I received a second hand comment the other day that I feed my guys a lot of vegetables…maybe too much. I would have to agree that yeah, I do cook a lot of vegetables around here, from grinding them into smoothies, chopping them into “fried” rice, piling up huge salads, or even hiding them in cake.

I’m always looking for creative ways to unload the overflowing produce drawer into our daily meals. I pick fruit from the trees in our backyard and I love buying locally grown goodies from the farmer’s market. The cooking experiments I deem best get posted to this blog, hence the abundance of produce-based dishes. But overdoing it? Hardly.

I guess I should come clean here and say that what I don’t post are the occasional bags of orange-dusted tortilla chips, Dick’s burgers and fries on a night out and the candy bowl way up high on the china cabinet we all pick at. They certainly aren’t the seasonal, homemade foods I lovingly cook up for my family on a daily basis, but that’s ok. I’m a human.

What I try best to do is to prepare healthy foods with fresh ingredients that actually taste delicious, so instead of feeling deprived and worst of all, deserving, of a junk food binge, I can walk past the leftover Halloween candy without having withdrawal symptoms. Like a boss.

This here cake isn’t crazy healthy, I might add. It has white sugar, fresh ripe figs from our tree (more evil sugar), white flour and golden, sandy semolina flour (a higher protein flour made from durum wheat, usually used to make pasta). It has cholesterol from whole eggs and fat from green, extra virgin olive oil (but no butter, phew!). It’s a cake.

The internet sure devotes a large amount of space portraying too-perfect still life shots of gorgeous food, cuz no one really cares about your homely veggie stir fry; they want natural lighting, antique tea cups, scattered pomegranate arils and worn wooden boards as props.

Even more space is dedicated to ripping apart bad ingredients/lifestyle choices; is it gluten, corn syrup or pink slime this week? Wait, quinoa isn’t a sustainable choice anymore? Will someone please just tell me if I should be vegan or Paleo?

Worst of all is the amount of energy in general spent making people feel inadequate, about food and everything else. To be quite honest, I don’t really give a damn if people think I eat too many vegetables or that I’m a bad person for eating French fries. I say, let them eat cake.

Olive Oil Semolina Cake with Fresh Figs

Adapted liberally from the lovely Olive Oil Cake recipe in Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

Makes 1 9-inch round cake


125g (¾ cup) semolina flour

185g (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour

150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar

7g (1 ½ teaspoons) baking powder

4g (¾ teaspoon) salt

150g (3 large) eggs

225g (1 cup) olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan

185g (¾ cup) milk (dairy, almond or soy are all fine)

4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

450g (12 small) fresh figs, sliced into quarters

12.5g (1 tablespoon) coarse sugar crystals

Prep. Move a rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Rub a nine-inch cake pan liberally with olive oil and set aside.

Dry ingredients. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk and vanilla extract. Pour over the dry ingredients and gently fold together until just combined. Scrape into the prepared pan, arrange the figs over the top and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the top is nicely browned and the fig juice is bubbly and caramelized. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Keeps well wrapped in plastic for up to two days.