Momofuku Milk Bar Carrot Cake

We love carrot cake. Matt regularly requests it for his birthday and we even served it at our wedding. I have a no-fail recipe, but this time I decided to change it up and try the Momofuku Milk Bar version. I’ve made a handful of Milk Bar cakes before, and, while often time consuming, they’re always fun and combine a variety of flavors and textures.

This cake starts with a spiced carrot cake base made without walnuts, pineapple, or coconut. It’s layered with liquid cheesecake, milk crumbs, and a graham cracker buttercream. Stacked three layers high it’s truly a beautiful cake. Overall, we’d rate it a 6 out of 10 for taste. Each bite is an experience – creamy cheesecake, crunchy milk crumb, and moist, spongy cake. While this cake is a sensory explosion, we prefer the simplicity of a regular carrot cake. You just can’t go wrong with cream cheese frosting!

I own the book and followed the recipe directly from the pages, but if you’d like to give it a try Cake by Courtney has the recipe on her blog. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time since there are a lot of components. I typically make these cakes over two days. And if you’re just looking for a solid carrot cake recipe without all the frills, here are my favorites: carrot cake recipe, buttermilk glaze recipe, and cream cheese frosting recipe.

Bon appetit!

November and December 2018 Hikes

Bald Mountain via Pacific Crest Trail

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Bald Mountain is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest and reached via a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The drive to the trailhead alone offered amazing views, but the hike is definitely worth the effort.  The trail is moderate due to an initial elevation gain of 1,000 ft. in the first 1.5 miles, but it isn’t too steep and levels out after that point. On the day we went it was pretty lightly trafficked, though it was early November and very cold. Since we were in the mountains (starting at 3,500 ft.), as we climbed the temperature dropped and trees became frost-covered. After the initial climb, you’re treated to a spectacular view of Mt. Hood rising out of the valley. The trail continues an additional 1.5 miles through pine forests before opening up to sweeping views of the valley and Mt. Hood. Go on a clear day to maximize the views and you won’t be disappointed.Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 8.40.34 AM

Dog Mountain

Dog mountain is a 4-6 mile hike in the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side of the river. It is a moderate to difficult trail and hikers have the option of a 4 mile lollipop loop or adding in an additional 2 miles out and back to the peak. The trail climbs steadily for the first half and there is an option of a difficult or more difficult route. The overall elevation gain is just shy of 3,000 feet for the full 6 miles and about 2,000 for the 4 mile loop. We did the 4 mile loop, taking the difficult route up and the more difficult route down. The more difficult route has fewer switchbacks and is quite a bit steeper. The day we went was snowy making the trail a bit slippery and pushing it into a more difficult trail for us; on a clear day we likely would have rated it moderate due to the climbing. The trail is rated moderately-trafficked, however since it was winter we didn’t see an overwhelming number of people. The spring and summer are likely a bit busier. On the way up, we had some great views of the gorge; it was shrouded in a moody winter mist. Overall it was a fun hike, and we’d love to go back to the top on a clear day.Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 1.14.05 PM

Forest Park

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Forest Park is right in the heart of Portland and contains a vast network of trails. It wasn’t our favorite place to go initially because many of the trails are overly crowded. We found that the further north you go, the less crowded it becomes, so we’ve been exploring more trails further in the park. It’s a great place to get out for a trail run or easy hike without having to drive too far.

Kings Mountain Trail

Kings Mountain is located in the Tillamook Forest, 40 miles west of Portland. I ran my ultra in this forest but didn’t get to the summits, so we knew we wanted to get back and hike. The trail is not easy – it is all uphill gaining 2,500 feet in 2.25 miles until you reach Kings Summit. It’s moderately trafficked, and even on a rainy/snowy day we passed plenty of other hikers. Unfortunately there was no visibility at the top the day we hiked, but on a clear day you can supposedly see all the way to the ocean. We’re planning on going back in nicer weather to do the double Elk-Kings summit loop.

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Round 2

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Dusting off this old blog for round two of Matt and Beth travel the country! We’re currently en route to Phoenix where we’ll spend April exploring the desert before the weather gets too hot. On the agenda: Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Flagstaff.

We’ve spent a little time in the city (mostly for work) so if you have any must-do activities/restaurants/coffee shops/etc. in the area send them our way!

We’ll do our best to keep updating throughout our time on the road. We love sharing our adventures so we’ll definitely be popping in periodically, though it may not be as regular as in 2016.

Thanks for following along!

The End of Austin

We’ve been back in Louisville for about a week, so it’s time to tie up the loose ends of our travels for 2016.

Austin Report Card

Food A-
Beer A
Walkability B
Cost B-
Weather A
Parks B+
Activities B+
Overall B+

We’d heard great things about Austin, so when we were at a loss of what city to go to for the end of the year we thought: “When else would we ever live in Texas?” and went for it. Initially we were going to go right after Denver, but we swapped it for Minneapolis in order to avoid those Northern winters.

Austin is known for many things, most notably music, but their barbecue and Tex Mex rank highly as well. We were not disappointed with the food scene we encountered which ran the gamut from the standards (chili, barbecue, Mexican) to Indian, Chinese, and Greek. [Check out our post solely on beer and food for some of our favorites!] While we didn’t get to as many breweries as we have in previous cities, we visited a handful all with really solid brews – Jester King, Live Oak, and Hops and Grain to name a few. While those were all great, the real star of the beer scene for us was Craft Pride, a Texas-only beer bar on Rainey street with more options than we can name and a taste for every palate.

Austin gave us some amazing weather the short time we were there, and we loved living right on Lady Bird Lake (aka the Colorado River).Unfortunately Snickers didn’t like running in the grass very much because there were a lot of burrs that got stuck in her paws, but she loved splashing around in the lake after a run.While there weren’t a lot of parks around, a quick drive could get you into nature.  We did like the couple of hikes we went on, but the terrain wasn’t variable enough and the trails weren’t accessible enough to get in a weekday run. We definitely missed the terrain of Oregon and Colorado and even our bi-weekly trail runs in Minneapolis. Austin is fairly walkable and we were able to easily access downtown, South Congress, and East Austin from our location, but you definitely need a car to really get around.

Would we go back? Absolutely! We would love to experience some of the music scene that we just didn’t get around to while we were there and it was just an all-around cool city. Would we live there? Maybe! We really liked the weather and the vibe, but we’ve heard the summers can be brutally hot and humid.

[We didn’t take a lot of photos the last few weeks here, so enjoy some of our favorites]

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Easy Tiger

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Pedernales Fall State Park

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Food and Beer in Austin

A quick rundown of places we’ve enjoyed in Texas.

Food

  • Casino el Camino – good burgers and spicy wings. A bit of a “metal” vibe, but really enjoyable.
  • Polvos – boozy margaritas, hit or miss on food
  • Curra’s – solid Mexican food; try the avocado margarita
  • Texas Chili Parlor – very meaty chili, try the XX and also the green chili
  • Micklethwait Craft Meat – seriously delicious barbecue! Skip the line for Franklin and head here
  • Cenote – great breakfast/brunch spot in East Austin
  • Cuvee – nice coffee shop on the East side; interesting automated pour over machines
  • Easy Tiger – neat patio and great cheese board! Plus a pretty solid beer menu
  • Bangers – 30 house made brats and over 100 beers on the menu! Get the beer float and a pupwurst for your furry friend!

Beer

  • Blue Owl – sour mashed beers, tasting-style menu
  • Jester King – a bit of a drive but worth it, extensive beer menu
  • Live Oak – solid German-style beers
  • Craft Pride – drafthouse with Texas only beers; really diverse menu
  • Hops and Grain – tucked away in a warehouse on the East side