I discovered Tumblr a few of months ago, two nights before an Immunology mid-semester exam. It probably wasn’t the best timing but I needed something to distract me from the world of T cells, B cells and cytokines - and everything else that goes in the immune system. I can confidently say I’ve nearly forgotten everything since my final exam for the subject in mid-June!
I’ve found the best part about Tumblr to be the inexhaustible number of nerdy blogs and the equally inexhaustible amount of science-related news.
Being a nerd is something of which I’ve always been proud and when I sit down in front of the computer with a coffee in the morning, I can be guaranteed to be entertained with medical stories, the latest discoveries in genetics, photos of symptoms of rare diseases, human tissue samples, etc, etc. Of course, I also follow a few Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings blogs too - they’re my guilty pleasures ;-)
One of the first things I came across on this totally addictive social media site was a photo of a fairy ring. Somehow, this photo manages to remind me of my childhood; most of it seemed to be spent under the bed covers with a torch, reading Enid Blyton books until the wee hours of the morning...
“A fairy ring is a naturally occurring ring of mushrooms. They are also known as pixie’s rings, faerie circles, or elf circles. The English believed that fairy rings were where fairies came to dance and celebrate; the mushrooms of the rings were used as stools for the fairies to recuperate during the evening’s festivities.”
It makes me sad to realise that the level of Enid Blyton’s books (e.g. The Famous Five and Secret Seven series) is now a little low for someone of my age.
The storylines are entertaining enough but it’s impossible to be as immersed in those worlds as I was when I was younger. It also makes me sad to realise that there isn’t as much time - at least we feel as if there isn’t - to devote to reading the printed word. I miss snuggling down at the end of each day, book in hand, under the covers. It’s just not the same as a big thick physiology textbook :-( Although, those can be quite soporific so are quite useful if I’m struggling to get to sleep..
However, Enid Blyton’s world of fairies is never very far away. One of my family’s regular haunts is a wee coffee shop down the road that doubles as an art space. There is no cooking done there (though they make marvellous coffee!), but they sell a variety of baked goods, all of which - pastries, cakes and macaroons alike - are divine. Any attempt to wheedle the recipe out of Steph (owner and artist in residence) is always met with “the fairies made it.” Some of you may think it’s a silly response coming from a grown woman, but when you consider she has a young daughter and she is a
crazy artist, it seems a little bit more acceptable.
I received the fairy response when I asked her if there was a recipe for the chocolate zucchini cake that I had with my coffee last week. It was a beautiful cake - not overly sweet, not too dry yet not too moist and light - yet rich where chocolate chips had lodged themselves. Unfazed by her reaction, I kept munching away until I had demolished the very last crumb.
Then it was time to go home and try to recreate it for myself!!
The recipe for the chocolate zucchini cake below is based on the original recipe I made nearly a year ago, with the first ever zucchini harvest from the garden. After completing that summer and coming nearly a full circle (it’s spring but it may as well be summer as it’s so darn hot!), it’s zucchini time again and it seemed fitting that I should welcome it with a new kind of cake to eat on spring afternoons with a cup of tea or coffee.
It’s a little bit more moist than the one I had at the coffee shop but I’m very happy with it nonetheless (as are my parents who also like to indulge).
Chocolate Zucchini Cake (adapted from So Good & Tasty)
Makes one 8” cake or two 5x9 loaves
½ cup coconut oil
1 cup honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
3 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or ~120g block of chocolate, roughly chopped)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I didn’t have any on hand so didn’t put them in but it’s sure to be delicious!)
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line the cake tin or two loaf pans (mine were 3 x 7 and 3 x 6 due to my oven situation) with baking paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl mix eggs, oil, honey and vanilla. Stir in grated zucchini.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.
Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using).
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin (or equal parts of the batter into each loaf pan). Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack, dust with extra cocoa/icing sugar if desired, slice and serve.
Also, you may have noticed that quality of the photographs is considerably better than any of my previous posts… I had a visit from a couple of fairies myself you see. They (Mum and Dad - yeah, let’s not go there) happened to present to me a brand spanking new Canon EOS as a combined Christmas and birthday (probably for the next five years) + graduation present. Oh my parents are silly, but I love them for it nonetheless. It is going to be an amazing piece of equipment to take with me when I go to Japan at the end of November!! I just have to learn how to use it first… I couldn’t even get it to snap half the time when I was trying to take photos of this cake :-| It didn’t help that it was a dreary overcast day and the light was terrible - ok, so maybe now I’m just making excuses!