Cake, cocktails, and other long weekend adventures

We’ve had a friend over from the UK for the last two weeks, and it’s been such a fun time!  It’s so nice to have longer visits with faraway friends.  It’s also given us a chance to cook, bake and mix some extra yummy things and do some sight seeing that we might have otherwise missed.

On Saturday, I made Craig Claibourne’s Smothered Chicken for dinner.  It was my second time making it, and I have to say I really love the recipe.  It’s so simple, yet so delicious (and spatchcocking a chicken is always fun!)  I didn’t snap any pictures, unfortunately, but made the recipe as directed, except I put a splash of white wine in when making the gravy, as suggested in the recipe’s comments.  Served with some very fresh green beans and roasted potatoes, it was delicious.

As delicious as dinner was, I was even more excited about dessert.  I love carrot cake and not just because it’s a vehicle for cream cheese icing.  But I don’t have a go-to recipe.  So I tried out Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Graham Cake recipe, and I really don’t think I’ll ever need to try another recipe again.

It’s a three layer cake, so each layer is on the thin side. I was bit worried when I put the batter in the pan (will that little bit of batter really become a cake layer?!), but I should have known not to question Deb!   It was delicious.  The cake layers were tender, moist, and perfectly spiced.  And the frosting to cake ratio was perfection!  I think three thinner layers, as opposed to two bigger ones, is the way to go from here on out.   If you’re into carrot cake (or even if you’re not!), I suggest you make this ASAP!

On Friday night, we’d headed to a local BBQ and cocktail joint, and, as a result of a drink mix up, got a delicious cocktail I’d never tried before.  The restaurant called it a Commodore 64, but a little internet sleuthing suggested it was pretty similar to a Ward 8, a Gilded Age cocktail that was, apparently, also named Cocktail of the Year by Esquire in 1934.   We mixed some up last night with our visitor (and served in the most adorable glasses she got us!), and it’ll definitely be going in the rotation.  It’s citrusy and delicious …  a perfect warm weather drink. (Recipe at the end of the post!)

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On Sunday, we headed to DC for the day and went to the WONDER Exhibit at the Renwick Gallery.  It was just fantastic.  Each room had a site-specific art installation out of unusual materials.  Wandering around them was so much fun. Some of the upstairs gallery had already closed, but I was glad to get to see the ones that remained open — especially since I’d heard so much about them.  The gorgeous colors and textures were really inspiring for thinking about knitting … especially as I’d just read this post by Felicity Ford about finding inspiration for colorwork in the world around you.  Here were a few of my favorite pictures from our visit:

Sculpted from willow branches!
Can you believe this is from cotton thread?


Made from index cards!
Another especially inspiring exhibit for fiber lovers!


I couldn’t get enough of the textures created by using old tires.


And, to leave off with a little teeny bit of knitting, here are some socks I’ve just started with my new Marigoldjen yarn … toe up, two at a time, on two circs: my favorite way to make socks!

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Happy Tuesday!

Ward 8

  • 2 oz rye whiskey (we used Pikesville’s Straight Rye Whiskey)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1 TSP grenadine
  • Few dashes grapefruit bitters (optional – I had them and thought they’d go nicely)

Shake all ingredients in cocktail shaker.  Pour into tall glasses with ice, finish with club soda.  Easy peasy!







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