get cool.  I made a double batch of the icing, and set it into the freezer to chill a bit while the three layers finished cooling.  Then I iced the cake and tucked it into the fridge to await the morning.  (This was so the three layers would stay three layers instead of becoming a sideways, slippery mess).

We were celebrating the 70th birthday of fellow church member, Robert Miller along with our potluck on Sunday, and I had’t even thought about the fact that there would be lots of cake at the dinner, but when I realized it, I began making plans for any left over cake  There was to be a “Grandma Night” at Jesse and Christina’s house, and I suddenly knew that I wouldn’t need to make anything special.  I was going to take this Carrot Cake that was already gaining rave reviews from the few people who sampled it!

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(It looks like there is raw carrot spilling out of this cake, but it’s truly just the coloring of the picture.  The actual color of the cake was an even, light brown, and that is just the way the cake crumbled– and I could get it to look right, no matter how many times I took the picture!)  Anyhow!

So when evening came, Certain Man and I hauled the cake, along with some leftover Sweet Tea up the road to the Big Bontrager House On Shawnee Road where the family of Mark and Alene Yoder were gathering for the evening.  And there, the now Famous Aunt Alma Jean’s Carrot Cake was further decimated and pronounced “The BEST Ever” by more than one of those there.  Our numbers were a little slim, due to other obligations and constraints, but it was, nonetheless, a very nice group and a very sweet time together.  I wish I had gotten more pictures, but I did grab a few, and will try to get more the next time (which we hope won’t be too far out).  Here are several for you to enjoy

(And because I know that someone is going to ask, here is the recipe:

Aunt Alma Jean’s Best Ever Carrot Cake

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups salad oil
4 eggs well beaten
2 tsp soda
2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp  ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups grated carrots
1 tsp. vanilla (if you are so inclined.  I hear it is really good without it, too!)
Mix sugar and salad oil together
Add well beaten eggs and mix well
Combine rest of ingredients and stir in.
Add pecans and grated carrots and mix well.
Bake in 3 / 9” cake pans at 325 degrees or 350 degrees for 30 -40 mins.
  Icing:
1 box 10x sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 stick oleo or butter
1 tsp. of either lemon or vanilla (I used vanilla, at Aunt A.J.’s advisement)
(For a 3-layer cake, I made a double batch, but I had a bit left over)And now, on this chilly Monday morning, there is so much to be grateful for.  While there are always things happening in my life and the lives of people I love that can occupy my head and heart and prayers, there are also things to think about that make me glad.  I made a Carrot Cake that has My Sweet Mama’s Family History wrapped all around it!  (Thank you, Marie, for this splendid recipe). The tax preparation is finished and at the accountant’s office.  (Thank you, Harry Papaleo for making our annual visit to your office a meeting of friends when we can laugh and talk about more than just taxes).  Certain Man and I had breakfast with our two local girlies, Christina and Deborah, (some of my favorite people!) and this day has nothing more pressing than paperwork for the State of Delaware, laundry, and (if I’m really motivated) going through some more things in my quest to simplify and downsize this old farmhouse.My heart gives gladsome, humble, grateful praise.

 

 

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And then it was October . . .

The days are classic, the nights are splendid, the trees are turning and the garden is almost done.  Certain Man carried the first bag of pellets into our house yesterday morning and started a fire in the pellet stove.  Twenty-four hours later, it has burned itself out and that is okay for now.  It will feel good again tonight, though.

“We need to get that shelf cleared off at the top of the ramp,” he said yesterday.  I interpreted that to mean, “YOU need to get that shelf cleared off,” though he didn’t say that, and may have not even meant it.  He might have just been thinking out loud.

The shelf at the top of the ramp.  H-m-m-m-m-m.  I guess it could use some clearing off.  At least if we are going to put pellets there anytime soon.  He built it so we could store pellets at an easily accessible place, but in the summer, when the shelf is so empty and inviting, a whole lot of things get put there:  Extra bird suet and seed blocks, plant fertilizer, an amish made wren house in need of repair, insect spray, an extension cord, garden trowels, an oil bottle, a mysterious large yellow liquid fertilizer container that says “Raph” on the side and is some sort of orangish yellow liquid that I have no idea what it is — and the box where I keep old newspapers in an orderly fashion.

“In case someone might need them,” I tell Certain Man when he looks askance at my stack.  Well, you never know!  Someone just might need them!  (By the way, if anyone does, I have two boxes of flat, neatly stacked newspapers that I will give away free if “someone needs them for something!”)  🙂

 

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Oh, yes!  It was quite a mess!

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He looked doubtful when I said that I could maybe get to it, and then he went off to work, and in my more energetic moments, I pondered about adding it to my day.  I decided that I could handle it.  So, I got busy and decided to clean it all off. And I kept after it — doing bits and pieces now and then, in between loads of laundry, going to the wash line, taking Our Girl Audrey for blood work, sorting through tomatoes and making supper.  It wasn’t really all that huge a job, but I had to find places for stuff, recycle some stuff and decide what fell into which category.

But I got it done.  Right after the last load in the dryer sounded its final ding!, I finished the last little bit.  And now, it looks like this–!

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Although he hasn’t acknowledged the transformation, I’m sure he has noted it.  And Certain Man can bring in those bags of pellets and stack them up whenever he gets the notion.  We can light that old pellet stove any time the temperature drops down, and it will be so cozy and good.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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