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Monday, February 28, 2011

Another peace of cake

This is a little weird. But I am going to do it. Just this once because many of you have asked. I am going to re-run a post from when I first started this blog. My dad passed away two years ago yesterday and I started this blog to "write to myself", I guess, during the difficult period of his illness and all that came afterwards. I also decided to weave the stories and thoughts around recipes. A girl's gotta eat or at least, this girl does. The cake in this post is fabulous. And so, here it is again... 

Let the elephant in the room eat a peace of cake...

There is an elephant in the room that's hungry and so I am going to feed it Carrot Cake.

In my heart, I feel my dad fell and died because of his chemo treatment. There... I said it. Not quite out loud, but I said it. I was with him the day he went to the oncologist and learned that after radiation, his condition had taken two steps back and one forward. He asked what else could be done and chemo was offered, a little hesitantly but still put out there and up for grabs. Without batting an eye or taking a breath, he asked when he should show up. My mom and I were aghast and both blurted out to the doctor, "We'll talk about this and get back to you!" One treatment of chemo six months earlier landed him in the hospital for a week and he was now six months frailer. I got on the phone and called doctor friends, my family and my brother. What should I do...I had three weeks to talk him out of this, but how??? All can't. It is his decision and he feels hopeful.

What I could tell was that Dad was determined to live and fight nature and his disease from taking its course. Stunning in itself given my dad's aversion to pain and to confrontation of any kind. It was obvious to me that he was not ready to die and also that he wanted to fight his battle a little more privately. "You go on home, Babe" and so, after being with him for four weeks, I did, in early February. His doctor said he would receive the mildest dose of chemo. On February 25th, he did. On February 27th, he died. One of the first things I found when I got up there just hours after he died, was a shopping list by his chair for February 28th. And so, he did die hopeful and optimistic that he would go on doing what he loved and I have to deal with the wonder, and the fact, that in a strange way, I am thankful that he went ahead as he chose.

One of the other things I have to deal with is that in over 50 years of cooking (counting those cute little cakes I made in that 1950's toy oven...what were those called...anyone remember??), the first time I ever made Carrot Cake was February 27th. That same night, just two hours before he died, my dad ate his last piece of cake with a scoop of his favorite ice cream. What flavor of cake? He ate Carrot Cake given to him by his bridge partner. And so, there we were, father and daughter, eating the same cake at the same time, half a country away. It is sweet peace indeed.

Here is the cake as I made it. I am working on a gluten-free version and will have it soon! And, it would be simple to make this vegan as well.

Special Carrot Cake (Serves a herd of elephants)

Preheat your oven to 300. In a blender or food processor, combine:
1 cup of vegetable oil (peanut or corn)
1 scant cup local honey, topped off with 2 tablespoons molasses

Add, one at a time:
3 fresh eggs

Sift together:
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/3 teaspoons EACH baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and just a dash of freshly grated nutmeg

Stir the dry ingredients into the oil-honey mixture and add:
1 teaspoon vanilla

Then, fold in:
2 cups grated carrots (raw)
3/4 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Transfer batter to an oiled 9 x 13 pan (line with parchment paper if you wish) and bake for about 1 hour or until done (use toothpick test). Serve warm or cool, plain or with ice cream or whipped cream. Also delish with a cream cheese buttercream frosting!

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