Monday, November 7, 2016

Nancy's Moist Carrot Cake

Recipes can forge an unlikely bond at times.  I grew up in a small Utah town, and like most people - we didn't choose our neighbors.  Sometimes you hit the jackpot with great neighbors.  Other times, well... it takes years (and effort and shared experiences) to discover they are good as gold deep inside.

My parents tried for years to become friends with one of our neighbors, but there was always a conflict.  One word - DOGS.  This went on the entire time I lived at home, and up until the year before my mother passed away.  When the breadwinner of that household passed away, a sweet friendship was finally allowed to bloom between my mother and her neighbor.  The interesting thing was they had always admired each other... through their recipes in the ward cookbook.  

A ward cookbook is a magical thing.  It's like sharing your DNA.  The cherished family recipes that define you are taken and tried in another person's home and they "adopt" them as their own.  I do it all the time.  My mother's ward cookbook is one of my cherished possessions.  In it, she has written her evaluation of each recipe.  Some have glowing recommendations - and then there are the recipes that have "NO!" in bold letters in the margin.  


This recipe was obviously well loved and splattered with who knows what.  Mom's handwritten notes in the margin are now blurry.  I can't make it QUITE like Mom's, but it is the best carrot cake I've ever had.  I'm sure Nancy misses my mother, and someday their friendship will continue.  

Just a few tips:  I've always used a large 20-oz can of crushed pineapple - but be sure to squeeze most of the liquid out first.  I use the finest shredder on my food processor for the carrots.  You might want to mix by hand once you add the carrots so you don't end up with a tangled mess in your beaters.  Nancy added coconut and chopped nuts to the top of her carrot cake.  And... in case you hadn't noticed - this carrot cake is not a beautiful thing when you slice it.  So MANY good things mixed in make it a challenge to cut flawlessly.  But take a bite, and you won't care.  

I always tell my kids that only "interesting" people love carrot cake - it's off limits to those who haven't lived long enough to enjoy nuts, raisins, and all those "textures" interesting adults love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pet Ghost

Looking for a quick & easy spin on a Halloween treat?  These Pet Ghosts are a bit silly, but sweet.  You can find Wilton Candy Melts at most craft stores, and the Keebler Mini Graham Cracker Crusts at most Walmart stores.  The Peeps ghosts might take a little longer to find.  

Feel free to use the graphic to print your own label or sticker - or design your own.  Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Swiss Muesli

Lately, it seems that all my new 'favorites' are a result of going on a trip.

My daughter Aryn and family invited me join them on a trip to Portland and the Oregon coast in August.  While in Portland, we stumbled upon Bob's Red Mill in Milwaukie, Oregon (15 miles from downtown Portland).  The 90-minute tour was worth the trip.  At the end of the tour, they give you a sample of one of their most popular products - Old Country Style Muesli.


We picked up some of their bulk Muesli at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store just down the road to take home with us. (And redeemed the kids' cookie coupons... can't forget that!) 

It took me a few weeks, but I finally gave it a try.  It's similar to the Muesli I enjoy whenever I am lucky enough to go on a cruise - but they mix theirs with whole cream and milk (no wonder I love it!)  I was hoping for no added sugar, but still wanted it to be naturally sweet with lots of texture.

You may be familiar with the earthy concoction called "bircher muesli".  It was developed by Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss doctor and nutritionist.  He believed it was the perfect solution for patients at his Zurich sanatorium at the turn of the last century.  He was devoted to getting RAW fruit into their diets because he believed apples had cured him of jaundice as a young man.  

This is not "eye candy" for sure - so don't judge it by looks alone.  If you're searching for something to keep you pleasantly full until lunch - this is a great idea.  It has no added sugar, because it's sweetness comes from the dried and fresh fruit.

You can make your Muesli concoction uniquely your own by adjusting the ingredients and how you "soak" it the night before.  Or don't soak it at all - if you love a crunchy texture.