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

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
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

food, health, home

To Sour A Dough

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.

Sourdough Mother

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.

bread rolls

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.

Danish Rugbrød or Ryebread

The Sourdough Mother has now gone, so I will have to start the process over again, which is a lot of fun.

Next time, it will be with Rye flour and linseed, just like the Danes, I think.

A Home by the Sea
food, home

Not Your Average Carrot Cake

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.

city of stockholm across the water

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

Ingredients

  • 225 ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 310 g caster sugar
  • 170 g grated carrot
  • 3 eggs
  • 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

Icing

  • 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

Linking to the Trent’s Weekly Smile and Curl’s and Skirls Tea Party

A Home by the Sea
tree lined road
blogging, environment, writing

Sunrise and Sunset at the Beach

The morning sun rising over water can be one of the most invigorating feelings for the spirit and the body. Stimulating, within us, a bundle of potential energy to begin our day.

Sunrise is a time to bear witness to the opening of the universe’s portal to eternity. Untouchable and surreal.

When the sun breaks over the low, scudding clouds that persistently hang on the horizon, we are blessed with a fleeting splendour of golden rays that nourish in our spirit endless possibilities.

After hours of restful slumber, being present and mindful during a sunrise brings feelings of anticipation and promise: a myriad of potentials for a day we have yet to explore.

Sunsets

The amazing thing, about where I live, is the experience of both sunrise and sunset over the water. This is the beauty of living on a peninsula, with sea water on three sides.

The evening light show that Mother nature provides, is more often subdued than her morning counterpart.

More mellow, the tones of sunset can be at times be ever so thrilling, so excitable you cannot look away, lest the magic of what you are seeing, disappears.

Mostly laid back energy, the sunset is evocative of our time to chill out, to prepare for the evening and its accompanying slower pace. The light show nature lays out for us in a glorious sunset such as this, changes from a deep luminescent orange and gold, to a deep purple and hot pink.

The artist that is our Mother Nature is the consummate colour harmonizer. Sunset colours blend seamlessly. She never gets it wrong!

Life at my Home by the Sea is always satisfying.

Reaffirming something I have been waiting my whole life to experience.

I breathe a deep breath of satisfaction.

Sunrise
blogging, home

A Midlife Sea Change – Is it for you?

Right now on Cresting the Hill, you will find my post as guest blogger for Leanne’s MIDLIFE SYMPHONY series.

In this series, bloggers discuss what we are doing to make the second half of life the best half of life. Arguably, the best years of your life?

My house move to the Home by the Sea turned into a better than expected lifestyle change just the way I had dreamt of it. Read more about my sea change.

A Home by the Sea