By the time this post goes live, I will be in the middle of no where in Vermont, most likely freezing and huddled over a campfire, stirring something warm and sweet. My phone and computer will literally be held captive by my father in Connecticut. And most likely I will have spent the weekend breathing deeply, doing yoga on boulders, racing ATVs through the trails, and watching my city pup scamper amongst the trees.
Meanwhile, back in New York City, my dear friend Ruark will be turning 31 years old.
I’ve known Ruark for 12 years now: for over 8 of those years we were an item. In a stroke of divine blessing, we have remained incredibly close since breaking up 2 years ago when I chose to move to Cincinnati for a year to work, a split we both desired. Because of the distance, we were able to comfort each other through the breakup, through my living in a new city, through our apartment being a tad emptier without me. He visited me once out there, and every time I flew home (8 times I believe), I saw him. His father lives in Cincinnati, and it was comforting to have this friend and father-figure so close by.
We were tight with each other’s families: I learned how to make scones from his father, pie crust from his Auntie, and his mother’s gingerbread is one of the best things I have ever tasted. They gave me my Kitchenaid and countless beautiful platters and pie plates and tablecloths and things our 20-something selves couldn’t afford. Ruark is an incredible cook, spotless in his technique, and between the two of us we ate very well and threw some incredible parties. He makes one of the best meat sauces I have ever tasted. We both still marvel at how much we love duck.
On top of that, Ruark and I have seen each other through so many ups and downs, one taking care of the other as needed. To the point now that we still support each other in new relationships, in new work endeavors, and will drop any doubt or judgment when one of us says to the other “I just really need you to be my friend on this right now”.
Talk about lucky.
Whenever I come to Ruark with a revelation – in this case how I don’t really know how to relax anymore – he’ll usually point out, “Jax, you’ve always been this way. Remember when…”.
When I first set eyes on him, my first few days in college, I knew our relationship would be something special. But I never thought that over a decade later I could know someone so well, or love a friend so much.
Happy Birthday, Ruark. You’re something beyond special.
Carrot Cake Balls
This recipe is adapted from Best of the Best from New England Cookbook. Eaters were a huge fan of the flavor, but the cake completely crumbled when I eased it from the pans. Hence why one half was salvaged and given to my Poppa for his birthday and the other smushed into cake balls for Ruark’s. Because of the crumbliness it worked well, but the high amount of oil wasn’t a huge yay factor for me. I had thought white chocolate would be a better match (I can’t eat it so I don’t really know), but my roommate and Ruark both confirmed that dark would be the best way to go, grounding the sweetness in the cake itself. I’m putting the recipe up as I think it’s a great one for experienced bakers to look at and adapt. I hope if you make it you’ll come back with tips for me!
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white, beaten well
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 2/3 cup arrowroot flour
- 1/2 cup millet flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
- 1 recipe cream cheese frosting
- dark and white chocolate for dipping, decorations as desired
Preheat oven to 325° and grease 2 9-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, mix vegetable oil and sugar and beat well on high, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat to combine.
Sift all dry ingredients, and add to the wet mixture.
Fold in the raisins and carrots.
Pour into pans and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool completely, then mix with 1 cup vegan cream cheese frosting. Leave in fridge overnight to chill.
When ready to assemble, roll into 1-inch balls and place on wax paper lined baking sheets. Freeze for one hour to firm.
Melt chocolate slowly over a double boiler and quickly roll all cake balls in chocolate, setting back on sheets to firm.