Arkansas Everywhere: But is love in it?

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) –  The THV11 Digital Team is made up of five individuals who grew up in different parts of the state.  "Arkansas Everywhere" is all about living and doing in the state we call home.

Ever since I can remember, my siblings and I have rated how good a meal is based on how much love was put into it. I can't tell you how the rating system started or how one is supposed measure the amount of love that goes into a dish, but we knew love when we tasted it.

My mother said she never understood our rating system until Dad brought home a cherry pie from Ohio a few years ago. She told us the baker had skimped on cherries, and the whole dessert just tasted like the person who made it didn't care about the task at hand.

Good food has always been the cornerstone of our family functions and the language we use to show others we care. We welcome loved ones into our homes and fill their stomachs with a meal made from scratch. From chicken and dumplings to barbecue, every dish is put together with a dash of pride and a pinch of thought. Anything we feel is even remotely sub-par has likely been squirreled away out of view.

Among the many excellent cooks in my family, my mother and grandmother have become what I personally consider legends. Maybe it's the way other family members dote on their creations, or maybe it's my own belief, but one thing is certain – love is served in their kitchens.

The catfish is served in abundance, the cole slaw is always just right, jars of homemade condiments line the center of the table, and cakes and pies cover the buffet. Guests give each other their undivided attention as they share the latest family news, crack a few jokes, compliment the cook, and repeat a few stories that never get old.

Photo gallery link: http://on.kthv.com/1T0doRV

I grew up watching my mother as she made nightly meals for her family of five, threw together hot lunches for my father's farm hands without batting an eyelash, and carefully crafted beautifully decorated cakes and cookies with nothing but butter cream and her own creativity. (Our carrot cake recipe can be found below.)

Coming close to what my mother serves at her dinner table has taken several years of practice, and I still have a long way to go, but knowing that I'm a link in the chain of women who have been passing down the same recipes for generations gives me joy. In turn, I hope to pass them down to my daughter, who has recently completed her first lesson –holding a spoon.

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CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Cake:

2 cup plain flour

2 cup white sugar

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

4 eggs

1 cup oil or melted butter

3-4 cups grated carrots

½ cup chopped toasted pecans (Maybe more if you like.)

Stir together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, spice, baking soda). In separate bowl, beat eggs until frothy and slowly add in oil. Beat in flour mixture until smooth. Add carrots and nuts to batter. Pour batter into greased cake pan and bake at 350 for half an hour or until tooth pick inserted into cake comes out clean and cake is pulling from the sides of the pan.

Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese

½ stick butter

4 ½ cup powdered sugar

Splash of milk

2 tsp. vanilla

Blend butter and cream cheese together, and beat in powdered sugar small amounts at a time. Add a splash of milk (Beginners can do this one tablespoon at a time) to make the frosting spreadable. Add vanilla.

Garnishing option: Sprinkle finished cake with chopped pecans


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