a big birthday

Spiced Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream & Hempseeds

Damien turned 40 yesterday. No biggie really, we said. I can only see good things ahead when my question of what kind of a birthday cake he’d like was met with, “Some gnarly, full of spice, vegan concoction.” What a guy.

At one point across the day, it struck me that I’d love to pop back and chat to our 14 year old selves about what might fill in the time for the next 26 years. I think the bucket list might be more of a surprise in itself, than the shock of a visit from our future selves. It’s been a heck of a ride. And so much of it unplanned and unexpected but always met with hearts wide open. Mostly because at 14, we had no idea there was any alternative. I’m sure we could have saved ourselves some anguish if we had. Momentarily at least. But if I turn around to look back at the pages and pages of our story together, it’s more like a flicker book. It’s so full, and the feeling of all those memories we’ve made is almost overwhelming. Not for a minute has it all been daisy chains and cloudless skies, but it’s been beautifully raw, and unencumbered of the kinds of expectations our 20 or 30 year old selves might have had if we’d met much later along the line. We’ve held such a big love in our hands all these years, and sitting around a fire last night, celebrating with some of our dearest friends, dropped me perfectly into the space to remember that. And be so grateful for it. Happy Birthday DT. Big love.

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Spiced Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream & Hempseeds

 

2 cups organic spelt flour (I used freshly milled from Nature’s 9, so good)

1 cup organic panela sugar

1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt 

2 tsp baking powder 

1/2 tsp baking soda 

2 tsp ground organic cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground organic cloves

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 

3 cups organic carrots, grated 

3/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil 

2/3 cup freshly squeezed organic orange juice

1/2 cup organic raisins

1 cup organic walnuts / brazil nuts / almonds, chopped

 

1 cup organic raw cashews

1/2 cup organic raw coconut oil

1 cup water

juice of 2 organic lemons

pinch Celtic sea salt

3 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup

4 tbsp organic pepitas, dry roasted for 3-5 minutes until coloured

1 tbsp organic hempseeds

 

Pre heat oven to 180C.

Prepare a 26cm diameter bundt tin with coconut oil.

 In a large mixing bowl, add spelt flour, panela sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices and stir with a wooden spoon.

In a separate bowl, mix carrots, oil and orange juice.

Ad the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Don’t worry that it will seem too dry, keep mixing and the cake will come together.

Finally add the raisins and nuts and give one last mix through before spooning into the cake tin.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave in the cake tin to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

 

To make the icing, blend the cashews, coconut oil and water until really smooth. Add the salt, lemon juice and honey and blend again. At this stage you can put the icing into the fridge if you’d like more of a set icing that you can spread with a butter knife, or if you’d like to let it run down the contours of the cake like I have then leave it out at room temperature.

Once the cake has completely cooled, ice it with the cashew cream cheese and sprinkle toasted pepitas and hempseeds across the top. Hempseeds make sprinkles just blokey enough.

Candles are optional.

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patch to plate

Cauliflower With Cashew Cheese

We have what we call ‘town’ clothes, and then our farm clothes. Our town clothes are nothing fancy let me assure you, just more of an effort to wear matching socks than anything, which might say something of the comfort level that our farm clothes offer. This recipe comes from the farm clothes end of the wardrobe. It’s a grey hoodie, comfy jeans and favourite socks kind of dish. Nothing pretty, just good food picked at the end of a decent day’s gardening stint, that somehow speaks of all the reasons you’d choose to spend your free time repeatedly scooping soil with your right hand and planting with your left. Scoop, plant, scoop, plant. One of the coolest ways I’ve discovered to embody mantra. And you get cauliflower at the end. It’s hard not to turn into Nature’s ra-ra girl when I’ve spent an afternoon in the veggie patch. Lucky I have my town clothes to bring me back from the brink. Then again, I’ve heard I wouldn’t need those in a commune. Thinking, thinking.

 

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Cauliflower With Cashew Cheese

serves 2 for dinner

 

1 whole organic cauliflower

3 organic baby leeks

1 tbsp organic coconut oil

2 batches organic cashew cheese

2 cups water

1 tbsp arrowroot

generous handful of fresh organic parsley

generous handful of fresh dill

celtic sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

 

I try to have a batch of cashew cheese in the fridge each week, but if this is the first you’ve heard of such a thing (!) you can find instructions to make it here. 

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Roughly chop the cauliflower and leeks and brown them in a pan with some coconut oil. Once you can notice a change in colour with the veggies, remove from the heat and pile into a baking dish. Stir through the chopped herbs.

To make the cheese sauce, mix 2 cups of cashew cheese with 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot. Stir until the arrowroot is smoothly emulsified into the mixture and then pour over the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30-40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and golden brown.

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