So it is that I'm finally sitting down to write to you. I wonder how you've been? What have you been trying to achieve lately? What challenges are you facing? Which have you overcome, or which have been making life difficult? What joys have you been experiencing? What makes your heart sing and the world a better place, in your experience?
I've been well. I've been busy (a thoroughly modern malady), trying to be wonder woman, as women tend to do - but I'm trying to embrace rest. I'm telling myself that "at the end of the day, regardless of what is done or left undone, I am enough." (Brené Brown)
I'm learning about being vulnerable, and that means being open about my imperfections, so here is a snippet of my challenges at the moment. One day, I'm on top of chores, I socialise, I work, I play intentionally with Emilia and dinner is ready early, so that we can all eat together. Literally the very next day I struggle mentally and emotionally to get through the day. Sometimes as soon as I get out of bed, I can sense it in my bones that it will be a challenging day. It's a battle to get us both dressed and out of the house, and Emilia refuses to nap, I'm unmotivated by housework, the washing becomes back-logged. Dishes are left undone while I cook and bake and feed little people and myself, so that the kitchen descends into chaos over the course of the day. I mean really. By the time Nathan is home there is literally no bench space and he asks me whether I've fed a small army. By the end of those days it not uncommon that I ask myself - "what did i DO today?" and my to-do list sits at my desk - unchecked. Do you feel like that some days too?
I'm reminding myself that my most important task is to be compassionate to myself so that I can love others. Enduring meaning won't be found in achievements, but in authentic, loving relationships with my people. On challenging days I look at my most precious gift - my sweet, lovely girl - and breathe deeply, letting go of adult worries. I recall that my most rewarding role, is to love my husband and raise my daughter in love. So I take note of the beauty in front of me, and remember this ultimate purpose that echoes into eternity.
Creativity in the kitchen brings me joy and satisfaction, too. I love making food that I know will nourish and edify my people. It's a way that I speak the language of love. So here is a nourishing, delicious recipe. Designed in my kitchen. Recreated in yours. So that you may speak the same language of healthy foodie love to your people.
With love from my kitchen to yours,
My and my people xo
Raw Caramel Slice
Makes about 20 pieces / GF, DF, GF, SF
For the base:
1+1/2C dessicated coconut
1C blanched ground almonds (firmly packed) - approx 140g
1T pure maple syrup
3T coconut oil, melted
1t ground cinnamon
Pinch sea salt (optional but adds a nice salted caramel touch to the slice)
2T high quality, dark cocoa
For the caramel:
1C dried dates (firmly packed) - approx 230g
1/2C blanched ground almonds (firmly packed) - approx 70g
1/2C coconut oil, melted
1t natural vanilla essence
1T pure maple syrup
For the chocolate topping:
1/3C coconut oil, melted
1/3C high quality, dark cocoa
2t pure maple syrup
1. Boil the kettle. Line a 20cm x 20cm slice pan with baking paper. Put dates in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
2. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave - my large jar takes 40 seconds. If you are not comforatble doing this, melt a large amount of coconut oil in a pan over a low heat. This is so that you have liquid coconut oil to work with and it is easy to measure out. Any leftover can be poured back into the jar at the end. Note that coconut oil expands when it melts, and there is an amount required for each layer of the slice.
3. In a high powered blender, combine all base ingredients, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. When the mixture is smooth, scrape into prepared tin and squash into a flat, even layer with your hands. Make sure you push mixture into the corners.
4. Drain the dates in a sieve. Give the blender a quick wipe to remove any large bits of the base mixture, then blend all caramel ingredients until smooth. Remove the pan from the freezer, spread the caramel on top of the base in an even layer. Return pan to the freezer - at least 20 minutes for it to set.
5. In a small saucepan over a low heat, melt the coconut oil. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa and maple syrup, whisking to combine. Pour chocolate on top of the caramel layer and tip the pan slightly to ensure an even coverage. Return pan to freezer for half an hour to set.
6. Before cutting the slice, remove it from the freezer and allow it to sit for at least ten minutes. Then, get a large, sharp knife, a bowl of hot water, and a tea towel. Hold the blade of the knife in the hot water for a couple of seconds to warm it up, then dry with the tea towel and make a slice. Repeat as necessary. The chocolate will crack in places but this adds to the charm!
7. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The slice will keep for one week in the fridge and a couple of months in the freezer. Serve chilled.