Cooky Cat Carrot Cat
Michele's Carrot Cake

When our friends David and Michele lived in Arizona they were members of the Scottsdale Community Garden Club. Eight acres on the grounds of the Scottsdale Community College, which is leased from the Pima Indian Reservation.

At the monthly garden club meetings there was a "hospitality" table with fresh brewed coffee and donated baked goods brought from home by the members. Michele was in charge of that and she would also bake a specialty or two every time. One of the favorites was this carrot cake.

This carrot cake has some secret ingredients that add a lot of interest; specifically, dates, pineapple, and pecans. We guarantee this is a tried and true crowd pleaser.

Michele's Carrot Cake

For the batter:

Mix together . . . (then set aside)

     2  1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
     2 tsp. Baking Soda
     1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
     1 tsp. Ground Ginger
     1/2 tsp. Salt

Mix together . . . (Separately)

     1 cup finely chopped Dates (to the size of raisins)
          TIP: Chop dates in food processor, but toss with 1/2 cup from above portion of flour to prevent clumping.
     1 1/2 Cups finely grated Carrots
     1 Cup medium chopped Pecans
     1 Cup / 8 oz. can  Crushed Pineapple (drained well)

Blend together . . .

     3/4 Cups neutral flavor Vegetable Oil
     2 Cups firmly packed Light Brown Sugar

Next Add
     4 Egg Yolks, one at a time

After well combined, incorporate
     1 tsp. Vanilla

Next add
     Flour Mixture, alternating small portions with
     1 Cup Buttermilk in small portions

Stir in
     Carrot/Date/Pineapple/Pecan mixture

     4 Egg Whites to stiff peaks

Fold egg whites into the batter

Divide Completed Batter
     3 - 9" Round Baking Pans

     Preheated 350° F. Oven
     25 - 30 Minutes (or longer, until inserted knife draws out cleanly)

For the Icing:

Beat together . . .
     8 oz. Plain Cream Cheese (1 standard package)
     1/4 lb. (1 stick) good Unsalted/Sweet Butter (softened)

Next add . . .  
1 Cup Confectioners Sugar

Stir in . . .    
     1/2 Cup Crushed Pineapple (drained well)
     1 Cup Chopped Pecans (small)


After cake is cooled . . .
Spread frosting (lightly) between layers and outside, top and sides

Cooky Cat Dinnerware
Cooky Cat Dinnerware
(This Cat Integrates and Synergizes!)

Who doesn't have a fantasy of owning a restaurant. Owning, as opposed to running the thing on a day to day basis. The former is the dream. The latter, as in the reality, is a grind by any measure and is best left to those steeped in working in food service since day one or those who simply MUST do their own thang. We'll leave the whole matter in the realm of fantasy.

Our friend David Wronski imagines a "Dave's Chuck Wagon" some day. We are thinking our place would be "Cooky Cat's." It's sort of like, "Joe's" or "Tom's Lunch." Simple and direct. No marketing spin. The name says it all. OK, maybe not now, but Lawrence Welk didn't start out as a big name either. Give it time. You can say you knew Cooky Cat, when.

Naming a fantasy restaurant is our favorite sport. But, we are totally turned off by any restaurant name with the word "Cuisine" in it. "All You Can Eat" probably tops the won't-ever-go-in-there list. Or, "Ristorante." OK, we get it, it's upscale Itralian. Or, is it? It just as easily could be merely a set of letters outside on the awning, and the guys in the kitchen are wage slaves grinding it out from some written recipe instructions. Or, any restaurant with some cutsey-poo or concocted name that is supposed to conjure dramatic nostalgic associations. Like, "Mother's Kitchen." We wouldn't name the place that unless there was a real mother cooking the kitchen; and, we don't mean some gravel gurdy who happens to be a mother so it passes on "legal" grounds. As in, "Hey, you call this mother's cooking?" "Well, sir, it was cooked by a mother." There are mothers and there are mothers.

Buffalo China, (Working People Series, 1976-1987) by Milton Rogovin (1909-)

That was a small diversionary rant. This is really about plates, folks. You know those china plates you can still see at some die-hard diners? Heavy (as in HEAVY DUTY) thick tableware designed for years of service and tough enough to take rough handling. The kind of plates that when you warm them they stay warm. You know, bone white with a thin color stripe in blue, green, or red; or beige (you say "beige", we say "ecru") with a chocolate brown stripe. Also, sometimes customized with the restaurant's name or with a proprietary logo. Made in the U.S.A. by such names as Shenango and Buffalo. One look at that stuff and you get a sense of what "Made in America" really means: sturdy, direct, funtional, lasting. At least, that's what it used to mean.

Cooky Cat has his own thoughts about what his tableware for his dream restaurant would look like. Now don't let's all get worked up and start sending requests the way you did for that other thing. It's just for the restaurant, so you would have to steal some to get your own. But, it's just a fantasy, remember, so wake up and smell the coffee.

Maybe a nice piece of sour cherry pie with a lattice crust served on any one (it'll be a surprise after you've finished the pie) of Cooky Cat's exclusive designs.