Happy Birthday To Us! Win A Cookbook


Somewhere during the flurry of the Food Conference and the final shift from autumn into cozy “wintery-mix” weather, The Jew & The Carrot turned one year old.

This first year was a biggie – mentions in the Wall Street Journal and
New York Times
, two awards (best new blog and best kosher food/recipe blog from The Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards), interviews with food experts like Michael Pollan and Joan Nathan…phew. We hope that our second year will continue to bring growth to the blog, as we continue to bring you the best news, writing, recipes, and resources from the new Jewish food movement.

In celebration of this milestone, we have two gifts for readers. The first is a recipe for my mom’s “Moistest Chocolate Cake.” This is the best chocolate cake (no, seriously) and a birthday staple in my house growing up. I’ve written about this recipe elsewhere, but couldn’t resist sharing it with you all in honor of The Jew & The Carrot’s birthday. Get the recipe below the jump.

The second is a chance to win a copy of Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables! Farmer John is a CSA farmer based in Illinois. He’s got a serious farming heritage and one of the most entertaining personalities in the fields (note the red feather boa accompanying the coveralls on the book cover.) His cookbook offers seasonal recipes, photos, and stories from his farm Angelic Organics. Answer this question to be entered into a raffle for a copy of Farmer John’s Cookbook: What is your favorite birthday food tradition? (It can be wacky or sweet – but it has to be something food-related that you do for birthdays. Only related comments will be entered into the raffle.)

Cake recipe below the jump…

Carol Koenig’s “Moistest Chocolate Cake”
I used to love my birthday cakes decorated with roses made from the frosting below, colored with a little red food coloring. These days, I’d probably use a drop or two of beet juice to achieve that perfect pink color.


2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup cocoa
1 tsp real vanilla
2 cups raw sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup organic milk
2 eggs (free range, of course)
1 cup hot coffee (I actually recommend instant stir-in coffee for this recipe. Save the good-quality strong stuff in your pantry for breakfast.)

Combine dry ingredients. Add oil, hot coffee and milk. Mix at a medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat 2 minutes more. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 or layer cake pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degree.


1/2 lb powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1 ½ heaping tsp soft butter
1 tsp vanilla

Beat with mixer 3-5 minutes. If too thick, add milk, a smidge at a time. Variation: add 2 tbsp cocoa for chocolate frosting.

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25 Responses to “Happy Birthday To Us! Win A Cookbook”

  1. Eric Says:

    I still have a soft spot for the happy-face chocolate chocolate chip pancakes from IHOP. Which reminds me…International Pancake Day (http://www.pancakeday.net/) is right around the corner!!!

  2. Michael Croland Says:

    Yom huledet sameach!

  3. Ben Rosenthal Says:

    Year after year, Mom would make a two-layer chocolate cake with no need for icing, because there was raspberry jam in between and sliced bananas and powdered sugar on top.

  4. Simon Olsberg Says:

    Going out for a vegetarian curry is my favorite birthday treat – much to the chagrin of the kids! Although I’m happy to say they’re actually getting more into Indian food as they get older (although their birthday choice is inevitably sushi).

  5. Gill Says:

    Mazal Tov on your blog birthday!

    A birthday tradition in our family comes about especially every seven years, when the birthday celebrant gives thanks and shares the birthday with Thanksgiving Day. The centerpiece of the holiday feast is the noble Tofurky, the delicious, nourishing, and nutritious life-saving (of the precious, beautiful turkeys) upholder of the Torah’s injunction to “choose life,” the cornerstone of Judaism’s primary tenet: the sacredness of life.

  6. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Around our house, my birthday (which is labor day – as all you bike riders recall!) is celebrated with a French Toast breakfast – Rivkie’s pareve whole wheat maple challah (recycled from shabbos) cut thick, with some eggs straight from the coop, topped by homemade blueberry prerserves and crowned with – what else but- some dark, dark syrup from my private reserve stash!

    try topping that – all you loco, loco, locavores:)

  7. Larry Lennhoff Says:

    On my birthday, before I started keeping kosher, I would go to as many places as possible that gave you a free ‘whatever’ on your birthday. I would usually get a sundae from Cardullo’s in Lexington, a free carwash, an order of french fries from a local restaurant, and whatever else I could come up with.

  8. Leah Koenig Says:

    These are great :)

    Eric – that website is hilarious. How can they even think about holding a “race” after people have been eating pancakes all morning?

    Thanks Michael!

    Ben – will you share the recipe for your mom’s cake?

    Vegetarian curry sounds like a delicious way to celebrate your birthday, Simon. Glad the kids are starting to come around.

    Thanks Gil – this year my birthday falls on shushan Purim…maybe I’ll have to find a way to combine the celebrations.

    Shmuel – Yoshie recently brought me some birch syrup from a trip to Alaska. That might win for originality, but definitely not for localvoreism!

    What do you do now that you’re a kosh consumer, Larry?

    …Keep them coming! :)

  9. carol koenig Says:

    Hi Leah,
    As usual, I am always happy to know that you have happy memories of birthday and holiday celebrations.

    I’d add a little more butter to the frosting!!!
    Four tablespoons….really, and beat it for a long time.
    I usually use strong coffee in the frosting for the liquid instead of milk. I hope people enjoy this wonderful cake as much as we always have.

    Love you. Mom

  10. Sara Korn Says:

    As a Pesach baby, my favorite birthday food tradition is the Seven Layer Matzah Cake. (Think matzos soaked in Kedem wine, slathered with chocolate mousse icing, and stacked seven high. I was skeptical at first, but it’s delish!)

    This cake is a newish tradition for me, adopted from my husband’s family. Since his Hebrew birthday coincides with the second seder they’ve been celebrating this way for years. (I was born on chol hamoed Pesach of the same year, but my family isn’t as creative with baking.)

    Additional points to the Seven Layer Matzah Cake for being the subject of one of our very first conversations.

  11. chanie Says:

    my daughter, turning 10 (next week, or next month, depending on whether you count the hebrew or english date), asked for her favorite for her fourth birthday – strawberries. her birthday being in january, and given that we live in israel, i told her there is no way that can happen. she asked months before, and would anxiously walk into the fruit and vegetable store looking for berries as the weather got colder. i told her we’d have to think of alternatives.
    then, a week or so before her birthday, suddenly there were lots of strawberries everywhere – bright and red and sweet and IN SEASON! she was thrilled, and we made a huge, plain cake, lots of whipped cream, and topped it with berries to bring to her ‘gan’. the teacher was wary – she didnt think the kids would eat something that 1. wasnt chocolate, and 2. wasnt decorated with candies. they gobbled it up and finished all the extra strawberries i had brought along.
    since then, she gets strawberries every year for her birthday, and the cake with whipped cream and berries has become the traditional january birthday cake.

  12. naomi Says:

    My dad’s family lived in Brazil for four years when he was a young child. The family has been back in its New York homeland for a good 45 years or so, but whenever my dad or his younger brother has a big birthday, everyone harassers my grandmother (small, chic, Ashkenazi New Yorker) until she agrees to make feijoada.

    For those who don’t know, feijoada is the national dish of Brazil and high on the list of delicious but treyf foods: it’s a black bean and pork stew served with collard greens, rice, fried ground yucca, and oranges. A good feijoada should involve all the parts of the pig that a supermarket counter probably doesn’t display (our family euphemistically refers to this as “pork leftovers”) and linguica, spicy pork sausage. Delicious, and absolutely not kosher. Even the “light” version served by my neighborhood is treyf: it substitutes shrimp for the pork products.

  13. Alana Says:

    For my DS’s birthday, since his first birthday (he’ll be 4 this year) we never make a cake, instead, we cut a watermelon into big slices and then stick candles in them for him to blow out. Then we cut them up and serve them as “cake.”
    Since he has an early summer birthday, it’s usually pretty warm outside and watermelon is way nicer than bready stuff. And we can hose him off afterwards. Plus, watermelon comes in nice colors: red, yellow, orange!

  14. thodarumm Says:

    I grew up in India and cake was never a part of the menu. My parents never celebrated their birthdays. But no matter what the circumstance, they always celebrated my birthday and my brother’s birthday. We always had a dessert which you would liken to pudding. We called it payasam, http://hungerpangs.blogspot.co.....yasam.html.

    I smile as I type this: my son wrote in his school journal about the possible food items in our thanksgiving meal: tofu turkey and poisum (instead of payasam).

    I accidentally found you through JENA STRONG, “BULLSEYE BABY”.

  15. Stacey Says:

    Growing up, the one birthday treat I could rely on was the Carvel ice cream cake. My brother, my mother and I have birthdays in early June. It seemed like there was just an endless supply of ice cream cake leftovers in the freezer.

    My new favorite birthday cake provider (shameless plug to follow) is Kym of Vegan Honey (VeganHoney.etsy.com) a vegan baker who lives in Brooklyn and for my 30th made me a chocolate cake with a gorgeous pink frosting that was colored and flavored with actual berries!

  16. Leah Koenig Says:

    Thanks, Mom – I took the recipe straight off the index card in your file, but am glad to hear about the adjustments you’ve made.

    Sara – I’d definitely have to try that cake to believe it :)

    That cake sounds delicious Chanie, especially with in-season strawberries.

    Naomi, It’s rare to hear someone begging for a savory food over a sweet as a birthday treat – thanks for the idea!

    Alana, I love the idea of watermelon birthday cake – who wants to turn the oven on in summer anyway?

    Thodarrum, glad you found us. Payasam sounds great, thanks for the link!

    Ah, the ice cream cake…such a delicious idea but, at least in my experience, it never seemed to turn out right. (the ice cream was always too hard or something…) Thanks for the link to Vegan Honey, Stacey!

    Only a few more days left to post your birthday treat – the winner of the raffle will be announced on Monday, Dec 24.

  17. Carly Says:

    Happy Birthday JCarrot!!!! It’s so exciting to see so many other people taking on a “food ministry,” for lack of a better term!

    Thanks for a year of yummy recipes (tiramatzah!) and thought provoking articles. Keep up the great work!

  18. Carly Says:

    Oh, my raffle entry!

    My favorite birthday food tradition is the flaming birthday fish! My husband, the laspsed catholic, decided that waking me up on my birthday with a HUGE smoked whitefish with birthday candles in it was a good idea one year! Problem is that I was asleep and woken up to something flaming!!! I nearly knocked it out of his hands and set the house on fire.

    Anyhoo…it was crazy sweet for him to splurge on something so near and dear to my heart. He made a variation on the theme each year for several years. Even one year when we were silly broke, I got few pieces of lox with birthday candles in it!

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