Showing posts from March, 2011

Carrot Cake, Joy of Cooking

The carrots.  Sweet lord, the carrots.   (for the record, this is like 1/20 of the number of carrots I have!) The CSA box is overflowing with carrots, and I love me a good project.  So I am embarking on a carrot cake challenge:  I have four cookbooks with carrot cake recipes, and I am endeavoring to find the best one. Cookbook #1:  Joy of Cooking .  If you're going to bake, always go back to the basics, right?  And you cannot get more basic than Irma Rombauer.   This carrot cake is a snap to make, and it comes out just fine in the cupcake paper cups, which is of course tricky.  I passed these around at bookclub last week, and by and large the agreement was that they are more of a spice cake than a carrot cake.  They were a little oily that first night, but they were actually quite good the next day (and the next)--the oil helped them stay moist.  So if you're looking for a long-lasting spice cake with some carrots and raisins, this one is it.  Howeve

Spring Potato and Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

This recipe is so full of spring, so full of vegetables.  And I am ready for spring.  In California, the pear trees are starting, just starting, to bloom.  The painful unfolding from a dormant winter is beginning.  T.S. Eliot said, of course, that "April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain."   As he hailed from the East, his spring happened in April, ours in March.  But that coming out of dull winter is always welcome and painful. In the past week, I have been to Illinois (where the winter sky is perpetually the color of slate) and back to see my dad.  He's doing better, although things are still touch and go.  After my harping--or perhaps in spite of it--he's trying to make some pretty big lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking (as of yesterday, he is a 6-day non-smoker!) and eating healthier. And this recipe might be just the right one for him.  While

Broiled Crispy-Skin Salmon with Gingery Greens

  I have had these lines from the Robert Hass masterpiece poem " Meditation at Lagunitas" running through my head this week:  "All the new thinking is about loss./  In this, it resembles all the old thinking." This has been a week where much of the new thinking has indeed been about loss.  The loss of an idea, the loss of a former student, and my father being ill.   I have been cooking.   Because cooking is not about loss.   Why do we cook?  We cook because it is about creation and nourishment.  It is about sustenance and connection and distraction.  It is something to do with the hands, even if the mind is on something else. I have made salmon this week.   Salmon, the fish that at one point my father tried to convince me that a bird had taken from his grill one frozen December evening.   Salmon, the fish that I was convinced I didn't like until the husband's parents slowly won me over to its many merits while we sat around