Being married to a pilot means easy (well, perhaps not easy but affordable) flights in and around the country. This calls for last minute weekends in NYC, day-trips to Canada’s islands and more extensive travel to Europe.
All this travel is great, however it can be easy to ignore the beauty and adventure in our own backyard.
This past weekend we decided to explore our neighbourhood with a few other couples that live in the area. Within our community is a wildlife reserve (which, ironically, used to be an oil extraction field) and a Bird Sanctuary. We found ourselves a vacant picnic table and enjoyed a lunch of Chicken & Bacon Roulade (recipe to come) with homemade apple rosemary chutney, raspberry and feta spinach salad and whole grain baguette (from Wild Grainz).
The tour of the bird sanctuary was outstanding. We were able to view the majestic Great Blue Heron and learn all about owls (and their opposable talons), beavers (and how the city studies their dam-building techniques as a way to minimise flood damage) and magpies (the Australian magpie, also in NZ, is the most vicious bird in the world).
The Bird Sanctuary tour was followed by a dessert of Blueberry Poppy Seed Loaf atop a rock in the centre of the Wildlands Park with a backdrop of the city. A lemony blueberry loaf, popping with poppy seeds and topped with bright pink blueberry icing.
Blueberry Poppy Seed Loaf
Recipe from Little and Friday – Celebrations
1 cup sugar (I reduced to 3/4 cup with no issue)
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 4 lemons
1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp sugar
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup fresh blueberries, plus more to decorate
Preheat oven to 160˚C (320˚F). Grease and line base and sides of a loaf tin with baking paper. Beat butter and sugar in electric mixer until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you g. Add vanilla, lemon zest and poppy seeds, mix to combine. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well combined before adding the next.
In a separate bowl, sift flour and baking powder together. Using a spatula, fold half into creamed butter mixture along with the milk then fold in remaining flour.
Spoon half the batter into loaf pan and sprinkle over blueberries. Spoon over remaining batter and top with blueberries.
Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
TO make syrup, place lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour syrup over hot loaf shortly after bringing it out of the oven. Cool in tin before turning out onto a wire rach.
To make icing, in a food processor, blitz together icing sugar and blueberries. Spread icing over cooled loaf and top with extra blueberries.