blogging, environment, health, home

Friendly Friday Challenge – Morning Rituals on the Beach

Although I may be in the minority, I have to say that I love getting up in the mornings. No, I am not masochistic. I live by the sea and the mornings there are so joyous, it makes me want to get up early just to see the very best of the day.

Furthermore, I am now retired so I don’t need to be functioning all day, but can take it at an easier slower pace. To which, I am rapidly becoming accustomed. And, I love it.

The mornings are no time to sit and drink a hot cuppa. It is time to move – after sleeping all night.

I like to take a walk, after a morning routine of Yoga exercises, right on the beach if possible.

As you get older and more sedentary, the joints and muscles stiffen up and it is so vital that we keep them functioning for as long as possible. What good is it living to a ripe old age if you can’t enjoy it? Right?

Yoga Sun salutations are best performed facing east. Because that is where you will see the sunrise, of course.

Even better if you can do it on the beach.

A walk with the dog is next on the agenda.

Right on the beach if possible.

See what you are missing all you people who like a sleep in?

Linking to Sandy’s theme for Friendly Friday. I will be back at my main blog, StPA, next week with a new theme. You are welcome to join in with the Friendly Friday Challenge anytime.

See you then.

food, health

Fast Chocolate Brownie Slice Recipe #Onecakeaweek

Who wants to spend too much time in the kitchen these days?

Even with Covid lockdowns, the easier and simpler the recipe, the better it is for everyone. Right?
This Chocolate Brownie recipe will be perfect to whip up for Afternoon or Morning Tea treats, school lunches, surprise gifts for friends and impromptu family visits.

In just 45 minutes you can serve up this mouth-watering delight.

The dark chocolate component of this slice makes it a healthy option, when eaten in moderation. Provided you use quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It {Dark chocolate] contains a decent amount of soluble fibre and is loaded with minerals. 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and something you should consume in moderation. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate#section1

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fibre
  • 67% of the RDI for iron
  • 58% of the RDI for magnesium
  • 89% of the RDI for copper
  • 98% of the RDI for manganese
  • Minerals: potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
Photo Credit: A Saucy Kitchen

Chocolate Brownie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 200 grams Dark Chocolate that has 50%- 70% Cocoa
  • 250 grams (9 oz or 1 & 1/4 cups) Butter
  • 200 grams (7 oz or 1 & 1/2 cups) Brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 150 grams (5 oz or 1 & 1/4 cups) Plain or All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 30 grams (1 oz) Cocoa

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 or 350 F and line a square cake or slice tin with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously till smooth. Once all lumps have melted, take off the heat.
  3. Mix other ingredients together, adding the eggs last.
  4. Mix in melted chocolate mixture and stir through.
  5. Bake for 28 minutes.
  6. Brownies may look slightly underdone, so allow them to cool in the tray.
  7. Dust with Icing sugar and cut into small squares to serve.

Variation:

  • Add roughly chopped walnuts for a tasty and healthy variation.
  • Serve warm with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

This is the recipe for this week’s #Onecakeaweek series.

Do you have a recipe you wish to link up?

Pingback to this post and I will come and visit your blog.

Sunrise

#Onecakeaweek. Are you tempted by any from previous weeks?

I will be making one cake each week and would love you to link up any cake recipes you have posted on your blog, so I have more recipes to try out.

food

Sticky Date Pudding Recipe – My Way

pudding with ice cream

Ingredients

Pudding:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 and 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60 g or 2 oz butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup soft brown sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self-raising flour (All-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking powder and well sifted)

Butterscotch Sauce

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 250 ml or 2.5 dl cream
  • 50 g or 1.75 oz butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 celsius (375 F) – slightly cooler for fan-forced.
  2. Grease and flour/line a base of a 20 cm cake pan.
  3. Combine the dates, boiling water and baking soda in a bowl. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.
  4. Cream butter, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy with an electric mixer.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Add the date mixture and flour and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour into the prepared cake pan.
  8. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean

To Make Butterscotch Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat on the stovetop.
  2. Stir regularly and bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for 1 minute until butter and sugar have dissolved.
  4. Pierce pudding all over with a skewer. Pour sauce over warm pudding. Stand for 10 minutes.*
  5. Serve warm with ice cream or as you prefer.

Variation:

I served the pudding as it was out of the oven. I let it cool slightly and then cut it into wedges, to serve with the sauce and icecream. Pouring the sauce over immediately prior to serving.

* The recipe recommended letting the sauce sit and permeate through the whole pudding, however, I prefer a slightly firmer texture better, than a soggy pudding.

It is up to you how you tackle that!

Sunrise

#onecakeaweek

Follow this blog for more recipes. They are posted weekly at the Home by the Sea

sliced lemon blueberry bread cake
food, health, home

Lemon Blueberry Bread

#onecakeaweek

The cake for this week is a bread that is really a cake.

Blueberries are in season here at the Home by the Sea. Blueberries the so-called Superfood packed with antioxidants means this bread-like cake can legitimately claim the label of a healthy home-baked food.

You will find it especially delightful served warm with a cuppa.

Recipe for Lemon Blueberry Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light or low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F or 175° C
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
  4. Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon zest.
  5. Transfer to a greased 8×4-in. loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
  8. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread.
sliced lemon blueberry bread cake

Recipe Variations

Because of its lemon base you can replace the blueberries with raspberries or any other bey in season. Or you could turn this into an orange cranberry bread by using orange juice and cranberries. Cherries and almonds also pair beautifully with either lemon or orange.

Using full fat milk, will mean the bread will keep moist for longer.

A Home by the Sea
writing

Favourite Swedish Crime Title

The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg

The Blurb –

Bohuslan village sweden fjallbacka

A new author is lauded by the residents of not only Fjallbacka, but also Sweden. “Why did he write the book?” the journalist asks. Christian says it was a story he had to write.  Was it something hidden in the past that has compelled him to write a story? Can it be truth or fiction, and why does he look like a haunted man, when his dreams have finally come true? When one of the author’s closest friends goes missing, Detective Patrik Hedstrom has his worst suspicions confirmed as the mind-games aimed at Christian become a disturbing reality.  But with the victims themselves concealing evidence, and telling Patrick nothing that will help him identify the culprit will they die before the secret is revealed?  Is there silence driven by fear or guilt?

The Drowning

Characters

To those of us who have read Camilla Lackberg’s crime fiction series, set in Fjallbacka, Sweden on the Bohuslan coast, the characters are like old friends, so familiar and comforting. They are all so similar to real people that we have met in our individual lives, with the exception of Christian.

His tragic childhood and adolescence is told over the course of the book, and ultimately the secrets are revealed in the most unexpected way. It might be easy for experienced Lackberg fans to detect the clues the author sprinkles throughout the book, but nevertheless, I feel this story satisfies her regular readers far more than others in the Erica Falck series.

Monument to stone cutters sweden bohuslan coast
The Stone Cutter Monument – title in the Erica Falck Series by Camilla Lackberg

I tend to find in this book, Erica’s character herself, is sometimes a little too perfect, akin to one you might find in a soap opera. Yet, it is here that you will find that Erica settles more into the background, and Patrick’s voice becomes the more prominent than in earlier novels.

Setting

Despite the melodrama of Erica and her sister being simultaneously pregnant, I enjoyed this novel and reacquainted myself with the Bohuslan coastal communities described in the story.

Visiting them and walking around the streets of towns like Fjallbacka and Hunnebostrand was such a joy for me as it brought the stories to life.

smogen

Theme

More importantly, the novel also touches on aspects of bullying, prejudice jealousy, and the all too common ostracism of anyone who is perceived by society to be ‘different.’ Those at the fringe of society and their sufferings can be and often are, invisible, even to the benevolent agencies that are purported to help them.

As the cover suggests, there are grave consequences to selfishness and jealousy, disguised as sibling rivalry, and the story highlights how we as adults, often dismiss the vulnerability of a child’s ego and mental state when exposed to stress.

Erica Falck Series

This is the fifth book in the Erica Falck series, previous titles include: The Ice Princess, The Preacher, The Stone Cutter, The Gallow’s Bird, The Hidden Child, The Drowning, and The Lost Boy. If interested in the writer, you can find out more about Camilla Lackberg.

A friend playing one of the author’s dead characters

* Tip:
Although they are stand-alone books, do try to read the series in order, not as I did, missing the novel titled “The Hidden Child.” For, as Murphy’s law dictates, the novel you next read will contain a spoiler for the one you just skipped. It may only be one sentence but that words might relate to a central theme! Ponder about that before you dig in and read them out of order.

The Verdict

The Good: Suspenseful story-building to the final climactic end.

The Bad: Slightly predictable plot. Soap opera-type details of the main character’s personal lives. But they are like old shoes, they fit easily and are comfortable to wear!

The Ugly: Tragic consequences of child abuse, bullying and jealousy highlighted in this book.

A Home by the Sea
food, health

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Cake with Cinnamon and White Chocolate Options

#onecakeaweek

This week’s Cake at the Home by the Sea is delicious served with tea or coffee or can be versatile enough for a dessert treat if served with some vanilla yoghurt, cream or ice cream drizzled with Raspberry Coulis.

IMG_20141026_202813

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 55g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 145g sugar, plus a further 1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup (approx 140g) fresh or frozen raspberries

Topping:

  • 1 dessertspoon butter, (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (sprinkled over the top)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 205°C/400°F
  2. Butter and flour a 20cm round cake pan.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  4. Beat the butter and first measure of sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Add the egg and beat well.
  6. Switching the mixer to a low speed, mix in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Ensure that each time you only mix until just combined.
  7. Transfer the batter into the cake pan and gently spread to fill the pan. Scatter the raspberries over the top and sprinkle with the final 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
  8. Bake until cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, which should take between 30-35 minutes.
  9. Cool the cake for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely, then brush melted butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Variation: Add 100g  white chocolate buds to the mix prior to adding the raspberries.

There are more cake recipes here: #onecakeaweek

blogging, environment, writing

Climate Change is not in Quarantine

Winter is Over for 2020

That is it. Winter is done and dusted in this, the so-called Sunshine State.

Nature knows. The signs are there, for anyone who cares to look.

Clear blue skies and gardens sporting new foliage and flowers, (well some never stopped). All doubt were washed away when I spotted the first insect swanning around my Dining room, just before lunch.

Darn.

Even that fly knows that warmth is on its way.

Whilst Blogger Snow over in Finland, laments how the first day of August heralds the end of her all too short, warm summer weather, I can empathise with her, for all the opposite reasons. The southern hemisphere is already warming up for its hottest season yet.

The earth has turned and so must the weather. It is the Yin and the Yang of life.

Technically there is still one more month of winter – August and yet the cool crisp mornings are receeding far too quickly for me. Living here in August means you can be caught wearing one layer of clothing too many, or a cardigan/jumper at 10 am in the morning. The body screams in response: “Take this hot thing darn well off!”

Even though the public seems to have forgotten about it – climate change isn’t in quarantine from Covid-19 and is real. Evidence is here for all to see.

At 11 am today, I had a moment. For me, this moment happens every year.

No matter how cold the winter is, the realization that we are close to the start of a lengthy, hot summer causes this winter-loving bunny to have a personal crisis. The endless glare of the ultra-hot Australian summer sun and the eternal sweaty, smelly bodies that are consistent with subtropical life in Queensland, make hibernating in air-conditioning as essential as oxygen itself.

Then there is the unsettling feeling that our Summer of roughly five months, now might extend to eight or nine months!

The combination of the spectre of Bushfires, soaring temperatures and months without rain are worrisome indeed.

What Everyone thinks of an Australian Summer
What I think of an Australian summer. (Source:bbci.co.uk)

I shouldn’t complain, should I? There are worse things in life. And yet, everyone whinges about the weather no matter what kind of weather they have, nor no matter where they live, don’t they?

Is the weather turning in your part of the world?

Are you a winter or summer person?

A Home by the Sea

blogging, environment, writing

Good Morning

It is the start of a new day.

sunrise on the lake


When you are in the midst of your working life,  the morning can be rushed. 
Not so, in retirement.


I delight in a stroll towards the lake at sunrise, watching for the old man fish Sir Mullet, jumping high above the water.

Why?

To show off his physical prowess like a maritime body builder or as a way to energize himself for the day’s forage feast for food.

On the banks and weedy littoral zone, algae trails dance rhythmically with the tidal ebb and flow of the waters. Always moving, always dynamic.

Meanwhile, triggered by the sun’s first rays, the Willy Wagtail frolicks and flits back and forth up and around on the grassy lawn, in a courtship dance sure to impress a mate.


Me with my dogs alongside of me, skirt the lake’s perimeter, soaking in the natural forces of sun, earth and wind about me.

This place energizes me, urging me to rise with the light and optimistic for the day ahead. Something not felt in my previous chapter.


A meditative time for newly retired me.

food

Lemon Yoghurt CupCakes

Speciality delicatessens and bakeries in my part of the world offer Lemon Yoghurt cupcakes to die for. Mostly they come from one or two bakeries, ones that are Italian in origin and their product offerings. Yet, it seems that the Lemon and Yoghurt Cake may have been French in origin:

Grandmother all over France are renowned for Lemon and Yoghurt Cake. In French, this cake is called Gâteaux de Mamie, which translated is: Granny Cake. The part of the story I love, is the way these French grandmothers measure the cake ingredients – with yogurt jars!

https://thecafesucrefarine.com/french-grandmothers-lemon-yogurt-cake/

You can try that version of the recipe out at this site.

This week, the cake for #onecakeaweek comes from Best Recipes, however, I wanted to produce a cupcake experience, rather than make another ring cake. My ingredients vary slightly from the French version in that there is more yoghurt and sugar, but less eggs and oil. Yeah – nah! – probably evens out, doesn’t it?

LEMON and YOGHURT CAKE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups fine or Caster Sugar – I only used 1and one half cups
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 cup Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 tsp Lemon juice
  • 1 cup Natural yoghurt
  • 2 cups Self-raising flour or plain flour and baking powder
  • extra leftover lemon juice

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix rind, oil, eggs and sugar with a fork.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and combine well.
  3. Pour into greased ring tin or lined cupcake pans and bake at 180C for 30 – 40 minutes – more time, for the ring tin.
  4. Poke holes in the top with a toothpick and drizzle few drops of lemon juice for extra tang. Not too much or the cake will go soggy.
  5. Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Variation: I added Pearl Sugar and an Almond on the top prior to baking. White chocolate chips could also be added for an extra measure of decadence.

Donna Hay, Australian cook and Cookbook Author, uses almost an identical recipe to mine, but decorates the cake with icing and strangely of all, thyme leaves. If you want to try that variation?

More lemon cake recipes from other bakers are found here

#OneCakeaWeek