Coconut Chai Cake

IMG_2094When we were very young, our parents would take us exploring in our cabin cruiser, “The Hurricane” up through Howe Sound, and further up along the Sunshine Coast towards Texada Island. While I never remember staying overnight on the boat, we did do some very long day trips. We’d sit in a line along the bench at the stern of the boat, with lifejackets rubbing our chins, while the sun and wind toasted us. Dad would sit on a high seat, steering, sometimes allowing one of us to help him. There was a small cabin, with counters, a table & bench seating. It most likely converted into a bed if needed. Mom would have packed our very reliable picnic basket with egg sandwiches, some sort of cake, and cookies, and lemonade. At some point, tins of Shasta sodas usurped the bottles of lemonade.

We’d spend all day doing long runs out in the sea, or poking from inlet to inlet, getting off the boat to explore. Needing to swim into shore, or be lifted by Dad.

On a recent road trip up to Bowser, and lots of tucking into the beach all along the way, north of Parksville, we stood on the beach and looked all the way from just south of Baynes Sound towards Vancouver. With the calm waters, and the hint of summer in the air, I was transplanted back to that bench at the stern of the boat, feeling the sense of adventure we always felt when leaving the dock, and very much felt the presence of our parents. Those wonderful boat trips, although early in our lives, imprinted the need to be near the ocean in all of us.

This is a delightful snacking cake that would be perfect for a day on a boat, or a picnic. Originally from BBC Good Food, I have tweaked it a bit, a delicious idea to put the wonderful flavours of Chai into a cake. Enjoy! Continue reading

Lemon Coconut Bars

IMG_8255Although Sheila’s Lemon Bars hold a very special place in the hearts of our family and friends, sometimes I want to create something just a bit more complex.   By adding coconut to the shortbread crust, it gives a lovely new quality to the original. Topped with an extra thick layer of the lemony custard, they become more of a dessert instead of a snack. Continue reading

Lemon Coconut Chiffon Cake

IMG_3659There is something very special about a light and fluffy chiffon cake.  Usually they are fragrantly laced with citrus, and are beautiful when served simply with some fresh macerated fruit with the juices wicking into the crumb.

They also work really well when you want to make a great presentation cake.  This recipe uses coconut right in the batter.  Once cooked, it is cut into layers and filled with lemon curd.  Top it off with a light and fluffy coconut icing (with a built in stabilizer), and it has become an amazingly pretty cake, that is light and not too filling.

There may seem to be a lot of instruction, but just read it through first, and you’ll see that it really is a very basic cake, and not hard to succeed at!

Find a small glass or jar to fit into the center hole of the cake, to put in a small posy or a larger blossom.  Just wrap the stems in damp paper towel, and put the flowers in the glass.  Slice the cake with a serrated blade to make a tidy cut. Continue reading

Basic Freezer Cookies (Blueberry & Pumpkin Seed Version)

IMG_5367These are excellent cookies to have on hand in your freezer.  They are easy to make, and quick to bake.  We used to make them every Christmas with nuts and cherries, and there is something so wonderful about their simplicity.  So often during the holidays we work to create little masterpieces, so it is lovely to be able to whip up something so good, so easily!  Actually, you could make them today, and bake them Christmas Eve! No muss, no fuss.

For this version, I’ve used dried blueberries, raw pumpkin seeds, and ground flax.  Five other versions follow the recipe.  But this is the type of cookie that does well with experitmentation, so let your creative juices flow! Continue reading

Coconut Rice with Fragrant Onion Sauce

Image In my early 20’s my younger sister and I shared an apartment.  We had two cats, two bedrooms, and groups of friends five years apart.  Somehow it all worked.  I was big sister to many of her friends, and my responsibility for her kept me with my feet firmly on the ground.  We started off in a two bedroom ground floor suite that we could hop over the hedge and come in through the sliding doors, in a complex that had a pool that we never used.  Next step up was a one bedroom in a more amenable area, in an older building with bigger rooms, with a creepy guy across the way that used to exercise in his briefs (we called him Jock Strap).

Finally we moved into a huge two bedroom third floor suite.  It had been left in disrepair, so we made a quick agreement with the manager to paint the whole of it in exchange for the damage deposit.   There was even a horrible mustard yellow “feature” wall that had a large dark stain dribbled down it.  With a group of friends over one weekend (and a can of marine grade paint to cover the yellow wall), we got the whole of it done and moved into our first home-like suite.

There was a green grocer up the street who would sell us a stalk of celery or half a head of lettuce.  The butcher was across the street, with a grocery store across the laneway.  We ate well.  Not a lot, but well.

One of our mainstay dinners was a couple of pieces of chicken seasoned and baked for ½ an hour or so, while we cooked some rice and a veg.  Very plain, but it worked.  I think the format of the supper allowed me to get some nutrition in fairly quickly after a day’s work before I’d head down to the stables to train for a couple of hours.

Rice has always been an easy way to round out a meal.  I know we’re supposed to only eat brown rice, but it just takes too long!  I use it, but more usually Basmati or Japanese.  I’ll get my whole grains elsewhere.

When a large bowl of rice gets plunked down on a table family style, it quickly conforms to the shape of the bowl, and becomes less appealing.  This recipe builds in a bit of sauce, so it stays moist and tempting far longer. Tuck a couple of flowers in the side and your family will think you’ve gone all “gourmet” on them.       Continue reading