Oh, hi there.
So, 2017 happened. I’m back. Apologies for the absence. But then, perhaps we’re not friends yet. Perhaps you’ve just come here in search of a stonkingly easy, muddle and mix, refined sugar/ dairy free/ switchable staple muffin/cake hybrid to keep you and yours happy at 10 am with a coffee or babycino. If that’s the case, skip straight to the photo at the bottom and you’ll find the recipe. I think you’re going to like it.
If you have the appetite or inclination for prattle, updates, the occasional rant and life endorsements, read on.
When I last left you I had just given birth to Evelyn Grace Haschka. It was the final chapter in the 36 weeks of ‘Poppyseed to Pumpkin #2’, where we matched a recipe each week to the size of my growing bump. When it came to pumpkin time I asked your permission to take a brief maternity leave. At the time I thought I’d be back in six weeks. I mean, when I had my first born I was blogging continuously AND writing a book in the first three months of his life. How hard could life with two really be?
Ha. Sure, I was scratching together a bit of time to write recipes and screeds on everything from toppings for toast, to potatoes and perfect party platters for Harris Farm Markets. Sure I was posting on Instagram. But the ability to sit down and distill my thoughts with two children underfoot was a FLAMING LUXURY that was sorely absent. Throughout the year the spouse (aka The Hungry One) fell into a role that meant he was soon travelling up to 85 per cent of the time. I had also birthed another sleep-averse child. My first born; Will, bless his cotton socks, found adjusting to life as a big brother somewhat challenging (a dethroned prince might be a good comparison). And we endured four months of a flu season which led me to locate the far reaches of my sanity and trace it with my fingertips before being calmly led away from the precipice thanks to a flock of soldering women. Thank god for women. If you’re wondering who you should be making these cakes for, draft a list in your head of the women in your life that should be thanked. Make cakes for them. For as we know; cake is very good for morale.
And yet, we persisted.
We had brief sojourns throughout the year to Vanuatu and the Gold Coast. We had Christmas and a few weeks of sandy, summer fun. And we have just celebrated Evie’s first birthday. She is everything we could have hoped for. She is strident and sweet in equal measures. She gives the best, best hugs. She adores raspberries and bananas, salmon sashimi and avocado. She is scared of vacuum cleaners, fearless around water and fascinated by horses. She is a glorious coffee date. She is her mother’s daughter. There is just one small fly in the ointment. She is allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.
Hence there has been a lot of #dairyfree cooking going on in this house in the past 12 months. Because in order for her to be dairy free, I, as her primary milk-provider have also had to be dairy free. If you really want to know the full measure of love and devotion; take cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, gelato, and cow’s milk lattes away from me. That gives you a bit of an idea.
Perhaps my next post will be on some tips I have gleaned for a life of dairy free. It might also be about how in a zeal of healthful eating in late 2017, with a restricted diet of no dairy and minimal carbs and sugar I clean ate my way to what is pretty much gout. (HA. There’s a story for another). Once again; cake is good for morale. Never forget it.
These cakes below were made for mid morning snacks with her and also to help pad out the offering at her birthday celebrations. It was a simple affair. There was a slip n slide set up in the backyard. There were purple and white balloons hanging from the hill’s hoist washing line. There was frose (equal amounts of frozen watermelon, frozen strawberries and frozen pink wine blitzed together. The perfect adult slushie on a steamy day). There were sausages on rolls with caramellised onion jam, aiolli, rocket and marinated red peppers. There were crudites of futility and a kale and edamame hummus and a traditional chickpea number. There were honey joys. There was a unicorn cake. And there were women.
Standing around shoulder to shoulder in the sunshine were so many of the women who got us through the past year. The ones who dropped food on the doorstep without asking what we needed. The ones who would message out of the blue in the morning to find out how last night was. Who laugh with you, not at you when you turn up to storytime at the library wearing shoes that don’t match. Who know when not to ask how things are, but just offer cake, wine and a tale of their own pratfalls for solidarity. Who gently (and sometimes firmly) encourage you to go back to your therapist. Who take your son to art galleries. Who encourage you out for lunch. Who remind you that this too, shall pass. And before you know it, you’re standing on the steps of your son’s kindergarten one morning with a bonny one year old on your hip and stop to hand a tissue to a woman you just met, with a seven week baby strapped to her chest, tears streaming down her face and a screaming toddler at her side. You’ll say many of the same comforting things to her. And you’ll think; today is the day. Today is the day that I return to me.
And so, we’re back.
Here are a few other things that are going on.
The unicorn cake was a small labour of love. It was a double mixture of my trusty date/cocoa and oatflour cake (in Poppyseed to Pumpkin) baked in three 18 cm cake tins, then frozen, then stacked with a terrifying amount of cream cheese frosting. I fell down a google-hole of youtube tutorials of rainbow frosting and discovered it’s not that hard to do. As always; room temperature frosting and a chilled cake make for the easiest results. It was a hit for everyone except Evie, who couldn’t eat the frosting, didn’t care much for the cake, but demolished a punnet of raspberries and was never happier.
We’re eating a lot of quinoa bowls again. My favourite rendition at the moment is at home-poke bowls. Cooked quinoa is mixed with defrosted shredded frozen spinach (an excellent easy hack to get more greens into you) and a little shiro miso paste. Top that with steamed and chilled frozen broccoli, spankingly fresh salmon fillet that you’ve skinned and cut into small dice, avocado, pickled ginger, cucumber, some ponzu and Kewpie sesame dressing. So easy, so good. (Also, handily #glutenfree #dairyfree etc etc).
Listening: I cannot get enough of the soundtrack to ‘The Greatest Showman’. Say what you will about its faithfulness to PT Barnum’s true nature, Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron have encouraged me to RUN at the gym, such is their zest for life. Considering the damage wreaked to my pelvic floor (thanks Evie Grace), this is no small feat and definitely something to celebrate.
Reading: If there’s one cookbook from the last year that you should buy (beside ‘Cut the Carbs!’ , of course 😉 it’s Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’. Everyone will learn something from her treatise on the best ways to extract flavour. It’s brilliant.
Also Rachel Mogan’s series of pieces on her life in France with her family are fantastic armchair travel for anyone with wanderlust who is currently mired in domesticity. Read the latest one here. Rach is one of my favourite writers. Her piece on Medium about Aziz Ansari, #Metoo and the politics of a bad date is absolutely worth a read and a dissection with some of your favourite buddies over a bottle of GSM. Read it here.
Wearing: One great thing about maternity leave, motherhood and living on the Northern Beaches of Sydney is that it’s perfectly acceptable to wear Breton striped pyjamas as outer wear. Hence, I’m currently living in this shirt.
Dairy Free Banana, Raspberry and Coconut Cakes
Makes 18 cupcakes
360 g mashed ripe banana (approx 3 bananas)
3 eggs, beaten
75 g honey/rice malt syrup
100 g liquid/melted coconut oil (can also substitute for melted butter/ mild tasting olive oil)
2 tsp baking powder
150 g desiccated coconut
200 g wholemeal plain flour/ gluten free flour/ spelt flour
zest 1/2 lemon
50 g frozen (or fresh raspberries). Can also substitute with blueberries/ blackberries etc.
Preheat the oven to 175 c/ 350 F. Place 18 patty cake liners in the holes of muffin trays.
Mix together the wet ingredients.
Fold in the dry, being careful not to over-mix (if cooking with a child, that means kindly taking the spoon of them as it just comes together. They can go to town mixing together the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients separately).
Fold in the berries.
Use an ice cream scoop, or a dessert spoon to portion into the muffin/patty pan cases. Bake for 35 minutes until the tops are golden and a skewer comes out clean.
These will keep in the fridge for up to a week.