the untameable | orange + cardamom sherbet

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So. Another new year. What people should’ve done last year, what they should do, the quickness of it all, things on people’s minds. Mine too, of course, but for now I’d rather linger on the end of last year. A trip, a place far away in so many senses. I didn’t have my camera with me in Bangalore and for some reason I’m averse to phone photography so I have no photos this year. Which is a shame. Because India does visuals so well. The pastel paintbox houses, each a shade from coriander to peach, stacked so geometrically. The saris drying on clothes lines, silver pots and pans heating up in the sun, dogs panting in the shade, motorbikes and rickshaws idling. 

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The ladies with jasmine woven into their dark braids; carrying chubby infants in expert hands, cows with flower garlands wrapped loosely around their horns, hand-painted trucks and tractors. In a small road in the village, teenagers chat. The cool boys on their motorbike with their snazzy collared shirts and slicked back hair doubtlessly inspired by a Bollywood hero. A girl carrying a puppy, the center of attention. Two old timers sitting on an iron balcony, presiding over it all, reminiscing. Heavy and rising afternoon heat. 

Inside the gated compound everything has grown. The tropical pines are thick and towering, the palms proud and facades of houses freshly whitewashed. Trees are dripping hibiscus onto the luscious lawns where nannies supervise the toddlers. There are cats prowling the boundary fences, the toms brawling in the evening as prayer bells ring and the smell of roasting spices floats out of every kitchen. 

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It is early morning. Airless and sultry, the day’s heat building after it barely subsided. Like so many things in India, winter’s changing. I’m out running, soon I’ll be joined by other neighbors, racing a tropical sun . There’s a gentle glow from street lamps where moths gather, a faraway crane is lit for the holidays, clouds hurry past the waning moon. There’s another person out, a grandfather. It’s more than 20 degrees but he’s wearing a white scarf wrapped over his head and face, cotton like his billowing shirt. He regards the morning suspiciously, seeing the high rises all around us like he was hemmed in, a look of passive disdain on his weathered face. Maybe he was thinking about the vastness of home, the untameable north of the subcontinent.  Miles away, a lifetime away. To him the year passing would be an inevitability, a grain of sand in the desert, or one of the thousands of stars that crowd the sky above it.

‘far and wide the vernal breeze wafts sweet odours from blossoming trees to distant lands’ Sanskrit Proverb 


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It seems we’re starting the year with sherbet. It is in a sense like a sorbet since it’s a frozen fruity thing (often citrus) but has dairy to make it smooth and creamy which sorbet doesn’t. You could also call this recipe frozen yogurt but I thought sherbet sounded nice. Anyway it’s a very simple recipe and if you don’t have an ice cream maker you could make cute yogurt pops instead. You can adjust the amount of cardamom according to your taste but if you leave it out altogether you might want to add some vanilla instead. It’s also kind of healthy so if you ever wanted ice cream for breakfast… like Drake said, you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.
Happy New Year. Hope this one is what you want it to be. Love you xx


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Orange + cardamom sherbet

2c natural yogurt of choice
3T fresh orange juice 
3T honey
1/2 - 1tsp fresh ground cardamom 


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend to combine.
Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to ice cream maker’s instructions. Make sure you freeze the bowl-part of your ice cream maker in advance (it varies but often 24 hours before churning).
Make sure you use a freezer friendly container to let your almost-sherbet finish freezing. It will keep for a long time.

It may help to take the sherbet container out of the freezer a few minutes before serving so it’s less icy and easier to scoop.

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collecting lines | roasted plum popsicles with cardamom

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After reading my last post my mum made a comment about the quote at the end. I was pretty happy that someone knew the poet and that, well, someone noticed it. I started adding a quote at the end of each post a while ago - they're not all quotes I guess, since Alan Walker or Kendrick Lamar don't really count. But whatever. I put somebody else's words at the foot of the page, after my ramblings, to conclude. I'm not sure what you think of them? Maybe they come across as unnecessary but I just never really know how to finish a post... to awkwardly shift gears from some abstract mumbling to a foodie discussion. Somebody else's words seemed final enough without me having to spin out a yarn... because these posts are thoughts and thoughts don't particularly just, terminate. Or at least mine don't. I always used to have this issue with creative writing at school that I couldn't stay within the word limit. Too much to say, I guess, I'd have eaten up the word count and then would need to finish the damn thing in 100 words and that's difficult. A chronic fault of mine, saying too much. Using 550 words to say something that could probably use two. Funny that I don't talk a lot, in fact my sister said the other day that I seem to use the least words possible to communicate which made me laugh, internally, thinking of that little blue box in the lower right corner of a word document.  But I digress. Quotes. I've been collecting lines from poems, songs, books, just browsing the internet, for quite some time. If I was a different kind of person they'd probably live in a leather bound notebook but honestly they're all in my email inbox. In a long email with a hundred one line replies. Very cryptic. Very eclectic. 

I have a collection of journals from when I used to write every day;  it's been a while since I've done that but there was time when I did, religiously.  I flick through and there's a striking lack of endings. I seem to just cut myself off abruptly or there's a few lines blank, at the foot of the page. Maybe I was thinking of coming back later with some words to tie it all up but you know how it goes. Lines left blank, thoughts unfinished. Don't they say the only way to become a better writer is to write more? A fallacy, clearly, because I've got a box worth of scribblings without endings. Maybe I'll make that a project for one day, in the future. Sit out on a porch somewhere with that box and fill in the blank lines, all those loose ends. Then seal the box, and put it high on a shelf, or wherever it is you put memories. 

"To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done."    John Steinbeck

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Awkward gear shift to popsicles is now initiated. I know it's getting colder - I was wearing a sweater, a sweatshirt  and socks the other morning but the sun's still sharp up north where we are. So make popsicles while the sun shines, with a bit of fall warmth from the cardamom and maple. Plums and blackberries are like those crossover fruits so they were sort of of the obvious choice. Have fun with the layering, I'm not exactly super careful/fiddly but the marbled effect was still gorgeous - the fruit will make the pops pretty, whatever you do.

Love you xx

PS. Shoutout to my amazing grandma who celebrated her birthday earlier this week. Grandma, I picked these berries from the garden, just like you would. xo 

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roasted plum popsicles with cardamom

makes 8-10

2 cups (500ml) full fat yogurt of choice (I used goat yogurt but regular or coconut would be good)
1/4c (60ml) pure maple syrup
Seeds of half a vanilla bean
Fat pinch cardamom (to taste. I like it stronger than I think most people would)

// For the fruit
1 cup (150g) fresh blackberries
Around 4-5 small plums
1 tablespoon coconut sugar 


Start with the roasted fruit - you can even do this in advance. Preheat the oven to 180'C, 350'F and line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.

Gently rinse and dry the berries, chop the plums into chunks and spread out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle over the sugar and toss to coat.

Roast for 20 minutes or so, until the fruit is collapsing and smells pretty amazing. Leave to cool, then refrigerate, or continue with recipe.

Into a blender combine the the remaining popsicle ingredients. Blend on high until combined, transfer the popsicle mix into a container from which it's easy to pour (a glass mixing jug or similar)

Rinse out the blender and add your fruit. Blend until pulpy and a little liquidy, it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth.

Into your popsicle moulds pour in some of the yogurt mix - I did about 1/3 but it really doesn't matter, whatever you think looks pretty. Dollop some of the fruit mix (heaped tablespoon or so) over the yogurt, then pour in more yogurt so the mold is more or less full. 

Freeze for 3-6 hours, until solid. If you wrap each individual popsicle they'll keep in the freezer as long as you like. You can run the whole moulds under hot water if the pops are giving you a hard time; they'll release super easily. 

If you have any leftover blended fruit, you can swirl it into yogurt, oatmeal etc a bit like jam.

*This is the popsicle mould I use, I ordered it from the States and it's really good.

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the a-team | honeyed rhubarb + cardamom cake

So my parents were out of town for a couple of days last week. Perfect setting to invite a bunch of people, throw some crazy party that turns into a rave and gets shut down by the police. In my next life I'll make backyard raves a priority. Instead I spent the few days tossing a date around in my head: August 18th. May 18th snuck up on me really fast, but the weight of August 18th has just sunk in, like you know when you've had a dull pain in a muscle and then there's one movement and it totally goes? Well I just blew that figurative muscle. On August 18th my sister has to be in Aberdeen, for her masters. It's the start of her first semester. Weird as it may seem, we have never really been apart. She went on a solo trip to the Bahamas last year and I remember how lost I was - kind of floating, without an anchor, like a helium balloon that a careless kid had lost. One of those no end and no beginning feelings. The day was suddenly devoid of random laughter and the kind of chatter that keeps the wheels of a family unit oiled and running. You probably know that Layla and I are very close.  But straight out, we fight a lot. Like, a lot. At least a couple of times a week, some weeks are better than others, some are just short fuse after short fuse, maybe because we're so close, we pick up on each other's feelings really quickly. If she's upset, I know it, and I get frustrated that she won't just tell me what the problem is and maybe I could help. Probably the same for her because neither of us are the type to have these big 'I'm so stressed' type breakdowns, or really to whinge and complain because do you want some cheese with that whine? is a stock response. 

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We both suddenly grew up a lot in the last few years, independence and responsibility wise. We have new cars, we have very floaty schedules with this whole university enterprise, so we took on a lot of the household stuff. Not saying that my parents don't do anything, I haven't yet taken up loading the washing machine but I mean we do things like take the dogs to the vet, keeping the fridge reasonably stocked and spend some time sweeping up dog hair. So maybe that's what has changed our relationship, and maybe that's why sometimes there's more friction. We're not just playing house anymore, we're living in a house where drains pack up when my parents aren't around and I have the number of the electricity network on my phone because storms do funny things to wiring. This is in no way to be interpreted as a complaint, in fact the freedom we have is great. It's more of an acknowledgement that things are changing and life goes in phases, a bit like a chrysalis. It's almost as if Layla and I are in a team (the A-team, of course) against various forces like city traffic, professors that don't respond to emails, parking shortages at university, rude receptionists and the like. We're together in this game of keeping alive a dog without a spleen who sits waiting by the door for Mum to come home, and another monkey whose default mode is hunger strike. The game also means that kale runs out at inconvenient times, scary dashboard messages about tyre pressure appear, players miscommunicate and mess up, but we're on the same side. And that's what matters.

So we reshuffle the new stack of cards we've been dealt. Hard to know how to play them sometimes, but I go back to a very simple phrase we've said since we were young - when friends were giving up on us, when we ended up alone on the first day in some new school. At least we have each other, on repeat. Same now. Days can be long, the traffic is murder, it rains a lot, we worry non-stop about Prune and Suzi. But never alone, there are two of us through all that. 

Our little team, on a feeble lifeboat tossed about in tidal waves. With two helmsmen learning on the job, always seeking out dry land a calm lagoon where we can moor. After August, I'm losing my lookout and I'm going to learn how to navigate by myself. I mean, I can do it, physcially,  there's not that much more around the house or anything that I'll have to do juggle, but it's just the spirit that will be gone. No one to ask whether or not it's going to rain, no fall back person to ask for a hand cleaning muddy paws... the hull of the boat will be there, there'll be a working engine, a spot in the harbour, but the sea can feel like a very empty place when you're down a crew member.

The vast night. Now there’s nothing else but fragrance.” – Jorge Luis Borges

My dad gave me what I consider a huge compliment when this cake was baking. He said that it reminded him of his childhood, the smell of something baking, of coming home and finding his mum had baked a warm snack. Idk why that meant something to me but it did.  Anyways. I remember I saw (aaaages ago) a photo of a rhubarb cardamom tart in an ikea magazine (that must've been when we lived in Belgium because there's no ikea around here) and the combination stuck with me. Credit to the Scandies and their impeccable taste because this cake turned out really well.

You'll see that I make you cook the rhubarb first which may seem fussy but stick with me on this one because the fruit becomes totally tart-sweet with the honey. It then melts into these little custardy pockets of goodness, so my apologies for the extra dirty dish but it's worth it. Other than the rhubarb pre-cooking the batter comes together very fast, no mixer and you have a rustic, humble cake. If you want to fancy it up a light dusting of powdered sugar would be nice, or perhaps serving it with some vanilla bean ice cream. Or yogurt and have cake for breakfast. As a side note, apparently it was mother's day in the States on Sunday, so another big shout out to all the amazing mamas out there, I don't know how you do it all.
Love xx

PS. You'll notice that this post has a title... most of my old posts do now, too. In my post drafts (in email chains ha) I always gave them titles but then decided not to include them. I thought it would help search engine rankings but since google doesn't index the site at all (don't ask), nothing to win and nothing to lose :) 


honeyed rhubarb + cardamom cake

makes a single layer 8 inch (20cm) cake       // gluten + easily dairy free

1 cup (100g) almond meal
1/2 cup (50g) oat flour
1/2 cup (60g) brown rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/3 cup (75g) coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/2 cup (100g) coconut sugar, light muscavado or cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (250ml) plain yogurt of choice, room temperature

// rhubarb

450g (1 pound) rhubarb stalks
4 tablespoons (80g) honey
heaped teaspoon cardamom pods


Start by preparing your fruit. Chop the tough ends of each rhubarb stalk, then slice the stalks into chunks around 5cm (2 inches) long. If any stalks are super chubby, slice them in half lengthwise too. Set a pan over medium high heat, add the rhubarb, pour over the honey and stir to combine so everything is coated, then add the cardamom pods. Cook for 6-8 minutes, till the fruit is soft but not falling apart (the oven takes care of that). Set aside to cool in the pan.

Preheat your oven to 180'C, 350'F. Line an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper*, then rub a little coconut oil on the sides and the parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda/powder, salt and cardamom. 

In another large bowl, whisk the sugar and oil together so the sugar isn't clumpy, then beat in both eggs and the yogurt till smooth and pale (the tahini comparison is relevant here). Add the vanilla and mix once more.

Drain the cooked rhubarb, reserving around 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid (if there is less don't worry). Toss the fruit in the flour mix, it may fall apart a bit but that's fine. This stops the fruit sinking to the bottom.

Pour the wet mix into the dry; add the two tablespoons of rhubarb syrup and gently mix with a wooden spoon till there are no more patches of flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan then bake for 50-55 minutes, till a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake shows it's done. If the top is browning too fast (this is a very moist cake so it's possible) you can tent it with foil and there shouldn't be a problem.

The cake will keep on the counter for 3ish days, better in the fridge for a few days after that, it's  light so it may dry out.

Notes

One thing to note is that the moisture from the fruit means the cake sort of buckles once cut and then has a rather 'savaged' appearance. No harm for snacking but if you'd like to serve this cake to company, present it before really going at it with a knife. Everyone will be then be too busy eating to notice how the middle caved.

*this is related to the above. I usually don't fret about instructing people to grease/line pans because you all have your preferences, but because of the custard-y nature of the fruit, the batter sticks and the cake is quite fragile at first - not really one to stand up to inverting onto a rack. So parchment, coconut oil and a pan with removable sides make things a lot easier. As I said, it's somewhat rustic, so don't worry too much.


spring baking

to want and to knead | cardamom-cranberry spelt wreath

nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)
nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)

There is a strange familiarity about the whole ritual. It usually involves climbing into some loft or burrowing through the shed to some degree to find the Christmas tree, that we swear to replace every year. The decorations are like meeting characters from an old book you haven't read for a long time - you remember all their quirks, where you were when you first noticed them. Someone plays Christmas music, the dogs sniff in the boxes and bash the shaky tree with their tails.

nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)

A couple of years ago my dad passed the light-stringing-up altar to me. Nothing official about it, but he was travelling for longer and longer during the holidays and I was, perhaps inappropriately, deemed the most competent in this field. The lights still shine and twinkle in the evening, but I've never managed to curl them evenly round the tree like dad has, the lights themselves are so old that a few have gone out, but no one's really had the heart to buy a new set. We've been using the same decorations for as long as I can remember, the little round baubles and the intricate figurines my dad used as a kid. We are not so much of a family for tradition. We travel too much, the family as a whole is too spread out. And when I asked my parents, when I was young and these things mattered to me, they asked me what Christmas was really about. Did it have to be gifts around a tree, a big dinner, celebrated on the 25th? Or was it about the principle - the gathering with people you love, sharing food that you've made with love, giving, more than just material gifts?

nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)
nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)
nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)
nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)

It makes me wonder. This season of craziness... the crazy is everywhere. The pressure on mothers to cook a perfect turkey, to choose the best gifts for their children. The pressure on dads to put up the best outdoor lights, to earn the money to finance it all in the first place. Pressure on kids to stay cool throughout the affair, to get the best most expensive presents. Pressure on the dog to not steal the turkey from the table, dammit, and not to bark when an army of strangers rings the doorbell. Pressure on everyone to keep a good face, to laugh with family members you don't really know.

I go back to bread. We have no great expectations of the holiday, nothing to go back on, I doubt I'll make this wreath next year as a Christmas tradition. I started making my own bread some time ago, but that was after a long break from the habit. Somehow my hands remembered it, the smell of the yeast was familiar, my hands could fold and knead the dough without a second thought. It gave me something, some quiet zen, two minutes to think amid my crazy; travel prep and essays. I think about the puppies who'll be abandoned because the kids couldn't handle the well meant gift. About the wives who'll fall out with their mother in law because the turkey didn't work out. About the dads who'll feel like crap because they didn't get that promotion in time to get that shiny new phone.

nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)

It's not that I don't have warm memories of Christmas, or that I have a problem with traditional holidays, I think it's great to have something to look back on, to warm you somewhere inside. Childhood Christmas for me was lots of light, more laughs, some fun gifts that I'd play with the whole year. This year will be similar. We'll celebrate after the India trip, on January 10th, when the people who've fought with their mother in law and chucked their puppies have moved onto the most depressing month of the year and salad diets. I just spare a thought for those people who believe that they're making it Christmas, and I go back to my bread. My thoughts on the puppies and the grains, on the holiday from which so many of us took the spirit when we first put up the lights.

nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)

I understand that lots of people are scared of working with yeast but I promise that, like the aforementioned holiday, it's also overcomplicated by most people! Just make sure it's really puffy after proofing time, otherwise the yeast is dead and it will also kill the recipe. Also, the temperature of the water is important - I found a sneaky method to do this, see the recipe notes if that will help you. As for the swirly wreath pattern - I tried to get photos, but they weren't great so I will direct you to this site I trawled the internet for, which quite clearly shows how to get that pretty pattern going.The bread is gently sweet, a nice contrast to the sharp berries and fragrant cardamom - it's more the kind of bread for eating chunks plain, rather than slicing and slathering with jam. The best kind of bread, I'd say. It's kind of cozy but light, which is how Christmas should be. Whether it's the traditional kind on the 25th, or something a bit unconventional like ours, wishing you the brightest, warmest holidays with people + pets you love. xx

nutmeg and pear | healthy spelt bread wreath w/ cardamom & cranberry (naturally sweetened & dairy free)

[kindred-recipe id="1918" title="cardamom-cranberry spelt wreath"]

I am away on holiday (India!!!) right now, so it may be a bit quiet on my end. If you are looking for more baking inspiration, I will direct you to this baked oatmeal to serve holiday guests for breakfast, this granola for edible gifting and these scones because why not. and (coconut oil) gingerbread cookies. And again, I thank you for visiting this little corner of the internet, have a wonderful Christmas. I'll be back with a few photos in a bit.