Spring is in the air – with ladybirds and fresh grass, the warmth of the sun lingering later into the day, the sun setting shortly after 9pm. I won’t speak too soon – I have been duly warned that Calgary is famous for throwing out another burst of snow even in late May.
This is not a bad thing. Not for us snow lovers. Late snowfall means spring skiing. Spring skiing means warm days on the slope – no need for layer upon layer of merino or hand warmers tucked into the mitts.
I have visited the mountain two weekends in a row – this is why we moved to Canada! To have family within 2 hours drive in the very cute town of Banff, within 20 minutes of a ski hill is a blessing we have only just started to appreciate.
To put this into perspective, a ski hill in New Zealand means a small, tree-less mountain with one or two runs on each side. It means a long (4 hour) drive from home, a half hour break to put chains on the tires, a 1 hour wait in traffic while the whole of NZ swarms the one mountain, 10% of the day skiing (in artificial snow) and 90% of the day waiting for a chair lift. (You think I’m exaggerating).
To spend a day on the mountain with NOT ONE wait for a chair (on Easter weekend at that!), to ski a run with no-one in front or behind, to pop into a Kiwi overrun cafe for a Flat White midday, to ski 20 runs without repeating the same one, is a heck of a blessing. Canada does do it’s ski hills well, and we are definitely learning to appreciate what we have on our back door step.
As it warms up, and the snow around town dissipates, we begin to seek summer activities instead – hiking, cycling, camping trips. But, to Calgarians disgust (and our joy!) we have a few more weeks to soak up these ski hill opportunities.
Chocolate Quinoa Layer Cake with “Cream Cheese” Frosting and Strawberries
Adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood
Serves 8 – 10
This recipe was created by Korena in the Kitchen for a gluten and dairy intolerance. Having a good friend with similar sensitivities it made for a simple, delicious birthday celebration cake. The use of Tofutti was terrifying at first, but as a tofu lover, it’s actually now quite appealing. Margarine in general, not so much, but there are plenty of great, healthful (albeit expensive) ones available if you too are wanting to avoid the hydrogenated canola oils. The cream cheese frosting was surprisingly similar to the ‘real’ thing and a nice change from the usual whipped coconut frosting. This cake holds itself well as a layer cake, remaining moist while being fairly dense and hearty. A small slice goes a long way.
2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup almond milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups white or cane sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Cover, cook for 10 mins. Turn off heat and leave for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
In blender combine milk, eggs, vanilla. Add 2 cups quinoa and the melted coconut oil and blend until smooth. Add sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the blender and blend until well mixed. Pour into the pans and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.
Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Korena in the Kitchen
8 oz / 1 cup dairy-free Tofutti cream cheese, softened
8 oz /1 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, cream the Tofutti and margarine on medium-high speed for several minutes until very light and fluffy, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure even whipping. Once smooth and light, add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt and beat again for several minutes until you have a smooth, creamy, and light buttercream that resembles cream cheese frosting.
Layer the Chocolate Quinoa Cakes with the frosting and decorate with chocolate dipped strawberries.