Thursday, 19 May 2011

Snack Bars for Hiking

One of the joys of the Homemade Heaven staff kitchen is hiking. Over the years I have shared many hikes throughout Cape Town as well as some of the more adventurous hikes in Namibia. 

The most important thing in preparing for a multi-day hike is planning your food. Everyday has to be broken down into breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks and extras. Each meal has to be thought out from convenience of preparation, weight to calorie ratio (empty calories don't make the cut), space and not least of all taste.

If you fail to plan, you will fail to eat. When you are hiking an average of 20km's per day, you need the maximum energy you can get from your food, without wasting energy carrying heavy loads. All this planning falls into my portfolio, as I am the one who has too feed the troops.

The first hike I prepared for was a huge learning curve. We ended the hike with huge smiles and bags still filled with food! All this after reading every hiking website and blog.

  The real lessons come from discovering just how much 2kgs of sugar weighs and that while taking potatoes and butternut sound like great hiking foods,  peeling and cooking them is not as practical when you've hiked 7 hours and have 20 minutes of daylight left before it's tools down for the day.

I have fine tuned a recipe for a great snack bar that is not only tasty, easy to prepare ahead, travels well and has plenty of goodness thrown in for good measure. It's actually a hikers take on the old marshmallow treat.

Hiking Treat Snacks

 400g bag of Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
60ml Coconut Oil
2 Cups of Granola
1 Cup Raw Almonds (Chopped roughly)

180g Chocolate

Grease a baking tray.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the marshmallows stirring regularly.
Once the marshmallows are melted, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the other ingredients.
Press tightly into the baking tray and smooth the surface using damp hands.
Allow to cool before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
Spread a layer of melted chocolate on the bars

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Banana and Chocolate Marble Cake

Back in the day (when there were dinosaurs and no TV in South Africa - the 1970's) life was very simple. There were a lot less choices in my life and not because I was growing up in a rural village in communist China, it was just thought to be necessary. 

When we did eventually get TV, for a good few years there was only 2 options - on and off. Now we have satellite TV, with 180 choices (and most nights still comes down to 2 choices - complete rubbish and rubbish). My mom always kept only one flavour of ice-cream in the house- again 2 choices "yes" or "no".

Expressions like "You can't have your cake and eat it" were heard often. I still don't understand where that comes from, I would rather not have it if I can't eat it. Another favourite, "You can't have the best of both worlds" - which "other world" were they talking about?

These are still questions that rattle in my head from my teenage years. And to think our teachers were supposed to educate us, and here I am left with 2 huge gaping holes in my head, wondering about who got to eat the cake and where this "other world" is.

But things have changed now. We have 24 hours of TV (Yippee!!!), a land line, a mobile phone, a lap top, a PC, an Apple Mac and 14 different boxes of "tried once and decided we didn't like" cereal (and feel guilty about throwing away food) - a never ending amounts of choices.  I am starting to wish for the 2 choice days : "Yes" or "No" and "On" and "Off".

There is one exception, I have found a cake that I can have, eat and have 2 of my favourite flavours in one go- Banana and Chocolate. It's my answer to the modern world of choices, without the head splitting "other world" question.

I hope you'll like this combination and have your cake and eat it!

Banana and Chocolate Marble Cake

200ml Butter or Margarine
375ml Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Cup well Mashed Banana (2-3 depending on the size)
125ml Buttermilk
125ml Milk
5ml Vanilla Essence
600ml Cake Flour
2.5ml Salt
10ml Baking Powder
2.5ml Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)
60ml Drinking Chocolate Powder

100g of Chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)
10ml Milk
15ml Butter

Pre-heat oven to 160C.
Grease a spring form tube tin.
Cream together the sugar and butter until light.
Add the eggs one and a time.
In a separate bowl mix together the bananas, buttermilk, milk and vanilla essence.
In another bowl sift together the dry ingredients.
Alternating with the banana mixture and the flour mixture add this to the butter and sugar.
Mix well together.
Remove 150ml of the batter from the mixing bowl.
Add the drinking chocolate to small amount of batter, mixing well.
Add half the plain mixture into the tube tin.
Place the chocolate mixture on top of the plain (just place spoonfuls evenly around)
Cover with the remainder of the batter.
Using a fork, twirl the mixture  through twice to create a marble effect.
Bake for 60-70 minutes.
Leave to cool before icing.

Melt the chocolate together with the milk over a double boiler.
Add the butter.
You can add more milk or butter to get a pourable consistency.
Pour over the cooled cake.
Decorate with nuts (optional)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Swiss Roll

In the modern life of internet and mass information, one phenomenon which has sprung to life are the "World Days". Some of them are for very worthy causes, others are just plain ridiculous.

This month we are celebrating, amongst others,World Red Cross Day, World Press Freedom Day, World Anti-Terrorism and World No Tobacco Day. All wonderfully worthy things to spend sometime remembering.

But then you get, interspersed between these worthy causes, arbitrary days or even weeks which mean nothing, like National Cleavage Day, British Sandwich Week, Be Nice to Nettle Week or Limerick Day.       

Mothers day is one of the most precious celebration days of the year and is celebrated in South Africa on the 2nd Sunday in May.  This is a great day to take sometime to spoil and show appreciation to the woman / women who are our mothers.

I have a wonderful Mother and Mother-in-law . They are everything I wish I could be a Mother. They are kind and patient, they don't judge unfairly, they support me, even when they know that the outcome might not  be as good as I might have expected it to be. But after all the toy throwing and tears, they are the ones with the words of comfort and love which they know will help me get through any trial or temptation.

They respect me as a woman and a mother, gently giving advice, without ever being know-it-alls.I'm supported with the freedom to make the mistakes, which they might have made, but are always understanding when I fail -but  never say "I told you so".
 I thank God for these 2 wonderfully beautiful women in my life. I am blessed to have Mothers that love me and are never afraid to show it.

I am sharing a recipe from my Mother's private collection. It is a full of childhood memories of love and spoiling. I hope you will try it and think of your mother when you make it, and that your memories will be as happy as mine.

Swiss Roll

4 Separated Eggs
1 Cup of Castor Sugar
1 Cup of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Essence

Pre-Heat Oven to 180C
Beat the egg whites until soft and fluffy and then add half a cup of the sugar and beat to sift peaks.
In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and the other half of the sugar until thick and creamy.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt three times.
Gently fold the egg yolks and vanilla into the beaten whites with a metal spoon.
Add the flour to the egg mixture.
Work the mixture gently until mixed through, being careful not to over work and knock out the air.
Grease and line a Swiss-roll baking sheet.
Spread the batter evenly into the baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
While the cake is baking, lay a clean dry tea towel on a flat surface.
Dust the towel with castor sugar.
Once you remove the cake from the oven, place the hot cake on the dusted dish towel.
Remove the paper and gently roll the cake in the dish towel.
Be very gentle with the hot cake.

You can fill the Swiss Roll with a variety of fillings.
If you use jam, you can spread it while it's still hot and then roll.
If using a cold filling like cream, you will need to wait until the cake is cold, cool rolled in the towel.
I filled this Swiss roll with 1 packet chocolate instant pudding mixed with 250ml of fresh cream.
When filling, always leave a space on the edges to ensure that the filling does not ooze out.
Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Cape Point

Cape Point, a World Heritage Site, is 65km South West of Cape Town. A spectacular reserve featuring sheer cliffs with a rugged coast line.
This protected 7750 hectares is home to a rich collection of fauna and flora, this is a nature lover's paradise.

It was this area which was given the name of Cape of Storms from Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. The point is a graveyard for many a ship. It was this graveyard hike which we visited yesterday - The Thomas Tucker Shipwreck trail, situated at Olifantsbos (Elephants Bush).
An easy walk which passes along the coast, passing the debris of those ships which have not successfully navigated the Cape of Storms.
It then turns inland, up a slight rise, from where you can take in the views of the bay and beach from above. The entire walk only took us an hour and 15 minutes, bearing in mind we do walk rather faster than average.

After our walk, we crossed over the peninsula to Borjiesrif to have lunch on the rocks. It started to rain, so we ended our picnic snuggled in the back of the Jeep, and watched the sea.
Cape Point is really a great place to spend a day, but be sure to spend some time discovering the trails and roads off the main road, you will certainly be rewarded by fantastic views and walks.

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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