My novella, Return to Serenity, is available free from today until February 18th as an eBook on Amazon Kindle. To get your free download, or to read more about it, click here.
As usual, at this time of the year, we have an abundance of zucchini in our garden. I have been cooking them in stir fries and fritters and pizzas, making zucchini slice, and baking zucchini blueberry loaves for the freezer.
Yesterday I made a chocolate zucchini cake, which turned out really nice. Although Nick isn’t a big fan of zucchini, he loved the cake and wouldn’t have even known it had zucchini in it if I hadn’t told him. I used the same recipe as my Red Velvet Beetroot cake, but substituted the beetroot for zucchini, and cooked it a little longer.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
250g peeled and grated zucchini
3 eggs, beaten
1¾ cups raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
250ml oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 180º C.
Beat together eggs and sugar. Mix in vanilla, oil, and zucchini until well combined. Add sifted flour, baking powder, and cocoa and mix well. Pour batter into greased or paper-lined cake tin.
Bake for 55 minutes. Spread with frosting when cool.
Chocolate Orange Frosting
60g butter or dairy-free spread
250g icing sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
grated zest of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons orange juice
Beat all ingredients together until spreadable consistency. Spread over cake.
At the beginning of this year, I started a new art journal. I’m using a sketchbook that I bought last year—I just love the cover!
Inside, I created a title page. I painted the background and stamped on random shapes using bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard and a cardboard tube. Then I glued down pictures cut from scrapbook cardstock and cards.
I journaled my goals for the year—nothing too adventurous, just simple things like gardening, writing and crafts. Oh, and most importantly, adopt a dog! Then, throughout the year, I am going to journal about the things that make me happy, the things that make up my everyday life. It might be places that I visit, things I’ve seen, a book I’ve enjoyed, or flowers that are blooming in my garden.
By the end of the year my journal will be filled with thoughts and imaginings, photographs, drawings, clippings, stickers, and anything else I might want to put in there. It will be like a scrapbook, a way for me to creatively document my year, and at the end of the year I will have a colourful journal of memories.
One of the things I love about summer is all the lovely berries that are around at this time of year. My favourites are raspberries and blueberries. I enjoy making raspberry jam, using the berries in puddings and muffins and cakes, or adding them to cereal for breakfast. I picked the first of our blueberries yesterday! We have two blueberry bushes, which usually provide us with enough berries for the summer, as well as some for the freezer.
One of my favourite recipes is one that Mum used to make when we were kids. She would bake all her own cakes and biscuits, and we would always have yummy things to eat when we got home from school. Although this recipe is made with raspberry jam, you can use any jam. Sometimes I make it with homemade plum jam, which is just as nice.
Raspberry Crumble Slice
2 teaspoons baking powder
70g caster sugar
150g butter or non-dairy spread
4 rounded tablespoons raspberry jam (or any other jam)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in the caster sugar. Rub in the butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and mix in lightly so the mixture is still crumbly. Divide the mixture in half and press half the mixture firmly into the base of a greased or baking paper-lined tin. Mix the cinnamon and jam together and spread over the base. Spread the rest of the crumbs over the jam, leaving the texture rough. Bake at 180ºC for half an hour. Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.
Over the past few years, I have had several novellas published in My Weekly Pocket Novels, and People’s Friend Pocket Novels, in the UK. Recently, I decided to publish them as eBooks to make them available to a wider readership. The first, Hidden Dreams, is for sale on Amazon, now, as a Kindle eBook. To read more about it, click here.
Spring is my favourite time of the year in the garden, when the flowers are looking pretty, the vegetables are growing nicely, and it’s not too hot for working outside and pottering amongst the plants.
I planted some sunflower seeds from a commemorative tin of Yates seeds that out friend, Erica, gave us, and the first flower is blooming already!
We had loads of cinerarias self-seed in our raised vegetable beds this year, and they look so pretty, I couldn’t bring myself to pull them out. So although there has been less room for the veggies, I have enjoyed looking at the lovely flowers over the last couple of months.
I covered the lettuces with netting to stop the birds from eating them all.
I hung tin foil from twine to keep the birds away from the silverbeet, which seems to have worked. Although I love having birds in the garden, and encourage them by feeding them, they seem to think that we grow the veggies just for them!
I plant lots of blue flowers to attract the bees. They love the borage, which is also a good companion plant for the strawberries.
The tomato plants are doing nicely, although the oxalis is growing rampant in the tomato bed at the moment. I don’t like spraying anything, so have to try and keep on top of the weeding.
These dianthus in our front garden have the most beautiful scent.
I think the blue lobelia and the yellow pansies look really pretty together.
This little rock rose (I think that’s what it is) loves growing under the dappled shade of the tree.
There is always lots to do in the garden, but our efforts are rewarded with beauty and bounty. There is nothing nicer than looking out onto a pretty garden, and being able to walk outside and pick fresh greens for dinner.
“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
Hans Christian Andersen