Sharing and caring food for summer!

Pink summer clouds

For a lot of people, the Christmas holidays actually aren’t much fun. There are lots of reasons why, but many of them relate to stress.

Some of us are just plain overworked, and Christmas can be the busiest time of the year in some workplaces. On top of that, we feel obliged to be the perfect parent, and the perfect host; providing hospitality, catering for lots of extra people with not enough time, and paying for presents that often aren’t needed or wanted.

And others of us are reminded of what we’ve lost, whether it be loved ones, employment, or just contentment.

Trying to generate special, ‘fun’ activities, is likely to be just one more burden in many cases.

It might, therefore, be time to stop and reset the system. Time to decide what might actually make everyone in your family happy. It might turn out to be just doing nothing much at all. Having time to read a book, play games, muck about on the beach, go for a walk in the sunshine, potter in the garden, or play in the kitchen.

For lots of us, cooking is a joy when there’s enough time, and we’re not trying to do 3 other things simultaneously!

And cooking with a relaxed parent can be great fun for kids. It’s a time of year when a little bit of indulgence does no great harm either. So you can make things that might not get made at more sensible times of the year.

If you love relaxing cooking, here’s are a few recipes that might make the long summer days just a bit more fun for everyone. They aren’t difficult, don’t take a lot of time, and they don’t involve exotic ingredients.

Some of them make really nice gifts this time of year, or easy contributions to pot-luck dinners and family BBQs.

Honey Roast Nuts

These were originally designed for just cashew nuts, but they work well with anything, and to make the recipe more affordable, try a mix of half and half peanut and cashews, or even just peanuts on their own.

They have a lot less sugar and salt than the commercial ones and they taste really good!

Ingredients

 500g nuts (cashews, peanuts, or a mixture)
 2 Tbsp honey (the runny kind is easier to work with but use whatever you’ve got in the cupboard)
 1 Tbsp maple syrup
 2 Tbsp (30g) butter
 ½ tsp salt
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 ¼ tsp cinnamon
 1 Tbsp sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and find a nice big roasting dish.

Put the nuts in a large bowl.

Combine the honey, maple syrup and butter and microwave in a cup or small bowl until the butter is
melted (about 20 to 30 seconds on high).

Add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon to the hot honey mix and stir well. Pour the honey mix over the nuts and mix well.

Tip the nuts into the roasting pan and cook, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the nuts are lightly browned. This is likely to take 20 to 30 minutes in a gas oven, but probably less in an electric oven, so watch carefully!

Remove from the oven, add the 1 Tbsp of sugar and mix well.

Leave to cool, stirring regularly to stop them sticking to the roasting dish, and when completely cooled, transfer to airtight glass jars for storage (this is likely to be quite short-term!).

Rice Salad

For a nice healthy lunch or a light evening meal, this is great stuff. It comes from an Alison and Simon Holst recipe. It’s simple, tasty, and the leftovers make an excellent take-to-work lunch (or picnic food) the next day.

Ingredients

 3 cups cooked brown rice (calrose works best)
 2 carrots, shredded
 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
 3 radishes, halved and finely sliced
 1 red pepper, seeded and very finely sliced
 Chopped parsley to taste
 Coarsely chopped roasted nuts (optional) – add these just before serving or with the salad to avoid them going soggy. Lightly roasted macadamias are particularly nice if you have a source of fresh ones, but roasted peanuts or anything else you have on hand will do just fine!

Dressing

 1/3 cup mild oil (I use light olive oil)
 1/3 cup vinegar (homemade raspberry vinegar is really nice but cider or wine will do)
 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
 1 tsp sugar or maple syrup
 1 tsp salt

Method

Put the rice in a bowl and add the chopped vegetables and herbs. Mix well.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and then transfer to a screw-top jar for storage.

Mix about half of the dressing through the salad and place in the fridge, covered, until required.

The rice soaks up the dressing so you may want to either add more just before serving or put the remaining dressing on the table so people can add the amount they want.

Pink Summer Clouds

This recipe originally came from the New Zealand Listener years ago, and is just wonderful. I might not have the original ingredients totally correct, but this version is just as good as the original.

If you have the great good fortune to have your own raspberry patch, try making it with all fresh raspberries. YUM! But any combination of summer berries is fine.

Ingredients

 500g raspberries, strawberries, or any mixture you like
 2 egg whites

 1 tbsp lemon juice
 2/3 cup castor sugar
 300ml cream
 140g tub lite sour cream
 1 tsp vanilla

Method

Hull and wash the berries and crush in a bowl using a potato masher.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until frothy, then add lemon juice and half the sugar and whisk again.

Beat in berries and remaining sugar.

Put cream, sour cream and vanilla in a bowl and whip until thick.

Fold berries into cream mix.

Store in the fridge, covered, until serving time.

Mocha Mousse

Ingredients

Chocolate mousse without the raw eggs! This is very nice indeed. And for children, you can just leave out the coffee. It’s still good!
 1 1/2 cups cream
 110g chocolate, chopped
 30ml boiling water
 1 tsp instant coffee
 1/2 tbsp gelatine
 40ml (2 1/2 tbsp) sugar
 1 tsp vanilla

Method

Combine 1/2 cup cream and the chocolate in a saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, stir the instant coffee into the boiling water until dissolved, then add the gelatine and stir until dissolved.

Stir the coffee mix into the chocolate mix until smooth.

Cool to room temperature.

Blueberry Sauce

This goes extremely well with pancakes or waffles, and can also be consumed on ice-cream. Try it with the delicious oaty pancakes below.

Ingredients

 1/3 cup sugar
 1 tbsp maize cornflour
 1/3 cup water
 2 tbsp lemon juice
 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Method

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring throughout, until thickened.

Can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Oaty Pancakes

This recipe is slightly modified from an Alison Holst vegetarian cookbook from the early 1990s. This mix serves 4 as a hearty breakfast. Any leftovers freeze well, and can be very lightly microwaved then toasted in the toaster to be enjoyed on another day.

Ingredients

 1 cup milk, or water, or milk and water mix
 ¾ cup quick-cook rolled oats (Pam’s creamy oats are good)
 ½ cup flour
 2 ½ tsp baking powder
 1 Tbsp sugar
 2 eggs
 2 Tbsp melted butter
 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Pour the milk/water onto the rolled oats and allow to soak for a few minutes while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the oat mix and whisk thoroughly.

The mix should be a little sloppier than a pikelet mix but thicker than pancake mix. Add extra liquid if you feel the need.

Preheat a heavy-based non-stick frying pan and cook the mix as you would for any other pancake or pikelet –a finished product of about 10cm diameter is practical, and the mix produces approximately 12 this size.

To serve, spread a little butter on the warm pancakes and stack in threes, drizzled with a little maple syrup, or topped with a good dollop of blueberry sauce. Delicious!

Robert Glensor

Robert Glensor is the founder of the Paraoa Bakehouse- the home of Purebread organic breads and Gluten Free Goodies. With a love of good bread and a passion for all things organic and sustainable, Robert writes about all manner of issues to do with living green.

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