Thursday, 29 January 2009

Nutz about Coconuts

I am always amazed at how many "new" ancient super foods are being advertised as the secret to things like long life, improved energy, weight loss - the list is endless. Things like Hoodia and Gogi Berries are a must have on every health junkie's shopping list.

There is one super food that is growing in popularity with it's hairy head and face like a monkey - The Coconut. I found some very interesting facts about coconuts, which I am sure will have you all rushing out to stock up.

Here are just a few, which caught my attention...
  • The coconut palm is so highly valued by the Pacific Islanders as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life."
  • In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhoea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumours, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.
  • Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth."
  • One of the reasons why coconut oil is effective in reducing body fat and lowering weight is because it contains fewer calories than any other fat.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant. Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature ageing and degenerative disease.

  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.

  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.

  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
So where else can you find something that is this good for you and still tastes so good?

I made this very simple coconut and lemon loaf for our Bible Study group yesterday, and everyone loved it, as I am sure you will.


100g Coconut Oil (or Butter)
140g Castor Sugar
2 Large Eggs
140g Coconut (Medium shred if you can find it)
100g Self Raising Flour
85ml Milk
5ml Baking Powder (optional if you don't trust your S.R. Flour)
Juice and Zest of 1 large Lemon

50ml Lemon Juice
100g Sugar
85ml Water

Cream the Coconut oil (or butter) until fluffy.
Add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
Spoon into your loaf pan and bake at 180°C for about 40mins until cooked through.
Remove loaf from the pan and pour hot syrup over the cake while both are still hot.

Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Serve in slices once it is cooled.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Bread of Life

Bread making has become a big part of my daily routine and with my bread machine, what should be a task, is an effortless pleasure. The most difficult part of bread making is now deciding what kind of bread to make.

My favourite is whole-wheat seed bread, with lots of seeds and a little fruit. The great thing about making your own bread is you decide exactly what you want.

I am "doing lunch" today with my best friend and her two boys, and so I decided that I would bake a loaf to take along. I enjoy being able to present people with a loaf of home made bread. It's giving a staple of life, full of love.

Whole-wheat Seed Loaf

230g Cake (all-purpose) Flour
8g Instant Dry Yeast (just less than one 10g packet)
15 ml Sugar
30ml Sunflower or Peanut Oil
380ml Milk
Juice of 1 Lemon
330g Whole-wheat Flour (I use stone ground flour)
10ml Salt
200ml Seeds ( I use linseed, sunflower and pumpkin)
120ml Dried Raisins

Heat the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes on high and then add the lemon juice.
The milk will curdle.
If you are lucky enough to have a bread machine, add the ingredients as per manufacturers instructions and bake using whole-wheat option with medium crust.
Should you be making this by hand, follow this method.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Super Salads

I love salad!The combinations are endless, you can put just about anything into a salad, so long as it is fresh. You never have to have the same thing twice and it is great way to use left overs too.

On Saturday, after our hike, to celebrate all the calories we burnt, we decided to have a braai (BBQ). The weather is absolutely glorious and it really would be a waste to spend too much time indoors.

I didn't have any lettuce and my spinach is growing wild, so it was time to improvise with a new salad. I also had one avocado (which cost me a fortune) and was very close to reaching it's sell by date.

Spinach Surprise Salad

2 Cups finely shredded Spinach (Swiss Chard)
10 Pitted Green Olives, cut in half
1 Avocado cut into bite size Chunks
4 finely chopped Anchovy fillets (optional)
10 finely sliced Mushrooms
1 Cup Cooked Pearl Barley
60ml Honey and Mustard Salad Dressing (I used Ina Paarman)
Juice of ½ a Lemon
5ml Black Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and leave to rest for at least 15 - 30 minutes.

I also made some chicken kebabs, inspired by Nina. I did have to adapt this, as I didn't have all the ingredients and was far too tired to go shopping, they were okay, but next time I'll go to a little more effort to follow her recipe!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Cooking for Two

With Markwin now away and enjoying boarding school life ( he seems to be living on peanut butter and bread), meals at home have to change somewhat.

It is very hard for me to adjust the quantities, so we do not have waste ( I hate wasted food), and also staying motivated not to slip into having sandwiches every night. Thank goodness for this blog, otherwise I think it would be very easy to slip in dietary hell.

So on the first night of eating for 2, I made a simple supper of pork chops, with hot sauce. This recipe will work very well if you substitute the pork with chicken.

Chops with Hot sauce

2 Pork chops or 2 Chicken Breasts
60ml Flour
25ml Jenny Morris Chilli and Lime Spice (or just plain chilli powder)
1 Onion sliced
2 Chillies
10 Button Mushrooms (not the very baby ones)
60ml Tomato Sauce (Ketchup)
10ml English Mustard (I like it hot, but you can calm it down by using a milder or less mustard )
10ml Worcestershire Sauce
250ml Chicken Stock (I used a stock cube)
2.5ml Hot Chilli Sauce (I have a bottle of "Ring of Fire" Habanero Sauce which worked well)
Salt and White Pepper
Oil for Frying

Add the flour and chilli spice to a bag and then the meat and shake to coat.
Remove the meat from the bag and shake off the excess flour.
Heat you pan to hot and add a little oil.
Fry the meat until golden, but not cooked through, about 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness.
Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
Add a little more oil, if necessary, then the onion and fry until soft and golden.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the stock, and fry for 2 minutes to incorporate the flavours.
Add the stock and mix everything together.
Check the seasoning, adjusting it to your taste.
Turn down the heat and add the meat and cooked covered for another 10-15 minutes.
If you like a thick sauce you can mix in some cornflour dissolved in water - I don't like my sauces too thick so I left it as it was.
Serve with mash and vegetables.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Secrets best not kept....

On Monday, Brownie at Kitchen Diary, better know as Moo, gave us her secret pancake recipe. I was moved that she would share a recipe that is so obviously worth protecting. I've been given people's "secret recipes" before, and when I make it, I know they have changed it or "forgotten" that little secret which makes all the difference - but not MOO!

This got me thinking about other secret recipes which were and are worth keeping. I think since the advent of internet, there are more "secret recipes" than ever! You can find at least 20 different combinations to KFC (when the secret is actually in the MSG) and I found 3 Coco Cola recipes just on Wikipedia - who would have thought it was so easy to make your own Coke?

Back to the pancakes I made last night. I closely followed all the instructions and the tips and what do you know? - I made the perfect pancake! Actually I lie, it was better than perfect - it was heavenly! I have never made a pancake that I have been totally happy with before now. Even Keith, who is very critical regarding food, declared these were the best he had tasted.

I wanted to give these pancakes the honour they deserved and so I made a simple rhubarb compote (just rhubarb, sugar and a squeeze of lemon) to accompaniment them. I rolled the pancakes with cinnamon sugar and served the compote on the side. We just ate with our hands (terribly civilised), dipping the pancakes into the rhubarb. The combination of cinnamon sugar and rhubarb was inspirational, but without those great pancakes it would have been nothing! - Thank you Moo, you are the greatest!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A New Chaper

Today is the start of a new chapter in my life. My son left for boarding school today. I am so happy he has this opportunity but I feel sick to my stomach at him leaving.

The school he is attending is in a small country village, and their main aim is to give boys a chance to "be boys". His school life will be more like an adventure sport than the slog and grind experience by city kids. They go hiking and camping every weekend, the school swimming is done in either the nature reserve dam or the river and they even have mountain climbing as a school sport! This is the kind of education I could only have dreamt of for him, but it comes at a price -I will only see my baby every 4 weeks!

Because today is going to be very full and exciting I got up early to make him a good "Last Breakfast".

Home made bread toasted and topped with French style salami, cheese and tomato.

Then a bowl of fresh peach and nectarine slices with full cream
granadilla drinking yoghurt, which looked just like custard!

Here's us just before they left this morning for the trip to school.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Heaven, I'm in Heaven....

Any one who reads this blog regularly, will know that I can be a little obsessive about things. I have a discovered a passion for bread making that has taken over my life. I read bread books, blogs and any article I can find about bread baking. I ask to speak to the baker in every shop I go into, just to see if they have a secret they are willing to share.

My latest quest lead me to A Year in Bread.
I really wanted to be able to make a farm style bread, that was light and fluffy like commercial bread, without the conditioners and additives they use.

I took this recipe and changed it slightly by:-
  • adding the juice of half a lemon to the warmed milk, in order to sour it. I read somewhere that this improves the flavour and texture.
  • I also halved the recipe, but kept the oil quantity at 2 Tablespoons.
  • I used the dough cycle on my bread machine and then baked it in the oven. It makes 1, 900g loaf and 4 hamburger size rolls.
  • I also baked them on my pizza stone, this definitely improved the heat distribution.
  • After it was finished baking, I used a tip my Mother gave me, and brushed the top with a little oil (or you can use butter).
The texture and the taste is perfect - light, fluffy and soft with a slightly crisp crust.

I would really encourage you to try making your own bread, it really is so easy and the difference in taste is so amazing, you'll never look back.

I offer you... The Perfect Loaf

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Bread Baby

Did I mention to you that I have an absolutely fantastic husband? Actually he's more than just my husband, he's my best friend, president, secretary, treasurer and life long member of my fan club, official guinea pig for new and pimped recipes and I'll stop there in case children are reading and I would hate to make you jealous. He really is one of a kind when it comes to supporting me in whatever project I commit myself, however faddish it might seem.

Last year saw my love for bread making grow from zero to what I thought as hero. I really enjoy baking bread and experimenting with different flavours and textures. This year I want to really get going BIG with my bread making, and my darling husband is 100% behind me, even though he is not a lover (or even a liker) of traditionally baked home style bread.

Never the less, when I saw a bread machine in the shop last week, and mentioned that I would love to have one "someday", he went straight out and bought me one! Horray! Horray! I have a bread machine!

I have made 5 loaves already and my son thinks he is in bread heaven - he really loves home made bread. I have been speaking to the bread bakers in all the shops I go to, getting advice on everything from flour to baking times and temperatures. I love the adventure of learning a new skill. The bread machine is a wonderful tool, because you just throw everything in and it does everything!

I whipped up this bread last night, so that my son and his friends will have something for lunch today, I do hope they leave me a piece to try.

Egg- Enriched White Loaf
(Bread Machine Instructions for a large loaf)

2 Eggs
Water (see method)
6 Cups White Bread Flour (I bought stone ground flour, which is preservative free)
15ml Sugar
10ml Salt
2 Tablespoons melted butter or oil
1 Packet Rapid Dry Yeast

Put the eggs in a measuring cup and add water to make up about 430ml ( more if you using a stone ground flour). Mix lightly and add to machine.
Add the ingredients as per manufacturers instructions (mine you first add the liquids and then top with the flour and lastly the salt, sugar and yeast).
Choose the "Basic" option, medium crust and press start....
If you are doing this by hand, then you place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix in the water and egg mixture until knead until you have a smooth elastic dough (about 10-15 minutes).
Leave to rest and rise for about an hour in a warm place - should double in volume.
Working softly shape into your bread tin and leave to rise for another 20 minutes.
Bake in an oven at about 180°C for 20-30 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Serve hot with lots of butter.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Summer Heaven

I love this time of year! Everyone is still relaxed after the holidays, school hasn't started so the traffic is minimal and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to get out of bed in the morning to start enjoying the day - okay maybe that's a little exaggerated, but you get the idea.

After playing it safe with the bolognese yesterday, I decided to venture into the wide side and try my hand at crab claws!

I love crab, even though it can feel like you going 10 rounds with Oscar de la Hoya to get the good bits, the rewards are high when you have that soft sweet flesh melt in your mouth. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

I prepared them very simply - boiled until just done (I do the shelling for my family) and then serve it with my favourite Secret Seafood Sauce.

(No longer my) Secret Seafood Sauce.

½ Cup good quality Mayonnaise (or make your own like I did)
30ml Tomato Sauce (Ketchup)
½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika (please buy the best quality you can find)
1 or 2 Green chillies finely Chopped
Squeeze of Lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste - more chilli, lemon or paprika.
Leave to rest in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

This is a great accompaniment to any seafood - and is especially good in a prawn cocktail.

I had mayonnaise left over, so I made some potato salad - sinfully good when made with home made mayonnaise.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Back to Basics

It is so good to be home. I had a fantastic holiday, which I didn't want to end, but now that I have survived my first day back at work, I am not feeling too bad.

I have the New Year enthusiasm, full of plans and things which I will achieve this year. The spirit and the flesh are strong!

I did find my first day back at work rather strange, and while it wasn't that hectic, I still felt cheated that I couldn't take out my book and go sit outside and read - my boss can be so demanding about the time he pays for!

After having 3 weeks of excessive eating, I thought I would fall back into the routine of home cooking with one of the first dishes I taught myself, after I got married. I haven't changed it in all the years because some things just don't need to be "pimped"!

Big Momma Rosa's Bolognese

500g Beef Mince (Not the Extra lean one)
1 Carrot peeled and finely chopped
2 Medium Onions peeled and chopped
1 410g Tin Chopped Peeled Tomato
1 410g Tin Tomato Purée
1 Sachet (or small tin) Tomato Paste
10ml Sugar
10ml Olive Oil
15ml Jenny Morris Herbs De Provence (or Dried Mixed Italian)
20ml Fresh Orignum
2 Garlic Cloves chopped
10ml Crushed Black Pepper

Fry the Onion and carrot until softened and just turning golden.
Add the mince and fry until lightly browned, break up the mince while it is frying.
Add the garlic, the herbs and spices and fry for a 1 minute.
Add the Chopped Peeled Tomato, Tomato Purée, Tomato Paste and the sugar.
Turn the heat down low and leave to simmer for at least 3 hours.
I usually use one of the empty tins filled with water and add a little at a time, as needed.
Just before serving, an optional extra is to tear in some fresh basil leaves.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Home Sweet Home

Greetings to all my fellow bloggers and foodies. I trust you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I can hardly believe that the 3 weeks have flown past so quickly.

I am fully re-charged and relaxed, and I know that this year is going to be one I change the world!

Today in church, I heard a slogan, which I have decided to take on as my personal inspiration - This year is going to be TWO THOUSAND AND SHINE!

Stay tuned and visit regularly, I hope I'll be able to inspire you with good food, happy thoughts and something which will make your day a little better.

Friends are an indispensable part of a meaningful life. They are the ones who share our burdens and multiply our blessings.
Beverly Lattaye

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

Search This Blog

South African Food and Wine Blogger Directory

The South African Food and Wine Blogger Directory