Carrot Cake

350* until toothpick is clean, about 40 minutes

  • Main cake:
    • 3 cups grated carrots (about 6)
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
    • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Frosting
    • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 (8 ounce) package Neufchatel cheese
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup chopped pecans

The vegetable oil may seem like a lot, but don’t worry about it.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in eggs, oil, 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, pineapple and 3/4 cup chopped pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, Neufchatel cheese, 1/2 cup butter or margarine and 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla. Beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Then sprinkle 1 cup chopped pecans on top.


Another Painful Cooking Experience

Today’s lesson is about cankersores. These are stress-induced sores on the inside of the mouth that are very painful. They are not bacterial or viral. After a few days, they will go away on their own. Since I have been under a lot of stress lately with the end of the fiscal year approaching at work and many pools of money rapidly drying up, these cankersores are no surprise.

More to the point, one should consider adjustments to one’s diet when changes in the body occur. Ideal diet brands differ by body types, body composition, DNA, and a bunch of other factors. Typically this means eating more when hungry, eating less when experiencing unwanted growth, or eating more citrus fruits when the legs start to bow with rickets.

Another important thing to note is that one should not compose a meal using highly acidic tomatoes when there are sores inside the mouth. ouch.

On Restaurants

I’ve been cooking on my own for the past couple years, and I can honestly say that I’ve gotten the hang of a lot of it. I know how to do some things really well, and I’m getting pretty quick about putting my dishes together, so that my average meal, with an entree and two side dishes, takes between 10-30 minutes from start to finish to prepare.

For the past few weeks I’ve kicked it up a notch: I’m taking photos of everything I make. The original intent was so that I could start working with GMS Events on a personal cookbook release, but almost instantly I realized another benefit. Because I want these pictures to look good, I’m really focusing on my presentation. Presentation is a huge part of a good meal, and it can transform a mediocre one into a spectacular one. I’m collecting a sizable folder of photos of my dishes, and I have to say that looking at them I’m a little proud.

My cooking has changed how I order food in restaurants. As a general rule, I don’t order anything that I can make at home. If I’m eating out, the last thing I want to do is spend three times as much money to get a meal I can just as easily prepare in my own kitchen. It won’t teach me more, and it’ll taste just as good. This means most pasta is out, steak is definitely not worth it, a lot of stir fries, chicken, and pan-fried fish. This rule is actually pretty convenient, as it eliminates a decent amount of the menu from my consideration, giving me time to focus on the more interesting dishes. Two of the things I look for are techniques that I don’t know or that would take a long time to cook (like lasagna or quiche, which take a long time to prepare and bake), and ingredients that are exotic or to which I have limited access (like some kinds of seafood or fruits). This way I’m guaranteed to get something I probably won’t be making at home, so it’ll be new and interesting to me, which is why I go out.

The other thing I do at restaurants is look at the presentation of the dish. They always clean the edge of the plate. There’s often parsley flakes sprinkled on top to give the dish flecks of color. The fancier the restaurant, the more vertical the food will get. So if you’re going to Denny’s, you’ll have a plate with meat and mashed potatoes next to it and corn next to that, and the whole plate will be covered with some kind of food. If you’re at a fancy restaurant, you’ll have a wide plate, but the food itself will cover a smaller area and be stacked, so the meat would be on top of the asparagus on top of the mashed potatoes. Then some kind of sauce is artfully painted around the unused portion of the plate. And the plate is always wiped clean after the food has been placed on it.

A successful restaurant venture leaves my stomach happy, my tongue intrigued, and my brain full of good ideas to try.

I created a monster

Necessity is the mother of invention, and I was in serious need of food. My problem, though, was that I had hot dog buns but no hot dogs, and hamburger but no hamburger buns. May god have mercy on my soul for what transpired in my kitchen today at lunch, for what I bred was neither encased hot dog, nor round hamburger, but instead a beast of a meal fit only for the likes of those willing enough to put their life on the line in pursuit of the perfect meal.

Today I made the hamburger dog. Instead of making round hamburger patties I carefully fashioned crude oblong patties, holding a hot dog bun beside them to make sure they were of an appropriate size. They were as thick as a normal hamburger, 1/2 inch of pure beefy goodness, but as long as the bun. My George Foreman steamed and sizzled as it struggled to cook the strange shaped patties. At once, I smelled the burning flesh and knew that it was done. The socket sparked as I unplugged the grill. I had prepared my bun in the manner of a typical hamburger: sliced tomato, sweet relish, ketchup, and mustard. Once I placed the finished patties on the buns, my creation was complete.

If you have not yet recoiled in shock and awe, then the completion of my tale should not disturb you further. After I had built these monsters (there was a pair of them because I was hungry, remember), I poured a glass of cold tea, sat down, lifted one of them, and took a bite. What followed thereafter is hazy in my mind. When I came to my senses my plate was empty, my stomach full, and my napkin messy. I can only assume that I devoured them both in a frenzy, leaving nothing but a few flecks of relish on the plate.

Thank you, dear reader, for stomaching this entry as heartily as I stomached the monsters I made for lunch. If you have the inclination, the fortitude, and the equipment, I highly recommend making the bastard child of barbecues; the hamburger dog.


Meringues are hard but really soft cookies, like solidified marshmallows. The most appealing part of them is the texture. They only require 4 ingredients that you probably already have.

  • 4 egg whites (WHITES ONLY. ANY yolk will prevent the whites from whipping. Be very careful)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Very stiff. There is a remarkable transformation you’ll see when they turn frothy and then get harder and harder. This will take a few minutes of strong beating.

Beat in the granulated sugar, then sprinkle in the powdered sugar a little at a time. Keep beating until you get thick, white, foamy peaks. The more foamy the better. If you can take a teaspoon full and drop it on the counter and it doesn’t spread much but instead stays pretty tall, then you’re good.

Pour tablespoon full amounts onto a baking sheet. Try to drizzle them onto the sheet so that you get maximum height.

Bake in the oven at 250F for 1 1/2 hours. They’ll look slightly darker than when they started and will be very hard. Let them cool, then take them off the pan.


French Bread

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (or 5 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

With the best pocket knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. You’ll know it’s done if you whack it lightly and it sounds hollow. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.


I made bread today!

Not the money kind, though that would have been satisfying, too. Today I made real French bread. It came out great. It’s my first time with bread (other than pizza dough), so I was really worried about it. In the end, I had some good loaves; slightly crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. It’s probably 10 times better making my own bread just because I made it. No, it doesn’t taste as good as if I had bought a loaf at the grocery store, but I made it myself, and it was my first time, and if you have a problem with it, try making your own bread and see how you like it.

Better cooking

Some people have asked why I was cooking shirtless in the first place. Why not? Really, though, it was because I had just gotten back from racquetball, then showered, and I knew I wasn’t going out later, so I just put on pajama bottoms.

Tonight’s cooking was a lot better. I had some fun with a seafood stir fry. It took forever to peel the shrimp, but it was so worth it. I had shrimp, crab meat, water chestnuts, and pineapple stir fried with a little hot sauce and some sweet chili sauce. I also put in some rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles). I had my shirt on, and it was delicious.


  • A couple tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil
  • A couple handfuls of popcorn

Heat up a fairly large pan on medium high heat with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Put in a couple handfuls of popcorn (a handful is about 1/4 cup-1/3 cup). Stir until it stops popping. Hold the lid over the pan to keep kernels from flying out. If the pan fills before all the popcorn is done popping, remove from heat, shake some of the popcorn off the top into a large bowl, and return to heat. If you can smell burning popcorn, take it off the heat and shake it into the bowl. It’s ok to have some kernels left. They won’t pop, and the rest will burn.

If you want, melt a couple tablespoons of butter in the microwave and drizzle it over the top of the finished popcorn. Shake some salt and/or pepper over the top. Lawry’s seasoning salt is good, too. Mix with your hands.