Mr. Abraham’s cheery home – photo – Karen Anderson
Coconut is a great ingredient and though I love coconut, I think spices are perhaps the greatest ingredient ever given to a cook.
This post allows me to share another savoury coconut recipe but it also satisfies my longing to share my journey to a very special place in Kerala, South India.
When I planned my first trip to India, I planned it around two equally passionate quests; I wanted to meet India’s people and I wanted to go to where the spices grow.
Both of these desires were fulfilled when I found myself at Mr. Abraham’s Spice Garden in a quiet, lush corner in the Cardamom Hills near Periyar. I fell in love with the garden and of course with the garden’s caretakers.
Mr. Abraham’s garden was included in a BBC TV show and book by Monty Don called Around the World in 80 Gardens. I think it’s as close to the Garden of Eden as I’ll ever get. Read on, for the recipe and a virtual tour of the garden and you’ll see why I’ve been back and will keep going back as long as I’m able.
fresh local ingredients – including coconuts at Barbecue Restaurant Thekkady – photo – Karen Anderson
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconut…recipes for you.
From Cochin (Kochi) to Thekkady in Kerala to Mahalamapuram to Chettinad in Tamilnadu I’m going to finish my coconut theme strong. This post will highlight Fish Moilee (Moylee, Molee) – a coconut flavoured fish dish mildly spiced with mustard seeds, turmeric and curry leaves.
She’s so sweet – Calgary Hyatt Regency Executive Pastry Chef Sabine Gradauer – photo – Karen Anderson
chef Sabine Gradauer’s cake pop centrepiece – photo – Karen Anderson
chef Gradauer is getting ready to welcome 800 guests to the Calgary Hyatt Regency’s Christmas Day brunch – photo – Karen Anderson
A little while ago an invitation to meet the executive pastry chef at Calgary’s Hyatt Regency hotel crossed my desk. I had to delay that meeting until after my annual trip to India and since I knew I would be jet-lagged on my return and that I would have a column for CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon due shortly after my return, I thought it would be a great idea to have this profession chef help me with a recipe to share with Albertans this Christmas.
I knew that in the two weeks I would spend in South India I would see coconuts everywhere so I asked if chef might be willing to create a great Christmas inspired coconut dessert.
I specifically mentioned that the recipe should be fairly easy.
Here’s something I learned from this experience; what a classically trained executive pastry chef from Austria whose lived and worked all over the world thinks of as easy, might not be as easy for you and me.
Ah well, it was a delight to meet chef Sabine Gradauer and if you read on you’ll see how I fared in translating her professional chef’s notes on this recipe for Coconut Snowball Cake-pops into something you can make at home. Hopefully all was not lost in translation.
I’m going to be in India from November 1 to 17. When I arrive back in Calgary I’m going to be jet-lagged from traveling – literally – half way around the world.
That’s okay. I’ve got the best cure for jet lag ever.
On November 18 I’m going to be a chef leader for #TheBigStir event. This is a very cool thing and the video above really communicates how easily I’ll find the energy to be there.
I consider it a privilege and an honour to be involved in Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers efforts to create domestic harmony and functional relationships. Besides – I’m crazy about making soup.
I’m writing this in October and #TheBigStir event is already sold out. Calgary’s incredible volunteer ethic triumphs once again. #TheBigStir event will utilize the skills of over 200 volunteers to make 2000 litres of soup for the women and families fleeing domestic abuse and currently rebuilding their lives in the eight designated shelters here in Calgary.
Read on to find out how you can support the work of Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers no matter where you live.
Definitely homemade – Aunt Muriel’s Farmhouse Carrot Cake – photo – Karen Anderson
When I was a little girl I loved to visit my great Aunt Muriel.
She lived in a big old farmhouse high on a hill overlooking the St. Croix River near my hometown of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. I remember her huge vegetable garden and a tire swing hanging from the bowed branches of an old willow tree across the yard from the creaky screen door of her kitchen. She used to make this carrot cake for my cousin Debbie’s birthday party each year and when I moved away to college I asked her for the recipe as it was definitely my favourite cake growing up.
I’ve lived in Alberta 30 years now and I know many of the farmers that grow my food. Now when I make Aunty M’s cake I use as many things from their farms as I can. I know she would’ve loved the golden hue and rich flavour of the organic canola oil I can source here. She farmed organically because that’s just how you did things.
Once in awhile when I’m on a farm in Alberta, I’ll catch sight of a tire swing hanging from a tree and my mind will race back in time to meet a little girl swinging with all her heart – her cotton dress fluttering and flying up around her. She’s laughing and throwing her head back to catch the rays of the sun as a warm summer breeze rustles the soft leaves of the giant old willow above.
Twirling, twirling, twirling – today I iced my cake with swirls and twirls and remembered again the joy of time on a family farm.
Read on for my Aunt Muriel’s carrot cake recipe. I’ve noted all the farms I was able to support in the making of the beautiful cake. It’s my small way to toast a farmer – the social media theme for the World Food Day – and the International Year of the Family Farm. Enjoy.
Lots of fun talking about Spain and “what I ate on my summer vacation” today on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon with host Donna McElligot.
Here’s the podcast in case you missed it. I’m on at the 10:05 mark in the show.
paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson
You can find the recipe for this delicious paella here. Watch for posts on pintxos and tapas coming soon.
paella on my plate
photo – Karen Anderson
I’m just back from Spain. It was my first time there and the whole time I explored my new surroundings Elton John’s song Daniel kept playing in my mind. I’d find myself humming it or singing a few lines…
Daniel is flying tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading to Spain
(and a bit further on)
They say Spain is pretty though I’ve never been
Daniel says it’s the best place he’s ever seen
and he should know he’s been there enough…
Spain is pretty and its filled with justifiably proud people and that very wonderfully (when it’s done right) ubiquitous dish called paella.
This post will tell the story of my chance to cook paella in San Sebastian with a Basque country native. Keep reading and I’ll share his great recipe with you.