April 21, 2017

Connecting the Dots and Chia Caramel Pineapple

Connecting the Dots and Chia Caramel Pineapple. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

I gotta tell you, it’s weird and a touch intimidating with no daily routine now my job has been stripped away, and I have nothing big to do each day but wait while everything returns to normal, and just be part of the quiet space that exists to put things back together again. Cyclone Debbie sure has been a bundle of surprises for us all; first we were thoroughly roughed up, then we had to mop up and now the regrouping and downtime before life kicks back into gear. Strangely enough though, this forced downtime has held the most surprises for me – and for the most part, in a good way!

I’ve found a wealth of fascinating notes written in the tatty handwritten recipe book Momma has always had stashed away in the bottom kitchen drawer, by the women who came before me in my family. And these gals knew their stuff about caring, cooking and supporting their family and communities with good food through good times and bad, let me tell you! They competed for ribbons in cutthroat C.W.A. (Country Women’s Association) cooking contests of skill, stamina and diplomacy, not unlike many of the cooking competitions we competed in as chefs during our 4 long years of apprenticeships.

Connecting the Dots and Chia Caramel Pineapple. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Tattered old cookbook with generations of recipes

Coming from a long line of farming families, I always thought I was a bit of a rebel going into hospitality, but catering for big numbers for just about any event from weddings to funerals, race meetings, B&S balls, rodeos and of course, agricultural shows, were all part of their lives. I have found awesome ‘fundraising recipes’ to feed 75 people or more, and even ideas for creating ‘Care Packages’ for the newly widowed or soldiers returning to war, flood, fire or storm victims, and tips on organising billeting for displaced or traumatised folk that resulted from disasters like I’ve just gone through. They’re little things I guess, but they matter a great deal to me just knowing this stuff.

It seemed to me there is a great shared love throughout this cookbook towards caramel. Even a little side note for boiling tins of condensed milk for 3 hours – ‘best done in an outside copper, less mess in case of explosions’. So I decided I’d fancy up an oldie but goldie, and create a cheeky chia caramel pineapple dessert, it’s sweet, sticky, buttery, sugary goodness and the pineapple and chia make it (almost) healthy, right?!

Connecting the Dots and Chia Caramel Pineapple. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Ain’t no shame bottling this sweet, sticky, buttery, sugary goodness for a treat later

Chia Caramel Pineapple

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes

  • 200 grams butter, I use unsalted – but if you love the salty, sugary combo, use salted butter
  • 200 grams brown sugar, or dark brown sugar depending on the colour you want your caramel to be
  • 395 gram tin, condensed milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons, chia seeds
  • 1 medium, pineapple cut into rings

Connecting the Dots and Chia Caramel Pineapple. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

  1. Combine 200g butter with 200g brown sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Stir over low heat until the butter and sugar become a smooth liquid.
  3. Add 395g condensed milk.
  4. Stir over low heat for 20 minutes or until mixture browns and thickens slightly. Use caution as mixture will be very hot.
  5. Remove from heat, stir through chia seeds and set aside.
  6. In non stick pan place pineapple rings, sear till slightly browned/caramelised.
  7. Add 4 large tablespoons of chia caramel to pan and cook for further 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve with cream or ice-cream and fresh mint garnish.

Connecting the Dots and Chia Caramel Pineapple. Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Who would have thought an old family recipe book and Cyclone Debbie would have created the time for me to bond with the generations of woman in my family by cooking their recipes, and connected the dots as to why cooking and hospitality has always been such a big love for me.

I’d love to know, have you ever been through forced downtime? And what did you do to entertain yourself? 

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Angie@Angie's Recipes - June 27, 2017 Reply

Chia in caramel…what a fascinating idea! The pineapple slices look out of this world! Is condensed milk sweetened?

The Hungry Mum - June 15, 2017 Reply

What an amazing gift – time to regroup (albeit under stressful circumstances). And those family heirloom cookbooks are just wonderful. Speaking of wonderful… yes to caramel everything! Miss 11 is gonna swoon when I show heryour recipe – she loves caramel AND pineapple #FTW

Evelyne CulturEatz - May 10, 2017 Reply

Whata treasure trove all those written recipes and so much history and caring. It is a great time indeed to reconnect for you this way and wow love this modernized version…chia seed the ladies would never have imagined!

Rosemarie - May 10, 2017 Reply

It’s good to see you’re putting old recipes to good use during this downtime. I’ve had a similar forced downtime not caused by Mother Nature but by circumstance of migrating to a new country… 12 months of downtime which nearly made me give up on the whole process. Apart from constant job applications, it was blogging that kept me going during the hours I had nothing to do. Now it’s just the opposite.., I have hardly anytime for the blog which is not so great. We all go through ups and downs and it’s really great to see how positively you’re handling it all. Good times are ahead!

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - May 2, 2017 Reply

What a blessing to have all these ties back to your family history! I hope that your routine returns to normal sooner rather than later Anna. Thanks for commenting on my blog while we were overseas. I really appreciate it 🙂

    Anna - May 3, 2017 Reply

    Yes, it has been wonderful to feel connected to my past through these amazing recipes, tasty too. 🙂
    And my pleasure re the commenting, I enjoy your posts very much.

Elissa - April 30, 2017 Reply

What a treasure trove is that recipe collection? So interesting peeling back the layers of history and peeking into those old lives. I wonder if food and the type of food we eat and/or share at different key moments is actually quite revealing about our histories and what was going on for people at those particular times.
By the way, the recipe sounds delicious!

    Anna - May 1, 2017 Reply

    I totally and absolutely think the times reflect the food we eat and the people we are, dunno about you, but when I think of a tin of Campbell’s soup, I think old school family comfort food.

    Not sure what people will think when they hear the word kale or smoothie bowl in 50 years, that’ll be interesting I guess. 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed the recipe, its been a winner in my world, thats for sure.

John/Kitchen Riffs - April 27, 2017 Reply

What a wonderful looking recipe! Caramel and pineapple is a fabulous combo. Love the overheat picture of the pineapple in the pan — really nice.

    Anna - May 1, 2017 Reply

    This is caramelised pineapple on steroids. SO GOOD!!! 🙂

Tim UrbanDuniya - April 26, 2017 Reply

I lost my job in 2010, and I (fortunately) only had a few weeks of unemployment – but i started working on some video projects that I had put on the backburner for a long time. I still look back at that time as a time of crisis, but one which forced me to change myself and reevaluate what I really wanted to do.

Now, if I had this recipe at that time… 😀 😀 😀

    Anna - May 1, 2017 Reply

    This forced downtime has created a place for me to really focus on my writing and my blog, so in that sense, it has been absolutely wonderful to feel I am creating and proud of what I am doing, the other end of it has all been explained, and creeps in, in the weirdest ways, but also forces change and to figure out what I want to do next. Ahhhh life, its a fun ol journey. 🙂

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef - April 25, 2017 Reply

I LOVE grilled pineapple but I’ve never thought of serving it this way. Genius.

The drawer full of food memories nearly brought a tear to my eye. I would love to have recipes from my grandmother or great-grandmother. They never used a recipe in their lives – so I’ve had to recreate their memory food one test at a time.

I’ve been thinking about you and your struggle – in the best job in the world. I hope you get sorted out quickly and don’t starve or have to live in a swag. You okay?

    Anna - May 1, 2017 Reply

    Pineapples are ridiculously cheap at the minute up our way, and that means a food we are very interested in having in our home… but it turns out I LOVE grilled pineapple and caramel together a LOT, so its been featuring a good amount this past couple of weeks. 🙂
    Maureen, we have received support from friends far and wide and are doing okay. We won’t starve, especially if we remain crafty with our food and eat frugally. Wont be living in a swag any time soon either. Thank you for thinking of us, we appreciate it. Sending love to you and yours. xo

Sue - April 24, 2017 Reply

Anna the only forced down time I’ve had came with a fractured foot 10 years ago. 10 weeks of non weight bearing living. It definitely taught me to appreciate normal living.
It sounds like you are finding positives beneath the darkness of the storm. How wonderful to discover the traditions of the women of your family.

    Anna - April 24, 2017 Reply

    Sweet jeepers Sue, I can only imagine just how difficult it would have been for you to stop for 10 weeks. Might also explain the extreme biking across the world these years. 🙂

Mabel Kwong - April 23, 2017 Reply

I smiled at the condensed milk. Love it, and it can actually just go about with anything and make the dish all the more sweeter, hehe 😉 This one you made looks like a great snack any time of the day, and it has got me thinking in living in tropical weather once again…

Good to see that you are taking it one day at a time with a positive mind. A few years ago I was into forced downtime – I just coundn’t get a job wherever I looked. That went on for almost two years…quite a few things went on in between and it’s something I might share in my book I’m writing… Hope you continue to be well and I can’t wait to meet you one day. It will be a dream come true. Sending hugs and love your way xoxo

    Anna - April 23, 2017 Reply

    Oh yeah, how GOOD is condensed milk? It makes sweet treats even better, but is amazing right outta the can too. 🙂

    If you want to come for a holiday, you are absolutely welcome here little sis, we’d love to have you. It is just about to go into sunshine and blue skies for months on end, and its a glorious temperature too.

    Absolutely write about your forced downtime Miss Mabel, its funny how we look back at these times and can draw on it if it is recorded. Plus, how you dealt with it might just help someone else deal too.

    Sending you giant hugs and loves. xox

Norma Chang - April 21, 2017 Reply

Agree with Amanda, you discovered a great little gold mine. During January and February when I was dealing with health issues, I entertained myself by starting veggie seeds under grow lights, way too early but kept me sane 🙂

    Anna - April 22, 2017 Reply

    I do hope you are back to good health dear Norma!
    And growing veggies under lights sounds like a fun way to pass the time, heading over to your blog to get the full story on how it went?

Mandy - April 21, 2017 Reply

Isn’t it amazing how long things take to get back to normal after mother nature has thrown her weight around. So pleased you are able to have a happy down time and nothing nice than the old family handwritten recipes. They are the most treasured and usually the best recipes too.
Have a beautiful and happy weekend sweet Anna.
🙂 Mandy xoxoxo

    Anna - April 22, 2017 Reply

    It’s been one heck of a couple of weeks, thats for sure. I did notice yesterday that all the trees are budding again, and our front garden had a beautiful big red flower. Almost cried when I saw it. 🙂
    Hope your weekend is wonderful too. xox

Liz (Good Things) - April 21, 2017 Reply

What a treasure of a find, love. Good on you. Take things gently… all will fall into place as it is meant to when the time is right. Stay strong.

    Anna - April 22, 2017 Reply

    Yes, I do feel it will. 🙂 Its just a waiting game now, good thing I am able to cook and enjoy the downtime.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - April 21, 2017 Reply

What an interesting recipe! 😀 And yes once I hurt my back so badly that I could only lie down for 2 weeks. It was horrid. I couldn’t move and I hated it (ok the first few hours were fine but it got old really quickly!).

    Anna - April 22, 2017 Reply

    Ewwwww, no, I dont think I could lie down for 2 weeks. Nope, that would totally have sucked.
    The caramel pineapple is delicious, just had for breakfast. Haha

Serina aka Ms Frugal Ears - April 21, 2017 Reply

This really speaks to me. My Nana was in the CWA, too. And she also made great caramels. There used to be this Women’s Weekly recipe. Mine always burnt. I’m not sure how she did it.

But with chia seeds? Wow. Super yum.

Hugs for your healing journey and thanks for sharing.

    Anna - April 22, 2017 Reply

    Mommas cookbook had a couple of Womens Weekly recipes in it too, even cut outs from newspapers. Soooo cool!
    Wonder why your caramel always burnt? Dud recipe?
    The chia seeds give it a delicious little crunch. 🙂
    Thanks for the hugs, back at chya gurl! xo

Gary Lum - April 21, 2017 Reply

Anna, it’s great to read your spirits are rising and you’re finding light in everything you turn to and find.
This is a wonderful recipe. Thank you for sharing it.

    Anna - April 21, 2017 Reply

    Thanks so much for your kind comment Gary, I am trying to find the positives since the whole cyclone thing happened, makes my days a lot less painful thinking this way too.
    Hope you enjoy, I heard on the grapevine you had a thing for condensed milk. Haha.

hassan - April 21, 2017 Reply


    Anna - April 21, 2017 Reply

    Hey Hassan! I do hope you are well. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

Amanda - April 21, 2017 Reply

What a great little gold mine to discover!
I’m just a little confused about where/when the chia is added to the dish. The recipe doesn’t seem to say?

    Anna - April 21, 2017 Reply

    Hahaha… thanks Amanda, have amended the recipe with the addition of the chia. 🙂

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