Thursday, December 3, 2009

Support and Revelations

Since my knee replacement and the long recovery I have been the beneficiary of gifts that are the best not as material objects but the gifts of revelation. I had underestimated the challenging nature of this surgery and throught I would be back to normal within a few short weeks. LAUGH NOW ALL OF YOU I WAS REALLY CRAZY WASN'T I. I now awaken every day waiting to see how the day goes as a barometer of progress in the road to recovery. I evaluate the pain, number of pills needed yesterday versus today and the stiffness of the knee and its perceived mobility. I do the exercises and try to gauge my progress in degrees and ability to tolerate knee positions. It is exhausting. While I have been recovering my family and friends have come forward to support me at a level which I never expected. I have received gifts of food, meals and I do mean complete meals with extras for the freezer, magazines, fruit arrangements, cookies, restaurant lunches and each comes with a visit which is very nice. These friends have been such a revelation of kindness. I had no idea that we would be the recipients of such generosity. Amazing and wonderful. I feel like Sally Field - You like me! It is the best feeling in the world and I will never underestimate the meaning of support and showing up for the people in your life.

Lee is also the beneficiary of this kindness and she too marvels at people's kindness and generosity. Lee has been saved many nights of cooking thanks to this kindness and generosity and for that we are both grateful. Last night Lee made pasta and salad which was lovely. It was the first meal she actually cooked. So this is Lee. "Anne when I cook the pasta does it go in the pan with the cold water or do I do something else?" Sigh. The pasta was lovely but slightly undrained. I asked about this and she told me she drained the pasta by spoonfuls. Such commitment. By the way I froze meals before surgery so we had marinara sauce for the pasta. Lee makes an excellent salad. Last night's was romaine, carrots, kalamata olives, pignoli and freshly grated parmesan with purchased dressing. After three weeks of TLC from Lee I would tell you she is the second revelation. She is eager to offer assistance whenever needed and for anything. She is patient and kind and almost never says no - she refused to make turkey tetrazinni and we had one more Thanksgiving meal in a row. When I am frustrated and down she is upbeat and encouraging. She makes me laugh and she has really stepped up to a huge plate. We have three dogs and feeding the dogs and me can be an ordeal. Jack the elderly beagle has warm broth and rice mixed with medicine and he eats that first. When he finishes that he gets his kibble mixed in. Dude and Doris are not so picky but require the kibble and broth mix with meds for Doris. Then she gets to feed me. Our only debacle has been oatmeal. I love old fashioned oast undercooked, sprinked with brown sugar and granola and sliced bananas with milk on the side. The first time she prepared oatmeal she boiled it and it was overcooked and gloppily inedible. The second time she tried the micowave and it wasn't as overdone but could have cooked less. She then mixed it all together - yech! So now no oatmeal ever again. I guess I can live without oatmeal until I can do it myself. Lee has been my second revelation in patience and kindness. Thank you Lee, you are the best!

The third revelation is much more mundane and in keeping with my usual focus on food. The other day I expressed an urge for a cupcake and Lee said "I will get you a cupcake". This involved a trip to the Ele' Cake Company and a beautiful white cupcake with pink frosting. This cupcake looked so traditional yet the cake was a specialty cake of raspberry cake cloaked in white cake topped with raspberry frosting. OMG. I could only eat half at a time it was so very rich and the tastes so true to fresh raspberry. I have been watching Cake Boss with Lee and we marvel at the specialty cakes produced. I wonder how would they taste? Well if they are anything like my cupcake they are unbelievable as a dessert and as well as a design. Now I am on a quest to understand cakes and will be returning to Rose Levy Berenabum's Cake Bible. Rose took cake baking to a science and spent years studying baking science to produce luscious and beautiful cakes. One of the things I most love about her cookbook are the sections that she terms "understanding" that convey information about baking that really changes the concept of baking. Studying Rose gain should help me take another step up in my baking ability. The other part of this revelation in taste that is so exciting is that one of the owners of the Ele' Cake Company is the cousin of Mr. MW. Mr. and Mrs MW are celebrating their 25th anniversary and will be serving three cakes from Ele'. However the best news is that the owner may be attending the party. I so hope to meet her and drag her into a corner to talk about baking and her business - cake business that is.

The recipe below is the cake I made for Mr. MW's birthday. It is not an Ele' cake but it is a cake from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan of baking and Julia Child fame. Mr. MW's favorite cake is a carrot cake and this is Big Bill's Carrot Cake. The only problem with the cake is that there was no pineapple and in my mind one must have pineapple in a carrot cake. So I decided to make a filling of rum and pineapple to put between the layers and on top with cream cheese frosting on the sides. I added dark rum to the cream cheese frosting to hit the ball home so to speak!

Mr MW's Carrot Cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan

2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder.
2 tsp. gr. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
3 C grated carrots
1 C coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 C moist plump raisins
2 C sugar
1 C canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs

28 oz can crushed pineapple drained
2 -3 T. dark rum
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 C brown sugar

8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter
1 lb. confectioner's sugar (3 3/4 C)
1 T dark rum
1/2 C shredded coconut

325 degree oven butter and flour 3 9 " cake pans. For the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients for the cake. In another bowl combine, carrots, coconut, nuts and raisins. In a mixer beat the oil and sugar togetheron medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture mixing until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the fruit and nut mixture and divide the batter between the three pans. Bake 40 - 50 minutes rotating the pans in the oven so they bake evenly.. When done a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Let cool 5 minutes then invert the cakes, unmold them and allow the cakes to cool to room temperature.

While the cake is baking combine the filling ingredients and cook over medium heat until thickened. Cool.

In the stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rum and coconut and beat to smooth.

To assemble the cake put one layer on a plate or stand and frost the top with one-third of the fiulling. Repeat for the next layer. Top with the third layer. Using the frosting frost the sides of the cake. Finally using the last of the filling dress the top of the cake.

This is a wonderful cake.


  1. ok missanne. this post is one of my favorites! you are too much. and YES the carrot cake you made was one of the BEST cakes i have ever had. ever! i love you!

    i am sorry for the pain you have to endure. it gets so old. but just think, in a few weeks you can make your OWN oatmeal....

    i love you

  2. Bar none----the BEST carrot cake I have ever eaten(sorry everyone else who has made carrott cakes ). Love you.Donna