I find it fascinating to think of how we all have our own special callings in life. What may seem impossible to even comprehend to some, comes naturally to others. Take my friend Aidee for example. She knows how to make films. Yes, films. She also knows how to act and has just produced her first music video for our other friend Anna's new single. Lets be honest, this baffles me. Both the singing part and the making a video part. I wouldn't even know where to begin to undertake such a project. When I started high school I had great musical aspirations; I was first going to learn how to play the guitar, followed by bass guitar and then drums.
I lasted approximately 2 weeks with guitar lessons before promptly giving up on any dreams I may have had of being a musician, and went back to fascinating about food. That there are actually people who can play the guitar (or any musical instrument for that matter), still blows my mind. That was not my calling, not even close.
I often look at people in awe when they tell me what they do for a living. You're a teacher!? Wow, how do you have the balls to stand up in front of a class full of kids and more importantly... how do you handle that many kids in your face all day! You're a doctor!? Wow, I know you've spent most of your adult life training to do what you do, but really, how do you deal with all the gross bits... and the blood. I'd faint. You're an artist!? Wow, what I would give to have the talent and the discipline you have to create. You lucky thing (yes, brother Louie I'm talking to you!). You what, create and sew clothes!? Me, I can barely hand-stitch a button back onto a shirt. I wouldn't even know where to begin to make something you'd actually be able to wear. How do you do what you do? (Yes, sister Jessie I'm talking to you!). You're a shoemaker!? Wow, I can create many things, but shoes? Nope they are not one of them, you're awesome (Yes, brother Ben I am talking to you!). You're a builder? Respect to you, seriously. You build houses and stuff! Houses! Far out *taking my hat off to you*.
Food has always been my one true love and thankfully cooking comes naturally to me, it always has. Sure there was a time when I was going to give it all up to train as an Ayurvedic practitioner and another time when I made jewellery for extra cash when the kids were little and I thought it might be kinda cool to do some kind of formal training so I could make more professional looking necklaces to sell. But food has always succeeded in pulling me back in. I day-dream of recipes, am constantly thinking of different combinations of flavours and for the first time in a long time, feel like this is my true calling. Writing and sharing my food and stories, right here and in my book (that you'll all get to see early next year).
Tomorrow marks 3 years since I wrote my first post and 7 years of motherhood. Gulp.
3 years ago I would never have been able to imagine what this little space would have turned into and the opportunities it has given me. I get so much joy in sharing all these stories that have been rattling around in my head, and it's the coolest feeling when someone I don't even know cooks one of my recipes and loves it as much as I do. I'm gonna be completely clichéd right now, but this little community that we've created here means so much to me. I read each and every comment from you and I can't thank you enough for the words of encouragement you have all left along the way.
Now what would a celebration be without cake? After sending Ada off to school this morning with 30 chocolate cupcakes for her early Birthday celebration I wanted to make something for myself, you know to celebrate my 3 years of blogging and to satisfy the sweet cravings I've been having for the past few weeks! You see, I've just finished a full-on 15 day herbal cleanse, so the idea of diving straight back into butter and sugar just didn't feel right. Instead I've decided to make a ridiculously healthy (raw) version of the much loved carrot cake. And I gotta say, it hit the spot perfectly.
It's that time of the year again when boxes of fresh Californian medjool dates are as cheap as chips down here in Australia, so now is the ideal time to be making raw desserts. All of those traditional carrot cake flavouring are there, you've got the carrot, the walnuts and orange with just a teeny hint of cinnamon and ginger to add a bit of excitement. Most raw carrot cakes I've come across seem to be iced with a cashew based cream, but I've never really taken a liking to it myself (this could partly be blamed on the fact that I don't own a high powered blender, so the icing is never ultra smooth?), so I've instead gone for a slightly more decadent topping of whipped coconut cream, with just a touch of orange and maple.
Thank you my lovelies, for everything. Here's to another 3 years and beyond! xx
little raw carrot cakes with orange maple cream
You will need to start this recipe the day before to give the cakes time to firm up a little in the fridge and to chill the coconut milk for the cream. For the cream you need to make sure the coconut milk you use is a natural one, no nasty additives, stabilisers and additives whatsoever, just coconut and water is all it should say on the ingredients list (really, this goes for every time you buy coconut milk though too). For a more detailed post on making whipped coconut cream, Ashlae recently wrote this great post. I always pick up the tins of coconut milk in the shop and give them a little shake, if you don't feel too much movement or hear too much sloshing about then this is usually a good indication that brand is a good one to use. Some brands, even at room temperature in cold weather are thick enough to use without chilling, and feel solid when shaken. When I first started making whipped coconut cream a few years back I bought a whole range of different brands, put them all in the fridge overnight and experimented with which ones firm up the most when chilled. I've found most Asian brands from your local Asian grocers work great and I mostly use 'Chef's Choice' or 'Aroy-d' brands here in Australia. 'Ayam' brand works great, but I don't really like the flavour of it.
2 medium carrots, peeled, ends trimmed + coarsely grated
1 cup (140g) walnuts, whole or pieces
1/2 cup (45g) shredded or desiccated coconut
15 medjool dates, pitted
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted if solid
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
the finely grated zest 1/2 orange (just zest the whole orange as you need some for the cream)
a pinch of fine sea salt
orange maple cream
1x 400ml tin of good quality coconut milk *see headnotes
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
the finely grated zest 1/2 orange
a pinch of fine sea salt
Day one: Place the tin of coconut milk into the fridge and leave overnight.
Place all the cake ingredients into a food processor and blend on high until everything is finely chopped and almost paste-like. I leave mine a little bit chunky still for added texture. Line a six-hole 1/3 cup capacity muffin tin with cling-film (glad-wrap for the kiwi's or plastic wrap for everyone else!) and divide the mixture between each hole. Press down firmly to pack it down, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Day two: To make the cream, open the tin of coconut milk carefully and scoop off the thick cream that's settled on the top and place it into a bowl, leaving behind the thin watery liquid at the bottom (this is great to add to porridge or smoothies so don't waste it!). Use a whisk or electric beater to beat the cream until thick and billowy. Add in the maple and orange zest and whisk to combine.
Serve cakes topped with a dollop of orange maple cream and serve immediately. Un-iced cakes will store happily in the fridge (covered) for 4-5 days.