Today’s post is a short one but I just had to share.
I thought that this was the best birthday present anyone had ever given me:
But shortly after receiving them I was shocked again and have decided that no, THIS is the best birthday present I have ever received:
That’s right…. MIKE AND I ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t even begin to describe to you the excitement I feel at the chance to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing man I have ever known. He has brought love, joy, security, and happiness into my life that I never dreamed was possible. I’m taking everyone’s advice and just savoring this moment of being engaged to the love of my life. I’ll share details soon but for now I am just the happiest girl in the world (and I started crying on the metro this morning thinking about how happy I am… so don’t worry I haven’t changed at all)
I wouldn’t call myself a “baker”. I love to cook but baking has never really been my thing. Growing up baking was pretty limited to cakes from boxes, brownies from boxes, and Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (I have the recipe on the back of the package memorized… seriously, try me). I think part of the reason I don’t bake much is my very limited self control when sweets are in my living space. I don’t have too much trouble turning them down at catered meetings or parties, but if they’re living with me… welllllll it’s not just a “one and done” kind of deal. Also, I’m not particularly precise in my cooking. I tend to eye ball ingredients, leave things out if I feel like it, and go on look / feel. This isn’t particularly conducive to highly scientific and precise baking. However, this winter I put on my Winter To Do List that I wanted to try my hand at two “new to me” desserts. My wonderful, devoted, Saint of a boyfriend turned 29 last Friday and I offered to bake him whatever he wanted as part of his gift. He asked for a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Hmmm cake from scratch ay? Alright, I’ll bite.
I used this recipe because I definitely didn’t trust myself to go without one. Here’s one thing about my kitchen though. Even though its MUCH bigger than my old kitchen… I don’t have a food processor. So I had to shred the carrots by hand with a cheese grater. You have to love someone a WHOLE BUNCH to shred three cups of carrots by hand (also almost the tips off several fingers.. duh). These pictures are meant to give you an accurate representation of what a disaster my kitchen became during the shredding process. No artsy cooking photos here my friends! Hurricane Carrot!
But once the carrots were shredded, things were moving very smoothly. Remember how I mentioned that I’m not particularly precise when cooking? Well I started thinking when adding the dry ingredients that this cake required a TON of ingredients. I was skeptical but shook it off thinking “carrot cake is really dense… so that’s probably why I need so much of everything.”
The batter also seemed runnier than usual to me but my cake experience is almost completely limited to box cakes so I figured I had little frame of reference. The recipe called for a 9 x 13 in pan but I accidentally left mine at a friend’s house over the holidays (FYI Sarah K… you have my 9 x 13 in glass pan…) So I used an 8 x 8 pan instead. I figured, “Oh whatever it’ll just be a thicker cake… more cake for me!” I started getting nervous though when the batter filled the pan almost up to the top. Rut roh. Then I looked back at the recipe. Holy GOD this cake makes 24 servings!!! How did I miss that? I couldn’t easily halved the recipe. Oh well… in the oven you go!
While I had a silent panic attack that the cake would bubble over in the over and set off my fire alarms, I whipped up the icing. Cream cheese icing is the BOMB.COM and it is SO easy to make. When I was young my mom would occasionally make butter cream icing from confectioners sugar and eggs but I remember that took FOREVER to “form peaks”. Whatever… No thanks.
Mercifully, the cake didn’t bubble over in the oven! However, it took approximately 100 years to cook all the way through. Lesson learned… one should really follow the directions. When the cake was FINALLY done, I let it cool overnight before extracting / icing.
I also wouldn’t say I have a particularly “gentle” touch either, so I had some trouble getting the cake out of the pan. I lost a little bit of it but was able to cover most of the damage with icing. Go me! Sprinkled with pecans and VOILA! Carrot Cake for my main man 🙂 And oh… my… GOD… It was amazing. It was so dense and sweet though, both of us could only manage a small piece. We will literally be eating carrot cake for the rest of our lives. I did put a large chunk of the cake in the freezer for a certain someone (cough cough Sarah Jenkins cough cough) who will be visiting in a few weeks 🙂
Also… how could you not love this guy? He and Fig had a dance party while I was baking. We were listening to Songza (which is an awesome app if you don’t already use it) and the occasion Mike selected was “Getting Ready to Go Out” (even though we were going absolutely no where because we’re not cool enough to go on Thursdays anymore), the station was titled “Vodka Jams… Ladies Be Pre-gamin”. Love ❤
Last Thursday (the 20th) was my big brother’s 28th birthday!! Living in the same city as my brother is literally the best. I may be “away from home” but I’m never far from family. I am also lucky to have several close cousins living in DC too. Hence, when birthdays come around, my parents don’t hesitate to jump in the car and drive the 6.5 hours from North Carolina for a big birthday bash. My parents have taken to coming to DC to celebrate their own birthdays too. We’re really big food sharers in my family, which I love. So we always try and go to an interesting restaurant and get a great sample of the menu. This year Doug selected The Green Pig in Clarendon for his birthday dinner. His friend it the executive pastry chef there, and we had been meaning to go forever! Let’s get down to the good stuff 🙂
Beer! I had been volunteering all afternoon at Ragnar and the thought of drinking wine made my sleepy. But a cold crisp beer sounded awesome. I started with a Maui Brewing Company Bikini Blonde Lager.
Then the chef surprised us by delivering some fresh rolls and cornbread to the table. The cornbread was unbelievably moist (maybe that giant scoop of butter had something to do with it? We had a big group, so we all took half a piece of cornbread.The rolls were surprisingly good too. I normally prefer harder breads to soft rolls but the large granules of salt on the top really made these awesome.
In an effort to listen to my “hunger / satiety” cues, and learning from past experiences at huge group dinners like this, I elected not to order an appetizer. We are big sharers, so I got a bite of everyone else’s (there was PLENTY to go around). Doug got the buffalo ribs, which were delicious. We also had duck confit cavatelli, pulled pork and avocado tacos, and a delicious peanut and butternut squash soup. My favorite was the cavatelli, but the pork tacos were surprisingly good. They had some serious heat to them.
I ordered a Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout to enjoy with my dinner. Sometimes I’m just really in the mood for a dark beer 🙂
I was glad I didn’t order an appetizer because I was already starting to feel satisfied! Thankfully, I also went pretty conservative on my dinner. I ordered the heirloom tomato, watermelon, and goat cheese salad with a side of duck liver gravy poutine. Not exactly the “healthiest” dish available, but since I went light with the rest of my meal I decided I was completely fine with that! The salad was amazing. The tomatoes were slightly mushy but I still ate them all, don’t you worry. Tomatoes are pretty much out of season, so I’m not surprised they weren’t totally crisp. The watermelon / goat cheese combo was great. My cousin and I were remarking that you normally see watermelon with feta, but this was an awesome change. I ❤ goat cheese. The poutine wasn’t EXACTLY poutine (which is normally fries with gravy and cheese curd) but it was awesome no matter what you call it. The duck liver added an awesome flavor to the gravy, and I didn’t mind melted cheese over cheese curd.
In typical Zimmerman family style, I also had a bite of everyone else’s entree. Mike has the rabbit cake with mashed sweet potatoes, apple butter, and brussel sprouts. He loved it, and so did my cousin John. My favorite part was the brussel sprouts 🙂 A couple people got the bacon cheeseburger, because it actually has the bacon meat ground in with the ground beef. I’m not normally a huge burger eater, but the bite I had was DIVINE.
Doug and his friend Dan shared the Pork Shank for Two entree. It was served with collards and grits (the boys ate very little of the collards and grits though. There was so much pork there to focus on). One of my favorite items was the side of macaroni and cheese that was shared around the table. It was made with smoked Gouda cheese, and it tasted kind of like bacon in the best way possible. It was so rich though, I think we all only took a couple bites!
Now for some group shots! My cousin Karen, her husband John, my mom and my dad!! Very exciting news too… Karen and John are expecting their first child this March!! We spent the entire meal telling her to eat whatever she wanted 🙂
The birthday boy and his bff Dan took their seats of honor at the head of the table. And shared and entree 🙂
And finally my cousin Ryan, his girlfriend Amanda, Mike (rocking his glasses after Ragnar) and me!
Finally it was time for the best part of any birthday celebration… DESSERT. I knew these desserts were going to be amazing because Doug’s friend Rory is ridiculously talented. We ordered four different options to share around the table. Everyone else was feeling really full, but thanks to my conservative ordering I was ready to go! First up was the banana cake that came with chocolate sauce, peanut butter ice cream and peanut brittle. I loved this dessert. Some around the table though the peanut butter flavor came through above the banana but PB/banana is one of my favorite combos so I loved it. You can just call me Elvis. We also had the housemade doughnut with ice cream and chocolate sauce. This was surprisingly good. I’m not normally a huge doughnut eater but with the chocolate sauce and ice cream it was kind of like a profiterole, which I love.
We also had the butterscotch pudding, which had brownie at the bottom and pecans on the top. This was hands down my favorite, favorite, favorite dessert. I never order butterscotch stuff, because I don’t normally really like it. In fact, I wouldn’t have ordered this if my mom hadn’t wanted it! But it was so unbelieably good… there are no words. It was a great texture and flavor. I was only upset I had to share with everyone. We also ordered a pie of the day (apple) at the request of the birthday boy, so we got a Happy Birthday message on his plate 🙂 I’m not an apple pie lover, but I did have a bite just to be fair. My dad and brother LOVED this one.
Everyone left the dinner with a big smile, a full belly, and a desire to go immediately to sleep! All in all I was pretty pleased too with how I felt after dinner. Normally I leave gatherings like this absolutely sick to my stomach from being so full. I definitely felt full but not in a bad way. It was the perfect Saturday night with great family and friends 🙂
Happy Birthday Douggie!! Here’s to another year of you being perfectly you!
Let me just take a moment for a quick blog milestone… yesterday POTR received a record number of page views! I don’t know if the blog is getting a little more popular or it was just an interesting subject but THANK YOU! I don’t really know exactly where I see this blog going long term. I started it because I love to write and I thought it would be fun… but if it turned into something bigger I would totally be cool with that. I’m not really doing anything to make that happen though. Maybe that will be my next goal. Who knows.
Anyways, onto the topic at hand. IT’S FRIDAY BABY! I’m about to cut loose in a fashion that would please even R Kelly
I am extra excited for this weekend because I will be traveling to Philadelphia this afternoon to spend the weekend with my long distance bestie Sarah! It is her birthday weekend… she’s turning the big 2-5 this weekend!!!!! First a quick summary of the weekend plans we have!
FRIDAY: Gigantic birthday dinner at La Virtu which looks amazing
SATURDAY: workout in the AM, a free day to spend just the two of us toodling around Philly, and then we are heading to Sumeria Philly Fall Gala! I got my party dress in my bag (ok I brought two). I haven’t been to something like this since I was in college so I am PUMPED.
SUNDAY: E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!!!!
Needless to say it’s going to be a great weekend. But this post is not just a weekend look ahead, it is also a BIG birthday tribute to this amazing girl I have the pleasure to call my best friend. Sarah is brilliant, driven, no nonsense and one of the coolest girls I know. But she is also hilarious, fun, caring, and supportive. So many of my best memories and favorite stories involve Sarah. Like the time that Sarah let me cut her nose ring out of her face the night before a big job interview with a pair of nail clippers (She got it pierced in India and not a single medical professional or tattoo artist in DC could get it out. Drastic measures had to be taken) And dancing down second street in South Philly in the Mummers Parade. And roadtrips to Southport, Georgetown basketball games, and so many more.
I know she is a lifelong friend (because I won’t let her get away no matter how hard she tries). Happy Birthday Sarah… I love you!!!!!!! The commemorate this big birthday, I have included some of my favorite pictures of us over the years.
and this is one of my favorite pictures of Sarah ever. St. Patty’s Day senior year of college. It is so “Sarah”… especially because she stole that hat from someone.