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Cooking With Myra: Cupcake changed columnist's life

By By Myra Starkey
Nov. 12, 2013 at 5:12 a.m.

Coconut-Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Coconut-Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup canola oil

• 2 large eggs

• 1 cup flour

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

• 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple - drained

• 1 cup grated carrots

• 3/4 cup sweetened flake coconut

• 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream cheese frosting

• 3 ounces white chocolate

• 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese softened

• 1/4 cup butter softened

• 1 tbsp. grated lemon peel

• 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Whisk oil, eggs and sugar in mixing bowl. Whisk in cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir to blend. Fold in carrots, pecans, coconut and pineapple. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Tops should be golden brown. Cool on rack.

To make frosting, place chocolate in bowl of double boiler and melt over simmering water. Do not allow water to come in contact with chocolate. Blend remaining ingredients in food processor and add in chocolate until smooth.

The frosting can be doubled for more cupcakes. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

My life changed for the better because of a cupcake. It was not a cupcake that I had eaten but rather one that I would wear. Perhaps I better start over and explain myself.

I am not a fan of exercising. I have a lot of friends who like to do it, and they are quick to testify of its benefits. Most of my friends are like me in that they have accepted their life of relative slothfulness and only seldom do anything that could be considered serious exertion.

The truth is all of us need to exercise to keep our bodies healthy. My problem is motivation. Earlier in life, I was motivated by my friends who would encourage me into riding bikes for 50 miles or competing in a triathlon.

As time passed, many of us have settled into being grandparents, busy mothers or career women, and exercise seems like something we need to do but just can't find the time.

Almost every week, I find myself doing something that tires me out. Mowing the yard, trimming trees, working in the hot sun or just laboring at my office job makes me fatigued. I don't consider myself old at age 53. When I was 20, I thought 50 was really old. Now, I think 50 is just about the age where people halfway start to figure out what is important in life and what is truly valuable - and it is not being rich and famous.

I can see changes in my body, and I hurt in places that used to not ache at all. After a morning in the garden, my calves ache, and my shoulders burn. I have noticed all these changes in the last couple of years, and that is about when I quit exercising. It's not that I never exercise. It's just that I don't make a habit of it.

I bought a new pair of tennis shoes for inspiration and ran around the block until I had the sensation that someone had sucked all the oxygen out of my neighborhood, and I had to walk home breathing heavily. Funny, when I was buying the shoes in the store, I pictured myself running, and there was no heavy breathing involved.

Back to the cupcake. Last week was Halloween, and Taylor and I were invited to a party. Costumes were expected. My friend, Janet, and her husband were planning to dress up as Smurfs. She called to say that she was ordering costumes off the Internet, and she would order one for me. She knows that Taylor doesn't like to dress up, and I have to beg him to do it.

He thinks that he'll be doing some serious doctor counseling with somebody someday and the patient will have unsettling flashbacks of when they saw him dressed as The Lone Ranger or a Smurf - like a person would remember what you wore to a Halloween party. Anyway, Janet said she had the perfect costume for me - a cupcake. And then Taylor could dress as a chef.

I think she chose the costume because I like food - hopefully, because she knows I like baking cupcakes. I know she didn't realize that the outfit was for a 20-something-year-old and not a more mature-figured woman like me. If you wore a cupcake costume for Halloween, then please know that I bet you looked amazing.

When she dropped off the costume, I thought it was cute. After all, the blonde on the front of the package looked delicious. On the night of the party, I thought I better try it on to make sure it fit. It was a medium and my size, so I wasn't too worried. Spencer, my 21-year-old son, was sitting on the couch when I came out in the costume. He took one look and said, "I don't know of anywhere you could wear that!"

I think he meant to a party or even at home, but regardless, I agreed. The cupcake liner part of the costume barely fit around my hips. It had a type of wire around the top of it, like a Hula Hoop around the waist, only a lot smaller. Atop the Hula Hoop wire part was lots of hot pink tulle, which is a net fabric used under ballet tutus to make them puff out.

The fluffy icing netting bodice was covered with sparkles, which were supposed to resemble the sprinkles found on the top of cupcakes. And then there was the hat which was a hot pink cherry with a stem on top. Spencer pointed out that cherries are not hot pink, but apparently, the designer thought it was just the right finish to a perfect, sexy cupcake costume.

With only minutes to spare, I decided to dress like a Guatemalan lady since I had just returned from a trip and had purchased the actual type of clothes that the women wear. Taylor wore a white, woven-cotton, ribbon-trimmed shirt that was also from Guatemala. I hung the cupcake in the closet, and the next morning, I looked at the costume and realized that the pink, fluffy tulle had motivated me to exercise.

I don't intend on ever putting on the cupcake costume again since it is bad for my ego, but I realized that I was very out of shape when I tried to get the thing off. Taylor wasn't home, so I had to do my best.

I huffed and puffed and gripped the icing bodice firmly and pulled. It gave inch by inch, and soon, I was out of it. I looked in the mirror and was red faced and sweating. I need to go back to the gym.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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