“What on earth is Jude talking about” ? I hear you ask… well a shrub is kinda like an old fashioned cordial, only it’s vinegar based (which preserves it). I love them, and last Christmas I started trying them out and feel pretty confident to tell you how I did it. It’s going to take about 2 weeks, so perfectly in time for Christmas. I just picked up those babies above the other day on my way home… seconds.
The Poole china…well, this year Christmas will be in my new home, with all the family coming. I’m setting the table (part of it will be a trestle table) and I thought to myself, I would love, love to use Mum’s glorious green Poole china. I warn you I may shed a tear as I write this, i’m a bit emotional at the moment… the stopping after a huge and massive year, and it doesn’t take much to get me crying. Mum is 96 and still lives at home, independently, still cooking but absolutely not as capable as she once was. She is at the pointy end of the stick in life, and wanting to move things out of the home to people. The Poole china was to go to me, and I asked mum the other day if I could use it for Christmas. Well, this week I packed it into boxes with mum watching and bought it home. “Check if there is anything else in the cupboard” she said, so i did, and there was – beautiful Kosta Boda glass bowls, stunning glass bowl… “take them too”. My mum has never had a lot, but what she had was beautiful – she has spectacular taste. And here was I packing them to leave her home forever, she was passing this onto me, preparing to know that this part of her life, and indeed her life was coming to it’s close. My mum has always been there for me, when i hated her, yelled at her, left her, she has loved and supported me no matter what. What value of a mother ? It’s everything. So that’s the Poole china. This Christmas, no matter where you mum is, give thanks to her for without our mums, who would we be?
So recipe below… it’s super easy and I hope you enjoy it. I haven’t given you a finished photo of the shrub because mine is still in the making, but if you look around the internet you will see them – THIS pic is gorgeous and will give you the idea. What I also do, when the shrub is finished is use the discarded peach (all sweet and vinegared up) to make peach chutney. Now, if you are looking for more Christmas ideas (like Marshmallow, Gingerbread House and goodness knows what, you can find them HERE. OR, you can just go to the blog and hit Christmas and have a look through.
May your days be merry and bright as we lead into this most special time of the year…
Why cake ? Because joy and deliciousness are nutrients in their own right, as our love and beauty. With the cooler weather, the cakes I bake become a little richer and with Mothers Day coming up, I threw in a couple of frostings as well. We’re getting dressed up and special.
Now, this cake is an old recipe – it was hands down the best selling cake back in my Earth Market days (the wholefood cafe and store I co – founded back in the late 90’s), and one of the most popular recipes from my first book Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight. This post is going to be all about the cake, I’ve got to get it finished, and then finish of packing up my house as I move in 2 weeks (equal measures of arrrrgggghhhhh and excitement). All of these beautiful photos ©Harriet Harcourt
The cake itself:
- If you choose to use the rapadura sugar it will be less sweet, more whole and possibly a little drier (a bit similar to my Coffee and Walnut Cake from Wholefood Baking) – this is because sugar makes up part of the liquid percentage in baking. But, I reduced the amount of sugar from the original also, and I give you the option of increasing it in the recipe (this will help to moisten it up). You can also get around this by baking it as one 20cm cake, then cutting it into 3 – I chose to divide the batter as 3 individual cakes, but think it suffered for that – mind you, there were very few complaints from the WACA (West Australian Cricket Association) testing crew – some did find it a little dry.
- This cake is largely dairy free – see cake itself recipe. The chocolate fudge frosting is dairy free but I chose to use the raspberry better buttercream for the in-between layers. If you would like to use all chocolate, there will be enough frosting to layer the cakes, and top and side it. The raspberry BB will only be enough for the 2 layers – you will need to double it if you want some for the top and side.
- The cocoa powder. Please, do not use raw cocoa powder – you won’t find any in my pantry. This recipe is designed for, and uses a dutched cocoa – this is a less acidic cocoa. It’s tricky to know which good (organic) brands are, but certainly Organic Times is, and generally freely available.
How to put the cake together:
1: I didn’t stress about making a perfect cake, hence I put it basically together on the workbench. But you can put it together on a cardboard round (making it easier to move onto the cake stand), and also do it on a cake turntable stand. I’m using my 15cm palette knife, here and for pretty much the entire cake.
2: Start by placing a very generous amount of chocolate frosting on top of the cake, then push it towards the edge, taking it down the side of the cake. continue this until the entire cake is covered. When it is entirely covered, pick it up using a larger palette knife and place on the cake stand.
3. I use my stainless steel squared off dough scraper, and gently turn the cake around while I even out the frosting on the side, then on to my trusty 15cm palette to tidy and clean it all up.
4: Onto decorating and eating !
Being a mum of my beautiful daughter Nessie, is without doubt the blessing of my life – here we are (when I still had dark hair) circa 1986, and how grateful I am to my mum, without whom I would have not been able to do a fraction of what I’ve been able to do in my life. Blessed indeed, and I wish the same for you… x jude
Hello !!! Are you as busy as I am right now, finishing off jobs before Christmas (for me that is putting the new book to bed – going through last pages, checking it twice – and getting my new online tax system finished, making sure my builders are going to get the roof on my new house before Christmas to avoid delays in the new year, thank you notes)….. ? I’ve tidied up the blog a bit (but really it needs a lot more tidying up – as does my garden) and have rounded up some recipes that are 1) Christmas and 2) are great for this time of the year. Please bear in mind, some of these recipes are old (but not bad) and have not imported into the new website beautifully – and, I’m a bit better photographer than before (not a lot, but a bit!) They are still favourites.. especially the puff pastry. I’ll have a new post up next week for a easy, dairy + gluten free + vegan dessert – one of my favourites.
Till then… x jude
There are an awful lot of hyped up conversations about sugar going on and sugar free is in, big time – another book, another movie, another fractionalised approach to food. I’ve stayed out of this debate, preferring to run a conversation in my books and classes about a wholefoods and wholistic life, but after reading this great article by Jess Cox, I felt it was timely to put forward what I consider a sensible conversation about sugar. This also coincided with the passing of my dear friends Denise and Julies’ mum – Shirley – but more about that later.
When I started out on my wholefood path some 25 years ago, I too saw things from quite a black or white perspective – I had not yet learnt that things are always far deeper and more complex than at first glance and that it is generally not what the food IS that makes it good, or wholesome and healthy, ethical or sustainable, but how we grow it, process and prepare it that is. And, the context in which we source it, eat it and the life we live. And my, but is sugar a great example of this, and of a wholefood philosophy and a wholistic lifestyle in general.
From a wholefood perspective, we could say that cane sugar juice in its natural state is a rich source of vitamins, minerals enzymes, fibers and phytonutrients, which the body requires to digest the sucrose and provide a slow release of fuel. Indeed the minerals calcium, phosphorous, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, copper, iron, zinc and manganese are absolutely essential for this process. To store over long periods and stop it from fermenting, cane juice is boiled to evaporate water and this end product is known by many names – for example Rapadura or Panela (they do the same thing, for the same reason to maple syrup and coconut palm nectar). In its traditional homes (Central and South Americas) it is consumed within the context of a whole and balanced diet and is considered a healthful and nourishing food – this is what we should be referring to when we use the words cane sugar. But, I do understand that in most cases, when we say the word sugar, we are referring to what we know as refined sugar – the cane juice instead is boiled under vacuum to achieve high enough temperatures for crystallisation, with all nutrients removed or at the very least with a few left in, during the refining process. It is a very different thing because of the way it has been processed and now, without the wealth of nutrients and polyphenols to aid the digestion of sucrose and slow down its release, it will hit the blood stream too quickly. I also understand very well that our bodies have not evolved to handle this, however will do it’s best – pulling nutrients from elsewhere in the body leading to depletion.
Which brings me to Shirley. One of the things that came through so clearly and strongly at the funeral of this very beautiful woman (both inside and out) when people spoke about their memories of her, was that the cake and biscuit tin was always full – made with refined white flour and sugar – and in the profound words of the CWA (Country Womens Association), ‘it’s not just about the scones and tea’. Shirley was always there, her door was always open, with a cup of tea and comfort. Somehow (according to the current fractionalised views on sugar) with this refined sugar in their diet Shirley and Ralph raised exceptional, healthy, wonderful children that contribute so much to our community. Somehow Shirley and Ralph lived full, happy and rich lives. Now I could also be talking of my mum (and indeed much of this generation now in their late 80’s and 90’s), who still makes biscuits and muffins for when people drop in, or to give to others. She uses white flour and refined white sugar. From a wholistic perspective (the one that fascinates me the most) is that I honestly don’t think that this bit of white sugar in a whole and balanced diet is evil, or cause disease, or indeed is going to kill you. But eating a lot of refined white sugar and flour, low fat, processed vegetable oil, nutrient deficient, additive laden food in a stressful life possibly will. From this wholistic perspective, I think we are looking in all the wrong places for salvation (hello green smoothie).I think it is far more important that we focus our attention on the fundamentals which you can find here, and when these are strong and in place (as they most certainly have been and in many cases still are in our very older generations) the issue of refined white sugar diminishes. And of course the elephant in the room always is that whilst people might be ditching refined white sugar, but they are most certainly not ditching sweetness – sweetness is always about balance and context.
Personally, my choice is for less refined sweeteners, I like the flavours and nuanced sweetness they give, but when I eat my mum’s muffins I am partaking in powerful love medicine. I love rapadura sugar, but when I do want a cane sugar with less impact I will choose the semi refined (but still crystallised) sugars such as the Billingtons range, where less goodness is taken out in the beginning. I also love maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut palm sugar and brown rice syrup (but take note all brands of BRS are not equal and in Australia I choose Spiral), and of course fruit. I dislike and do not advocate products such as Agave or Xylitol – both highly refined products.
Shirley was known for and for her love of a good sponge cake and for the time she took to sit down with others. Afternoon tea is a great way to slow down on the weekend and stop, and for some to lay their burdens down. I thought you might like to make one for a weekend in the warmer spring weather. A sponge is certainly my favourite cake too – I love it with passionfruit and banana. If a sponge is not your thing, there’s plenty more delicious options in my book Wholefood Baking (and don’t forget to check out the yummy Choc Peanut Truffles on Jess’ post. Vale Shirley.
As you can see, I like a bit of scone with my butter, and it seems that many of you do too, if the facebook post is anything to go by :) I’m making this post quick and short, so I can get this up in time, just in case any one would like to make these for Mothers Day morning tea.
I’ve been making these just recently to have something in the freezer to quickly take out and heat, for morning tea. Autumn has bought some very cold mornings recently, and my house is even colder, so when I’m sitting at my desk (editing the new book), a warm cup of tea and scone is just what the doctor ordered. I love scones, any flavour just about (so long as it’s not chocolate or too weird), and think pumpkin and date is in the top 5. And, there’s no reason you can’t chop up a lot of glace ginger and put that in also.
So whether you are making these for a Mothers Day treat, or just a warm something on a busy working day, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I’ll be making a batch at Mum’s tomorrow for her freezer, so she too has some treat goodness for a cold morning on hand…. x Jude
HELLO 2012, I’M NEARLY READY TO DIVE IN
Nearly ready, but not quite. Still re- connecting mind and soul, not wanting to make any decisions whatsoever (way too hard) and still feeling not quite whole. And that’s what it’s all about really isn’t it when it comes down to it? Being whole. That word is a big one for me and sums up my approach and beliefs to most things – my work is not called ‘ wholefood ‘ by mistake :) ! A whole life, expressing soul on the earthly plane is my interest, but I don’t think you’d call me new agey at all. I just have this thing for beauty and feel very close to ‘god or the universe’ when I’m around it. And what’s beauty for me? Something real, something true. But enough of that – this is a short post to say that other than knitting mind and soul together, I’ve been recipe testing and getting the garden ready for the heat. That’s the cucumber and zucchini bed below going nuts – there are at least 30 baby cucumbers that will be ready next week !!
I had quite a few recipes that needed some checking – small things like how much ganache do I need for the cookie batch below and thus it goes.
We are off to Rottnest for a week’s holiday – lots of amazing fresh ocean air, and walks by the beach I suspect and lots of time for that knitting (mind and soul). The books I’ve packed? Joel Salatins’ new one “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” and Novella Carpenter’s new one “The Essential Urban Gardener” (I love her first book ” Farm City”). I also want to take the time also to re – evaluate what I want to express this year and how best to do that, so when I come back I’ll be ready to dive in to my life in 2012 – with consciousness, vitality, joy and beauty – I’m know that’s an easier thing when my mind and soul are equally balanced.
But a recipe before I go – this is something quick and delicious to throw together. I’ve made mine above with what was in the garden, and cheated (using canned beans). But not just any old canned organic beans thankyou – I prefer the Eden Organic beans (black in this case) as I know they are soaked, cooked with Kombu and come in a BPA free can (this will link you to the American site, but in Australia are imported by Spiral Foods.) More expensive yes, imported yes, but they are a rare fall back position.
I’ll see you soon – hope your knitting is going well too.
QUICK BEANIE MIX
I use what I have around in the garden – spring onions, beetroot and carrot. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have carrots – anything goes. If you don’t have beetroot, replace them with an orange sweet potato (just a bit) – it’s role is to sweeten the tomato. If using fresh tomato, it’s tempting to add more water in the beginning, but don’t add too much or you will dilute the flavour. Just put a lid on the pan and give them 20 minutes over a very gentle heat to sweat out their juice, then continue on. Find a good chilli powder – I like a touch of chipotle and the new mexican red. You might need to look around for a shop with a good range of chilli but it’s worth it – certainly Essential Ingredient in Australia stock them. If I’ve got any coriander (rare at this time of the year), I’ll throw that in but don’t shy away from basil, of which I have lots. There’s no rule that says you couldn’t add some chard, silverbeet or kale towards the end either. Serve as desired (nachos are good), sour cream, avocado and I love the Australian Harvest (organic) sweet chilli sauce – sorry, couldn’t find a link for it, but many stores stock it. Glorious stuff.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion roughly diced
2 carrots cut into 1 cm dice
2 medium size beetroot cut into 1 cm pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon good quality chilli powder, or to taste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 x 400 gm can pinto, borlotti or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 x 400 gm can tomatoes, or fresh to equal
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1cm dice
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion, carrot and beetroot. Saute over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chilli powder and garlic, stir well, then cook for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the beans, tomatoes and 250 ml water, then cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Remove the lid and add the zucchini. Stirring frequently, cook at a hearty simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick but saucy.
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