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The Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle

The Sunny Bank I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit this garden because I've heard so much about it. It did not disappoint. The garden was created by Elisabeth Carey Miller and her husband Pendleton who purchased the house in 1948. Mrs. Miller was a self-taught gardener who used her artistic skills (she majored in Art History) to create the stunning garden which features a dense canopy of native conifers. She became a plant collector and tracked down unusual specimens and was known as a well-respected plantswoman in the horticultural community. The front entrance Visiting this garden is not exactly easy. It is situated in a restricted community and there is a limit to the number of visitors per year. You must make an appointment on the website at designated times or you can find a tour group like I did. The address isn't listed either although even if you had it, you would have to get past the security guard at the gate to the neighborhood. I think if I lived in

Carrot Cake

My father's favorite cake was Carrot Cake and my mother made it often and always on his birthday. I could not find my mother's recipe. While searching, I kept coming across recipes that had pineapple and hers did not have that. Maida Heatter to the rescue! She actually has several different Carrot Cake recipes but this is the one that I remember.

I decided to make this as a loaf cake so that it would be easy to share. I don't believe it made any difference in taste and it made two loaves. I also used pecans instead of walnuts. The cake is very, very moist and delicious. Of course, the icing is arguably the best thing about the cake!

The recipe calls for corn oil but you can use vegetable or saffron oil.

(Recipe from Maida Heatter's Cakes (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2011 ed., pg. 176).


1 cup dark raisins
4 cups shredded carrots, firmly packed
2 cups minus 2 TBS. sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 TBS. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/4 cups corn oil
1 1/2 cups walnuts, cut into medium-sized pieces

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare three 9 inch cake pans (or you can use 2 loaf pans like I did) by buttering them and lining them with parchment paper. Dust with fine bread crumbs.

Steam the raisins (or you can let them soak in warm water for 5-10 minutes). Dry them on a paper towel.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and mix or whisk just enough to mix. Beat in the vanilla, both sugars and the oil. On low speed, add the dry ingredients. Stir in the carrots and the nuts.

Divide the batter among the pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and let it stand for about 2-3 minutes before turning them out. Allow the cake to cool completely. Freeze the cake for at least one hour or overnight before frosting it.

Cream Cheese Icing

16 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese (at room temperature)
4 ounces unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

Beat the cream cheese and the butter until soft and smooth. Beat in the vanilla and sugar until smooth.

If you making a layer cake, apply the frosting between the layers as well as around the sides.

This frosting is one of the best things on earth!

(She also recommends decorating the cake with marzipan carrots and provides a recipe for them but I have not done this.)

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I have never used cocoa. Do you always use it?

    1. I have used it in other cake recipes. I had never used it in a carrot cake recipe before.

  2. oh Gosh, my mouth is watering. All it needs is a big scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with it.

  3. So you’re bringing this to the swap on Sunday, right? 😉

  4. Just made Maida's East 62nd St. Lemon Cake. Maida always has the best recipes.


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