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

Mixed Baking Spice

IMG_6641 A spoonful of this, and a spoonful of that ~ usually we add many different spices to a baking recipe.  However, there are lots of times that adding a premixed spoonful will give you great results, with a bit of mystery that you wouldn’t get by mixing in two or three.  Speculoos/Speculaas cookies and biscuits are identified by a spice mix.  This same mix has moved its way into pastes and spreads.

This one is similar, and it can be used in any baking with apples and pears, beautifully, or anywhere you might use a pumpkin spice mix. I use it in bread puddings, fillings for sweet rolls, and in cookies.

The recipe doesn’t make too much, so it keeps fresh.  Give it a try the next time you go to grab a clatter of spices.  Continue reading

Steamed Cranberry-Ginger Pudding

IMG_5618In our childhood home, Christmas dinner used to always end with a suet pudding with hard sauce.  Lovingly made a month or so ahead of time to be part of the day’s celebrations.  Unfortunately, most of us children didn’t like the pudding.  It was too heavy following an exhausting day and a big dinner.  Even when we were told the stories of how our Grandmother used to make this very same pudding using her mother’s recipe (I know we have it somewhere, and when found, I’ll share it with you), we still weren’t enamored enough to enjoy it.

When our children were young, I started making a very simple gingerbread type pudding with cranberries and orange.  We would serve it with caramel sauce, and with a Grand Marnier hard sauce for the adults.  It made a great breakfast for Boxing Day, and became a bit of a tradition, until I lost my recipe.  I’ve been meaning to work it out over the past decade or so, but never seemed to get around to it.

This weekend, I finally did get around to it, and came up with individual puddings, which look so nice when plated.  Drizzle the plate with a bit of caramel sauce; place the pudding on top, with a small dollop of whipped cream.  Fancy, but not too fancy, just what’s needed after a feast.  Or just serve the puddings, and let folks pass the sauce & whip cream, and let them do it themselves.

Alternatively, you can douse the hot puddings with heated brandy and serve them flambé, or maybe just one to lead in with. IMG_5651 Continue reading

Pumpkin Scones with Ginger

IMG_5251For the past week or so, the island has been blanketted in fog.  Occasionally in the afternoon we get glimpses of blue sky which sends shots of light through the lingering wisps of fog, creating forests of sunbeams.  Even though I know that the sky is blue up above the fog bank, I live in a cocoon of grey softness.

The fog will pass eventually, and we’ll have several days of full on sunshine.  Time enough to finish up all the gardening in preparation for the short, wet days of winter, when it isn’t such an appealing idea to kneel out in the wet garden.

But for now, we’ll walk the dogs, fix the fences, move the cattle, and enjoy the restful times reading in front of the fire.  It really is fall now!

Nothing like pumpkin and spices to knock us upside of the head to remind us!   These scones are so easy and yummy, that they deserve to be made several times through the next month or so, during pumpkin season.  Although there’s absolutely no reason that they can’t be made at any other time. Continue reading

Molasses Crinkles

IMG_4775The summer is winding down.  Even though the days are still warm, the sun has dropped out of sight by 8PM, and the nights are cold.  I refuse to say it’s fall, as there’s technically still a week or so of summer left.  However, the fragrance of cooked spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger encourage me to think of the arrival of fall and the coziness that comes with it.

These were one of the first cookies I baked unassisted as a child.  I can well remember rolling the balls of dough in sugar and placing them in lines on the cookie sheets, carefully putting drops of water onto the sugared top of the unbaked cookies.  This “crinkles” their tops, and creates a bit of crunch. Continue reading