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Chocolate Cake with Zucchini Squash

At the Home by the Sea, I am always looking to incorporate more vegetables in our diet.

If you have read this blog before you might be aware of my penchant for sweet treats. Especially those with brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon, such as the Danish Spice Cake, or Walnut Streusal Cake.

Fellow blogger Sandy just had to go and post a delicious recipe of Chocolate and Zucchini cake with just those aforementioned ingredients that I love so much.

Clear the hallway! I said when I read the post.

“I am headed for the kitchen.” No sooner had I read the post then the cake was in the mixing bowl.

Here is the result:

Sandy’s Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

zucchini chocolate cake with walnuts

Health Benefits of Zucchini or Squash to your Diet

Zucchini is low in calories, fat, and sugar and is a great source of antioxidants and Folate. It also contains Vitamins (A, E and C) that improve skin integrity, alleviate puffiness, build collagen and fight damage from free radicals. So Zucchini make us look younger!

Recipe

I reduced the zucchini – I use 2- 3 zucchini amounting to about 500 ml shredded – squeezed it out a little then added a 2- 3 tablespoons of extra flour to Sandy’s recipe.

Find the Full recipe at Sandy’s blog post.

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building

Edamame and Avocado Smash on Beetroot Hommus

Ingredients:

  • 1 Slice Sourdough or Rye bread toasted
  • 1/2 small can of cooked Edamame beans
  • 1/2 ripe Avocado
  • 2 tablespoons of Beetroot hommus
  • Spinach leaves and Cracked Pepper to garnish
https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/exploring-the-street-food-of-phnom-penh/https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/exploring-the-street-food-of-phnom-penh/
food, health

Hot Crab Dip or Cold Crab Dip

I have had this small tin of crab meat in my pantry for (mumble, mumble) quite some time now. I really did not know what I was going to use it for.

I think it was originally destined for a party, hanging out with other Swedish sandwich cake ingredients, but things did not work out between them, and so the crab meat, was left on the shelf… literally!

Image
Crab Dip

Inspiration hit me one night when the Moth aka hubby and I were on our own, no family to cook for and decided on a light meal to end the week. Surfing the net always provides inspiration and along the way I found a recipe for Hot Crab Dip.

As one always does, there were adjustments I just had to make, serving it cold, and adding some extra vegetables for crunch. As I like fresh and crunchy celery, cucumber and capsicum, I chopped these up and added them in. The dish has some added Vitamin C and fibre this way.

But credit goes to Will Cook for Smiles for the essence of the recipe. She baked hers in the oven, whilst I often prefer my seafood cold, so I didn’t. It is totally agreeable either way.

It is just your own preference.

Here is what I mixed to make this superb light meal/appetizer/dip/wine & cheese accompaniment.

Crab Dip Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 130 g tinned Crabmeat
  • 40g spreadable Cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 stalks of Spring onion, finely chopped and diced.
  • 1 Garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese, to mix in
  • 1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • Salt & fresh cracked Pepper

Optional Extras if serving it cold:

  • 1/2 medium Yellow and Green Capsicum, chopped & diced.
  • 1/2 small Lebanese Cucumber, chopped & diced.
  • Celery – 1 stalk – only if you like it very crunchy

Method for Serving Cold Crab Dip

Mix all ingredients together. Serve with crackers, fresh bread or baguette.

To Serve Crab Dip Hot:

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degree celsius or 340 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Combine all the ingredients, top with the second 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake 20 minutes
  • Serve with crusty sourdough bread or crackers of your choice.

It was hard to stop nibbling this more-ish mix with my water crackers!

Next time I’s serve it hot with some fresh salad and a secondary dish.

Enjoy.

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environment

Kayaking and Visiting Lake Kurwongbah

Kayak on shores of Lake kurwongbah australia
Paddling a kayak is a relaxing way to exercise

We’ve had a family member’s kayak on loan for a while, but rarely taken it out because you know, life is mostly busy. There is always places to go, people to see, things to do, so kayaking was left on the back burner.

Finally a day arrives when we are free and the weather conditions are not right. I am too old to be paddling a kayak in gusty winds, where endurance and stamina are fundamentally necessary to get you back to shore! I don’t want the helicopter search and rescue to have to save me!

Last week, the weather was excellent.

Early morning, we loaded the kayak on the roof racks, with some difficulty and set off to Kayak on Lake Kurwongbah, in nearby Kallangur!

Lake Kurwongbah

Lake Kurwongbah is a freshwater lake that supplies water to the Northern suburbs of Greater Brisbane. It was initially constructed to supply water to a paper mill in the 1950s.

Water skiing and paddle craft are permitted on the lake. Fishing, although restricted to paddle craft was introduced several years ago as part of the program to reduce a resident population of Tilapia, an introduced noxious pest fish that is considered detrimental to our native fisheries.

Close to the shores of the lake, the presence of Waterweed and Water Lillies meant my paddle frequently got entangled around my paddle so I wondered whether this indicated there might be a nutrient run-off issue into the lake; fertiliser perhaps from surrounding suburban areas?

Fun Fact about Lake Kurwongbah

The naming of Lake Kurwongbah was the subject of a newspaper competition in 1958. The winning entry was Kurwongbah which is the Indigenous name for Sideling Creek; Kurwongbah means “black duck”.

http://prfma.com.au/lakes/lake-kurwongbah/

Picnic Spots at Lake Kurwongbah

The area is very popular on weekends and holidays as a picnic spot. There are shelters and electric barbecues. Parking is limited within the grounds, but there are plenty of extra spots on the main roads accessing the area.

people sitting under Picnic shelter having lunch at lake kurwongbah australia
Popular for a picnic lunch

Fish Stocks at Lake Kurwongbah

Since 2008, Lake Kurwongbah has been stocked with native fish and the following species might be found there:

• Australian Bass
• Yellow Belly (Golden Perch)
• Mary River Cod
• Snub Nose Gar
• Saratoga

Redclaw yabbies have been introduced and are not native to the area and should not be re-released if caught.

I may be getting too old to hoist the kayak on the SUV roof racks but the promise of Redclaw is tempting. Red Claw are a bit like a large prawn or scampi in flavour. This makes me want to get a crab pot and see if I can snag some!

Until next time, have a wonderful week.

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food, recipe

Anzac Biscuits – in Denmark and Australia

Quintessentially Aussie – ANZAC Biscuits

Merle is an Aussie Grandma and a fantastic cook who released a book of Australian recipes, and one of the all-time favourites is reproduced here albeit with a few alterations.

The recipe is posted here, as it was Anzac Day, yesterday.


Every year on 25 April, Australians remember the Anzacs in memorial services in every suburb, in every city in Australia, and it is a national holiday. I would venture to say a sacred day in the consciousness of all Australians.

Anzac biscuits are named after the Australian and New Zealand Army troops who fought on the side of Britain during WWI. They were unfortunately slaughtered in an mistaken decision made by the British command.

Churchills error in the Dardenelles against the Turkish forces resulted in an atrocious loss of life and the soldiers who fought there have since achieved saint-like status in the minds of Australians and Kiwis.

These biscuits/cookies keep well for an extended period of time and were sent in tins to the troops fighting in the filthy trenches at Lone Pine and Anzac Cove in Turkey, by the mothers and sweethearts of those brave young men.

Mel Gibson immortalised the Anzac soldier’s spirit in the 1981 film “Gallipoli”.

I cooked the Anzacs at 180 degrees C… sorry Merle love, my oven is happier working at a higher temperature than yours.

Feel free to post what temperature worked for you, if you try the recipe…

Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup plain flour (approx 4 ounces)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 160 g butter, melted

Preheat Oven 170 Celsius

Method
1. Sift flour, ginger in a mixing bowl and add coconuts, oats and sugar. Make a well in the centre
2. Stir in Golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb in a small bowl until combined. Add to the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well
3. Take heaped teaspoons of mix and roll into small balls. Place on trays and flatten gently. Bake 6-7 minutes ( I baked them for 10 mins)
4. Cool on tray 10 mins til they firm up slightly.

The supreme sacrifice of those men in the cause of freedom, is truly something to eternally ponder about. “Lest we Forget”  

Now you can also try these biscuits, and tell me what you think.

Reproduced here for the Danish island school and the children who some years back organized an Australian morning tea as part of their tuition from their fabulous teach who unfortunately passed away some years ago.

RIP Teacher Andrea.

cooking anzac biscuits
recipe

DIY Cake and Cookie Pre-Mix and Save

Never buy a packet cookie or cake mix again! Many of them are just flour, sugar and dehydrated egg or fat.

You can easily make good quality cake mixes on your own in a food processor, or by hand, if you relish manually rubbing in butter to flour; (I don’t). But it does save you money and assist in building a zero waste household!

Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com

Buying larger bags of flour and sugar, in order to make up a few batches of cake mix will save money in the long run, as you can access cheaper prices for buying in bulk.  Think how much each individual box of cake mix costs. I estimate you could save at least 2/3 of the retail price. So in effect, 3 for the price of 1!

These pre-made mixes can be made up immediately they’re removed from the fridge, but it will take a little longer than if the ingredients are at room temperature when you make them up. Use this time well by preparing pans, trays etc. whilst waiting for the mix to acclimatize.


Hints on Making Your own Baking Mixes:

  • Measure ingredients accurately.
  • Place mixes into sealable plastic bags: large zip lock bags are great.
  • Mark down the date prepared and the contents: eg.Chocolate cake/ orange cake, on the label. You might even want to add some simple directions on preparing or baking and give these mixes as gifts to friends. A marble cake pre made mix is welcomed by my friends.
  • Sealed well these mixes will store in the freezer for 3 months.
sourdough

Foundation Cake Pre-Mix

*NB: Self raising flour is the equivalent of 1 cup of plain or all purpose flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of Baking powder sifted and mixed thoroughly.

Cake Mix Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Self-raising Flour*
  • 3/4 cup (180 g) castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
  • 125 g (4oz) butter, straight from fridge and chopped into small cubes
  1. Combine sifted flour, sugar and milk powder in the bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade for blending the butter.
  2. Blitz dry ingredients for 2- 3 seconds to mix.
  3. Add the chopped cold butter.
  4. Process 10 to 20 seconds until butter is evenly distributed in dry ingredients.
  5. Seal and store or continue to make a completed cake.

Making up the Cake from the Pre-Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin Sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Prepare Foundation Cake Mix in a mixer bowl as instructed above.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla and water.
  3. Beat on low speed until ingredients are combined.
  4. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for three minutes or until mixture changes in colour and is smooth. (There should not be any lumps in the mixture; if there are, beat til they’ve disappeared).
  5. Spread mixture evenly into well-greased 20 cm Round, Bundt, Ring, or a 28 x 18 cm, (11x 7 in) lamington tin.
  6. Bake in moderate oven 30 minutes and leave for 10 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.

Cake Variations:

Orange Cake

Add 2 teaspoons grated orange rind with the water and eggs and omit vanilla.

Top cake with Orange glace icing when cold.

Coffee Cake

Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant coffee with 1/4 cup boiling water, and make up to 1/2 cup with cold water but leave to cool before using. Use this in place of the 1/2 cup water in original recipe.

Top with glace icing of your choice, or coffee icing.

Chocolate Cake

Sift 1/3 cup Cocoa into a small basin, gradually blend in 2/3 cup water, stir till smooth. Use in place of water in original recipe. (The extra water is needed in this recipe to absorb the cocoa.)

Top with chocolate icing.

Cooking Times

Cooking times vary so here is a guide to tin sizes and cooking times:

20 cm (8 inch) ring tin – 35 minutes

2 x 25 x 8 cm (10 in x 3 in) bar tins – 30 minutes

20 x 10 cm (8in x 4 in) loaf tin – 50 minutes

23 x 12 cm (9in x 5 in) loaf tin  – 50 minutes

25 x 15 cm (10in x 6 in) – 45 minutes

Basic Cake Icing

Vanilla Glace Icing

  • 1  1/2 cups Icing or Confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Milk, approximately
  1. Stir Icing sugar into small heatproof bowl
  2. Stir in butter, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick paste.
  3. Stand basin over hot water, stir constantly until icing is of spreading consistency.
  4. Spread over cold cake with spatula.

Variations:

Orange Glace Icing: Use 2 tablespoons strained orange juice in place of milk and omit vanilla.

Coffee Icing: Sift 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder with icing sugar.

If granular instant coffee is used, heat the milk and dissolve the coffee in the milk.

Chocolate Glace Icing: Sift 2 tablespoons cocoa with the icing sugar.

You will need about 2-3 tablespoons milk to bring mixture to a paste-like consistency.

Cookie Pre-Mix

Makes 20 cookies / aka biscuits

  • 1 and 1/4 cups self raising flour [ ie. 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose or plain flour and 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder].
  • 1 tablespoon skim milk powder
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 125 g (4 oz) butter
  • Sift flour milk and sugar, place in bowl of food processor which has been fitted with metal blade.
  • Add coconut, and chopped cold butter.
  • Process 10 – 20 seconds or until butter is evenly distributed through dry ingredients.
  • Seal and store for up to 3 months in fridge or freezer.

To make Cookies:

  1. Place prepared biscuit pre-mix in a bowl.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons water and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. (Mixture should be quite stiff).
  3. Roll teaspoonsfuls of mixture in to balls and place 5 cm (2 in) apart on lightly greased oven trays.
  4. Flatten biscuits with a fork which has been dipped in flour, or top biscuits with almonds, cherries or choc bits.
  5. Bake in moderate oven 10 – 15 minutes or til golden brown.
  6. Place on wire racks to cool.
cooking anzac biscuits

If you are planning a fund raiser, making the mix beforehand and bake without lengthy preparation on the day of sale.

No doubt about it, freshly baked home baked treasts will sell like hot cakes!!

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vegetable soup
food, health

Time for Tuscan Bean Soup

The beauty of this soup is that it works with most leftover vegetables. I chop up things I find in the fridge at the Home by the Sea, such as the leftover broccoli stalks or slightly limp-few days old -beans and add them in. The soup will taste just as good, if not better.

The addition of chickpeas adds a lot of fibre to this recipe and balances out the carbs hidden in the pancetta/bacon.

A hearty soup perfect for an easy family dinner.

tomato-parsley-food-cooking-

Tuscan Bean Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed Olive Oil
  • 2 medium Brown Onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g Speck, or good quality Bacon or Pancetta, coarsely sliced
  • 2 -3 Carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes*

I didn’t have a can of chopped Roma Tomatoes, in the pantry, so I boiled up 8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped them roughly, then boiling them in a saucepan till soft, [about 8 -10 minutes on medium heat].

  • 1/4 head of Cabbage, shredded coarsely
  • 1- 2 Zucchinis, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Thyme
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 small can of Chickpeas, in vinaigrette, rinsed and drained
  • 1 new Potato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole Celery stalk with leaves attached
  • Chives, a handful sliced plus some extra for garnishing

Serves 6

Tuscan Bean Soup

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan
  2. Cook onion, celery, garlic, and selected cured meat, such as Pancetta, stirring until onion and celery is soft (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add carrot, undrained tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, potato, thyme, stock, drained chickpeas, water and the whole celery stalk, with leaves attached.
  4. Bring to boil
  5. Simmer uncovered about 30 – 40 minutes [go for a nice walk whilst it is simmering]
  6. Remove the whole celery stalk with leaves
  7. Add finely sliced chives and garnish with a sprinkle prior to serving.
  8. Serve with a crusty bread

If you are a soup lover, you might also like Lemon Broccoli Soup

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food, health

Easy Salmon Pie with Cheesy Crust

Salmon is low in fat and high in protein. Not to mention it is a good source of B12, potassium, iron and vitamin D. No wonder the Scandinavians enjoy it.

Making pastry can be a pain but it’s a breeze with this recipe as the kitchen food processor blends and forms a delicious, cheesy pastry shell.

Cooks Notes:

This recipe is substantial and makes a filling pie great for serving the family or group. The pie cuts easily and holding its form brilliantly on the day of cooking as well as the next day for a summer lunch.

Salmon Pie Recipe

Preheat Oven to 180 C (350F)

Cheesy Pastry Crust Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 125 g Butter
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar or firm Cheese (substitutes are fine as long as it isn’t a cheese that melts too much such as mozzarella)
  1. Rub the butter into the flour using a Food Processor but not so much that it turns into a ball (keep it crumbly)
  2. Add the grated cheese and mix through the pastry.
  3. Set aside 1/4 of the mix to reserve for the pie topping
  4. Press the remainder into an 8-9 inch pottery, or glass, pie dish until it covers the base and sides to form the pastry shell.

Filling Ingredients

  • 220 gram (around 8 oz) can cooked Red or Pink Salmon, preferably boneless
  • 3 Eggs
  • 375 grams Sour cream (13 oz)
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Chives
  • 2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheese (extra)
  1. Drain and flake salmon and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients
  2. Place the combined mix into the pastry shell
  3. Crumb the reserved portion of the pastry crumbs on top
  4. Bake 40 – 50 minutes at 180 C (350 F) or until golden brown on top

Delicious served hot or cold the next day with a green salad.

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