Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Comfort food

I think my husband loves me more when I make cakes!  He also likes it when I sew his trousers up and sew on missing buttons.  All the old-fashioned stuff - must take him back to his childhoold.

I've been making the following two cake/desserts lately and have had requests for the recipes so here you go.  Both can very easily be made gluten free.

Pear and Almond Flan

1 tbs brown sugar
150g butter
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs lightly beaten
150g almond meal
2 tbsp self-raising flour (use gluten free if you like to make gf)
2 tbsp blanched almonds
3 or 4 pears, skin on

Line a circular flan or cake tin 23cm in diameter with non-stick baking paper. Sprinkle brown sugar over the baking paper.

In a bowl, cream together butter and caster sugar to create creamy mixture. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the mixture. Add almond meal and flour and mix well.

Cut the pears vertically, leaving the skin on and the stalk at end (I spoon out the pip and stalk from middle). Place the pieces decoratively down in the flan dish or cake tin, flat sides down. Fill the gaps with blanched almonds. Pour the cake mixture over the pears and almonds and press down.

Bake in preheated oven at 190c for 45 minutes or until the filling feels firm at the centre. Allow to cool. Ease the flan away from the edge of the dish with a knife. Place a large serving plate on top and turn over to reveal the very rustic pear side. Looks a treat. I serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Hummingbird slice
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
2 eggs
½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 banana, mashed
1 cup grated carrot (about 2 carrots) – I usually end up with more than a cup and use all of it
¾ cup self-raising flour (I use gluten free to make gf but recipe is for normal)
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 160c. Place the sugar, oil and eggs in bowl and whisk to combine. Add the pineapple, banana and carrot and mix to combine. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, coconut and pecans and mix to combine. Spoon into lightly greased 20cm x 30cm tin lined with baking power. Bake for 45 minutes (I find needs 55 minutes) or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in tin. Slice and serve with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sad times

It’s a big thing to lose a parent. My Dad died three weeks ago today and I am just emerging from the first onslaught of grief.
My father was such an amazingly zany personality it is hard to come to terms with him not being around anymore. Gavin Buchanan was the kind of person who could make any gathering totally come to life just with his presence. There was definitely some magic about my Dad, which meant my childhood was absolutely fantastic. My father was fun-loving and funny (although sometimes sad), a teaser, a joker, an opportunist, a dreamer, a talker of ‘big ideas’. He was handsome, dashing, creative, poetic, artistic, clever, unconventional, offbeat, unusual, dashing and smart but also naive...

Grief is a perplexing bundle of thoughts and feelings and I think each loss we have brings with it a different mix of emotions. There has been lots of ‘poor me’ stuff and some resentments to work through following my father’s death. For a little while my spiritual beliefs - particularly about the karmic accountability of our actions – also got a bit of a shake-up but I’ve come though all that. More recently I’ve been dwelling on the importance of family, on the progression of the generations (the song of long time flowing), and on my own mortality. I kind of like the notion of ‘going home’ one day to join all my family who have gone before me.

Interestingly I saw in the first week after Dad’s death an absolutely fascinating ABC ‘Australian Story ‘ episode about a harp player, Peter Roberts, who describes himself as a thanologist, one who plays music in hospitals to relax people at the end of their lives to allow them to let go and ‘go home’. Roberts is such a beautiful human being it made me cry (again) to listen to him talk about his own spirituality and the work he does to help the dying.

I have had been so lucky to have had lots of conversations and communications with friends and extended family in the past few weeks – including some friend I haven’t spoken to in many years. The lovely things that have been said about my Dad, and my Mum, and our family have validated how lucky I have been, and am, to have such a wonderful family and memories. Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me.

Here’s one of the last pictures I took off my Dad in recent months - frail, sick and knowing he was dying but the spark of his personality is still very much there.

Goodbye dear Daddio!  I love you to bits. xxx