mastering the art of fig jam

This week I made fig jam twice. The first time I made a tiny batch – a taste really – a single jar. Just for fun. I had some dried figs that I wanted to use and some gorgeous, incredibly sweet empire apples that tasted like candy apples. I was fancying fig jam on savoury sandwiches: fig jam and ham; bacon, lettuce, and fig jam; peanut butter and fig jam. In the end, I had a friend coming for lunch and I made roasted parsnip soup and then roast chicken, lettuce, and fig jam sandwiches on seed bread. Continue reading “mastering the art of fig jam”

rules of life and a rosemary olive oil cake

Rosemary Olive Oil CakeMy new rule is that I’m going to try to go to bed by 10pm to read…

But never mind that. I want to talk about this rosemary and olive oil cake which I found on the food blog What’s Cooking – the food blog of Amanda, an NYC lawyer and writer.

Her photographs are serious works of art. If you don’t believe me take a quick look at this shot of lavender and rosemary. And she’s a fabulous cook. I know because I cook her stuff. Like this cake.

I made the recipe pretty much exactly as Amanda did – except I didn’t have any lavender and I used brandy instead of Grand Marnier. I did look longingly at some lavender growing in a front garden down the street but in the end – I just used my own rosemary which I grow year round in a pot. It was a gift from a good friend. This is a beautiful, moist cake which feeds a crowd and also freezes well. Don’t hesitate to use at least 1 tbsp of chopped rosemary – the flavour is not overpowering at all.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

What you’ll need: springform pan or equivalent, whisk, grater

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar (you will likely need this even though it seems like a lot – it makes a big cake)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
  • large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • a splash of brandy if you have it on hand

Heat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and rosemary. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, almond milk, eggs, orange zest, juice and brandy. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined. It seems like a lot of liquid but don’t panic. It all works out in the end.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes – then check – and return to oven if necessary. Should bounce back when gently pressed and a cake tester should come out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours. Dredge with icing sugar. Serve it to your friends and family and if there’s any leftover – send it away with them in the spirit of J.M. Barrie.


chocolate peanut butter crockpot granola

I’ve taken to making granola in my crockpot / slow-cooker. It’s ridiculously easy. I think it’s the niftiest possible way to cook granola. In addition to being so tasty that I can’t stop eating it, I also love that I can make this in the middle of summer without heating up my kitchen.

I use a large crockpot /slow-cooker on the low setting. Don’t put this on and leave the building. It doesn’t take long – about two and half hours. Time will vary depending on your slow-cooker. A smaller crockpot will take quite a bit longer. Insert a wooden chopstick or equivalent (a wooden skewer, a wooden pate knife, etc.) between the lid and the crockpot – to allow the humidity to vent so you don’t end up with peanut butter chocolate porridge.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crockpot Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 3 cups large flake oats
  • 1 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds if you’ve got them
  • 1/4  cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I used crunchy)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seed oil
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries (or dried cranberries)

Mix the oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax, peanuts, walnuts, and salt in the crockpot. In a separate bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey and sunflower seed oil. Toss through the oat mixture, stirring well. Set heat to low. Put a chopstick between the lid and the crockpot to vent the humidity. Stir the mixture briefly after an hour. Check again in another hour. Etc. I don’t like my granola super well done so mine took about two and a half hours. But there is huge variability in crockpot temperatures so just judge accordingly. If you prefer to use the oven – try spreading this in a large baking dish or two – and cook at about 275 for about an hour or just longer, stirring it well about every 15-20 minutes.


When the granola is browned and cooked to your satisfaction, turn the slow-cooker off and remove the lid.  Toss in the dried cherries (or cranberries). Leave the lid cross-wise on your pot and set the timer for about 30 minutes. When the timer goes off – add the chocolate chips. If you add them too soon, they melt and disappear into the granola. If you add them too late – they don’t melt at all – and you won’t get the fabulous little clumps of chocolate-y granola goodness.



rhubarb coffee cake

Things are a little frantic in my life just at the moment. Between day jobs, and daughters graduating from university, and travelling, and a recent writing retreat,  and a large, needy dog, and a massive renovation project on an 1840s  limestone rowhouse – there really hasn’t been time for all that much activity in the kitchen. Continue reading “rhubarb coffee cake”

saudade and a tart fruit crumble

I’ve just stumbled on this word – saudade – pronounced “sau-da-dee.”

It’s Portuguese and it’s one of those words that we don’t have an equivalent single word for in the English language. But we really should. Because when you hear the definition – you just know we need to have our own word for this….

Continue reading “saudade and a tart fruit crumble”

rosemary honey cake with lime cream cheese icing

Pooh always liked a little something at eleven o’clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, “Honey or condensed milk with your bread?” he was so excited that he said, “Both,” and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, “But don’t bother about the bread, please.”

from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

Continue reading “rosemary honey cake with lime cream cheese icing”

ten books you must throw out immediately…

I’m moving house. Downsizing. Moving into a much smaller townhouse after years in a big family home.

I have the job of sorting through and packing the thousands of books I’ve somehow managed to accumulate over the years. I’m supposed to be picking those that I don’t need, don’t love, don’t want, and don’t have room for – and then – wait for it: GETTING RID OF THEM. Continue reading “ten books you must throw out immediately…”

on ego, ideals, and a batch of slow-cooker granola

I’ve been thinking about this brilliant passage on the subject of ego and ideals: Continue reading “on ego, ideals, and a batch of slow-cooker granola”

pressed-crust tart take 2

I don’t normally post two days in a row. But yesterday, instead of making Sunday dinner, I was writing a blog post about a pressed-crust pear and plum tart that I’d recently made and loved. By the time I got downstairs to start making dinner I was in a big rush and all I could think of was the tart.

So as soon as I’d put the main course into the oven, I abandoned my plans for making oatmeal date squares and decided to make the tart again – this time version 2.0 since I didn’t have enough plums or pears for the first version. Continue reading “pressed-crust tart take 2”

losing your mind is underrated AND so is really good soda bread


I saw this quote on the website True Activist  – and I’ve been thinking about it – trying to work out if it’s really true or not…. Continue reading “losing your mind is underrated AND so is really good soda bread”