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.


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…”

trauma, triumph, and pea pesto

pea pesto2

When I was a little girl – my mother always bought season tickets for the symphony orchestra and took (dragged) me along. I had to get all dressed up in skirts or dresses and stockings and good shoes or boots. I had a little gold hair-band with pearls on it that dug in behind my ears and gave me a headache. And I had to behave which meant sitting absolutely still and listening. And not talking. Or coughing. Or sniffling. Or even yawning. It was painful. Continue reading “trauma, triumph, and pea pesto”

a way of being in the world and a matcha green tea cake

Green Tea Cake9

Recently I stumbled across the work of the German existential philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976), who explored the subject of being  that is, our way of being in the world –  our human ability to confront issues such as our personhood and mortality; and the paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself.

I’ve never studied philosophy. But I do find the paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself, immensely interesting and relevant. And complicated.

Continue reading “a way of being in the world and a matcha green tea cake”

carry on cooking – a pressed crust pear and plum tart

In the face of adversity – I always retreat to the kitchen. Cooking, and more specifically baking, is my favourite form of therapy.

I once met my neighbour in the grocery store and she told me I looked ashen and asked me if I was feeling okay. I’m sure I did look quite pale. I’d just driven my car into the car in front of me at a red light in broad daylight. Continue reading “carry on cooking – a pressed crust pear and plum tart”

in memory of Ivy – date nut loaf


When I first moved to Australia, years ago, I lived in a funny little flat in Melbourne. My neighbour, Ivy, who was alternately cranky and sweet, used to scare the life out of me with horrifying tales of poisonous spiders and snakes and staggering crime statistics. “Careful that baby doesn’t get snatched right out the window,” she said, as I moved into the flat with my baby girl in arms. “We’ve had a whole raft of babies stolen in Melbourne lately – you’ll need to keep your windows locked.”

That was my introduction to Australia.

Continue reading “in memory of Ivy – date nut loaf”

last taste of summer – loaded lemon & blueberry scones


I’m in favour of dragging summer out as long as possible. It’s my favourite season and although I agree, autumn is fantastic, I never, ever want summer to end. I love the long days and nights, the cycling and outdoor activities, time at the lake and shore fires. I love running about in sun-dresses and sandals. I like summer fruits and salads and barbecues. And shooting stars, and fireflies, and sleeping with the windows open and the overhead fan on. 

All summer long, I make an effort to never complain about the heat or humidity. My theory is that you cannot complain all year round – if you must complain then you must limit yourself to one season. It’s only reasonable. It’s generally winter when I feel entitled to complain. Last year I made it through the winter with very little moaning at all. Continue reading “last taste of summer – loaded lemon & blueberry scones”

the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad

Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward, 

Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,

Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see….

from “Figs” by DH Lawrence

Continue reading “the sexy fig undressed – arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad”

classic monte cristo sandwich with red currant relish

“The death of hope is a tricky thing.”

~Bernard Ng

Bernard Ng is an American writer from Pasadena, California. When I was in Vermont, I heard him reading from his beautiful memoir when he suddenly read a line that I’d written. Only I hadn’t written it – he had. We’d written the same line. Pretty much word for word.

  Continue reading “classic monte cristo sandwich with red currant relish”

date night

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” Thank you William Shakespeare! What a perfect line – at least for this post.  Continue reading “date night”