Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Route 62 Exploring

There are so many tourist venues in our lovely country. Many of them, unfortunately, seem only to be enjoyed by those who come from distant shores.

Route 62 travels through the Klein Karoo, giving you the tourist option for your trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in stead of the N2. Majestic mountains, clean rivers and quaint towns will fill your trip with awe and entertainment.

We travelled to Robertson, Mac Gregor , Bonnivale and Montague all in a weekend. These towns are so diversely different - yet all within a very short drive of each other. Robertson is only an hour and half drive from Cape Town, so you can be out in the country without a flight ticket or using valuable holiday time travelling.

We stayed in Buitenstekloof Mountain Cottages, about 15 minutes drive from Robertson.  In the mountains and without any cell phone reception or Wi-Fi, yet it was close enough to jump in the car at 10pm to buy milk in Robertson (you never want to wake up to no coffee).
Beautifully appointed cottages on a farm, which remain cool even on the hottest day. The cottages are all solar and gas powered. There are lovely hikes and walks on the farm, and a mountain pool which is ideal for cooling off on a hot day.

Don't be alarmed when you have hairy visitors to your cottage, the area is very animal friendly so you are sharing your space with dassies, birds, tortoises and even a very brave and curious meerkat.

On our visit into Robertson we made a visit to Klipdrift distillery. Book for the tour and tasting, it is very informative and our guide Lenwill Lucas was excellent. Lenwill made us feel welcome from when we stepped into the foyer with welcome drinks of Klipdrft and ginger ale. The gourmet burger with brandy and coke onion sauce is on my replicate menu very soon.

The Tasting Room

Gourmet Burger 
Klipdrift Restaurant

The tour is about an hour long and it is very interesting to see how much goes into every drop of gold. There is a brandy for each taste, but perhaps not every budget, with the most expensive bottle selling at R928 a bottle. But if you are looking for a copper potstilled brandy, which would be called cognac if made in France, you certainly will be happy with the Klipdrift brandy.

There are so many wine farms in the area, you could tour from farm to farm for a month and never have to see the same place twice.

Take a short weekend break or a long holiday get away and enjoy the sights, sounds and relaxed atmosphere of country living with all the fun of city life then Route 62 should certainly be on your itinerary.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Lamb Chop Lamb Chop Lamb Chop

My sister and I had a foolproof way of weeding out the truth from each other. You had to look into the other's eyes and say "Lamb Chop, Lamb Chop, Lamb Chop".

So it wasn't completely foolproof, but it did create a lot of laughs - if not the truth. So much of life is about creating happy memories, and I am blessed to have many.

Another lesson which I also learnt, a more reliable one, from my parents, "Waste not, Want not". There is nothing wrong with using everything you have to enjoy your life, but wasting is never something to be admired. This was a trait which I found very attractive in my husband.

So in the life of a spend thrift, I would like to share a simple lamb recipe. I have used the chump chop, which is a relatively cheap cut but is bursting with flavour.

Thrifty Lamb Chop

750g Lamb Chops
30ml Chopped Mint
30ml Crushed Garlic
30ml Lemon Juice
15ml Finely chopped Lemon Zest
10ml Runny Honey
90ml Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a Ziplock bag and marinade for 2-4 hours.
Remove from the marinade and either grill or braai  (BBQ) over high heat.
Enjoy with a green salad or roasted vegetables.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

How long does it take to write a blog post? A life time. This is one of those posts that has taken a lifetime of experience to write.

This isn't going to be extremely profound, but these are things I have to write about because if I don't write it down, I might lose it forever.

My New Year resolutions don't matter to me anymore. I have found myself constantly writing down things to be grateful for, least I forget how lucky I really am. I speak freely about my circumstances and have found a strengthening of my Faith. But all this certainly doesn't made me brave. It just means like you, I woke up this morning and went through the usual rituals (albeit slower than before) and life carried on.

The first lesson I learnt this year is, "Not to Sweat the Small Stuff", there really is no time to waste. Life is so short and what you think is so important a this exact moment, might be the last thought or deed you share with a particular person.

How terrible to live with your last conversation being about how much leaving the toilet seat up irritates you. There is a limited amount of time you have to be with the ones you love,  don't spend them pointing out how short they fall of your expectations. I challenge you to re-evaluate your expectations and weigh them up against the chance it might be the last thing you say.

I am not advocating not standing up for what you really believe, but the trivia of life consumes us so much,we miss out on enjoying a person for who they truly are. If that person makes your life unbearable, perhaps you should detox and detach. I have done that, the freedom in a minimalist approach to friends is liberating.

So there you have my first in "Truths I have learnt in Life". I hope someone will think twice before they speak and save themselves the guilt that could have been changed to joy in a blink of an eye.

Real Joy. Here is boy who never saw his dreams come true.                      Picture Huntshots

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A Loss at Homemade Heaven

Homemade Heaven lost it's biggest fan and editor my husband Keith. On the 7th of January the man who believed anything was possible, died tragically in in a car crash - together with the newest addition to our family, my son Nordin.

I too was injured in the crash and am now not mobile for a while. But this won't stop me from showing just how much I had learnt about perseverance from Keith. I now do "Cooking with Crutches" or "Meals on Wheechairs".

Apologies for the photo quality and styling and any spelling mistakes. It's not always that easy with one hand or from the seated position or with my terrible grammar, but I will try to keep everyone out there full of lovely meals.

Thank you for those who have followed all the progress over the all the years and I look forward to sharing this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tikka Chicken Marsala - From Scratch or Pre-Packed Sauce

What excitement at Homemade Heaven, when you have 2 recipes from 2 bloggers for the same dish, made 2 different ways and both equally satisfying.

The first recipe is a dinner in a flash, the other is a remake of the original made from scratch. We have not only given you the recipes, but also a review and cost comparison.

This is a first for Homemade Heaven and I really hope not the last, as it has been very informative for me and I know that you as the readers are going to enjoy following this series.

I start with Dinner in a Flash recipe by Cupcakes and Couscous, Teresa Ulyate

Chicken Tikka with fragrant rice:

1 cup basmati rice
8 whole cloves
4 cups water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
4 chicken breast fillets, cubed
200ml Ina Paarman tikka curry sauce
400g tin peeled and chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cream
a handful of fresh coriander leaves + extra to garnish
Step 1.) Place the basmati rice, cloves and water in a saucepan. Cover and leave to soak
Step 2.) Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
Step 3.) Add the cubed chicken and fry for 3 minutes to seal.
Step 4.) Meanwhile, place the saucepan of rice over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.
Step 5.) Add the tikka curry sauce and tomatoes to the chicken. Mix well, cover the saucepan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 6.) Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Tear the coriander leaves into the curry, mix and continue to simmer until heated through.
Step 7.) Remove the cloves from the rice. Spoon the rice and chicken tikka onto heated plates, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Review by  Cupcakes and Couscous, Teresa Ulyate
Product: Ina Paarman Tikka Curry Coat and Cook Sauce (200ml)
Factory shop cost: R7.50 (on special)
Retail price: R17.99 (Pick ‘n Pay)
Total prep & cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Cost: R62.44 for the whole dish / R15.61 per serving:

• I have calculated the cost using the retail price of the tikka sauce (R17.99) as most people would not have access to the factory shop / discounted price.
• This cost is for the chicken tikka only and does not include the rice – let me know if you need rice cost too.
Thoughts on the product:
I definitely have a “make-it-from-scratch” approach when it comes to cooking and baking – however there are a few exceptions. Curry pastes is one of those! There are some great ones on the market that I feel really deliver on flavour and make it convenient for me to whip up a hearty and satisfying meal quickly and easily. I tend to use the curry pastes and haven’t tried many curry sauces, but Ina’s tikka cook and coat sauce did not disappoint!
Ease of use: It couldn’t get much simpler. The product is shelf stable with a long shelf life. All I needed to do was grab the pack off my pantry shelf, snip it open and pour it in!
Flavour: This sauce did not disappoint - it had a full, rich and well-rounded flavour. I didn’t feel as though anything was missing. It was hotter than I expected though (the pack stated “medium heat”). As you will see in my recipe I also added a tin of tomatoes – I was worried that this might dilute the flavour slightly but this was not the case. The flavour was perfect, and actually I think that if I hadn’t added the tomatoes it would definitely have been too hot for me! I realise that heat is a personal preference and that lots of customers probably like this, but I could have done with a little less heat.
General – as with all of Ina’s products the sauce is extremely versatile. It can be made on the stove top or used in the oven. It is suited to chicken, red meat, fish and veg and can be made using cream or coconut milk. I love that I can use 1 product in so many different ways!

Dinner in a flash! - Chicken Tikka with Fragrant Rice
Okay, so now you've all rushed off to buy the ready made sauce and left me holding a bowl of this 

Homemade Heaven Tikka Chicken Marsala
Serves 6 generous portions (Could be 8 if I didn't have teenage boys)

500g cup plain yogurt
4 Large Garlic Cloves
1 2" Knob of Ginger peeled 
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 Chicken Breasts, Skinned and de-boned and cut into chunks.

Using a pestle and mortar pound the garlic, ginger, salt and black pepper, until a fine paste.
In a large zip lock bag mix the paste and the rest of the ingredients and marinade for 6 hours or over night.

4 teaspoons olive oil
3 Large Garlic cloves
2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
50g packet of tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala or eleven -in-one masala
2 teaspoons paprika
250g of  Tomato Puree
500g Roma Cocktail tomatoes cut in half
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Sachet of Chicken or vegetable Stock
1 to 2 cups water ( I used closer to 2 cups)
Oil, for grilling
Freshly chopped Coriander Leaves

Place a large griddle pan over high heat 
Place another large sauce pan on medium heat and warm oil
Add the Garlic Paste and Chilli flakes
Fry until lightly browned 
Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the paste has darkened in color, keep stirring
Add the Marsala of your choice and paprika, fry for about 1 minute.
Add the tomato puree, give a gentle stir.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, stock sachet, salt, and 1 cup water.
Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until thickened, Add more water depending on how your sauce thickens.
Cook for about 20 minutes
Using an immersion blender process sauce until smooth. 

In the hot grilled pan, fry the pieces of marinaded chicken until charred - not cooked. 
Add the charred pieces of chicken to the cooking sauce.
Cook for a further 10 - 15 minutes, until sauce is nicely thickened.
Add the Corriander to the sauce, leaving some for garnish.
**** You can add 125ml of cream to this recipe, once the chicken is cooked and before adding the coriander.

Serve with basmati rice and naan bread.

Cost for dish : R 80,00 total of R11.42 per person (for 7 servings)

While there is a certain amount of preparation involved, especially if you take the cheaper route like I do, and de-bone and skin the chicken myself.
I did not find any of the steps very complicated and the sauce did not need much attention, except for the occasional stir. 
The char grilling is messy, but the small burnt pieces certainly did add a lovely flavour. I would like to next time, do the grilling over the coals - but that would incur more cost and time.
Teresa's palate is tender and not used to heat - my family enjoy our food on the spicy to very spicy side. This recipe for me, had a slight spiciness - but I do warn those who have a more delicate taste buds, to cut back or cut out the crushed red chilli.  
Of course adding the cream would help temper the spiciness.
I would certainly make this without hesitation for a weekday meal, if I had the forethought to do the marinade 6 hours or the night before.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis


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