Imagine picking your way across a sandy beach on a weekday afternoon – waves rolling in, cool water pulling at your feet, peachy clam shells catching your eye, the rest of the world somewhere far away – that’s what Southern California feels like to me. Slow, dreamy, quiet. Summer breezy. Can you tell it’s been too long since my last vacation?
Here are a few photos from Carpinteria, Los Olivos and Santa Barbara where much time is being whiled away.
This sweet brown vase was a gift earlier this month: it’s the latest addition to a collection of tiny vases that are perfect for my small garden.
Once again these vessels are filled with spring flowers. I’ve been enjoying the zen-like art of flower arranging once or twice a week lately and it’s a reminder that few things make me happier than walking outside to my own garden and cutting flowers for a bouquet.
I love photographing them, too, and the small arrangements are the perfect size for my teeny studio.
This is an adaptation on a the cranberry and lavender scone recipe I posted a few weeks ago. I’ve made these scones with regular flour rather than gluten-free since pumpkin is not a popular flavour with anyone except me in our house. Substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for a GF version.
The cream cheese frosting was an after-thought, but I had some in the freezer leftover from another recipe. A rich, sweet indulgence, but we all deserve a treat once in a while on weekend mornings.
Makes 8 scones
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup flax seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 cup canned pumpkin (or freshly cooked pumpkin if you have it)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (coarse sugar) for sprinkling on top
1 tablespoon of flax seeds for sprinkling over finished scones
Zest of 1 orange for sprinkling over finished scones
Cream cheese frosting
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon milk
Combine flours, flax, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, yogurt and egg and then pour into flour mixture. Gently fold until the ingredients are just combined. Tip the dough into a greased glass pie plate, score the dough with a knife into eight pieces and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake in a 375F oven for 20-30 minutes or until scones are baked through (be careful not to overbake).
Mix together frosting ingredients in a mixmaster or with a spoon until smooth and drizzle over top of the scones once they’re cut and removed from the pan. Sprinkle with flax seeds and orange zest and serve with orange slices.
The frosting freezes and refreezes well, so pour the remainder into a jar put it away for the next time you need it.
17, 18, 19 degrees Celsius, with glorious sunshine: this is how long weekends should be. We spent three days on Vancouver Island in Sooke and Nanoose Bay, all of them peaceful, restful, and slow. I spent time in the garden, on the deck, the dock, the beach and I started an inspiring new book. We went to the My-Chosen Cafe on Happy Valley Road in Metchosin and then did a quick walk through the trails at Witty’s Lagoon. During our time in Nanoose we went cycling around Parksville and enjoyed Rathtrevor Beach at low tide, which is one of my favourite places to be, beach-wise. And, of course, we ate like kings and queens during family meals.
All in all a wonderful sojourn and a reminder of how refreshing a few days of Island time can be.
Here are a few photos of my garden as it welcomes the spring. I love living on the West Coast all times of year, but early spring is when I appreciate it most. Nothing made me more crazy living in Calgary than seeing spring on the calendar and snow on the ground, and each year spent in Vancouver (this is my fourth spring) reminds me how glad I am to be here.
I know many of you are still struggling with the dregs of winter, so I hope these images feel encouraging and hopeful – something to tide you over until things warm up all over the country. I promise I don’t mean to gloat!
I love lazy weekend mornings. Walk the dog, bring the newspaper in from the step, start baking, and then fritter away the rest of the morning reading, sipping coffee, and nibbling.
I’m a big believer in the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention,” especially when it comes to cooking. This recipe came about in the standard way, which is peering into the fridge / pantry / freezer for any usable ingredients. This weekend I found frozen cranberries, flax, and yogurt, and some dried lavender I brought home from France and have been meaning to use more often in baking. It turned out to be an amazing combination, and the scent of lavender added an extra element of relaxation to my blissed-out weekend routine.
Cranberry scones with lavender sugar
Makes 8 scones
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (ground flax)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup plain yogurt
Lavender sugar topping (optional, but if you have lavender it’s delicious):
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (large crystal sugar – adds a nice crunch)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the scones, combine flours, baking soda, sugar, flax, and nutmeg. Drizzle oil over top of flour mixture and stir to combine. Add cranberries and yogurt and stir until just mixed together (the scones will be tough if you overmix the dough, so be very gentle – it’s better to undermix and have a bit of loose flour at the end). Shape the dough into a loose ball and place in a greased glass pie plate. Press the dough down gently so it fills the pie plate evenly. Use a knife to score the dough into 8 slices before you put it in the oven: this helps the scones cook evenly and makes them easier to serve when they’re done.
Lavender sugar: If you have a mortar and pestle, use it to crush the lavender and regular sugar together (otherwise just combine them) and sprinkle over the scones. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top.
Bake scones in a 375F oven for 30 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown on top (be careful not to overbake). Serve with fruit, yogurt, and coffee for a beautiful breakfast.
Variation: I often use a similar version of this recipe to make cheese scones. Swap out the cranberries for cheddar cheese, decrease the sugar to 1 tablespoon, omit the nutmeg, and add 1 teaspoon of a savory herb like thyme or sage.
It was a glorious day here in Vancouver this past Saturday, full of sunshine and spring. On the way home from a long, long walk we passed a giant rack filled with tulips grown in the Fraser Valley. $10 for three lovely bunches, so of course I came home with an armful. It’s a bargain when you consider the joy of them, plus the much needed cheer they provided when it poured rain all day Sunday.
I always put a couple of pennies in the bottom of a vase of tulips: the copper in the coin keeps them standing up tall instead of flopping over. There is controversy that this is just an old wives’ tale, which may be the case. However, I’m convinced that it works and I’m also attached to the ritual of watching the penny float down through the water, and hearing the sound of it plinking in the glass vase, so I guess I’m siding with the wives.
Up until this weekend my plan was to ditch the excess pennies cluttering up my world since they’ll soon have no monetary value. But now, thinking of the tulips, I’m alarmed at the meagre size of my stash. Imagine all the years ahead, all the future tulips, the copper they crave. I searched around the house and put the pennies I found into a jar for safe keeping.
Beware the penny drop, tulip lovers!