Before I had kids I used to brag that there was no way I would ever turn into a team sport groupie. In particular, I claimed that I would never ever EVER become a soccer mom. But then, Sprog No.1 became addicted to the game. My little soccer player lives to play. There is no such thing as too much soccer. He plays two games per week, trains three times, he plays in the back yard and at school, he plays soccer on the Wii and iPod, and he watches it on TV. He dreams of playing for Australia.
One day at a game I heard a loud raucous voice screeching “just kick the ball!!”. For split second I thought “who was THAT?”, and then I realised it had happened. I had morphed into a Soccer Mom without even seeing it coming.
I have since learned the value of having a chair and a magazine so that I can distance myself from the very tense games!
Now the soccer season hasn’t quite drawn to a close, so I still have oranges to use up. This week’s game didn’t end well, so I had a sad little soccer player to bring home. So this was a little treat for him, a bit of comfort food while licking his wounds…
This loaf is adapted from a very old recipe of my grandmother’s. She loved making all sorts of bread, especially sweet breads. This one is quite dense, has a lovely deep colour and a texture very much like a yeast bread.
- 1 ½ sifted plain flour
- 1 ½ wholemeal flour
- 3 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- ¼ t baking soda
- ¾ c raw sugar
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 2/3 c orange juice (fresh is best, and pulp is OK)
- ½ c milk
- ½ c melted butter
- 1 c fresh or frozen blueberries (don’t defrost if using frozen)
- 1/2 c roasted cashews, chopped (I crush lightly with mortar and pestle)
Preheat oven to 175C and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine well beaten eggs with juice, milk and melted butter. Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add berries and nuts. Pour into pan and back for about 45 minutes or until browned and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
When I was young my mother, who I called B, was a fabulous cook, in much the same style as my grandmother. She regularly cooked meals from the Bohemian family repertoire and so many people would happen to drop by our house at dinner time that she always made enough food to cater for at least a couple of unexpected guests.
However, as the bohemian influence began to outstrip the Bohemian heritage, B’s cooking started to deteriorate. In her efforts to make things healthier she would substitute ingredients. Initially her substitutions were ok – wholemeal flour instead of white, 4 eggs instead of 5… She could get away with that. But eventually the subsitutions got out of hand. There would be the change in flour, honey instead of sugar, powdered skim milk and water instead of full cream milk, oil instead of butter (not even sure she could claim a health benefit there), 2 eggs instead of 5 etc etc. The result was most often what we’d call a ‘sod’. Sods were flat, damp, hard, sad pans of disappointment, laid on the table in exchange for dessert.
Now there is nothing wrong with B’s healthy intentions, nor the ingredients she used. The problem was that she used those ingredients in recipes not designed for them. So eventually, whenever some family friend would serve us something tasty, I would ask them for the recipe so that I could hopefully offer some inspiration to go with our pantry offerings. Of course the outcome was that B happily retreated from the kitchen and encouraged me to experiment with new culinary ideas.
This recipe was one of the first recipes I was given during this time. These muffins are so light and airy you won’t believe they use wholemeal flour.
- 125 g butter
- 3/4 c caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 whole pureed orange (peel and all)
- 125 ml orange juice
- 1 1/2 c wholemeal flour
- 1 t bicarb soda
- 1 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 c chopped dried dates
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Beat in egg. Beat in puree and juice. Fold in dry ingredients. Add dates. Spoon into lined muffin tins or 1 loaf tin. Bake 20 minutes at 175C (or 35-40 mins for loaf) or until skewer comes out clean. Makes 10 standard muffins or 1 loaf.