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?
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
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
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350° F or 175° C
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon zest.
Transfer to a greased 8×4-in. loaf pan.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread.
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.
The uptake of families using their pandemic down time to create things at home, has led to shortages of essentials in stores in some places.
It is as if we have rewound the clock, to an earlier time, when takeaway was unknown and we prepared all of our own food. Which is such a better way to eat than packaged, pre-prepared foods that are preserved beyond comprehension and have a shelf life that Cro-Magnon man would envy?
Repressed Baker or Bakeaholic?
In my house, the baking frenzy – and the #onecakeaweek has been in full swing during the length of the Covid pandemic. Yet, I still bear the title of ‘Repressed baker.’
Or, perhaps it was likely that I was a baker in a former life?
I venture to say the joy of kneading bread dough borders on the therapeutic, for me at least. Kneading, folding, creating and then of course the joy of eating. It is almost blissful.
It is not the first time, this lapsed baker has made bread, but it has been a while.
When I turned 21 years old, I decided it was time to hang up my bread-making apron for other pursuits. Not only was the process of making bread time-consuming, but good yeast was hard to find and quite expensive. As a 20-something, the novelty of making my own varieties of bread quickly wore off.
Like others, the enforced leave from work, with adult kids who have (mostly), left the nest, means the urge to bake all kinds of things has returned with gusto.
Now in the midst of lockdown, I returned to the kitchen to make sourdogh bread. I have already made loads of different kinds of cakes and sweet treats and was growing a sourdough mother under the expert tutelage of my blogger friends and bread-baking mentors, Sandy and Peggy.
Once I was able to secure some wholemeal flour, which was a feat in itself, given the shortages under Covid, I tended the sourdough starter lovingly for days and made a pancakes out of the discard.
The Final Result Sourdough Rolls
At the end of the week, I produced these wonderful Wholemeal Sourdough bread Rolls from Peggy‘s recipe.
I had enough to give some to my son and a friend. Surprisingly, the friend who happens to be Danish, so is used to beautifully cooked bread, raved about my sourdough rolls.
I was a little surprised she liked them, as I found them quite dense in texture and sliced them thinly to toast them. But then compared to Rugbrød, the Danish Rye bread, they are most likely light and airy given that the Danes like their bread really heavy and solid.
The Sourdough Mother has now gone, so I will have to start the process over again, which is a lot of fun.
I was racking my brains to find the location for a recipe for Carrot Cake I had saved somewhere. It has been sitting in my file notes for I think, several years.
Last week, I made it. The M.o.t.h. loves Carrot cakes as he figures as it is a vegetable, it is all healthy and he can have a larger helping! Although it doesn’t work like that, at least he is getting a bit more fibre in his diet!
The added bonus of cardamon gives it an aromatic hint of something more. Something a little Nordic.
Research online tells me that this recipe is adapted from the bakery of the iconic Rosendal trädgården (a horticultural garden in front of Rosendal Palace) in Stockholm.
I don’t ever ice my cakes, they are sweet enough, already – for me. And cake icing and a sub tropical climate doesn’t make a good marriage. It is melts everywhere and is so messy.
If you do want to ice the cake the cream cheese icing works really well and provides a slightly savoury and sweet combination, so popular in Scandinavian cuisine.
Carrot and Cardamon Cake Recipe
225 ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
310 g caster sugar
170 g grated carrot
240 g plain flour
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
40 g chopped walnuts
200 g unsalted butter
200 g cream cheese
180 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Cook’s notes (Source: sbs.com.au)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC – (390º F) bit lower if using a fan-forced oven.
Beat the oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl for 5 minutes, until light yellowish white.
Keep beating while you add the carrot and the eggs, one at a time.
Add the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Mix for a few minutes
Stir in the walnuts with a spatula.
Using a greased 23 cm round cake tin or an 11 x 6 ” loaf pan, bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool in its tin for 10 minutes then turn out. If using the loaf pan, you might have enough over to make a smaller friand loaf as well – (around 5″x3″) – good to pop in the freezer if needed later.
To make the icing by beating together all the ingredients until smooth.
Recipe originally from The New Nordic by Simon Bajada
I love to try Nordic cooking and dishes. My connection with my Danish family feels a little stronger when I make something peculiarly Danish.
The bonus comes when the dish is healthy AND tasty.
Cucumbers are a humble yet versatile vegetable that hold an important place in salads and summer dishes.
Pickled cucumbers extend the life of salad vegetables, so we can enjoy them for longer. For those of us living in a warmer part of the world, cucumbers are an everyday part of life.
Nutritional Benefits of Cucumber
In just a single cup of cucumber slices, you’ll get 14% to 19% of the vitamin K you need for the day. In addition, you will find vitamins B and C along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
Danish Cucumber Salad
This really quick and simple form of cucumber salad, (or in Danish, ‘Agurksalat’), that can extend the life of your salad vegetables and impart another flavour to your meals.
Tart and scrumptious with a tuna or smoked salmon sandwich, or with cold meats, this form of cucumber salad will keep in the fridge for days.
If you run out, you can reuse the liquid and top up with another cucumber or two before you dispose of it.
1- 2 thinly sliced cucumbers (I use Lebanese)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Rosemary or Dill
Thinly slice cucumbers. Peel them if you prefer or have an issue with digesting vegetable skins.
Place in a bowl and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt. Set aside for an hour then drain off the liquid, or pat dry with a paper towel.
Place the sliced and drained cucumbers in a glass jar. Use a glass jar due to the vinegar. (2 cups is a good starting amount, but you can use up to 2 full cucumbers for the amount of vinegar and sugar.) Add more if you are using large cucumbers but equal quantities of vinegar and sugar.
Place the vinegar and sugar in a pan. Heat until sugar is dissolved. I throw mine in the microwave for a minute. (Feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of water if you feel that the vinegar is too strong.)
Pour the vinegar and sugar over the cucumbers. Add pepper to taste. (Black pepper is fine, but white is less noticeable.)
Place a sprig of dill or rosemary in the jar (optional) and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
NB. As you finish the cucumbers, you can slice some more and continue to use the liquid for some time.
Whilst everyone has their own individual recipe, there are many similar versions
Snow wrote something thought-provoking about parenting children. She wondered how much upbringing and certain experiences, or lack thereof, influence the adult a child becomes.
Conscientious parents are always concerned about impacts of parenting styles and the way we raise our children. I was. The old question of what makes an adult behave the way they do? Nature or nurture? Is it environment that shapes a child more or nature, or a blend of both?
Is there even such a thing as a perfect parent? Many expect that of ourselves and aspire to be just that – a perfect parent. Some fantasy that is unattainable.
What Kind of Parent are You?
Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” ~Oscar Wilde
I wanted to be a good parent and read all kinds of parenting books and tips during my pregnancies, but children don’t always fit the model the book writes about, do they?
Children are as individual as there are grains of sand on the beach. Often-times, you have to make up the rules on the hop. There’s no time to analyse what is best, especially when you are dealing with more than one child, sibling rivalries, nappies, meals, and other family commitments.
I wasn’t a perfect parent and I don’t know anyone that was. Most parents have good intentions, most do their best they can at that given moment. There is no guidebook and every child is an individual.
For many years, I looked up to a neighbour who seemed to manage four small children without any kind of drama. Her life was perfect and her children were perfect. One evening, I was outside in my backyard. When all is quiet, noise carries further and I could heard her berating her children. The fantasy was shattered.
As a parent, I made blunders and regretted actions I took, enforcing certain boundaries for my own children. Sometimes I allowed them too much freedom, other times not enough. What worked for one child, did not seem to work for the next. In talking to other parents, it is apparent everyone makes mistakes at some point. If there is a parent that thinks they did the perfect job, I am yet to meet them.
Snow questions if it matters if her children haven’t petted a cat or flown on an airplane? I don’t think it does. Many kids grow up in areas without first-world privileges, TV or devices. Does it make a big difference to the adult they become?
There is much more to a child than the environment. Give a child an expensive toy and some will use their imagination playing with the large cardboard box the toy came in than with the toy itself.
Children and Television
When my children were small, they were not allowed to watch a particular TV show during school terms, but they could watch it in the school holidays. Given that we had younger children in the house, I did not deem that show to be appropriate for our family. Yet, all the other boys in his school class got to watch this TV show and my son didn’t.
Years later, when he was a teenager, my son told me in a half-joking way that he had felt left out at school, as he couldn’t contribute to the playground conversation. When I asked him why – he told me that the playground chats with the boys in his class were always about what happened in the previous night’s episode, of that TV show.
Was he deprived for not being able to contribute to the social conversation at school? He felt ostracised and belonging is important to everyone. Did this affect him long term? The answer is uncertain and depends on his own judgement of that experience and his perspective.
Some adults carry emotional wounds, whether that be from an experience, an interaction with a bully, personal loss or grief. Do we re-live our negative experiences and continue to harbour resentment or blame, thus being a victim, or move past it and grow?
If we aren’t able to move on and forgive transgressions from our past, we might get stuck resenting someone or something.
“As adults, we have the capacity to shape their own lives and the responsibility to do so.”
Ultimately, if you listen to your children, care for them, give them reasonable boundaries and above all, love them unconditionally, then you ARE the perfect parent for that child. After all, you do know your children best.
Forget the Banana Bread, that is so yesterday! The new kid on the block at the Home by the Sea, is a breakfast Fig and Walnut Loaf.
Never having with Figs before, I was convinced to give it a go when my local cafe shut down. One of their signature breakfast dishes was a delicious Fig and Walnut Loaf. Not to be defeated, I decided to replicate this delight on my own.
The recipe was simple and straightforward, however I recommend exercising restraint with the quantity of figs. 250 grams of Figs constitutes a a whole packet and I only added half of that amount to this mix. That was more than enough and still leaves you with a very figgy loaf, which is fine, but I would suggest reducing the figs to 100 grams and adding a tad more walnuts.
But that is just my personal taste.
A nice variation would be to substitute a blend of Dried Apricots and Figs, or a mix of nuts. I suggest hazelnuts or pecans as well as walnuts.
I am sure you will absolutely love this dish for breakfast. As it takes 90 minutes to cook a deep loaf, I used two small loaf tins and a long 20 x 10 cm pan. The smaller pans were done in 30 minutes, whilst the larger took 75 minutes at the recommended temperature.
Fig and Walnut Loaf Recipe
125 grams or 1/2 cup unsalted Butter, chopped
1 1/2 cups Water
1/2 cup Buttermilk or Kefir
250 grams or 1 cup Dried Figs**
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups Wholemeal Spelt Flour, sifted
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Dessicated Coconut
Grease and line a large Non-stick Loaf Tin
Place butter and water in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat.
When butter is melted, add figs. Bring to the boil and remove from heat.
Transfer figs and butter mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool.
Add buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, flour, baking powder and mixed spice to bowl and stir to combine.
Add walnuts and coconut and stir one last time.
Pour into prepared tin.
Bake in 160c oven for 90 minutes.
Slice and serve with butter, and Garnish with mint, strawberries and dusting of icing sugar.