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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
Combine sifted flour, sugar and milk powder in the bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade for blending the butter.
Blitz dry ingredients for 2- 3 seconds to mix.
Add the chopped cold butter.
Process 10 to 20 seconds until butter is evenly distributed in dry ingredients.
Seal and store or continue to make a completed cake.
Making up the Cake from the Pre-Mix
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin Sugar
1/2 cup water
Prepare Foundation Cake Mix in a mixer bowl as instructed above.
Add the eggs, vanilla and water.
Beat on low speed until ingredients are combined.
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).
Spread mixture evenly into well-greased 20 cm Round, Bundt, Ring, or a 28 x 18 cm, (11x 7 in) lamington tin.
Bake in moderate oven 30 minutes and leave for 10 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.
Add 2 teaspoons grated orange rind with the water and eggs and omit vanilla.
Top cake with Orange glace icing when cold.
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.
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 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
Stir Icing sugar into small heatproof bowl
Stir in butter, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick paste.
Stand basin over hot water, stir constantly until icing is of spreading consistency.
Spread over cold cake with spatula.
Orange Glace Icing: Use 2 tablespoons strained orange juice in place of milk and omit vanilla.
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?
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!
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
1 3/4 cups fine or Caster Sugar – I only used 1 & one-half cups
I do look for recipes that use cinnamon, as it is has so many health-giving benefits:
contains calcium, iron, vitamins, fibre
assists with a variety of digestive ailments such as gas and bloating
has a mild anti-inflammatory effect.
Studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control by taking as little as half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day. Improving insulin resistance can help in weight control as well as decreasing the risk for heart disease.
Initially I adapted a Danish Spice cake recipe posted by Ted at Recipereminiscing, but halved the recipe as it makes quite a large cake, used butter instead of margarine, and replaced the cloves with mixed spice. Then I added a few currants, because I had a slight oversupply of currants in the pantry and I thought it might work will with the spices.
The cake turned out well but I preferred another version of the Danish spice cake, one that is evocative of Christmas and all those aromatic spices. I have posted both Ted’s and my recipe below.
In Australia, we do not have easy access to the wonder that is a range of fermented milk products, so I substituted sour cream and plain probiotic yoghurt, in place of cultured milk.
Ted’s Danish Spice Cake
2,1 pint / 1 l flour 1,6 pint / 7.5 dl sugar 3 teaspoon cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon cloves, ground 1 tablespoon baking soda 1 egg 1,6 pint / 7.5 dl cultured milk (see note below) 5,3 oz. / 150 g margarine
 Set the oven at 390 F / 200 C.
 Melt the margarine.
 Mix all the dry ingredients.
 Mix the eggs with milk and margarine, and stirred into the dry.
 Bake in pan for approximately 30 min.
Note: Cultured milk or soured milk is a food product produced from the acidification of milk. It is not the same as spoiled milk that has gone bad, commonly but incorrectly called soured and which may contain toxins.
Acidification, which gives the milk a tart taste, is achieved either through the addition of an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, or through bacterial fermentation. The acid causes milk to coagulate and form a thicker consistency, and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and thus improves its shelf life. Soured milk that is produced by bacterial fermentation is more specifically called fermented milk or cultured milk.
Amanda’s Danish Spice Cake
2 dl Dark Brown sugar
0.5 dl White sugar
4.5 dl Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp Ground Cardamom
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Clove
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
2 tbspn Cocoa Powder
200ml Buttermilk or Yoghurt
100ml melted Copha/Coconut oil/Vegetable oil
Mix all the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
Ensure melted Copha and buttermilk is at room temperature and add to the dry ingredients.
Mix well, but not too much. If the Copha solidifies, place the bowl over a hot water bath and gently fold until even.
Pour into greased cake tin, I used a ‘kugelhof’ or bundt mould.
Bake in oven 175° celsius (350°F) for about 40 minutes.
Cool 10 mins before turning out.
For extra decadence (entirely optional):
Drizzle melted butter over the top and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar/dusting sugar.
Tips for measurement conversions:
1 cup = 8 fl oz = 2.4 dl = 24 cl = 240 ml
1 cup = 10 fl oz = 2.8 dl = 280 ml
dl – 1 deciliter = 6 (scant) tablespoons
Reasons to Indulge in this Cake:
It doesn’t require heavy lashings of icing, and the less sugar we eat, the better for us, right? (There is plenty of sugar in the cake itself, so why add more?)
While we are eating it, think of all the good things the spices are doing for our bodies!
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 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.