Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Garden Shawl and Carrot Cake Recipe

We are back from Israel and had an amazing time!  I am definitely going to share some pictures and talk about our experiences and I'll even share a regionally inspired vegetarian dinner recipe (that I know you will love!). However the task of reviewing the pictures is daunting and I am still recovering from jet lag so in the meantime I want to share a project that I finished before we went on our great adventure that is perfect for summer.

This is decidedly a summer shawl and, as a result, not what I would call super versatile.  Principally because of the pastelly speckled yarn color that I chose.  It is, however, the perfect accessory for a summer garden tea party! If you like that kind of thing. And I do.  I should explain that I have a very loose definition of a garden tea party. For me a garden tea party simply requires a spot in your garden where one can sit and enjoy a large pot of tea and a scrumptious treat.  It's an appreciation that I acquired growing up in a household where every afternoon my mother served an English tea.  For those of you not as familiar with this quintessential English tradition and might need some help I have shared below a simple carrot cake recipe that would make an ideal treat and for tips on brewing a proper cup of tea I refer you to my post Put the Kettle On ~ It's Time for Tea.  Now all you require is a garden.

On a different note, it's hard to believe that it's already creeping toward mid-July.  Am I the only one who sees July 4th as the end of summer instead of the beginning?  I think it's the knitters' mindset to always be thinking a season ahead.  And there are a lot of hot long days ahead before fall arrives here in Southern California.  Yet from now until Thanksgiving all I'll want to knit are fall projects. Despite the fact that the window for wearing fall projects is like a month long because it won't cool down here until November.  Does anyone see anything wrong with this scenario?

But enough grousing about the long hot summer.  Instead I shall discuss this shawl in a little more detail.  It's hard to see in the photos but the dark blue edging decidedly rolls up.  This is a factor of its being knit in a very light weight and lofty yarn better suited to a smaller needle and also because I deliberately encouraged the rolling effect in the blocking process.  Why would I do that you wonder. Because I think a softer flouncy edge makes the shawl more appealing. Snicker.  Using the word "flounce" always makes me laugh because it reminds me of the time (many years ago) that an opposing lawyer told me that they had seen me earlier "flouncing" about the courthouse.  Apparently I still like to flounce about.  In any event I rarely block a shawl exactly as the designer suggests and for more tips on creative blocking I refer you to my Lunna Voe post.

Particulars:  Whippoorwill Shawl, designed by Carina Spencer; US 6 needles; Main color: 2 skeins GarnStories Merino Sox 465 yrds 75% merino 25% polymide (colorway KarmaKoma (at least that is what I think is written on the label)); contrasting color is Sundara Merino Fingering (dark blue).  I knit the large size and used only a small amount of my second skein in the main colorway and I definitely have enough left over for a pair of socks.  Although this is a pretty thin yarn at 465 yrds/ 100 grams.  But then again it does have 25% polymide so perhaps....

And a bit about my garden.  We live on top of an arid mountain so I don't have a lush garden.  But I have found a few plants that do well including the pink (and red) flowers seen in the top pictures. They are Dipadenia which are very hardy, climbing, and prolific bloomers and my favorite container plant.  The small birdhouse in the above photo is a fun and easy crafting project that I painted a few years ago (I purchased the unfinished birdhouse from Michael's) and is featured in this post.

Carrot Cake Recipe ~

I absolutely love carrot cake and you will love it too if you use this recipe!  It makes a light, not oily or overly sweet cake and I think it's the perfect treat to enjoy this summer with a cup of tea in your garden or to serve at a garden tea party. The recipe makes a single layer 8 inch cake and is an adaption of Jenny Keller's 3 layer carrot cake recipe.  I often bake just for myself and a 3 layer cake is simply more cake than I need.  I've also changed the frosting to a lemon butter cream instead of cream cheese and made a few other small changes to the cake ingredients to better suit my tastes. It is a winner no matter how you slice it and I'm sure the original recipe for a larger gathering would be a huge hit too.

Carrot Cake Recipe
~ yield ~ single layer 8 inch cake

Cake Ingredients:

4 oz. crushed pineapple
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup grape seed oil
2 eggs
1 cup grated raw carrot (peeled)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sifted confectionery sugar
1/2 cup sweet butter (room temperature)
1 tsp lemon extract or oil
1 Tbs or less whole milk
Pinch table salt

optional garnish with chopped pecans

Cake Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare 8 inch x 3 inch cake pan (you can probably use an 8 x 2 inch pan in a pinch) by greasing well with butter. Line cake pan bottom with a cake liner or make a cake liner by placing cake pan on a sheet of parchment paper and tracing around base to make a template.  Cut out round template and use as your cake pan liner.

2.  Drain pineapple through sieve using back of a spoon and measure by weight (I used a generous 4 ozs of the pineapple meaning that I tossed in an extra tablespoon after measuring by weight 4 oz); grate carrots and chop pecans and set these ingredients to the side.

3.    In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugars (white and brown).  Then add grape seed oil, and eggs.  Mix well using an electric mixer.

4.  Remove bowl from mixer and using a spoon stir in carrots, pineapple, and pecans and stir until well incorporated.

5.  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes or until cake tester comes away clean.
Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then using a knife loosen the cake from the pan edges.  Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost when completely cool.

Adapted from Jenny Keller's ~ Best Carrot Cake Ever

Frosting Steps ~


1.  Beat sweet butter until light and fluffy.

2.  Add sifted confectionery sugar, lemon extract, and a pinch of salt and beat until well combined.

3.  Add a small amount of milk (a teaspoon or two but no more than a tablespoon) and beat until desired consistency.

4.  Using a table knife frost cake after it has cooled to room temperature.  You will have enough frosting to frost the side as well as the top or just the top as I have with some left over.

6.  Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.

Frosted cake keeps well at room temperature for 24 hours and then refrigerate.

Until next time be well, love well and take time to enjoy your garden this summer and maybe throw yourself a garden tea party!