Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Slimmers Delight

After loosing 3kgs, I have become very motivated to continue to shed these extra few pounds before summer starts. The secret to a good diet is variety. The minute you become bored, you start to "fall off the wagon". Feeling deprived and hungry is only one step away from a tub of ice-cream and box of smarties!

Keeping your food full of flavour and colour is a great tool to eating healthy and loosing weight. I added this old French favourite - Ratatouille to my menu plan for this week. There are no hard and fast rules to what you should and should not add - it's actually very useful for using up the "odds and sods". It keeps well and is better a day or two after it is made.


1 large Onion sliced
2 Carrots chopped into dice
2 finely chopped Garlic Cloves
1 large or 2 small aubergines diced
5 Baby Marrow (courgettes) chopped
6 Button Mushrooms halved
1 small chilli (optional) chopped
1 Red Pepper chopped
10 Baby Rosa Tomatoes cut in half
1 teaspoon Sugar
500ml Stock (Chicken or Vegetable)
10 Black olives (take out the pip)
1 bunch Spring Onions chopped
Fresh Lemon Thyme
Salt and Black pepper

Fry the onions and carrots until they start to soften.
Add the garlic, aubergine, baby marrow, mushrooms, red pepper and chilli and fry for another 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, stock and seasoning and let it simmer until all the vegetables are cooked, but not mushy.
Add the olives, the chopped lemon thyme and the spring onions and stir through.
Serve with rice or pasta.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Spring Feast

On the weekend we went through to the Darling Wild Flower Show. It's like nature's fashion parade.

After Darling we went on to Yzerfontein for a picnic lunch on the rocks. It's days like this that make Cape Town the number one destination in Africa.

We watched the snoek boats come in and then sell their catch.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Hurry Summer

As you know from my last few posts, the weather in Cape Town has been very dreary. Cold and wet days, with howling winds. Definitely nothing the tourism board is advertising in this year's "Come to Cape Town" brochure!

I entertained guests last weekend and battled to find a dessert to make (which would also fit into my diet) - fruit salad just would not have gone down well, considering they arrived wearing gloves and scarves!

I settled on Chocolate Mousse! Yes I can hear you all saying, "How did she fit that into her diet?" - Easy - It's low fat and sugar free. But the surprise of it all, no one even knew how I was saving their waist lines. They would have sworn it was the "Full Monty"!

Low Fat Sugar Free Chocolate Mousse

1 Sachet (15ml) unflavoured gelatin
2 tablespoon cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
2/3 cup Xylitol
1/3 cup Cocoa
1 1/2 cups cold Dairy Free Low Fat Cream (Orley Whip)
1/4 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.
Stir together xylitol and cocoa in medium bowl; add "cream" and chocolate extract.
Beat on medium high speed of electric mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff.
Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended.
Leave in the fridge to set for a few hours.

I served mine with little chocolate hearts, I made from melted real chocolate and home made espresso ice-cream.

Give this a try, and see who can spot the difference.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Upside to Blogging

I am so happy I blog! Without blogging I would never have known how much fun bread making can be. I have even been christened a "Yeastie"!

Having guests around and bringing a basket of freshly baked naan, gave me more pleasure than the prawn curry (which was great too)!

Thank goodness I have friends like Spicy to supply me with fantastic recipes like this. And she was kind enough to be on call to answer the 100 questions which followed.

This recipe is for a bread machine, but I made it in my Kitchen Aid, with the hook attachment, and it worked just fine. I had all the dry ingredients in the bowl and then added all the wet and let it knead for about 5 minutes on medium, which seems less work than the bread machine. It is a very soft dough, so you do need lots of flour to stop it sticking to your hands and surface. The result is soft and crispy and very yummy in the tummy!


2/3 cup warm skim milk
2 teaspoons melted butter
2 teaspoons yeast
1 lb flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup plain low fat yoghurt
1 large egg
2 teaspoons sugar

In the mixing bowl of your bread machine, combine warm milk (about 80F) with yeast, butter and half of the sugar, set aside for 5 minutes.
On a piece of waxed paper sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
Add to bread machine bowl.
Add olive oil, second half of sugar, yoghurt and egg.
Set the bread machine to the dough setting and let it run through the cycle.
When the bread machine has almost finished the dough cycle, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F.
If you have a baking stone, place it in the top rack of the oven to preheat as well.
Take dough out and separate it into six equal sections.
Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten dough out to ovals about 1/3 inch thick.
When oven has pre-heated, place rounds on pre-heated stone or heavy baking sheet.
Bake on top shelf of the oven for 90 seconds; the naan should start to puff.
Switch the oven from bake to broil for an additional minute or until the top starts to brown.
When brown on top, remove from oven and cover with a towel while you finish baking the remaining loaves.
You can brush the naan with butter ( or even garlic butter) or olive oil before serving if desired - definitely advised.
You can also flavour the dough with cumin or nigella seeds.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Bread Bliss

I am really getting into bread making now. It has become such fun, finding recipes and then adding flavours which I know we'll enjoy.

My latest find is a whole-wheat soda bread - no yeast and very simple to make. You can use a bread tin, but I preferred to make it rustic looking, like you would expect in an old Irish farm kitchen. I added some extra crushed wheat, which makes it not only good to eat, but very healthy too.

This went perfectly with the pea soup. It is also great hot with lashings of butter!

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

2 Cups (500ml) Whole wheat Flour
1 Cup Brown bread Flour
1 Cup White bread Flour
½ Cup Crushed Wheat
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
1½ Cups of Buttermilk
60g Butter
1 Egg

Melt the butter over gentle heat.
In a separate bowl beat the egg into the buttermilk.
Beat in the butter.
In a large bowl, sift (as best you can) the dry ingredients together.
Stir in the buttermilk mixture.
If it is too dry add a little more buttermilk.
If you using a bread tin the mixture must be wet (pourable, not manageable by hand)
If you bake it like I, it is still soft, but you can still hold it gently.
Form the dough into a round about 7cm thick and 21cm round (don't measure please).
Make to slashes across the top.
Place in a pre-heated oven at 200˚C , on a pizza stone or terracotta tile and bake for about 50 - 55 minutes, until hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Humble Fare

Cooking gourmet style meals are great when you have all the time in the world, but when you're a busy working wife and mother, getting food into tummies, as quick as possible, is more often than not your biggest priority. Usually (for me) this is paired with completing an assignment, that my 14 year old should have handed in yesterday!

This simple meal of roasted vegetables, with grilled rosemary chops is perfect for those days when standing in the kitchen is simply out of the question. You just get the vegetables in a hot oven for about an hour. You then put the chops in to cook, about 15 minutes before the vegetables are done. It only takes 2 quick trips into the kitchen and it's done!

Low Fat Roasted Vegetables

2 0r 3 Red Onions quartered (keep the root intact so it does not fall apart)
Butternut pieces (as much as you need to feed your clan)
1 Red or Green Pepper (or both )
2 Sprigs Rosemary
1 Chicken Stock Cube
A little water

Put all the ingredients into your baking pan and finely crumble the stock cube over the top.
Stick pieces of rosemary all around the vegetables.
I use about 25ml water just to start the cooking, but you can use olive oil if you're not watching your fat intake.
Roast for about 1 hour at 200 -220 degrees.

Grilled Lambs Chops

2 Chops per portion (or more for bigger eaters)
Fresh Rosemary
Coarse Sea Salt
Zest of 1/2 a lemon (more if you have lots of chops)
Little olive oil to lubricate

Pound all the above ingredients together to form a paste.
Massage into the chops.
Grill in very hot oven (or over coals) for 15 minutes.

Serve with the roasted vegetables and some mash.
Simple home style cooking, with absolutely no fuss at all.

Pea Soup

Today a cold front is expected to reach the Western Cape with secondary development expected behind it,resulting in rain and showers to persist over the south-western parts of the Western Cape tomorrow. A high pressure is expected to ridge in behind the second cold front from late on Tuesday.

Rain, wind and cold that's all we hear from the weather office in Cape Town. The only cure for this weather is a hearty bowl of home made soup. But not just any soup - Pea Soup, made with lots of peas and sweet potato. I served it with home made whole-wheat soda bread, which I'll share with you tomorrow, so be sure not to miss out.

This is another one of those meals that does not need (or want) your constant attention. You can leave it simmering away, while you tuck up under the blankets and finish your book!

Winter Pea Soup

1 Large Sweet Potato, peeled and diced
2 Large Onions, peeled and sliced
1 Large carrot, peeled and chopped
500g Split Peas
4 Litres of Water
3 Chicken Stock cubes
1 Green Chilli (optional, but really good)
Salt and Black Pepper

Fry the onions until starting to brown.
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until cooked.
Blend until smooth.
Garnish with crispy fried, sliced Spanish chorizo sausage.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Reaping the Benefits

A few weeks ago I showed you pictures of my vegetable garden. I am now proud to show you the delightful salad which was enjoyed by everyone, with lettuce that came straight out of the garden. You can not beat that freshly picked taste and the satisfaction of knowing that you grew it!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Perfect Pita Pocket

As you know I am "Bread Baking Phobic" and seeing what others are capable of making does nothing to quell this feeling of inadequacy.

I am not a very brave person. I'm not one of those girls who jumps up in the middle of the night, cricket bat in hand to go and investigate. I usually crawl under the covers, aim a foot at Hubby's rib cage and in my best stage-whisper say, "Get out, there's someone outside".

There is one thing you can be sure of, if I have a real phobia, I'll take one occasion to face it head on and prove to myself that I can do anything. A fine example of this is my fear of unnatural
heights. I can climb a mountain and feel no fear - but I am terrified of standing on a ladder or riding the big wheel at the show grounds.

There came a time when all the planets were correctly lined up and the family decided to go bungee-jumping and guess who went first - ME! I have the certificate proudly displayed in my office, just to remind myself that, although I won't climb a ladder without breaking into a sweat, I have conquered my greatest fear.

I have now faced my bread making demons and I can proudly tell you - I have come out a winner. This is one phobia I will never allow to cloud my kitchen again.

While trawling the net yesterday I came upon this recipe and decided I also wanted to be a Bread Baking Babe! I did not have all the ingredients, but knew I could "make do" and the result was absolutely terrific.

I made the following changes to the recipe and will guarantee that it works perfectly :

Perfect Pita Pockets

I subtituted the 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour for 1.5 cups brown-bread flour and 1.5 cups normal cake flour.
I then used 3.5 cups normal cake flour for the rest of the recipe.

I followed all the directions in the method exactly and baked mine on 2 terracotta tiles, I usually use for pizza making.
They came out absolutely perfectly.
I did think it was going to be a mess, when I felt how soft and sticky the dough was.
I had to flour the board well to help roll them out, otherwise it sticks to everything.

There is only one problem now, those shop bought pitas I used to think were so great - are terrible compared to the home made ones, so now every time I want pitas, I am going to have to bake them! I guess you can't have everything in life.

I had mine filled with a grilled Chicken Fillet and lots of salad.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Downside to Blogging

Having just celebrated my one year blogaversary (great new word for Oxford and Collins) I have spent some time thinking what are the good and bad points to blogging.

Firstly, as you know, the biggest gripe in my family is the endless photo secession before meals. As Jeanne so aptly put it "even if your family does lose the will to live, waving a camera around when they are starving". I can't remember the last human I photographed!

Secondly, trying to think of really "cool" stuff to cook and bake, that will be of some interest to the people kind enough to visit more than once - Once again thanks all of you.

Thirdly, using all the bandwidth before the end of the month and then having to explain to the rest of the herd, why there is nothing wrong with visiting local internet sites for the last 2 weeks of the month - Local is Lekker, I'm told!

And finally (actually not really, but I've just lost half my readers, through boredom), having to read and see all the divine dishes everyone is making and thinking - "OH PLEEZZEE, I can't do that" !

Well with Ramadaan in full swing, there have been some wonderful treats floating through cyberspace and in order not to miss out I thought I would join in the fun (cooking not fasting). Now there is a disclaimer to this recipe, they are not samoosas, even though I call them that. I will not even attempt to try the real thing (yes, I know they are easy and anyone can make them), but as a good Christian girl, I thought I would adapt them a little and so here goes....

Not Really a Samoosa Samoosas

500g Steak Mince
1 Onion
1" Piece of Ginger, minced
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
3 Teaspoons Chilli Flakes
1 Beef Stock Cube
1 Sachet Tomato Paste
15ml Masala

Fry the onion,, ginger and the mince until browned.
Add the spices, except the masala.
Add all the other ingredients , with a some water and cook for about an hour.
This is a dry curry, as you don't want something too saucy in the "samoosas"
About 15 minutes before the done, stir in the masala.
Allow to cool to room temperature (I did this in the freezer for about an hour).

The Pastry is Phyllo (ready bought)
Take one sheet and spray with olive oil spray, or if you not watching the fat, brush with butter.
Lay another sheet on the first and then spray or brush.
Cut the sheets into 3 pieces - longways.
Place a spoonful of filling at the bottom, about 10cm up and fold over to form a triangle.
Keep folding in a triangle - check this site for pictures
Seal the edge with a brush of melted butter or olive oil.
Place on a sprayed baking tray and brush the tops with butter or give another spray of olive oil.
Bake in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
Serve hot with a nice chutney or sweet chilli sauce.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Brownie Point Soup

I have been so motivated by Brownie's weight loss, that I too have gone on diet. I have been watching what I eat and making some wise food choices.

I haven't weighed myself since last Thursday, when the scale cried out "One at a time, Please!", but I'm sure I'll be happier with what I see this Thursday.

To help me get "over the hump", I've made this soup. It is almost calorie free, but is still packed with flavour.

Carrot Soup

500g Carrots, scrubbed or peeled
1 Onion, sliced
Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon
3 Chicken Stock Cubes
1 Green Chilli
1 Teaspoon Cumin
Black Pepper
2 Litres of Water

Place all the ingredients together in a large pot.
Cook on medium heat until everything is soft.
Blend until smooth.

To serve, place a dollop of low-fat Cottage Cheese in a bowl, fill with soup so the cottage cheese is just peaking through and sprinkle with a few black sesame seeds.

Always and Forever

I was not there when you took your first breath.
I missed your first word and your first step.
I couldn't protect you, from what you should never have faced,
But God knew how much I needed you.

Those early years where hard, I'm sure
But you rose above it all.
No little man could ever have been braver,
You showed them all that nothing could break you.

The first time we met, we went to the circus,
You spent the whole time glued to my lap.
You needed a Mom and I needed a son,
God knew how much I needed you.

You came for visit and stole everyone's heart,
There was no doubt that you had found your home.
We were nervous, but you were so confident.
God knew how much I needed you.

The day when you finally never went back,
that was the day I knew I was whole.
People look now and can never believe,
But God knew how much I needed you.

You're growing so fast, it blows my mind.
I love the way you protect and watch over me.
The bond that we share, is thicker than blood.
Because God knew how much I needed you.

Happy Birthday my son.
I love you.

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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