Blackberry and ginger chia fresca

It was seriously crazy hot this weekend. We escaped with our close friends to a nearby lake, Worthsee. It is so perfect for kids, there is a huge sandy playpark and the lake surround is beautiful soft grass that leads down to the water edge. The water is crystal clear and the lake was full of happy swimmers, stand up paddle boarders and toddling babies. They also have a kiosk that sells strong coffee, chips and wine…just saying!

We took a picnic both days with us and packed up berries, roasted veggies, crackers and mini frittatas for the little ones. We ate the leftovers/rejects at times but mostly we hung out on big rugs and enjoyed the last of the summer. When its super hot I don’t have a big appetite and I seemed to live on smoothie bowls, watermelon and chia fresca this weekend. Chia seeds are so powerful in keeping you hydrated. They absorb up to twelve times their own weight in water and so allow your body to ‘store’ water for longer. You can make a simple chia fresca – water, chia, lime juice and a little sweetener as an effective natural energy drink for during or after working out. Its a really popular drink for endurance athletes..and hot mums on busy days.

Blackberry season is just starting so take full advantage. They are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. As kids we spent every summer on a farm in France and I remember being sent out by my mum to go picking. We would go off down the lane with my aunty and uncle and spend ages trying to fill buckets with the biggest berries. We always thought my uncle was a genius/wizard as he could do the 360 degree bucket flip without spilling a berry! We would return home stained and prickled and excited for the feast! Enjoy

Ingredients (serves 4)
135g blackberries (washed)

3 tbsp chia seeds

1 small piece of ginger

Juice 1/2 lime

800 ml water

3 tbsp maple syrup

Ice cubes to serve

Place the chia seeds in a glass with 400ml of water and leave to swell for 20mins

Place the ginger, berries, maple syrup, lime juice and 400 ml of water into a blender and blend well

Add in the chia seed gel and blend briefly

Serve over ice

German damson cake

What I love about Germany is that they really celebrate seasonal food. During white asparagus season little stalls pop up everywhere. Trays and trays of white asparagus are brought out each morning and are gone by the afternoon. The stalls are often little more than a road side table and carry only the prized white stalks and occasionally a packet of Hollandaise sauce and the odd homemade jar of jam. As strawberry season arrives, the stalls make room for the berries and then they seem to disappear until the next year. Here, close to the Alps, mushroom season is a huge deal and the first of the chanterelles have just started to appear. Kale is only around after the first frost but before the ground thaws.

Being that Germans love cake you can also follow the seasonal foods via what cake is in the bakery windows. Right now it is damson cake. Up north this is called ‘Zwetschen (damson) Kuchen (cake)’ but down here is ‘Zwetschgendatshi’. In Bavarian the word datshi means to squish. Traditionally when you make this cake you squish the damsons onto the cake base to allow the juice to soak in before baking. I buy this cake a lot just to sit and eat the roasted damsons off the top (the dog gets the cake base…which isn’t helping his diet). Damsons are in season now and at their most delicious but you could replicate this cake with greengages or plums. In a few weeks the damsons will be gone and in their place will be apricots (at the stalls and the bakery) and then come apples. I really appreciate that local seasonal food is embraced and enjoyed. And also that it then disappears until the next year when once again its arrival is celebrated with much fanfare.

When my good friend arrived at my doorstep with a huge punnet of damsons from her Aunty’s garden I knew that I wanted to try and replicate this delicious cake. You could layer it onto a thinly baked sponge, but keep the marzipan as it stops the cake from getting too soft. As with all things, this cake is best shared and even better enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a good chat.

Ingredients (base)
2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamon

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 plain flour

Place the oats and flour into a blender and blend until the oats are finely chopped

Add in the spices and oil blend briefly

Add in the honey and blend until you have a thick sticky ball of dough

Place the dough onto a piece of baking paper and place a second sheet on top

Roll out the dough between the paper sheets into a rectangle until it is approx 2cm thick

Bake for 12-15 minutes

Once almost cool cut into 4 rectangles

Ingredients (Marzipan)
100g ground almonds

2tsp maple syrup

1 tsp rose water

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix until you have a dough

Roll out on baking paper into a thin layer and cut into rectangles to fit onto the base rectangles

Place onto the biscuit base whilst the base is still slightly warm and allow to melt

Ingredients (damsons)
14 – 16 damson (halved and de stoned)

2 tbsp water

Place the damsons cut side up into a baking dish with the water

Roast for 30 mins until soft

Allow to cool then layer onto the base