There is much to be done. The freight train of the year is gathering speed and the scenery is flashing by. Why, it’s already the middle of March don’t you know. My little desk is gathering stacks of paper – lectures and journals to read, books to fill with assignment-worthy words, receipts and bills to be filed, story ideas to be tucked safely away until I have a moment to flesh them out more. Every day I wonder which bags I need to pack into the back of my car, which role am I acting in today? Am I the dietitian/runner/university student (Monday and Tuesday)? Am I the runner/social-media intern/writing race co-ordinator (Wednesday)? Am I the dietitian/runner (Thursday)?
I am lucky to fill my life with so many wonderful things; I am lucky that every day I get to play the role of daughter, sister, girlfriend, and pet owner. Sometimes it helps to have a moment to sit back and look at the scenery that surrounds me. Just a few minutes in the garden in the late afternoon, when the sun is slanting through the palm trees and dancing in patterns on the grass and the breeze ruffles my hair away from my face just right, there is a deep sense of privilege in affording myself a moment like that. I breathe in and all sense of stress falls away. My shoulders straighten and a smile blooms unbidden on my face. I sit on the paving stones with my feet in the grass that has become overgrown after our record rain the past few weeks. I nibble on a slice of cake and sip at my tea and just listen to the faint sounds of life gathering in the houses surrounding ours. The suburb is coming home, settling in for the afternoon, anticipating the weekend and all its pleasures. The time comes for me to return to my desk, but before I leave the garden I tuck away a little piece of the calm that has washed over me for when I need it later in the week.
Zucchini, Hazelnut, and Cranberry Bread (Gluten Free, Naturally Sweetened)
If you are gluten-able then you can use 150 grams of wholemeal plain flour in place of the buckwheat and rice flours. Don’t be tempted to replace the hazelnut meal with flour or you will miss out on the nutty, dense texture in the crumb of the cake. Also, ensure that you use real maple syrup, not maple flavoured syrup; one is a product of nature the other is a product of a lab. If you can’t get your hands on maple syrup you can use honey or agave nectar, or my fellow Aussies can use golden syrup instead (this may yield a sweeter result).
- 100 grams buckwheat flour
- 50 grams brown rice flour
- 80 grams hazelnut meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup low fat milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 zucchini
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf tin with baking paper.
- Prepare your zucchini by coarsely grating it using a box grater. Bundle zucchini shreds into a few paper towels and squeeze over the kitchen sink until you have removed most of the liquid. This will ensure that your dough doesn’t get sloppy. Set aside for later.
- In a large bowl weigh in the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and hazelnut meal. Measure in the salt, baking powder, and mixed spice and then whisk all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
- In a separate bowl combine maple syrup, milk, eggs, rice bran oil, and vanilla bean paste.
- Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until nearly all combined. Add zucchini, cranberries, and hazelnuts to the batter and mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour batter into the prepared tin and slide into the oven.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean then remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool to room temperature before slicing.
The last step in this recipe isn’t really necessary though. You can allow the cake to cool in the tin for the amount of time it takes to boil the jug for a cup of green tea, then remove it from the tin, slice yourself off a heal of bread from one end, and then pop out to the garden and enjoy the fading light of the sun. I am also planning to have a slice for breakfast in the morning. It should go perfectly well with my Saturday morning skinny cap.
So my dear readers, do you feel like you play many different roles from day to day? I know I get dizzy just thinking about how many hats my Mum wears every day (and how many more she must have worn when we were little).
Where do you take yourself for a moment of peace and gratitude (and perhaps a slice of cake)?