Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review – End of a Decade

Henry is 1 today.  It’s a perfect birthday.  Every New Year, he starts off with a perfectly clean slate.  It’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful year.  I do have to remind myself, however, that it’s also the end of a decade.  It was the first full decade of my adulthood, when we all experienced a major tragedy – September 11, 2001.

Last week, on our drive to Milwaukee, Chris listened to NPR as Henry and I dozed off.  I awoke to a recorded radio broadcast of the 9/11 attacks.  The broadcast instantly brought me back to Columbia University.  I had a morning class, and returned to my room without getting wind of the attacks, although there was a smell of burnt rubber in the air.  It still gives me the chills remembering that my Dad had a work lunch scheduled at the Windows of the World in the Twin Towers that day.  The lunch was cancelled at the last minute, and on 9/10 he left the country on the same flight that was hijacked and ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania.  He dodged two bullets that day, and so did I.  If my father had died on 9/11 my path would’ve changed drastically.  He was the one who encouraged me to apply to the law school where I met my Chris.  It’s hard to imagine where I might be if things hadn’t worked out for my Dad.   
This year has passed by so quickly.  I’m so glad I sat down and organized a picture memory book of Henry’s first year.  For parents especially, time passes in a flash.  I know that if I don’t sit back and remember every year, I’ll wake up one day grey haired, wrinkled, blind, toothless, shrunk down, and hunch backed and wonder where the time went. 

Henry had his first birthday cake last night -- carrot cake with cream cheese icing.  E and I made it from scratch, and she decorated it.  We had dinner at Chicago Kalbi, and he gobbled up his dumplings, beef, chicken, shrimp and rice.

Carrot Cake Recipe -- most recipes call for vegetable oil, but E prefers to use butter.  YUM!
3 Sticks, plus 1 T unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
4 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Icing
3 8 oz packs of cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1 pound) box confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.
  • For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pecans.
  • When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake and let harden slightly before serving.

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