Drowsy Water

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cabin Fever RX: Carrot Cake at Drowsy Water Ranch

The long winter starts getting to me right about now every year. I start getting sick of layering up sweaters and socks to go outside. I start wishing for beaches and sunshine and little paper umbrellas floating in cool, brightly colored drinks.

Lucky for me, we have the perfect prescription here at Drowsy Water Ranch. We share this little secret with our family and friends each summer at our Colorado Dude Ranch. It cures my dreams of islands and my addiction to saltwater.

I'm going to share our cure with you; I'm going to show you how we make our mouth-watering carrot cake. And, let me tell you, this Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake does it all: it warms the belly and the soul, ridding you of any winter time blahs. . .(or any time of year blahs. . .I'm pretty sure I could come up with a darn good reason to eat this stuff any day of the year).

The recipe is actually from the mother of Mark Hammar. Mark worked at the ranch for years and years and was like a big brother to Justin. Mark told me that, one time when he was watching young Justin while Ken and Randy Sue were away, he asked Justin to go choose a book to read before bed. You want to know what the seven-year-old version of my husband brought back? A tractor manual. What a weirdo. He still reads tractor manuals for kicks.

Anyways, thanks to Mark's mother for a wonderful recipe that has been used and enjoyed at Drowsy Water Ranch time and time again.
Back to the cake. . .The best part of this particular carrot cake baking episode was that Jen and Lauren came over to help. We shared a few cups of hot tea, laughs as plentiful as the snowflakes, and smiles as warm as our Colorado sunshine. (okay--that was super corny--but it's true!) We missed Ryan, who is back at school, and you will probably miss Ryan too when you see how unprofessional our photos became without him.

First, we gathered all our goods. We have carrots, of course, and eggs, oil, flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, walnuts, and the secret weapons: coconut and pineapple. Then we all got started on cake related jobs.

Jen shredded and cooked the carrots. Yes, cooked them. That is also secret weapon material: cooked carrots. The carrot flavor is sweeter that way.
And, just to reemphasize my point from the Cowboy Cookie entry about not being able to stop yourself from laughing hysterically while someone is taking photos of your hands, check out how funny those silly carrots are to Jen.
And, geez, mixing all those dry ingredients is hilarious. Or at least it is to Lauren! Wha-ha-ha-ha! (evil cackle!) Cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking soda must make a funny combination.

Surprisingly, I was dealing with those initial "wet" ingredients:
the eggs, vanilla, oil, etc. And somehow, my face didn't make it into the shot. Guess I can't make fun of myself. What a bummer. (Note: if I was the seven year old version of myself, I would have entered a big "NOT!!" after the word bummer, but I am way more mature than that now.)
Then, to the wet ingredients, we added those secret, winter-blues-beating weapons: the coconut, the pineapple, and the cooked carrots.

We added the flour mix to the island dream mixture, and then Jen "accidentally" threw her hand into the bowl before "accidentally" thrusting her finger towards her tongue. Wha-ha-ha-ha! (Darn that evil cackle!)
We poured the batter into a cake pan, then baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. While we waited for our creation to solidify, we gathered ourselves and tried to relax our aching sides with a couple cups of tea.

Finally, the timer beeped and we all sighed and stared fondly as we removed our newest golden- brown creation from the oven.
Then we got going on the next delicious chore: the cream cheese frosting. This little concoction of cheese, butter, and sugar is what make the cake just send us over the edge right into palm tree themed paradise.

At last, taste testing time is here. Our mouths watered. Our taste buds swelled. And, alas, our hearts sang.

Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake
1 1/2 C. flour
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. cooked shredded carrots
2/3 C. oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 C. shredded coconut
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl. In separate bowl combine carrots, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, beat well. Stir in pineapple, coconut, and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. powdered sugar

Blend cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Famous and Delicious DWR Cowboy Cookie

Today, we're going to discuss a very serious Drowsy Water Ranch topic.

It's something that Drowsy Water Ranch guests go home talking about and something that the staff worships.

It's big. Really big. It's round, it's crunchy and gooey, it's full of chocolate, and, a few hours into an all-day trip atop your trusty, four-hoofed steed, it's all you can think about.

Those of you that have been a guest with us or have worked with us know what I'm referring to:

The Famous and Delicious Drowsy Water Ranch Cowboy Cookie!
Yep, so much for your New Year's diet. We decided it'd been too many months since we'd had one and we NEEDED one. So, Lauren and I got together to make some cookies. And we made Ryan come down too to be the official photographer. Lauren and I had a ball. Ryan took great pictures, but I'm pretty darn sure that he was sick of us giggling broads by the end of the photo shoot.

Before I get started giving you instructions to make your very own cowboy cookies, I want to point out that Lauren and I were inspired for this by our hero--The Pioneer Woman. I could talk about her for hours, but in short--she's a city girl that married a cowboy, has four kids, home-schools her kids, cooks delicious food, has a veggie garden, has a beautiful ranch house, takes amazing photos and, somehow, she has time to have a well-organized, witty, beautiful blog about it all.

Lauren and I love her. We wish we could be her. We almost got to talk to her once. Yep, we did. Lauren, Peyton and I drove clear down to Denver for her cookbook release signing. We anticipated the event being sort of low-key. In our vision, we'd walk into the bookstore, find the Pioneer Woman in some obscure back corner of the bookstore, and sit down and have a 30 minute conversation with her. We'd laugh and talk about ranch life and cowboys.

That's not what went down. We showed up just in time for the book signing and were greeted by a line that stretched from the packed room where the Pioneer Woman was, up the stairs, around the bookshelves, to the front door. We were slightly disgruntled but still convinced the PW would want to talk to us. So we waited. And we waited. And waited. And Peyton started crying. And still, we waited. Finally, after hours in line I acquiesced to the fact that we'd stay there all night if we didn't just go and leave our dreams of being BFF with the PW behind. So we left.
No PW cookbooks.
No PW signature.
No heart-shaped BFF necklace.

However, with inspiration from the superhuman PW, we've decided to go out on our own and share a few ranch recipes on our blog. We thought the Cowboy Cookie would be a great one to start with.

Here we go.

First, make sure you have everything you need:

I'll give you the detailed recipe later but the main characters are chocolate chips, (yes I mention them first-chocolate is my third love--next to my cowboy and my baby girl, of course), butter (and I always prefer real butter to margarine--margarine is for wimps), walnuts (we'll talk about nuts later) and old-fashioned oatmeal. The usual stuff too, flour, salt, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and brown sugar.

Add all the "wet stuff"

That is: butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla
and cream together.

In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients: the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and oats.

Then add the dry stuff to the wet stuff. Lauren is very excited to be doing this. We discovered, during this hilarious endeavor, that modeling cooking is incredibly hard. Try to have someone take a picture of your hands and NOT smile. Really--try it. It's hard not to giggle uncontrollably.

Next, add. . .
(drumroll please)
the prince of sweets,
the healer of heartbreak,
the sign of celebration,
the one and only,
the much loved chocolate chips!

Next, chop up some walnuts. And keep the knife handy. You might need it in a minute.
Add the nuts.
Or, if you prefer cowgirl cookies, leave out the nuts!
Ha! Get it?
That's the oldest joke around here. . .
Okay, now mix in the chocolate and the nuts and, viola! Cowboy cookie dough is complete!
Now, remember I told you to keep that knife handy?
Well, here's why:
somehow, this is when the husband magically appears.
This guy eats cookie dough like a cow eats hay. He'd do it all day, everyday if you let him.

Next, you're going to take the dough and scoop out a big whole hunk of it. Like a heaping quarter cup of it. Your grandmother would be appalled--she likes teaspoon-sized cookies. If we made these teaspoon-size, we'd have to rename 'em Pansy Cookies. We ain't no pansies. These are Cowboy Cookies.
Shape the humongous, mouthwatering, wad of dough into a nice round shape.
Then, place about six gigantic cookie balls on a regular sized, greased cookie sheet. At the ranch, we make these on our super-duper huge sheets so we can make more than six at once.
Okay, this is pretty much the same picture. I just wanted to point out the endearing look on my face. It's like these are my newborn sextuplets. Little balls of joy. The love I have for the cowboy cookie is a love only a mother can know.
Bake these puppies at 350 degrees, waiting an agonizing 10-15 minutes.
I like to take them out when the edges are just barely brown. The center sometimes seems a little soft still, but the cookies stay soft and chewy when cooled that way. Yum!
And, Finally! The judgement time is here. Grab some milk. Break the cookie in half, noticing the chocolate strands stretching between the two halfs. Smell the delicious aroma. Now slowly, dip it in and watch the drops of milk drip off the chewy yet crunchy goodness. Take a bite.
And suddenly, you're back at the ranch.

Drowsy Water Ranch Cowboy Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 cups flour

2 cups old-fashioned oats

6 oz chocolate chips

chopped pecans or walnuts to taste

Beat eggs, sugars, butter, and vanilla together. In separate bowl, combine soda, powder, salt, flour and oats. Add dry ingredients butter mixture. Blend well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts by hand or paddle. Dough will be stiff.

Drop about ¼ cupfuls onto greased baking sheet with 3-4 inches between each cookie. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until edges are golden brown but middle is still spongy. Cool for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet and devouring.

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