Ginger Pear Cake and a mug of peacefulness

cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl

Looking up at the man I couldn’t help but have a quiet inward chuckle.

There he stood, poised, peaceful and completely in the moment. Sipping from his steaming mug, looking out over the morning sun lit park. Not once did he glance over to the hurrying mother of three, storming up the hill in an effort to get to school on time. Why would he? Bringing the cup slowly up to his lips with two gentle hands on either side, he was very much there, in his moment. His moment of stillness and quiet enjoyment. 

Why did this man on the balcony strike me so much on a sunny day at the end of the week?

Because he was in complete contrast to my morning, actually my whole week. It had been a busy one and on this day, it had been my cup of tea that had paid the price. The first was inhaled at 5.35am, the ambitious second cup was then microwaved for an uninspiring four times.

You don’t microwave tea! I hear you exclaim. I know, but I did. I do sometimes. As far too often that beautifully made up pot of tea, has been poured and left on the bench as something more pressing needs my attention. Four times that cup had been microwaved, and when it needed a fifth go, I gave up. We had to leave anyway, and that’s when I saw that man on his balcony.

With his steaming mug of solitude and peacefulness.

***************

I have a far more complicated (similar) recipe in my head for this cake, however on days where you find yourself microwaving your tea… simple cooking is called for and a blender cake fits the bill. 

cityhippyfarmgirl

Ginger Pear Cake

150g softened butter

150g brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp powdered ginger

2 eggs

2 peeled and cored soft pears*

75g glace ginger, roughly chopped

225g self raising flour

In a blender mix all ingredients together except flour and glace ginger. Pour wet mixture out into a bowl and fold through flour and roughly chopped ginger. Pop into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at 180C for about 40-50 minutes.

When cooled, dust with icing sugar and have with a mug of hot tea.

* In season at the moment if you live in Australia

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land of the clear blue waters…and markets, so many markets

markets

goodies

Byron Bay. Land of the clear blue waters, green rolling hills, steady stream of campervans, surfboards, sandy thonged toes (flip flops US readers, flip flops!) and markets…lots and lots of wonderful markets.

Farmers markets, artisan designer markets, Christmas markets, and just well…markets. They are all there. Not just within Byron Bay, but also in the surrounding townships. All really worth a visit, as I am yet to find one I didn’t like.

Seeing such thriving popular markets makes me really happy. Local food fare seems so very easy and accessible to get in this area. Small local businesses are supported, local farmers are embraced, little ideas get run with, getting a chance to grow, and amazing food really is everywhere. Spending time up in this area was a lovely gentle reminder of why I think shopping like this is important. If it can so easily be done in a smaller community, why does it seem so hard living like this in a big city?

vegan black forest cake

Mulumbimby saw my first raw vegan Black Forest Cake. Just quietly, I’m usually a little hesitant with vegan dessert options, (cardboard, stodgy and tasteless are words that usually spring to mind,) but this was delicious and I stand so very corrected. I don’t think I could ever be a long term raw vegan but I’m definitely going to explore those two eating avenues a little further.

Alive Granola (raw, vegan, dairy, gluten and sugar free) was another delicious vegany find. I’m hooked on this stuff thanks to my friend who introduced me to it. I’m going to have to recreate it somehow now,  as my stash now has dwindled.

chocpuddingfruit

doughnut

I also finally tried a chocolate pudding fruit, black sapote. Does it look like chocolate pudding inside? Yes, it most certainly does, and unfortunately I don’t have a picture to prove it. (Have a look here if you are interested though.) I really can’t compare this taste to anything I have had before. Funnily enough I could certainly see it being used in raw sugar free vegan desserts, it would be absolutely perfect for it.

The Byron Markets also have the famous organic, dark chocolate doughnuts. Worthy of a long drive? You betcha. All doughnuts were definitely not created equal, and these superb little creatures live high on the mountain of ‘BEST DOUGHNUTS EVER’.

chai

DSC_0132 copy

Chai being my tea of drink these days, I knew before going up there that a few of my favourite tea companies were located in that general area. Well I was in for a treat, as I found more, and also found a new favourite. I’m picky with my chai. It can’t have liquorice root in it, and I would prefer to be able to see the spices in it, not all ground up to a dark fine powder. This one was perfect. Gives me a lovely little kick start first thing in the morning.

Handmade goodies are also a big highlight in this area. We picked up one of these sweet little softie dolls for a certain little ones first birthday next month (oh eek, nearly a whole year!) I could have bought a whole heap of them as I really couldn’t decide.

Then just like that, our time up in Byron came to a close. Land of the clear blue waters, green rolling hills and surfboards was feeling all too brief. Promises of we’ll be back soon, promises of return to pristine beaches, and promises of coming back to visit all those markets.

Mulumbimby Farmers Markets

Byron Bay Farmers Markets

Bangalow Farmers Markets

Byron Bay Regional Markets

a triumphant beetroot

We eyed each other off. Me on one side, it laying boldly on top. My shoulders slump a little, my breath exhales slowly and I gingerly pick it up.

I can’t help but sigh. There we were again, looking eye to… well foliage, with the same old dilemma. What to do with you beetroot?

You see, beetroot and I were not friends. We never were. Sure, his trashy cousin from the can was fine. Actually rather enjoyable slapped on to a weekend burger, but it was this guy. The plump, rounded, red, rooted vegetable that kept cropping up in my vegetable box. Time and time again, there he was. When will this damn beetroot season end?

I had tried to like it, I really had. Steamed…ick. Pan fried…ick. Drowned in balsamic and goats cheese…ick. Chocolate cake…ok, that one was fine, but I didn’t want to be making that all the time. Nothing seemed to make those red bulbs tasty, the earthy taste of it just stuck to it. I didn’t like it as a kid and I didn’t like it as an adult.

So I gave them away. Happily dropped them off to a neighbour. Passed them on to a friend at school. No dilemma, no thought… here you go, they’re all yours! Big lovely red bunches of them.

Another week went by and it happened again. A top of the vegetable box, sitting proudly in all its rounded red glory, the plumpest, most delicious looking fat beets you had ever seen. (Yes, despite me thinking they tasted ick, I could still value their beauty.)

I sighed… come on, you can do this I whispered to myself… try again. So I instagrammed them, got a lovely lot of suggestions of what to do with them and then turned my oven on. Roasted was suggested, and roasted it was. I hadn’t tried that way yet, maybe, just maybe this was the way to make it slightly palatable.

And it was, it so was. That earthiness that I couldn’t shake before seemed to have disappeared. Leaving instead a sweetness (that rather surprisingly) was quite delicious.

Roasted Beetroot and Pistachio Dip

On a tray into the oven with your whole fat beets at about 180C, (they’re done when you can slip a knife in easily.)

the skin can easily be peeled off when you’ve done this-

chop in to rough pieces and add

a handful of roasted pistachio

salt and pepper to taste

blitz it all with a hand held mixer

and then stir though four heaped dessert spoonfuls of natural yogurt

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We ate this with a little spelt sourdough, and also on top of pumpkin soup- which had some great colours.

For all those who already eat roasted beetroot and are thinking well, duh Brydie…of course that’s the best way! What can I say? Sometimes, things run a little slower round these parts.

the pumpkin time had arrived

pumpkin dhal

The pumpkin had been sitting there, waiting patiently on the kitchen table for weeks.

Days went by, and still nothing. Evening meals came and went on by, still no pumpkin passed our lips. I was waiting for the right moment, the right time to cut in to that deep orange flesh. It had been grown and given with thought and love. I wanted to eat it in the same way.

The time was right, the knife was sharp, our bellies were hungry.

The pumpkin time had arrived.

Pumpkin Scones

25g softened butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup mashed pumpkin

1 beaten egg

grated rind of half a lemon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

pinch of salt

3 cups sifted s/r flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Whisk in all other ingredients except the flour. Fold in flour with a knife. Turn out on to a floured surface and lightly knead, just until the ingredients come together. Cut out with a floured upturned glass. Pop on to a baking tray and bake at 210C for about 20 minutes.