During my online dating years, I’d roll my eyes at the triteness of profiles that claimed, “I’m as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as I am in a suit and tie,” as if that sentence proclaims, “I’m a tangle of contradictions.” All that tells me is you’re not a stuffy elitist or backwater hillbilly.
In my relationships, I often feel the other person doesn’t see me as I truly am, but rather they narrowly define me as they want me to be. But, then again, why should they – I am a kaleidoscope of contradictions, turn me one way and see one thing, turn me another and other colors and patterns emerge. I am a human Rorschach test – what do you see?
Staring at my fingertips, I delight in my dirt manicures from Sunday gardening as much as my freshly painted digits on Monday. I deftly tick off each item on my long to-do list in the morning and lie, sloth-like, on the couch binge-watching Better Call Saul in the evening. After a recent camping trip with Mr. M, friends and siblings said, “you must really like him,” as if I’m only comfortable enrobed in the luxe of a Ritz Carlton. I’m horrified that I can walk through the streets of my neighborhood noticing the details – the scent of orange blossoms, the buzz of a hummingbird, the fluffy tail of a squirrel and simultaneously walk blindly past the homeless woman sitting on the curb. My irreverent words can end long-held friendships, my posts ignite family controversy, yet I yearn to be proper and not ruffle a feather. I sign up for every Meetup, my social calendar bulging at the seams, while an afternoon of quiet solitude at home with my phone switched to silent mode restores me. The suburbs have never fulfilled me, yet I’ve spent more than half my life with green lawns and welcome mats. I desire acreage, a forest filled with birdsong, a nearby stream where I can dip my feet, with a Michelin-starred chef around the corner, a music venue that books the newest bands, and a museum showing the Egon Schiele retrospective, an impossible amalgamation. I’m blissfully happy driving the winding roads of an unfamiliar country and just as content steering through the curves of a good bit of fiction, ensconced at home, my two cats curled up and sleeping contently beside me. I am level headed and calm and I am emotional and irrational. I can be as competent as I am unsure and clueless. I am both intrepid warrior and fair maiden in equal measure.
I am an inkblot of contradictions.
When I worked at the steakhouse, chef nixed my suggestion to offer carrot cake on our dessert menu. He claimed carrot cake was too divisive – carrot cake lovers have strong beliefs when it comes to the proper ingredients…nuts or no nuts, raisins or no raisins, and, if raisins are allowed, black or golden raisins. The carrot cake debate, in his mind, was as impassioned as “does pineapple belong on pizza?”
If given the chance, I would have served the recipe below, which, for this baker who usually gilds the lily, is surprisingly straightforward. No nuts, no raisins, – and just a bit of pineapple for flair. I like pineapple on my pizza – and in my carrot cake, too. Served with cream cheese frosting, it ticks all the boxes.
My Favorite Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
This is my go-to carrot cupcake recipe – the secret ingredient in this moist version is a bit of pineapple.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon (generous) cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon (generous) ginger
- ¼ teaspoon (generous) allspice
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 Large eggs
- 1 ½ cups grated peeled carrots
- ¼ cup drained crushed pineapple Frosting
- 8 oz. cream cheese, well chilled
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, scraped
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper baking cups.
- Sift first 7 ingredients into a medium bowl. Beat together sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl for about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture in two additions, beating until just blended after each addition. Stir in carrots and pineapple.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool.
- To make frosting, beat chilled cream cheese and softened butter 2 minutes. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla bean. Beat on low 30 seconds until fully combined. Continue beating on high for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.