Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Return of the Carrot Cake

I have history with carrot cake. It goes back to March 2005. My father in law was in a rehabilitation center and part of his therapy was to attend cooking classes. One day, while at our house, he gave me the recipe from that week’s class. Then he decided we should make it together. It was carrot cake.

Little did I know what that would start. You can read the carrot cake story here. A few days later my father in law, Vic, passed away.

Long before I retired I decided I would return to that center and volunteer. I had two ideas in mind – story telling and helping in the cooking class. I will be doing the story telling but the cooking class was assigned to me.

It only seemed right that the first thing we made was carrot cake. The residents in the class were happy to see me. Many of them told me they liked the cooking class but it stopped awhile back and they didn’t know why. Thirty people showed up, eight were assigned to be my helpers. They would help with the measuring, stirring, and mixing.

At the start of class, I did get nervous. Looking out at thirty people, I suddenly realized, I have never done anything like this. Instead of getting too nervous about it I decided the best thing to do was just start and see where it took us. It worked. It's a lot like having your own cooking show on the food network - with the exception that the audience helps measure and mix everything and then half of them fall asleep until it's time to eat. We measured, we mixed, we stirred, and finally the cake was ready to be put in the oven. Suddenly, a baked cake magically appeared and when I announced it was time to make the cream cheese frosting every eye in the room lit up. I have never seen that many people smile in unison. Frosting does that to people.

We made the frosting and applied it to the cake. Then I asked the question, “You know the best part about making a cake?” As if they had a teleprompter, eight people said, “Eating it!” And that is what we did.

I asked them how it came out. One lady gave me a thumbs up. Another resident started to clap and told me if she could stand up it would be a standing ovation. One person told me I was a master chef. The best comment of the day was, "I don't want to be too critical but . . . we never get anything this good in the dining room."

Leaving the center I glanced towards Heaven. Somehow, I felt my father in law, Vic, would be eating carrot cake in Heaven tonight.


Blogger Lanny said...

What a wonderful thing to do! A great way to connect with people eh? What will be your next food adventure?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Live Well, Laugh Often and Love Much said...

Seems to be that there is always a great story that stems from Carrot Cake! This is going to be a fun adventure for you and all us bloggers. They only thing I am afraid of, is that these innocent people have no clue what they are in for … God help them!
Fabulous Post !

8:02 AM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

What a beautiful thing to do!! You have a kind heart and all of those people certainly appreciated your time and your wonderful treat.
Thanks for sharing your story.
I love it.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Lanny said...

Hey,just to let you know, the Colorado Arbor Day date has been added to the list of potential party dates and we'll be servin' Colorado Carrot Cake! (Anything special about your recipe?)

11:23 AM  
Blogger bobbie said...

Great story, Ralph.
And yes, Lanny, the special thing about his cake is love and caring.

1:13 PM  
Blogger EV said...

You received standing applause here, Ralph! Ya done good .... nice job.

4:58 PM  
Blogger nora said...

cake and volunteering - two of my favorite things!

6:23 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

I'd heard the live phone-chef version Ralph but this was better.
Great post.
Yeah, Vic is eatin cake.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Left as an "unknown" the term carrot cake just doesn't sound right. But your story proves it is a delight. I love it as well but it took years for me to even try a bite of carrot cake. Thankfully the first one I tasted was good. Later I was introduced to creations that were not quality. I learned you have to know your carrot cake baker well and trust them.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Paul Nichols said...

Aw, Ralph...this is the best blogger post in the history of blogging. You're the man! What a great thing to do.

Can you e-mail me Vic's recipe?

4:19 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well, that is just wonderful Ralph!! A cooking class!! How fun!! What a blessing to you and to them!! Plus you get to eat the food!!

Our Assisted Living places here have really good food. I have been to several "Senior Friends" dinners/parties, plus some other lunches there, and it's good. A cooking class is a good idea if there are enough folks for it!! You had a good crowd!

I'll be curious to see what you come up with for your next "show!"

8:37 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Cliff, this is the best. You really made a hit over there. Now can you top this for another lesson? I know they are wanting one.

Before you said " like having your own cooking show on the food network" I was thinking that you should be on the Letterman Show. Dave would help you and he is old. :)

Adi and I visit, we have it easier, we don't have to cook. You might want to think about getting you a therapy dog to visit with when you tire of teaching and go into retirement again.

11:42 PM  

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