Orange Gingerbread Cake

voracious vander - gingerbread

I know the last thing you want to hear me talk about is how I STILL cannot deal with being in the opposite season of what I’m used to.

But it just doesn’t feel right, you guys.

The symbols of the holiday season are all out of place, for starters. There are no snowmen (or women), disposable pine trees or need for a yule log. And Santa’s apparel makes me sweat just looking at it. Get that man some shorts! Or at least some capri pants.

I started to wonder if the usual heady holiday baking spices were appropriate for the summertime?

I feel like the whole point of using lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves is to warm me up when it’s cold and I’m looking for some comfort wrapped in sugar wrapped in cake.

But really, the point of all of these awesome spices is to make it taste unmistakably like holiday time.

So short answer: they’re totally appropriate.

Continue reading


Blueberry Coffee Cake

I believe I was put on this earth to:
1. make people eat vegetables
2. dance terribly enthusiastically
3. rant about unimportant things while saying “REALLY?!” multiple times

I’m good at these things and they bring me joy.

I also think that there are some people in this world who were born to bake…I am not one of those people.

I like baking, I really do – but the thrill and urgency of cooking wins out on most days. I like the chopping, the stirring and the tasting of something being sautéed in a pan. I love starting out with chopped onions and garlic, seasoning and seasoning some more.

But really, I usually just don’t have the patience to bake something brilliant.

Lately though, something’s changed – baking has become a place of solace – a way of restoring a sense of order and control in my life. The process of measuring and mixing makes me slow down and be patient with myself. It’s like a lesson in treating myself right.

I love coffee cakes with a crumbly topping and a soft, fluffy base. I love sweetening baked goods with good local honey or maple syrup. I love little pockets of sweet and brightly colored berries all up in my cake’s business. If you love these things too – you should make some time for yourself and this cake. It’s going to be awesome!

Blueberry Coffee Cake
adapted form 101 Cookbooks

– 1 cup spelt flour
– 3 tablespoons rolled oats
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
– 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1/3 cup good honey or maple syrup, room temperature
– 1 large egg, room temperature
– zest of 1/2 a lemon
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup buttermilk
– 1 1/3 cups blueberries, either fresh or frozen and thawed

– 1/2 cup spelt flour
– 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut 1/4-inch cubes
– 1/3 cup panela sugar (or brown sugar)
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350F/175C degrees. Butter your baking pan and line with parchment paper. (Note: the original recipe called for a loaf pan, but I went for a square baking pan – it’s up to you – just start checking you cake at the 45 minute mark.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer or by hand – until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the honey or maple syrup and beat until well incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times along the way.

Beat in the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again. Add half of the flour, stir just a bit, now add a splash of the buttermilk, stir again, but not too much. Add the rest of the flour and stir a bit, and now the rest of the buttermilk. Stir until everything barely comes together and then very gently fold in the blueberries. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan and set aside.

To make the crumble topping, place the flour, butter, maple sugar and walnuts in a food processor and pulse 20-30 times or until the topping is a bit beyond sandy/crumbly. It should be moist-looking – on its way to being slightly doughy. Crumble it over the cake batter and pat in place with your fingertips.

Place the coffee cake in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for five minutes and then remove it from the pan to cool on a rack.


Roasted Strawberry & Banana Coconut Oatmeal

There are some things in life I think (slash know) we could do without. Like third nipples, Real House Wives, Cheez Whiz, and the Kardashians.

BUT! We’re also lucky enough to have access to things that are near perfect, totally awesome and make the universe right.

Like the beach, food trucks, the perfect Pandora radio, Masterpiece Mystery!, puppies, London’s Oyster Cards and the combination of strawberry and banana.

Ever a favorite smoothie combo, these fruits love each other – the tart sweetness of a good strawberry with the mellow warmth and smooth texture of a sweet banana never gets old.

So naturally, I thought that roasting these two fruits might make for an excellent oatmeal/yogurt/ice cream topping. I was not disappointed. The bananas become caramelized and candy-like and the strawberries create an intensified strawberry-flavored syrup.

If you have an affinity for coconut, I suggest using a bit of coconut milk for cooking and/or topping off your oats. It adds a gorgeous non-dairy creaminess along with the hint of sweet coconut.

This breakfast almost completely compensates for the existence of the Jersey Shore.

Strawberry and Banana Topping (serves 2)
– 1 banana, sliced into rounds
– 6-8 strawberries, hulled and sliced into rounds
– baking spray or oil

Pre-heat the over to 400 F/205 C.

Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment with baking spray and place the fruit on it. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are releasing a syrupy juice and are soft and fragrant.

Oatmeal (serves 2)
Choose your own adventure

Steel-cut Oats/the Overnight Method:
Place 1/2 cup steel-cut oats in 1 cup water and 1/2 cup coconut milk (or milk of your choice) in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, take off heat and cover. Let stand for at least an hour or overnight  – either on the counter or in the fridge. (You can make a larger batch and keep it in the fridge for the week.)

When ready to eat, reheat desired serving over a medium heat with a little extra water or coconut milk. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Serve with toppings.


Rolled oats:
Place 1 cup rolled oats with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed – adding more liquid for desired consistency, if necessary. Let stand covered for 2 minutes and serve with toppings.

Toppings and stir-ins:
– coconut milk or cream
– 1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla essence
– 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
– chopped macadamia nuts, walnuts, cashews or almonds
– toasted coconut flakes

fresh corn cornbread

I had a couple of ears of fresh corn in my fridge leftover from last week’s veg box and they were just asking to be made into something special. It’s silly, but it really bugged me that the vast majority of cornbread recipes I looked at didn’t actually call for real, fresh corn. I took it upon myself to make a cornbread that incorporated a sweet golden corn puree , in addition to cornmeal. It turned out moist, slightly sweet and wholesome – with that signature soft crumb to it.

Fresh Corn Cornbread

  • 1 cup finely ground polenta/cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon good honey
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels removed


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C
  2. Put corn kernels through the food processor to make a paste
  3. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bow, Combine milk, oil, and egg; stir well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in fresh corn paste and honey
  4. Pour batter into a loaf pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until done. Cool 5 minutes in pan