A friend and I were talking about date nights recently. Neither of us could remember our parents going out for dinner or a movie just because. I have very few memories of being with a babysitter. I remember them having the occasional party or work obligation but not date nights.
They did have a little weekend ritual that I remember well. They would feed my brothers and I an early dinner, send us off to the tub and started a movie. Then, they would order Chinese take-out for themselves and set out a carrot cake, bought from the freezer section in the grocery store, to thaw on the counter. Us kids would gather around their dinner like little birds peaking into the white boxes asking for bites of this and that. They would grudgingly share a few bites and then send us away.
The carrot cake was off limits. After we went to bed, they would open the small white rectangular cardboard box and dig in with two forks. This cake was special and even though it was from the grocery store it had fantastic cream cheese frosting and the soft flavorful cake was dotted with walnuts and raisins. I know this because I always got out of bed and rounded the corner into the kitchen, looking to beg a bite or two. Sometimes they gave in, other times I was sent straight back to bed. The cake was small, just enough for two generous pieces but often the next morning, there was a little piece left for us kids to each have a few bites.
My dad’s birthday was last week, on Easter actually, and he requested a carrot cake. Thinking back, I decided to try and make him a carrot cake in the same style as that grocery store cake from years ago. I used the Williams Sonoma recipe as a guide but added 1 cup of drained crushed pineapple and 1 cup of raisins. For the frosting, I used my tried and true frosting recipe. The only change to the frosting I made was I mixed in 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and it made the whole cake sing. Because I added pineapple to the batter, my cakes fell in the middle a bit and I was running late so my frosting job, as usual, was pretty shoddy, but my oh my, the cake was delicious and a fun little throwback to my parent’s ‘date night in’ days.