As Easter approaches rabbits can be seen everywhere. This one, along with a variety of other concrete rabbits, sits in my back yard. There are also a great many rabbits to be found on store shelves. The seasonal aisle of the grocery store is practically bursting with bunnies. Soft little stuffed bunnies, huge blow-up lawn bunnies, baskets with bunnies and lots of milk and dark chocolate bunnies, hollow, solid or filled with marshmallow or peanut butter.
Though all of these rabbits are quite evidently on display and easy enough to see they remind me of the invisible rabbit in the movie "Harvey" and make me smile.
This movie, released in 1950, remains a wonderfully charming classic. It stars Jimmy Stewart as Elwood, an eccentric and sweet-natured character who has an invisible six foot three and half inch rabbit as a friend. This rabbit is not just your typical run-of-the-mill imaginary friend. He is a pooka, a legendary, and rather mischievous, spirit who takes on animal form to those who can perceive him. He is Elwood's companion and Elwood speaks to him and treats him with great courtesy, to the utter dismay and embarrassment of his family. At wit's end, they decide to have Elwood committed.
Comedy and chaos ensue, throughout which Elwood remains persistently calm and cheerful. He looks at the world with wonder and keeps a smile on his face throughout misunderstandings and betrayal. Asked by Doctor Chumley, "Good Heavens, man! Haven't you any righteous indignation?"
Elwood calmly replies, " Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."
In the end Elwood earns the confidence and acceptance of those around him. That accomplished, Elwood invites Harvey to travel on with another needy soul.
It is a charming movie and a great piece of light, yet meaningful, entertainment. There are many more wonderful quotes from the movie and a good bit of wisdom in the script by Mary Chase and Oscar Brodney. I recommend watching it this season.
A Cake to Celebrate
And while we are on the subject of rabbits, why not make a carrot cake to entice all of your carrot lovers to show themselves openly. This cake is simple to make in a 9 x 13 inch pan. What's more, it is a real treat and with four cups of carrots it might even be considered a vegetable dish. At the very least, it makes a great spring dessert.
This particular recipe made its way into my kitchen file several years ago when I searched for a carrot cake recipe to use in my 25th anniversary cake. Remembering that I wasn't crazy about my original wedding cake I decided to celebrate my anniversary by making a cake I would have been happy to serve at my wedding. I made a cake three tiers tall. One was made from a traditional Italian Wedding Cake recipe, one was made from a wonderful Decadent Fudge Cake recipe and the third was made from this Carrot Cake recipe. I was quite happy with the way it turned out!
I found the Carrot Cake recipe I used at Epicurious.com. I like the simplicity of the recipe. It relies on carrots, walnuts and spices for flavor, leaving out the sticky sweetness of pineapple and raisins that many carrot cakes include. It has changed ever so slightly somewhere over the past five years as I adapted it from a layered cake with a creamy filling to a rectangular 13 x 9 inch cake to serve for potlucks and family dinners.
The next time I make it I think I will top the cake with the whimsical Marzipan Carrots The Recipe Girl posted about recently. They look so real, down to a brush of cocoa powder "dirt" to give them that "fresh-picked" look.
adapted from Epicurious
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or try 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups finely grated peeled carrots
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Grease and flour a 13x9x2 inch baking pan, or two 9-in round baking pans. In the bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add carrots, oil and eggs. Mix at low speed until moistened, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool thoroughly on wire rack.
Frost with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Continue beating until well blended.
Refrigerate until the frosting reaches a consistency desirable for spreading, approximately 30 minutes.