Anyone else ever had that moment where you think you may have killed your dinner guests? Asking for a friend….and that friend is me. While I pride myself on throwing a fabulous dinner party – the meat is not my forte. I’ve made it to my 30th year with a good track record, but my most recent dinner party scared the bejesus out of me. The risotto, salad, roasted broccoli, and carrot cake were on the table and reliable Libby standbys.
I decided to make Ina’s cast iron lemon chicken that I’ve made a few times before without any problems. The last two times I ‘cheated’ and purchased the chicken already cut instead of butterflying the chicken myself. To save a few bucks, I purchased the whole chicken this time, nearly cut my hand off, and butterflied the little guy. Our friends arrived shortly after; no one set a timer, I didn’t let the oven preheat, and my mind was occupied with everything else.
As soon as the prosciutto and cheese plate dwindled, we checked the chicken – it had a nice crisp skin and the middle was white. I announced that the ‘juices run clear’ because I heard that on the Food Network at one point in my youth.
As we’re enjoying ourselves I notice that someone had taken the leg, which was pink and basically raw. I had a moment where I contemplated yelling across the dinner table, “DON’T EAT THE CHICKEN,” but I assumed I was overreacting. As we cleaned up later that night, we inspected the chicken remnants and I was terrified that I had killed our friends. Fast forward to the next week and everyone was fine.
Why do I share this? Because I am by no means perfect and it also encouraged me to finally purchase a digital meat thermometer for $10. Everyone should have one and this should prevent any future meat debacles. My attorney boyfriend made sure to remind me that post remedial measures do not remedy the actual incident – I am still guilty of not being on my A game.
We celebrated what would have been Denver’s 30th birthday that night. It wasn’t until I got to my desk at work that morning that the date dawned on me. It’s the second birthday we’ve had without her and I am not sure it gets any easier. Nick and I placed two candles in the carrot cake later that night, blew out the candles, and made Denver worthy wishes for the future.
This weekend I caught up on my books and just happened to open the page of Shauna Niequist’s book, Savor, to an entry about ‘What Might Have Been.’ Dates can be happy and they can be sad. I’ll celebrate Denver everyday, but certain dates serve as a constant reminder to be a little more thankful and a little kinder. Here’s the excerpt:
“If you’ve been marked by what might have been, you don’t forget. You know the day, the years. You know when the baby would have been born. You know exactly what anniversary you’d be celebrating, if the wedding had happened. You know exactly how old she’d be right now, if she were still alive. You’ll never forget the last time you saw your child, or the last time cancer was a word about someone else’s life, or the day that changed absolutely everything. It makes the calendar feel like a minefield, like you’re constantly tiptoeing over explosions of grief until one day you hit one, shattered by what might have been.”
The carrot cake was also in celebration of my friend Ali, whose birthday was the next day. I packaged up a few slices and placed it in a large purse to smuggle into the bars. We ended up at Salt on Mass Ave and to my surprise, our server was nice enough to plate the cake and light the candles for Ali. It was a fun night with great friends. The last time I went to Salt was the night of the accident, so it was good to get over my fears and go back. And I discovered that their roasted brussel sprouts have a generous portion of bacon, if you’re into that kind of thing.
The recipe is via Smitten Kitchen and it’s the ideal carrot cake recipe, in my opinion. I added a few leftover pineapple cubes that I had on hand, but I am not a raisin-in-my-carrot-cake-person. At some point, it becomes a glorified frosted fruitcake. I also only put nuts on the top of the cake as a decoration. I left it ‘naked’ by not frosting the outside, only the layers and the top. It’s healthier that way….
Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Graham Layer Cake recipe can be found here.
Carrot cake always reminds me of my Dad and Easter, both of which make me very happy. My dad turned 68 this week and I am thankful for him every day. He’s the one I can always count on and no matter what, he has my back.
And now for your random: Kaffeine Coffee is a little hidden gem in downtown Indy. For the longest time, I had no idea where it was (it’s behind Circa apartments off Mass Ave). The old warehouse has been transformed into a hipster paradise, complete with coffee drinks you’ll have to Google to figure out what is in it. The wi-fi is good, the vibe is fun, and I could sit there all day. How could you not love a place with a giant map on the wall and fun tiles that spell out ‘COFFEE INSIDE?’