Blueberry Porridge


It’s porridge time!!   Today brings delicious Quaker oats filled with bubble bursting blueberries.  Little bubbles of joy, just popping away in your mouth accompanied with fresh crunch from seeds and nuts.  My tummy loves me 😉

Ingredients:  2-3 portions

  1. 1/2 cup Quakers oatmeal
  2. 1 cup soy milk
  3. 1 cup spring water
  4. 100g fresh blueberries
  5. 2 tsp ground cinnamon (I love the strong cinnamon taste, so start with 1 then increase as desired)
  6. 1 banana
  7. sprinkle of seeds and nuts and raisins (I used a pre-mixed selection from the co-op)
  8. drizzle of honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Warm 2-3 bowls in your oven at 100°C
  2. Then in a medium-sized saucepan on a med-high head, add the first 5 ingredients and stir continuously scraping the mixture from the bottle as you stir to avoid burning
  3. When it comes to the boil the mixture should begin to thicken
  4. when it has reached a soupy, but thick consistency transfer to the warmed bowls
  5. Sprinkle your seeds,nuts,dried fruit mixture and banana then serve and eat immediately.

Spicy Carrot and Olive Oil Cake


Can words describe this very breath of spring? Can a photo explain how it makes me feel?  Here I found a space to take a deep breath and finally let it all go, thanks to a mid-week holiday.   Ahhh… release.

Here I sit in our favourite park, the air is fresh and everything surrounding us is a vibrant green.  Whilst munching on beautifully prepared take out sushi and a crispy salad, I am content planning more lessons and brushing up my Nihongo skills.  This combination of sun and working at my own pace feels amazing.

I know it’s a holiday and work’s a no go area.  It’s time to rest right?  Time to take your mind off of the stressful things in life.  Do the things you never have time to do.  Time to make the most of your time out of work, ehe?

Well…Having had a rush of inspiration I wanted to grab it with both hands. I’m on a roll.  What a load off!  Oh, how I love when that happens.  Everything feels like it’s all in the right place again.

These days all I can think about is work.  Always looking for ways how to improve what I do.    As the responsibilities are increasing, unfortunately so is my stress.   I’m slowly becoming used to this change in pace and now looking at it as a perfect way to gain more experience.

I am so lucky to have someone to talk to about, work, new ideas and issues that arise.  Someone who is on the same page as me.

Andy has been Mr motivator, always staying positive for me and helping me through my slightly chaotic working life.  We tend to bounce off one another, so to speak, when it comes to creating the best possibilities for lessons. I love his focus, his drive.  I definitely feed off of it.  He is my muse, my inspiration.  He has been from the beginning.  Almost 10 years…wow, he has had to put up with me for that long.  Cheers Andy!

One of my favourite ways to return the favour is to have him be my guinea pig.  He loves his food more than I do!  He re-energises his muse juice by feeding on the food I cook.   What’s more and what’s best is, he offers the best comments and criticism on new dishes happen I try out.  The comments are what keep me motivated and experimental and creative.  I guess they are what feed him too.

The encouragement is what keeps me searching for new ways to view what I eat and why I eat it.

Keeping healthy is important for us, and so is eating.  I see it as a hobby that will definitely not go out of fashion.  Something that isn’t a phase.  I still have a lot to learn, and now look to those with the experience to offer their guidance.

So far the best part about cooking is the sharing.

So I want to share this one with you.

I know everyone says their cake is the best, but this one is by far the best of the bunch!!  Well, out of the cakes I have made in my rice cooker so far.  I never usually crave cake to the point I can’t stop thinking about it.  This one has sent me to a whole new world of cake!!  (I really need to get working out.  Working, cooking, eating, blogging!! I can feel my body becoming spongy as I type).  What’s amazing is that like my other cakes, this one it isn’t wasted calories.  You are getting some goodness from them.  Just try not to eat the entire cake to yourself.  This, however, will be a challenge.

This one is coming with me to mountains to share with one of my closest friends here in Japan, Sofie.   Maaaaan we are gonna miss you so much!  Don’t go! 😦

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a little under  3/4 of a cup of oil (half olive oil/half ground nut oil)
  • 3 large finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites (whipped)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • a generous pinch of ground cloves
  • a pinch or turmeric
  • 1 handful crushed pecans/walnut’s
  • Juice and zest of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl sift the flour 3 times.  The 3rd time sift it together with the baking soda,powder, salt and spices.
  2. Finely grate the carrots (this is the work out for me.  A perfect way to burn a few calories)
  3. In another bowl combine the sugar, oil, carrots and lemon juice then add the flour and mix together well.
  4. Finally, with a spatula, fold in the soft peaked egg whites.
  5. Transfer to your greased rice cooker pan or if you are using a regular oven, use a greased cake tin.
  6. RICE COOKER:  set to CAKE then TIME is for 60 mins
  7. PREHEATED OVEN at 180˚C or 350˚F  cook for  45 mins
  8. Finally let it rest on a cooling tray before cutting then serve.
  9. I don’t like frosting, I also don’t think this cake needs it either, due to it being so full of flavour and so moist.


Autumn Spiced Boiled Raisin Cake


Unlucky for me and due to the crazy changes of temperature, I caught the cold 😦 it was inevitable really since everyone around me seems to be sick. Luckily though, it wasn’t the piggy variety : ) For this I was surprised, considering the high school I teach at has been closed down twice in the past 4 weeks because of it.
On a good note though staying at home and trying to rest encouraged me to do a bit more baking, making and movie watching 🙂
Here is one cake I made (see pic below). I took the recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com I have their funky wee spinner application on my iPod and this recipe took my fancy because of the easy instructions and I had all the ingredients.
WOW!! I love it!! It tastes like autumn and a bit like those little ginger German cakes covered with icing. I know there is no ginger in the recipe, you don’t need it either as the cake is super fragrant and tasty!! I can’t wait to have another piece today with my new fresh green tea : )
There were crumbs and chunks of cake remaining on the chopping board after cutting it into edible pieces, so Andy put them into his plain yogurt. Now, this could be an excuse for me to eat it for breakfast I think!
I wish I could send a piece of this cake to everyone! instead this blog posting will have to do!! Enjoy!
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water ( or soda water – for a fluffier texture and appearance)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • DIRECTIONS

    1. Boil raisins in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
    2. Add vegetable oil and cold water to the raisins.
    3. Mix sugar, flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
    4. Add the raisin mixture, and stir till just mixed.
    5. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan or rice cooker bowl, and bake for one hour in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven or 1hr 30mins in the rice cooker switched on to cake setting. It is done if a toothpick comes out clean.

    PUMPKIN CAKE!


    This month I have chosen to use pumpkin in as many dishes as possible.  I want to find new ways of using it so if you have any suggestions please post them my way.  Jules has offered one of her delightful recipes which I look forward to trying now that I have all the necessary ingredients.



    Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha) is in season this month which is every reason why I want to cook with it.  Fresh is always best. This pumpkin is beautifully sweet and it’s colour is a brilliant orange.  High in bita carotene a powerful antioxidant which converts into vitamin A in the body.

    This anti-oxidant has been shown to help improve immune function and can reduce the risks of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.  Not only that, pumpkins also contain many other vitamins and nutrients including: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and vitamins A, C and E.  Furthermore One cup of pumpkin contains 3 grams of fibre and only 50 calories.   It is high in carbohydrates so can be a healthy substitute to pasta, rice or potatoes.

    Kabocha is traditionally eaten in celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when people lack the nutrients found more commonly in summer vegetables. Kabocha is often enjoyed as tempura or boiled in sugar and soya sauce resulting in a soft, sweet dish.
    For this blog posting, pumpkin cake is first on the list.  Pumpkin has an amazing texture perfect for baking with and will make your cake beautifully moist and colourful.


    It was my day off yesterday and was on the lookout for something easy to make and using the ingredients I already have. That’s when I thought a pumpkin cake would be the ideal choice.  I did want to wait until I received my mums amazing squash recipe (which I have to add to this blog when I get it.  It is perhaps the only cake you can’t resist to scoff, even if it has fallen and broken into peices on the kitchen floor – ah the memories) however I felt a bit impatient and thought I’d make one up myself.  I didn’t want to be too experimental with this one so I thought the best thing to do was to work with something which was already a bit of a success, the banana cake.    The results were even better than expected.




    Again, like the banana cake, this pumpkin one is a must try.  I wouldn’t have put it on here otherwise.  Very moist and flavourful.  You can’t really taste the pumpkin, but it gives this cake a mouth watering texture. You may find it also beats the banana cake in the tasty stakes.  I didn’t think this could be possible, but the proof is in the pudding!! 🙂


    Ingredients

    • 100g Butter or Marg
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup All purpose flour
    • 1.5 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (if you are struggling to get it into a creamy mash add a little soy milk)
    • a big handful of crushed walnuts
    • 1 cup raisins (boiled in 1 cup of water – drain)
    • tsp heaped cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp clove powder
    • 1 tsp nutmeg powder

    Directions

    1.  Grease the rice cooker bowl/pan with butter or marg

    2.  Mash the cooked pumpkin with a sturdy fork or blend in a blender with a little soy milk

    3.  Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs

    4.  Mix together the mushy pumpkin

    5.  Mix in the sieved flour and spices

    6.  Mix in the  raisins and crushed walnuts.

    7.  Scrape into the rice cooker and bake for 60 minutes on the cake function. If you don’t have that function switch to on then check the mixture when the setting finishes with a chop stick.

    8.  If it comes out clean you are in the clear and can let it cool on a rack then eat if not put it on for a further 20 mins.

    9.  If you want to make this in the oven the directions will be the same as in the banana cake recipe I found.

    10.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it cool before cutting.





    Remember, the steam in the rice cooker cooks the cake so don’t look until the timer has beeped.