So it's been a rough few days. Earlier in the week I received news of the horribly tragic accidental death of a very young person. It was both shocking and horrifying, and my heart immediately went out to the family and friends of this beloved young man. The news stayed with me for the rest of the week and I couldn't stop thinking about how preventable and unnecessary this death was, and how fragile we all are.
Then my puppy got sick. Not I-ate-a-cigarette-butt-off-the-ground-sick but like, really sick. And after a couple days of feeling rough she was rushed to the emergency vet on Thursday night, stuck with an IV and antibiotics and kept overnight in the doggie-hospital. Yes, I freaked out. And yes, I live in NYC so it was crazy-ridiculous expensive (read: 3/4 of my paycheck).
But like most tough things, you do what you have to do. So after getting over the sticker shock, I signed the receipt at the vet and then planned my all-black outfit for the funeral the next day.
Like I said, it's been a rough week.
But, puppy got better (thank God!) and the funeral was truly as lovely as it could have been, given the circumstances. I might go so far as to say that I've never been to a more inspiring and heartfelt funeral filled with love as the one I attended on Friday. The message of the funeral translated as "live every moment" and "love as much as you can,"and though it was difficult to stand in the back of church and watch raw grief on many faces around me, it was unbelievably inspiring. It was inspiring that there was standing-room only (3-4 rows deep in some places) in the small church. It was inspiring that he had such a positive impact on so many people during his short life. It was a celebration of this very good, very young man, and a challenge for the rest of us to live every moment and love as much as possible.
It's a shame that it often takes tragedies to remind us of those simple life goals, so I'm challenging all of you to use this story as a reminder to live life and love. I'm already working on it :)
To celebrate another life, I offered to bake a birthday cake this week for a co-worker instead of the usual cupcakes in the conference room. With a few dietary restrictions I chose Alton Brown's Carrot Cake recipe and it's definitely my new go-to. It's surprisingly moist (due to the yogurt in the recipe?) and the cream cheese frosting was thicker and easier to spread than most I've made. I clearly need to take a cake-decorating class but a little extra frosting with some red food coloring did the trick this go around.
Alton Brown via the Food Network
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 medium carrots, medium grate
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground allspice (I left this out)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
6 oz. plain yogurt
6 oz. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan (I used two and spread the batter evenly between the two). Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.
In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.
With the processor still running, drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205-210 F in the center.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
2 oz. butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and butter on medium until just blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.
Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before using.