Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Happy Holidays

I have been so busy preparing for the holidays, that this month has almost past me by and I have neglected you all terribly. I have been taking more than I have been giving in blogland for the last 3 weeks, but please don't worry - I will return in the new year filled with lots of ideas and tastey treats to make 2009 a good year.

I leave for my holiday on Friday - all packed and wrapped, to spend a glorious 3 weeks with my family at our beach house in Stillbaai.

Christmas is a very special time of year in my family and we really enjoy being together - eating and eating and when that's done we usually do a little sleeping!

We certainly do remember the real reason for Christmas and that is to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. The gift of life which He has given us, is remembered and we enjoy having this time together to celebrate it and be thankful for it.

I hope that I will have a chance to stop in and show you how my holiday is going, but I know how it usually goes and even with the best intentions I fail dismally every year.

With that I leave you with the words of Jude :

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling
and present you before His glorious presence
without fault and with great joy -
to the only God our Saviour
be
glory, majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
before all ages, now and for evermore!
Amen"

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Simple and Light

After enduring what we felt was an incredibly harsh winter, which never seemed to end, summer is here and showing no remorse about being a little late. Yesterday the temperature in Paarl, which is about 40km outside Cape Town, was 44°C (111°F).

Needless to say, warm comfort food is out of the question. Just turning on the stove takes super-human courage.

I made this quick supper, an effortless meal that required minimum time in the kitchen.


Monkfish wrapped in Sage and Bacon

Monkfish fillets
Streaky Bacon
Fresh Sage leaves

Season the fish with salt and pepper.
Wrap the fillets first with a few sage leaves and then in bacon.
Grill in a hot oven (220°C) for about 15 -25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

½ head of White Cabbage very finely shredded
1 Large Carrot finely grated
1 Tbsp Jenny Morris Caraway Seeds
1 Tbsp Jenny Morris French tarragon
1 Tbsp Castor Sugar
½ Tbsp Salt (you might need more, depending on your tastes)
½ Tbsp Jenny Morris Lemon Pepper
¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Olive Oil (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and allow to stand for at least an hour before serving.
Check the seasoning, adding more sugar, vinegar or salt if needed.
Drizzle over some olive oil just before serving (I left this out).
It actually tastes even better the next day.
This salad goes perfectly with fish.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Banana Bliss

I spend far too much time reading food blogs. I save and print recipes by the gross (that is gross like in 12 dozen). I have files, folders and bookmarked recipes everywhere. I would have to bake and 24/7 for the rest of my life to actually try most of them, but I live in hope!

As a confirmed Muffin Addict, this recipe caught my eye, and was duly bookmarked and printed. It went in the pink file of - "things which I must try".

Yesterday morning when I walked into the kitchen, I was met with an aroma which made me realize that today would have to be the day I make something with over ripe bananas. I didn't have to think twice about what it was going to be.

I found this recipe on Happy Home Baking.
I only made a few changes, using oil instead of melted butter, a little more sugar (only because I wasn't paying attention to the scale) and more chocolate chips.


Banana and Choc-Chip Muffins
Makes about 14 - 16 South African sized muffins

275g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 bananas, about 450g
115g brown sugar
1 Jumbo egg, lightly beaten
50ml low fat fresh milk
75ml oil
80g chocolate chips

Method:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180degC (350 degF). Line muffin pans with paper muffin cases.
  2. Sieve together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. Peel the bananas and mash with a fork in a bowl. Add in brown sugar, egg, milk and oil.
  4. Mix until well combined.
  5. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon or a spatula, gently fold all the ingredients to form a wet batter. Stir gently, using only a few strokes and mix until the flour are incorporate into the batter. DO NOT Over mix. The batter should appear lumpy.
  6. Spoon batter into paper muffin cases. Bake for 20mins until muffins turn golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Sage Advice

I am feeling very low today. I had a terrible night, all caused by me being totally heartless and down right mean. It is so easy after the fact to think of all the things you should not have said and done. So I thought I would spend some time getting some sage advice and here is what I read.
  1. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
  2. ... For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (This didn't make me feel very good)
  3. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
So with these three verses, I have realised that I have lots to work on and especially number 2 & 3!

So with all this sage advice...

I have a huge about of sage growing in my garden and I think the next time I start feeling like my mouth is going to explode, I will take the time and make this dish. It requires full attention and is very good for settling the nerves!


Roasted Butternut and Sage Risotto.

500g Butternut roasted with fresh sage until just done (do not let it get mushy)
1 Onion Thinly sliced
2 Cups Risotto
2 Minced Garlic cloves
2 - 3 Cups cups Hot Chicken Stock (or vegetable) with 1 Pinch Saffron added
10 leaves fresh sage
Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional for serving)

Fry the onion in the warm pot until soft, but not brown.
Add the risotto and fry until coated in the oil.
Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
Start adding the stock a spoon at a time and keep stirring.
Do not leave the stove, you have to keep stirring and adding the stock as it dries out.
After about 20 minutes the risotto will be nearly done.
Add the butternut, together with the sage you roasted it with.
Add some extra fresh chopped sage.
Allow this to warm through.
You then have to decide if you want it soft and runny or firmer,
depending on how much more liquid you add.
You can add butter if you wish - this is a personal preference.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Chicken Stripers

Yesterday I showed how to make your own peri-peri sauce. As I mentioned, it is very easy to make and not only as a sauce but a marinade too.

These chicken strips are great for a quick meal and are very in-expensive. They make a great filling for a pita bread too!

Peri-Peri Chicken strips

3 Chicken breasts (skinned and slices into 3 or 4 strips, depending on the size)
½ Cup Peri Peri Sauce
1 Cup Bread Crumbs

Marinade the strips in the marinade for 3-4 hours.
Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
Remove the strips from the marinade.
Place the strips in a bag with the bread crumbs, toss to coat.
Place in the oven and cook until golden brown.
Serve hot or cold.
You could fry these, but I think they taste better baked and are better for the waist line!


A little boy got lost at the YMCA
and found himself in the women's locker room.
When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks,
with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover.
The little boy watched in amazement and then asked,
'What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before?'

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Peri Peri Easy

The presenters on the radio were discussing, when do you start feeling the holiday fever? Things like Boney M, Christmas lights and peaches were mentioned. This got me thinking, what makes me start getting the feeling? The answer was relatively simple - my Dad's birthday.

Before Dad's birthday, the Christmas decorations and carols (which appear in October), really don't mean anything to me. I have however, already started thinking about presents (my wish list is at 2 pages and counting).

This year I plan to give more home made cheer than usual. So much is lost over Christmas, the meaning and the love, that giving things which have taken lots of time, rather than lots of money, seems to make more sense.

In preparation for these gifts, I have started experimenting with things which I can include as treasures for those whom I love (and like).

This fresh peri-peri sauce is better than any shop bought one I have tried (and I have tried plenty) and it lasts in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. It is great to take along as a hostess gift, especially if they braai (BBQ) often, and who doesn't in this great weather?


Peri Peri Easy Sauce

20 Red Thai Chillies (Roasted for 15 mins)
3 Garlic Cloves (poached for 5 mins)
Salt ( I used smoked salt which added a lovely smoky flavour)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Olive Oil

In the food processor place the chillies, garlic, salt and lemon juice and process.
While the machine is running, slowly start adding the olive oil, until you have the desired consistency.
Great served with chicken, fish, roasted vegetables, beef or just about anything.
It also makes a good marinade.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Marie's Garden

My neighbour, Aunty Marie, has the most beautiful garden. When I get home, no matter how bad my day has been, it always makes me smile - I hope it does the same for you.




.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Behind the Scenes

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes in a food blogger's kitchen? It is possible that everything you see in the photo is exactly the truth?

I guess not!
"They say eatin' burnt food will give ya a good singin' voice."
Al Becker

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Addicitons

I have an addiction which is taking control of my life. Unlike most people I didn't start young, I actually managed to get through school and varsity without ever picking one up (this is no lie). My enslavement started when I met my husband. He was already a junkie when I met him.

Keith gave me my first taste, he gave me one after a date and then became my sole supplier, for a number of years! I started slowly, maybe one a month, but over the years things have escalated and one no longer lasts more than 3 or 4 days. I can't even sleep without it. I now source my own product, having cut Keith out as the middle man.

What is this addiction? Reading. It takes me to far away places and introduces me to friends in places I only dream about visiting.

I spent last weekend with Frances Mayes at her home in Tuscany where she taught me how to enjoy the early season artichokes, simply done with lemon and olive oil. I decided last night that I would celebrate the early summer we were having (before the cold and rain arrived this morning), by making pan roasted baby artichokes and mushrooms.

Artichokes
5 Baby Artichokes
1 Punnet Mushrooms
1 Garlic Clove minced
Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
Jenny Morris Lemon Pepper
Salt

Before you start to prepare the artichokes, have a bowl of lemon water ready for them, otherwise they turn black very quickly.
Proceed to cut off the hard outer leaves and the top 1.5cm.
Peel the stalk, to reveal the soft under flesh.
Cut in half and if there is any furry choke remove it, but this should not happen if they are young.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and toss in the artichokes, mushrooms and the garlic.
Gently fry until the artichokes are done, then squeeze in the lemon juice and seasoning.
Serve while hot.

Anyone who says they have only one life to live
must not know how to read a book.

~Author Unknown

Monday, 10 November 2008

Weekend Bliss

I have so much to share about my weekend. I spent no time at all in the kitchen and lots of time having fun in the sun (and the dark) with two of the most special people in my life.

Friday night I decided to treat my boys to fish and chips from Catch of the Day. The owner Manny knows me by name, so when I call and say "Manny, 2 hake and a small chips, collection at 6.45pm please" my life is instantly easier. I learnt the lesson to call before you arrive, because Friday nights at Manny's is like Christmas Eve at Cavendish!

I decided to stick to my healthy eating plan, and not go the battered fish and chips and make these tasty bites, of fresh ciabata slices, topped with low fat cheese, tomato and fenugreek sprouts (home grown) - delicious.


Saturday night hubby and I went out dancing! Our friend, Leslie K. Smith was doing the release of his new album at Hanover Street, Grand West. We first had diner at Squire’s Grill and Chop House, where hubby pronounced the steak as, " The best I've had in a long time". I did make one mistake though, I wore my new shoes - yes I hear that groan! My baby toe no longer has skin on it.

Sunday morning after church, I took Markwin tobogganing and I had my first trip down. My legs were shaking when I eventually reached the bottom, it took all my strength to remain cool and save face in front of him!

After all this fun, I really didn't feel like cooking. So I decided to try this very simple "recipe" I had bookmarked ages ago. It is very simple and scored full marks with Markwin.

I bought a pack of roti paratha at the Spar last week.

You simply defrost them slightly (not all the the way otherwise they are too sticky).
Roll your sausage in the roti and make slashes on the top.
Brush with either milk or egg and top with sesame seeds.
Preheat your oven to 180°C and then bake them for 25 -30 minutes.
The result is a super easy sausage roll.


A thought for the day :
Change your thoughts and change your world.
Norman Peale

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cookie Delights

I have been so blessed these last few weeks. There are so many things that have happened and everyone of them has blessed me beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I keep thinking of a bible verse I learnt in Sunday school, (about 1000 years ago) : "Jer 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

This is not just material prospering, I have had bonding time with people who I haven't made time for in ages and through them my spirit has been fed and lifted.

Last night I got together with my bible study group and we had a party. We sat around, chatting and laughing, until tears where running down my cheeks! These are the blessing I value most.

I was also treated to a shopping spree with my husband, who bought me an entire new summer wardrobe! I must say, now that I have lost those nasty extra pounds, clothes shopping has neve
r been this fun! My husband has the best taste in clothing, he can pick something off the rack and when I try it on, I look like I belong on the cover of vogue instead of the back of the bus!

I am so blessed to have someone who knows me, better than I know myself! That is what you call a real soul mate, and you only get one in a life time, if you are truly blessed !


So, back to the party. Everyone had to bring a plate of eats. I found this great new recipe for Cheesecake Cookies in a book my sister sent me from Australia. They are very rich and guaranteed to help with weight gain!

Cheesecake Cookies (I changed them slightly to suit the ingredients I had on hand)
Makes about 12 -14 cookies


Base and Topping

70g Soft Butter
1 Cup Flour
Brown Sugar

Mix together all 3 ingredients together with a fork, until it resembles bread crumbs.

Filling

250g Cream Cheese (at room temperature)
½ Cup Sugar
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Passion Fruit Juice (No pips)

Alternative to the Passion Fruit
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice and 2 Tablespoons Milk
¼ teaspoon Vanilla Extract or seeds

Preheat your oven 180°C. Grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tray.
Take one cup of the crumbs and reserve for the topping.

Press the the remaining crumbs into the baking tray and bake for 10-15 mins. Once cooked remove from the oven and cool.

Filling Cream the cheese and and sugar until smooth.
Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth.

Once the base is cooled, pour the filling onto the cooled base and sprinkle remaining topping on top.
Bake for 20 -25 minutes.
Leave to cool and cut into squares.

Eat in moderation - if possible. Best shared with really good friends

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Encore Fritters

I have made these delightful fritters before with an different flavour and they were very morish. They are very good the next day straight out the fridge and especially nice when you standing with the fridge door open deciding what to make for supper!

There are no fixed rules on what to add, just so long as you don't over power the courgettes.

Chilli and Chinese Five Spice Courgette Fritters.

2 Cups Grated Courgettes
± ¾ Cup Self Raising Flour
¾ teaspoon Baking Power
1 Teaspoon Dried chilli (I used the smoked chilli which was really good)
¼ Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
¼ Teaspoon Jenny Morris Lemon Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
Grated Zest of a Lemon
Salt
± ½ cup Milk

Grate the courgettes and then place them in a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
Add all the ingredients, except the milk.
Slowly mix in the milk until you have a medium batter (I hope the picture below shows the consistency).


Heat a non-stick pan sprayed with a little non stick spray, (no need for extra oil)
Drop spoonfuls of the batter in the hot pan.
When you see bubbles on the top, flip over and cook until golden brown and cooked through.
Serve hot or cold, also great with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Sprouting Joy

Last week the headline news was that Statistics South Africa announced the all-items consumer price index (CPI) increased by an annual rate of 13,1%, compared with 13,7% in August. Economists all agreed that the numbers should be good news for the South African market.

I don't know how many of you were as sceptical as me when you heard this. I don't disagree that the news is good, but what I would like to know is which shop do they go to? When I do my shopping, I see no evidence of any decrease in pric
es - and in fact the increases seem a lot higher than 13.1% in many of the things which I buy.

Every time I go shopping, everything as increased and not just a few cents here and there. It seems impossible to buy weekly staples without handing out huge wads of cash, and that does not include anything I regard as a luxury - like 2-ply toilet paper!

But hope is here! I certainly won't be sharing this with Statistics South
Africa, because when they find out I have found a way save 92%, they will come out with new data showing inflation is actually -5%!

What is my new inflation beating secret? Sprouting!


I bought a packet of mixed sprouting seeds (5 different kinds) for R10.40 at The Wellness Centre in Kloof Road. I rushed home and started.


No fancy equipment is needed - you do not need the R800 sprouting machine. All you need is a large glass bottle (I don't throw out tins or bottles, but always save them for re-use or recycling), secondly you need a piece of fabric (I cut off a square from an old stai
ned table runner) and lastly an elastic band (you can get these free at your bank, if you ask nicely).

So we still have only spent R10.40!

How is works:

Day 1 - Soak the seeds over night in your bottle.
Day 2 (morning) - Rinse the seeds, pour off the water and place the fabric on the top and secure with the elastic band. Place this in a cool dark cupboard.
Day 2 (evening) -
Rinse the seeds, pour off the water and place the fabric on the top and secure with the elastic band. Place this in a cool dark cupboard.

This is how they look at the end of Day 2
Day 3 (morning) - Rinse the seeds, pour off the water and place the fabric on the top and secure with the elastic band. Place this in a cool dark cupboard.
Day 3 (evening) -
Rinse the seeds, pour off the water and place the fabric on the top and secure with the elastic band. Place this in a cool dark cupboard.

This is how they look at the end of Day 3

Day 4 (morning) - Rinse the seeds, pour off the water and place the fabric on the top and secure with the elastic band. Place this in a cool dark cupboard.
Day 4 (evening) - Take out the sprouts, rinse and then drain them on a kitchen towel and store in the fridge for use.
Day 4 - Wotalotigot!

This is how easy it it to grow your own sprouts. Just make sure that the seeds you buy are sprouting quality - usually those in the health food section will be your best bet.

My fresh sprouts in our supper salad!

If you have children this is a great activity to do together.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Muffin Mania

I have great news!

The local internet cafe has asked me to supply muffins for sale to their clients. They are extremely busy (especially at this time of year) and often have clients requesting something light to eat. Yesterday I baked two batches - one regular chocolate chip and another with 2 tone chips - made from white and dark chocolate mixed.

When I shared my muffin recipe, I had requests on what exactly is meant by "just mixed", when you make muffins, so I thought I would show you what my mixture looks like before I place them in the cups ready for baking.


I have a great post for tomorrow - I have been sprouting, so please visit where I will explain how simple it is to grow your own sprouts - all you need are seeds, a bottle, a cupboard and 3 days.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Foodbuzz

When I joined Foodbuzz I was totally unaware of what they were about. I guess I should have read the "About Us" page, but reading the instructions has never been my strong point!

When the first gift arrived I was floored! It was the most beautiful shopping tote bag, complete with a Homemade Heaven badge! All for little old me! I love free stuff and when it's something you can use daily - that's huge.

The second gift almost made me cry. Personalized Homemade Heaven business cards! I hand them to people inviting them to visit my blog.

I then registered for the challenge to blog 5 times a week for 3 weeks. At first this sounded daunting, because at the time I was only managing to blog twice maybe thrice a week at best. I completed the task and they actually gave me $50 for my efforts. Since then I have managed to increase the number of posts per week, and so increase the traffic to my blog.

Yesterday I received another gift - these people must really love me! It is a beautiful white apron - perfect for elegant entertaining and a much needed spatula, the old one was over due for retirement.
Here I am with my new apron and spatula!

I would encourage you to visit there site and sign up. Not for the gifts, but it is a great way to see what the thousands of other foodies around the world are up to! As they say :
"our online community is a one-stop shop for food lovers to find exactly what they are searching for without having to navigate around multiple sites or mull through irrelevant results from general search engine queries".

Thank you to Foodbuzz - you have changed my blogging experience.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Fish Friends

I insist on having either fish or seafood at least once a week, more if I can convince the carnivores. They do "like" fish, regrettably not as much as they "love" chops and wors (sausage) but I take my victories where I can get them.

I like to cook new things all the time, I'm constantly reading blogs, buying magazines and cookbooks looking for the perfect meal. I have come close, but I keep thinking there must be something better out there - perhaps I'm wrong, but that's what makes cooking fun for me - the quest.

I bought a fennel bulb on my last trip to the vegetable market. When I got home I had no idea why I bought it, I have a feeling the friendliness of sales lady had more to do with the purchase, than my desire to own it! But there it was, and I had to use it.


Fish night arrived and I had very little inspiration. It was one of those days when I would rather be at the dentist than standing in the kitchen cooking. Excuses aside, supper had to be served and I was the one who had to make it - inspired or not!

So out came the fennel bulb and 4 Gurnard fillets which I had over from my last fishmonger visit.


I thinly sliced the fennel and poured over a dash of olive oil and salt and pepper. I laid the fillets on the fennel with a squeeze of lemon and a generous sprinkling of Jenny Morris Zest Fish Spice.
This went into a hot oven for 15 minutes until the fish was cooked.

The result was very good. I loved the combination of the crunchy fennel with it's aniseed flavour and the soft flesh of the fish. It just goes to show, that not everything in life has to be planned to end up totally fabulous!

My husband sent me my quote for the day...
'The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Meaning of Life

I was so blessed yesterday to spend an afternoon with two incredible people - Adam and James. After being in their company of just a few short hours, I really had to look at myself and see what things are important and what I miss out by simply being too grown up.

Adam is 2½ years old and James is 15 months old and they really do have a handle on life! They got me thinking about what I have forfeited over the years in order to play by the rules - who's rules? I can't even remember!

Watching Adam and James playing in the garden, running through the sprinkler, made me wonder why I don't do that any more. It used to be such fun, so why did I stop? Sitting on the swings and feeling the air rush past my ears - that was real freedom. Running into the house soaking wet, laughing and needing only one thing from my Mom - a hug, and then everything in my life was complete. Why did hugs became so scarce?

The final life lesson was when we started baking cookies.
When did I become such a perfectionist in my cooking and baking, that I forgot what it's really about?- having fun. Adam and I made cookies together. He taught me that it's okay to have a finger print in the middle of a cookie, and to eat more dough than you bake, so long as you are enjoying yourself! And when you doing the decorating, it doesn't need to look like it's shop bought, with artist squiggles you find in fancy restaurants - smiley faces are great too!

Always be very proud of what you do, whether it is mud cakes or a simple trip to the toilet by yourself - and never forget to tell every one just how clever you are.

We made these cookies from the November issue of Ideas magazine.


Melt-in-the-Mouth Chocolate Cookies

300g Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
175g Castor Sugar
250g Butter - it must soft
1 Egg yolk
30ml Cream (milk worked just as well)

Sift together the flour and the cocoa.
In separate bowl (we used the food processor) beat the butter and the sugar together until pale.
Beat in the cream and the egg yolk.
Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mix and stir well.
Add the second third and mix and then the final third and mix until well combined.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (we cheated and did 45 minutes in the freezer instead).
Pre-heat you oven to 180°C.
Roll the dough our and cut shapes.
Bake on a greased baking tray for 10 minutes.
While they are baking make an icing mix of 150ml Icing sugar and 5-10ml warm water.
Remove the cookies from the oven, decorate with icing and sprinkle with castor sugar.
Wait for them to cool and eat as many as you want!

Thank you to Adam and James,
I can't remember when last I had that much fun in the kitchen and
I'll bake cookies with you any time!
(So long as Mommy is there to clean up afterwards!)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Garden of Life

Yesterday I was sitting and enjoying the sun in my garden and I started to contemplate life. I was thinking how the people in my life are like the different plants.

Some people are weeds, they spring up everywhere, choking the life out of everything around them, even though some have pretty flowers. There are beautiful plants, like my roses that need pruning and feeding constantly and hardy fruit trees that give the most divine plums every year. I even have an air-plant that asks for nothing, except a place to hang!

I don't know what kind of plant I am in the garden of life, I would like to be an apple tree with big red apples that gives lots of pleasure. I've been told recently I am thorny rose bush, where the flowers look beautiful but when you get close the thorns are clearly visible and a great disappointment!

I am a work in process, just like my bread baking - constantly trying to improve. Taking the basics and adding something, taking advice and criticism (and oh how I love that!) and then coming through at the end with something that is not bad at all and might even be good for you!

This whole-wheat bread I baked to take with to lunch with my oldest friend, Carol. She is an established oak tree in my life. She offers me shade when it's hot and never needs watering or pruning, (I say this with shame). Basically she is someone you can always count on to be there, no matter what - never judging or throwing things back in my face, even when I'm being a total thorn (pun intended)!

Friendship Seeded Whole-wheat Bread (My own creation)
Makes 2 Loaves

4 Cups (600g) Brown Bread Flour
8 Cups (1.2kg) Nutty Wheat Flour
15ml Salt
45ml Honey
20g Dry Active Yeast
± 4 Cups (1 Litre) Warm Water
½ Cup Oat Bran
½ Cup Crushed wheat
½ Cup Linseeds
½ Cup Sunflower Seeds
½ Cup Pumpkin Seeds
15ml Sesame Seeds

Mix together dry ingredients.
Add the liquid until all the flour is taken up.
Knead for about 10 minutes - this is where you really want a machine with a dough hook.
Leave in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until dough is double in bulk.
Knead again, halve and shape into 2 loaves.
Place in well oiled loaf tins, cover and leave in a warm place until mixture rises up again.
Glaze with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake in a pre-heated hot oven (220°C) for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to moderate (180°C) and cook for a further 30 -40 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you tap it.
Enjoy hot with lots of butter and cheese!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Every one is doing It

I have been reading how everyone is doing it, and how great it is. I've been told "try it, you'll love it" - but I heard that line from a boyfriend once and didn't fall for it then either.

I am sort of brave and believe I should try anything once, except suicide. So when the opportunity came up yesterday, I took the plunge and embraced it!

What is it?

Ostrich Fillet! I bought it, cooked it and ate it.

What did I think?

It was okay, not my new favourite food - at that price, I would rather have beef fillet. I do enjoy ostrich neck though, which I cook in winter. I do agree it is a healthy option, but there are plenty of things that are healthy that I am not found of - like wheatgrass! Having said all that, yes I would probably buy it again.

Here is how I prepared it. I got the idea from the Shape magazine.

500g Ostrich Fillet
½ cup Sweet Chilli Sauce
30ml minced Ginger
Juice of 1 Lemon

Marinade the fillet in the sweet chilli and ginger for about an hour.
Heat a non stick pan, add the fillet and the marinade - cook until done.
I cooked mine medium rare, which took about 7-8 minutes.
Just before it is finished cooking squeeze, over the lemon juice.
Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Meat and Two Meats

My husband has never made a secret about his dislike for vegetables. He gives new meaning to "eating with long teeth" when faced with a plate filled with cauliflower, spinach and squash.

I have taken huge advantage of his good nature lately and have been serving lots of vegetables. I did however pick up on the not so subtle hint of, " I've eaten so many vegetables lately I'm getting cauliflower ears".

My mother taught me that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. It is important for a wife to remember that while her husband is free to read the menu when he is out, be sure to keep him eating at home!

With these two very important pieces of advice, I set out to make a supper that I knew would always have my husband eating at home. While the path to his heart might be slightly clogged with all the cholesterol, at least I know he's happy!

This is my "Meat and Two Meats with Meat on the Side".

Mixed Grill (Everything is fried in a little olive oil)

Lamb Kidney
Steak
Cocktail Cabanosi Sausage
Bacon
Fried Eggs
White Toast
Grilled Tomato

Serve hot with lots of love and enjoy the smiles.

I can not face a plate of meat like that, so I opted for a healthier option of:

Grilled Aubergine
Grilled Tomato
Poached Eggs
Whole-wheat Toast

Which do you choose?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Taking a Break

Even the best dieter in the world has to give into temptation occasionally. If you deny yourself too much and too often, keeping up with the lifestyle change needed for permanent weight loss becomes impossible.

After losing 7 kgs, I felt we all deserved a nice sweet treat. I say we, because when I'm dieting nobody gets cake! I finally decided on these muffins, as it is easy to control your portion size. I baked 2 batches and gave half to friends at work and my neighbour - they were grateful the baking fast is finally broken.

Basic Muffin Mix

2 Eggs
240ml of Milk
120ml Oil
200g Sugar
375g Flour
4 tsp of Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Muffins bake for about 25 mins.
In one bowl mix all the wet ingredients together.
And in another bowl mix all sifted dry ingredients together.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir roughly.
You must not beat until it is smooth.

For chocolate mint - replace 3 dessert spoons of the flour with cocoa and add ½ - ¾ roughly chopped peppermint crisp.
For vanilla and cranberry - add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ¾ cup dried cranberries.
Enjoy in moderation if necessary!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sweet Nothings

I have noticed that there are a few of us South of the Equator who are trying to slim down a little in preparation for summer. The biggest problem for me when I am cutting calories is my love for sweet things. I can think of nothing better than finishing off my meal with a luxurious dessert.

Increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed with diabetes. Lifestyle adjustments and self-care also play a large role in the treatment of diabetes over time. Never the less this does not stop people craving sweet things.

In my quest to create food that appeals to all, regardless of their dietary requirements, I started looking into baking with sugar replacements. I have used Xylitol very successfully in baking and so I decided to look into other products to see if they meet the manufacturer's promises.

This berry crumble is made using Huletts Sugalite. I am very happy with the result and will definitely use it again. It is rather expensive, but then it seems the norm that any "health" product comes at a premium.

Berry Crumble (Adapted from here)

Filling
500ml Berries (I used youngberries from Swellendam)

30ml Sugarlite
15ml Corn Flour

Topping
125ml (1/2 cup) Cake Flour
100ml (85g) Sugalite
125ml (1/2 cup) Lower GI Oats
50g Low-fat Margarine ( I used Flora Extra light)

Filling:
  1. Place the berries in a 23cm greased pie dish. Sprinkle with Sugalite and cornflour.
Topping:
  1. Sift flour, add the Sugalite and the oats. Melt the margarine and add it to the dry ingredients. The crumble should be fairly coarse.
  2. Sprinkle the crumble over the apples and bake in a preheated oven at 180ÂșC for about 20 minutes, or until topping turns light brown and crisp.
  3. Serve with diabetic custard

Friday, 17 October 2008

Pick up Sticks

You can really make a rod for your back when you experiment making things you always bought. This has become very true for me since I started playing around with bread.

Before a few months ago I used to love shop bought pita breads and naan, but now that I have made my own, I realise that they are horrible compared to the real thing!


This bread stick recipe is no different. Once you have tried them, you definitely won't be buying them any more. Luckily they are so quick and easy, it's actually a pleasure. They made a great snack, and should actually come with a warning for addiction!

I used an Alan Coxon recipe, but instead of chilli powder I used
smoked chilli flakes, a great new product I found at The Main Ingredient in Sea Point.

The Main Ingredient is a must visit for any foodie looking for that one special ingredient you just can't find anywhere else. John and Lynne Ford are passionate about food and wine and the shop's slogan is,"
if you can’t find something, we’ll do our best to get it for you! and, if you’re not in Cape Town, we can send it to you". They have been voted Eat In Guide Outstanding Outlet Award Winner 2006 & 2007.
Chilli Bread Sticks

250g self-raising flour
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp smoked Chilli flakes or plain if you can't find smoked
10g instant dried yeast
30ml vegetable oil
125ml warm water
30ml Milk

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a baking tray.
Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and chilli powder into a mixing bowl.
Stir in the yeast.
Mix together the oil and water and pour into the dry ingredients.
Mix into a soft dough. If it is too stiff add a little more water.
Roll the dough into 12 thin sausages about 12cm long.
Place on the baking tray and allow for spreading. Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Brush the dough sticks with milk and sprinkle with salt or leave them plain.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Pizza Perfect

My family love pizza. Given the choice they would have it every night of the week. I know without a doubt, that if I was not around, things like cauliflower and spinach would never be seen in our home.

Everyone has there favourite pizza shop. But given the price of eating out or having take-outs, living off pizza can become a very expensive addiction. This got me working and researching the perfect pizza to make at home.

The experiment was many months in the making but finally I got the perfect crust. We now have pizza often ( though not as often as the boys would like). In the beginning making pizza was a mammoth task, but after a while it has become easier.

This is my recipe for a perfect pizza base, the toppings are only limited to your imagination. I know that there are more traditional recipes out there, but this one works for us. It is a thin base pizza, which is crispy and filled with air pockets.

Pizza Perfect

400g White bread flour
200g Semolina flour
1 Packet Instant Dry Yeast
15ml Salt
50ml Olive oil
5ml Sugar
Warm Water

Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook).
Start the machine and slowly add the oil.
If you are working by hand it will be easier to work on flat surface and make a well in the middle of the flour mix and work the wet ingredients a little at a time.
Add the water, enough to make a firm dough.
Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
Let the dough rest in a warm place for at least 4 hours.

Once you are ready to start making your pizzas....

Place your pizza stones in the oven when it is still cold.
You do need to pre-heat the pizza stones (I have 2 terracotta tiles).
Heat your oven to maximum. The higher the temperature the better.
Cut the dough into 6 pieces and roll out to the desired thickness. I like mine very thin, but see what works best for you.
Once the oven is ready and you have all your toppings on hand, carefully remove the pizza stone and add your toppings.
Start with a layer of tomato sauce (they come in jars or you can make your own).
Handy tip for mushrooms - leave them for last, otherwise they will make your pizza soggy.
Bake until the base is crispy and the cheese is golden brown.
Enjoy with your favourite movie and coke!
This dough is suitable for freezing for later use.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Butterfly Award

I was nominated for two awards this last week

The first was from Nina.
I would like to nominate the following people:

1. Wots for Lunch
2. Tongue Tickle
3. Hells Kitchen
4. Brownie Girl
5. Capsicum Consumption
6. A Spoon of Sugar
7. Coffee Cup Diaries

Well done everyone, play along if you wish. There are a few "rules" so please read carefully...
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (as shown above).
3) Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.

I also received this Butterfly Award from Yummy Flavours.
I was given the award, but she called me Nafisa, so I'm sharing this one with Nafisa.

Together with the above people I also nominate a further 3 blogs for the Butterfly Award.

1. Hijab
2. Jenny Morris
3. Add to Taste

The rules of the award are:
Put the logo on your blog.
Add a link to the person who awarded you.
Nominate 10 other blogs
Add links to those blogs on yours, and leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Cheese Muffins

Cape Town is buzzing with the great weather. Spring is here and summer is knocking loudly at the door - I hope I am not going to curse it now and wake up tomorrow to pouring rain.

To celebrate this wonderful weather we started painting my kitchen. I was supposed to help but it turned out, that all I did was sit and clap while by darling husband did everything! He is such a sweet heart!

I did however give him a treat after the work was done and judging by the response it was very well received. I got the idea for these scone/muffin/puffs from Nina last week. I didn't use her recipe, but one that I have used since I was a teenager (which my son refers to as "the old days!").

This is a very easy recipe, and very suitable for new bakers. It great for unexpected guests, as it only takes 2 minutes to make and bakes in a jiffy. You can omit the cheese and add 2 tablespoons of sugar for a sweet version.

Cheese Puffs

2 cups Flour
2 Tablespoons Butter or Marg.
2 Eggs
1 Cup of Cheddar cheese (leave ¼ cup for the topping)
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt
1 Cup Milk

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Rub the butter into the flour to resemble breadcrumbs.
Add all the rest of the ingredients (no particular order),
BUT only ¾ cup of cheese and stir until combined.
Spoon into a muffin pan and top with the left over cheese.
I used 12 mini muffins and 6 normal.
Bake mini muffins for 10-12 minutes and the large for about 15 -20 minutes.
Serve with cheese, smoked salmon, ham or eat them plain.

Friday, 10 October 2008

More Pleasures of the Sea

Growing up near the coast meant that I am not a stranger to sea food. We grew up eating things like crab curry and fried fish often. There is one sea food that I didn't get introduced to until after leaving home, but has now become a staple in my home - Calamari.

My mother near used to eat calamari, so we never had it at home. Times have changed and even my Mom loves it now. I always have a bag in the freezer and love to use it when I am looking for a quick supper. It is such a versatile ingredient. Whether you add it to a simple tomato pasta sauce or make batter and deep fry, you are always guaranteed of a quick nutritious supper.

I had a day off yesterday for Yom Kippur. I had a wonderful day relaxing and not thinking about supper until six o'clock when Markwin came through with his daily questions of "What time is supper?" followed shortly by "What's for supper?". The pressure was on!

I went to the freezer, took out "THE BAG", threw it into a bowl, poured hot water over to soften and heated the wok. But this time it was 6.05pm and I was already half way through making supper!

Calamari in a Hurry

800g Calamari (defrosted in hot water and then dried)
30 ml corm flour
15ml Jenny Morris Chilli and Lime Spice (or plain chilli powder)
Salt and Pepper
1 Lemon

Heat the wok until smoking.
In a ziploc bag mix the corn flour and spices.
Add the calamari and shake until coated.
Add 15ml of oil and then the calamari.
Depending on the size of your wok, you might need to do this in batches.
Move the calamari around in the wok so it does not stick.
Fry the calamari until done (shouldn't be more than 5 minutes).
Once it is cooked, squeeze over the juice of the lemon.
Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon, chips and a large green salad.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

New Idea on Fish

I have mentioned my fish monger before and will keep punting them as the best fish shop in Cape Town. Not only do they have the freshest fish and the widest variety but the service is exceptional. Cape Town is not known as the most service orientated city in South Africa, but Fish 4 Africa (Monte Visa) is an exception worth crowing about.

From the minute you walk in, you are treated like family. I always feel like my purchase is the most important thing they are going to do for the week! There is no rush to make your choice, they love to discuss everything on display, encouraging you to think of experimenting with fish you might never have tried before. The have 4 people cleaning and filleting the fish, so you never wait more than 2 minutes after making your choice, for your fish to be prepared exactly the way you asked.

After checking what was fresh and what was on special I decided to go for the Gurnard. It was very fresh and at R24.95 per kilo (that's £ 1.50 or US$ 2.75 per kilo) a steal in any language!

I prepared it very simply. Marinade the fish in lemon juice, garlic and Jenny Morris Zesty Fish Spice for an hour and then grill until just done. The secret is not to over cook fish, otherwise it is dry and tasteless. Served with a simple vegetable stir fry and dirty rice (white rice cooked with fresh garlic and brown lentils) - a meal fit for a king!

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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