AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Happy Birthday, Liz! DATE: 3/14/2009 06:45:00 AM ----- BODY:

Most people think of March 14th (3/14) as “Pie Day”… a word food play on the number represented by the Greek letter Pi: 3.14. To me, March 14th is my sister’s birthday. So in her honor, I made a carrot cake.

I used the recipe from the Blue Moon Cookbook. This is one of those old, Junior-League style cookbooks from Montgomery, Alabama. The Blue Moon Inn inspired the cookbook and the recipes. My mom remembers the place as a “private dining room.” It was more like a private club that opened only for special occasions and parties. My mom’s graduation party was there, as was the rehearsal dinner before her wedding to my dad (they just celebrated their 43rd anniversary!). The restaurant closed a few years later, so my sister and I never had a chance to eat there. Nonetheless, we treasure the cookbook. The bread pudding is a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner. And I’ve been making the carrot cake for as long as I can remember.
The book oozes culinary history – from the style of recipes (aspic and spinach ring mold) to the ingredient specifications. The recipe for carrot cake, for example, specifies the brand of oil (Wesson) not the type (vegetable). Other recipes specifically call for Hellman’s mayonnaise, Frito’s Corn Chips and Accent.

Over the years, I’ve tried experimenting with this recipe, but discovered that it’s perfect just the way it is… with one exception: it needs ½ tsp. salt. This year, I made a few other modifications. Halfway into organizing the ingredients, I discovered that I only had 1 cup of oil in the house (and it wasn’t even Wesson, it was the Whole Foods 365 Canola). I knew from past experiments that an all butter substitution created a dense cake, so I melted 1 stick of butter with the oil hoping for a better outcome. And since I was heating the oil anyway, I opted to infuse it with a Tahitian Vanilla bean.

The other modification resulted in trying to use up leftovers rather than shop a second time. The traditional recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting. Since I had sour cream only, I made vanilla butter cream and folded in the sour cream to give it a bright tang.

Happy Birthday, Liz! I love you very much and feel so blessed to have you in my life.

Here’s the original recipe (with the salt addition)…

Blue Moon Carrot Cake

3 cups shredded carrots
1 ½ cups Wesson Oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon (I used Vietnamese)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (I used raisins instead)
3 cups grated carrots

Mix Wesson oil and sugar and beat well. Add eggs. Sift together dry ingredients twice and add pecans (or raisins). Grease and flour 2 – 9” cake pans. Fill pans and bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Cool. Remove from pans and ice with the following icing.

1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 stick butter (4 oz)
1 box confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/14/2009 11:01:00 AM dear Julia,
Even though I sign on as Anonymous, I am the mom who verifies that what you say is true. Fun to see what you treasure from the Once in a Blue Moon Cookbook. I especially love the Mocha Cakes. I had not realized (in all these years) that the carrot cake is a favorite for you. Learn something every day... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger White on Rice Couple DATE:3/14/2009 11:16:00 PM Love the cake and the stories. It's so cute your mom was the first to comment, too. Mine does the same. Happy birthday to your sister. Todd ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger jesse DATE:3/15/2009 05:47:00 AM Hahaha, I love your mom's comment. You guys are just too adorable! Lovely cake, it's just begging to be eaten! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/15/2009 11:11:00 AM What a great sister you are! Happy birthday. I love carrot cake. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/15/2009 12:31:00 PM Thanks Hooliya (this is what Julia's sister, Liz, calls her)for the beautiful cake! Sadly, I live in Virginia (not Boston) and didn't get to try it with all the interesting adaptations. But I hear through the grapevine from some of my Boston spies that it was delicious.
Maybe I'll try it next year...
Love, Liz ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous jo DATE:3/15/2009 05:23:00 PM I adore books like that and have amassed a tidy collection. they are my go to books for appetizers and casseroles... ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:3/15/2009 08:11:00 PM happy birthday, liz! this sounds lovely - a good carrot cake sounds like a super tasty present! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori Lynn DATE:3/15/2009 09:47:00 PM Happy birthday to your sister.
Nice looking cake!

And hey, I wonder why I can't get my mom to comment on my blog? I'll ask her. Ha. We'll see.

Ma, are you reading Julia's blog? Comment here!

LL ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Raaga DATE:3/16/2009 02:41:00 AM I love places like that... full of memories. Whether or not we were a part of them... our loved ones were.

the cake looks delicious. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Mary DATE:3/16/2009 09:21:00 AM I love old cookbooks. I hope your sister had a great day and enjoyed her birthday cake. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:3/16/2009 09:33:00 AM Mom, I'll have to try that Mocha cake... now that I know it's YOUR favorite.

WORC -- Nice to know you have a supportive mom, too! :)

jesse -- thanks. I agree, my mom is adorable.

noble pig -- thanks.

Liz -- I'll make you another one the next time I visit.

jo -- there are always hidden treasures in this books.

Heather -- I agree. If I had know it was your blog-a-birthday, I would have made one for you too.

Lori Lynn -- Guilt. It works every time :)

Raaga -- Thanks for visiting my blog. And yes, it's wonderful we can preserve the memories.

Mary -- thanks. And she appreciates all the extra birthday wishes. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger adele DATE:3/16/2009 11:00:00 AM I've been looking for a good carrot cake recipe. This seems promising. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Grace DATE:3/16/2009 12:49:00 PM carrot cake rules, and cream cheese frosting is simply unbeatable. and i must say--that writing atop the cake is better than most people can do on paper. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/16/2009 05:31:00 PM dear Julia,
Nice to get so much mileage from commenting on your blog.
LL, this is for you too.
Julia's mom, aka Judith ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/16/2009 09:19:00 PM Re LL's comment on moms and daughters, my mother used to say she never minded car-pooling for her kids (in Montgomery, Al, in the 50s)--because that was how she knew what was going on. We would never tell her directly but kids in the car would talk much more freely to each other than to a Parent, and she could hear directly. I feel that way about reading Julia's blog: it's a nice way of knowing something about what is going on. Also, since I am such a fan of Julia's cooking, it is a way of knowing what she IS cooking. Judith, Julia's mom. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:3/28/2009 04:26:00 AM Hey i thought it was called blue moon carrot cake i guess you forgot to state that the removal of carrots was a new modification blue moon cake ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:3/28/2009 06:36:00 AM Anon. -- Good catch! I did omit the carrots when transcribing the recipe. But they're there now.. 3 cups shredded. ----- --------