Seasonal Wholefoods: Seasons come, seasons go, and funny enough, they come back again!

We’ve just hit the spring season and I couldn’t be happier! I don’t know about you, but I am glad to see the back of winter! Although, we can’t really complain in Australia about cold weather; in some parts of the world, our winter is as warm as their summers. Notice how suddenly everything looks…well, prettier and the songs of the birds have all of a sudden gotten louder! Yep, it’s springtime all right and we are ready to plant our garden with an array of goodies.

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It’s the season for tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, herbs, zucchini and more – and time to begin planning how much tomato passata I will be making this year. I love this rich and full of goodness sauce that goes perfect in any tomato-based dish.

Isn’t it funny how life can be like our garden – we plant, we water and we reap – and sometimes we just rest.

If you have followed me on social media, you would have noticed I have been travelling a bit overseas to Tanzania and Fiji. The plan was I would go to these countries, see what the educational needs were of the poorer communities and help where I can. Just over 18 months ago, I started writing an Early Childhood Curriculum specifically for developing countries and then bam...it all stopped!

I had all these plans! I would write as many books as I could to help improve the lives of children in less fortunate settings than myself. But the problem was, these settings, settings without much money, were not in a position to cover costs of these books and I found myself struggling to meet the financial needs required to make this happen.

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So, back to the drawing board and re-assessing what I am doing as I ‘rest’ from writing curriculums for developing countries…for now!

In the meantime, I have been building my platform for In Sofia’s Kitchen and finding so much joy in doing this.

Have I mentioned I am releasing a cookbook at the end of the year? Yep…I probably have but just in case you are a new reader, I thought I’d give it another plug!

Seasons come and seasons go! I don’t know what’s going to happen with my half-finished curriculum and my spare room filled with resource books for developing countries but one thing for sure – I have had a blast getting to know some amazing people in these countries and discovering a whole new world I never would have if I stayed in my own backyard!

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But just like spring is back, so is my love of cooking! Actually, not that I lost that love but I was so busy creating resources for developing countries that something had to take a back seat!

Now to be honest, I find it a little scary branching out into new territory. Crazy thoughts race through your head like, “will they like my food? “Am I good enough” or this one, “I am 51 years old now, do I have anything to offer?” And it doesn’t stop there – how do I upload, download, format, add a link and “don’t forget to hashtag to bring in the traffic, mum!!”

There is no guarantee that people will love what you do, or even appreciate the hard work you put into it, but heck I am going to give it all I’ve got and enjoy the journey along the way! Besides, the best part is that you get to meet so many people from all walks in life and as far as I am concerned, that’s the best!

So let me start by giving you a recipe for a celebratory cake and we can get the party started! Talking about parties, have you booked your spot on Eventbrite for InstaMeet 14 in Newcastle? Go to www.eventbrite.com.au/e/instameet-newcastle-14-foodie-meet-tickets-27382516845

Halva is a Mediterranean Dessert that goes perfect with a dollop of Greek yogurt and the light and fluffy texture, with a hint of citrus, will have you going back for more! I hope you enjoy making it just as I did and even better, your family and friends will be singing your praises!

Enjoy!

Halva

Ingredients

110g unsalted butter, softened in microwave for 20 seconds
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almond meal
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice

Syrup

1 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons thinly sliced orange zest
2 tablespoons almond essence
Topping
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 190*C. Lightly spray a square baking tin (21cm) and line bottom and sides with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl, add softened butter and sugar and mix on medium speed. Add semolina, baking powder and almond meal and combine.
  3. With a metal spoon, fold in eggs, zest and juice until well combined.
  4. Spoon into cake tin, level out surface and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add sugar and water in a small saucepan to make syrup. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil adding cinnamon stick, zest and essence and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until reduced slightly.
  6. Pour syrup over cake, sprinkle with topping and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, optional.
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