Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mamma's Meatballs

I have been blogging for just over 2 years. I have made so many dishes, tried out so many recipes - good and bad but best of all I have made so many wonderful friends. Thinking of what to cook for supper is not as easy as it used to be, at least twice a week, I have to consider new things to blog about.

When I set the table, the camera is in place before the salt and pepper. Then of course you have get the lighting right and if the food is steaming, you have to think of a way to get that perfect close up without the lens steaming up.

When I look at the pictures that some foodies take, I am green with envy, the reflection from my green envy seems to have come out in last nights photos.

I made spaghetti and meatballs, with a wonderfully thick chili tomato sauce. I changed my meatball recipe, and loved it. It does take a little more effort than "two-minute noodles", but once you've made the meatballs, it comes together without much fuss.


500g Mince Beef Mince
1 Cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (please buy the good stuff and grate it yourself)
20ml Basil Pesto
1 Small Onion finely grated

Mix all the ingredients together - by hand is the only way to really do it properly.
Make the balls the size of walnuts (I don't like big balls!)
Fry in a medium hot pan with a little oil until browned.
Remove the balls from the pan and set aside.

The Sauce

1 (400g) Tinned Tomato and chill
4 Fresh ripe Tomatoes, peeled
2 Onions Sliced
20ml Basil Pesto
Black Pepper and salt
10ml Sugar

Fry the onions until soft in the same pan you cooked the meatballs in.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook down until it is soft - at least 30mins.
You can add water when necessary.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for a further 40 minutes on a very low heat, stirring gently and adding water if it starts to get dry.

Serve with lots of spaghetti and love!

Our dessert was simple, yet authentically Italian. Strawberries with a little sugar, a dash of good balsamic and a grinding of black pepper - leave it to sit for a while and enjoy!

Monday, 21 September 2009

International Food Evening

On Saturday night our church held an mission's celebration and each bible study group was asked to choose a country, dress up in national dress, as well as cater a table with food from that country. It was such fun and very interesting, we had a talk from locak Pastor who was a missionary to Morocco for 6 years.

The countries were not randomly chosen, as in our church we have people from the 4 corners of the world. I was part of a group from the Cameroon. It was a great experience from the foodie side too, as I had to research a cuisine that is totally foreign to me.

The people in West Africa eat lots of fish, beans, peanuts, coconut, pineapples and chili. The most exciting part of this food adventure, was that I found a shop in Parow that only sells ingredients that are used in West and Central Africa. I didn't recognize anything, and kept asking the owner to explain - I think I was about 2 questions away from him saying "Lady, we cater to foreigners, if you want to understand everything in a shop, go to Pick 'n Pay!"! Next time I go, I'll have more recipes in hand, so I won't have to ask so much!

My attempt at Cameroonian food was this Suya, a kebab. It can be made with any kind of meat - I chose beef. It is marinaded in a dry spice mix and then cooked over hot coals. The flavours are subtle (except for the chili) and work remarkably well together.

Cameroonian Kebabs
Makes about 18

1kg Steak chopped into 1" cubes
10ml Meat Tenderizer (this was my addition)
60ml Chili Flakes
20ml Garlic Powder
15ml Paprika
10ml Onion Powder (I used 2 Knorr mini Stock cubes)
1 Cup Roasted Peanuts finely ground (but not into a paste)
15ml Ground Ginger
Salt to taste
Red, Green and Yellow Peppers, cut into 1" pieces

Mix all the ingredients together and marinade for a few hours.
Thread onto skewers with some colourful peppers.
Cook on the braai (BBQ) or in the oven under the grill.

I served this together with some grilled pineapple kebabs. This is inspired by Cameroon, but not authentic.

Take two whole pineapples and cut off the peel.
Slice into wedges and then into 1½" cubes
Make a mix with about 125ml hot honey and 10ml dried chili.
Coat the pineapple with the mix and thread onto skewers and grill over the flames or on a hot griddle pan.
Brush with more of the sauce before serving.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever is a song by the English rock band The Beatles. Recorded at the end of 1966, the song was written by John Lennon during the filming of How I Won The War and is formally credited to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team. It is named after a Salvation Army house in Beaconsfield Road, Woolton, Liverpool where Lennon played as a child. (source)

For me the strawberry fields are very literal - they are just outside Paarl, at the Klapmuts turnoff! My darling Keith knows, come September, the people at the Strawberry Farm know him very well.

On Tuesday he came home with a 5kg box - just for me! What a treat. I was so inspired yesterday I made some strawberry jam with lavender.

It really should have been eaten on a beautifully fresh scone, but I said I was inspired not on drugs - so a thick slice of fresh white bread was an excellent substitute!

Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Please slow Down - I don't understand!

Life is changing so fast I can't (or rather don't feel like) keeping up anymore. I am not old, perhaps by my teenager's standards I am ancient, but I don't think 37 year qualifies me for any old age concessions. I feel like things in life have changed so much and every day there is a new word or acronym I don't understand.

I have been using the internet for 10 years now, one would think that in 10 years you can master a skill - if I were studying to be a doctor, I would be fully qualified to save lives - BUT NOT in Cyber world.

Iin the "old days" we used words like: etc,, eg, i.e., inter alia. Abreviations which were taken from Latin, they had history and if you could throw in the occasional nem. con or op. sit., you were really being just snooty!

Now we have a new language, things like : HSDPA, URL, PRUSS, GPS, all of which sound like things which need an ointment! We have kids (and lots of grown ups) that send messages that no longer use vowels, which used to be something they only did in the telephone directory!

We have taken phonetics to a new level, and called it chatspeak , they even have a dictionary (a very long word for people who can't write "great") and an online translator!. Take these messages, "Av01d P30pl3 Wh0 Tallllk Lyke Th15" and " lyk wer did u get dat shrt!" and my personal favourite "lol dnt b dum im betr dan u "!

This is worrying for me as a foodie, what happens if this technology filters into cookbooks and then into kitchens. How are we going to tell someone to "beat the eggs until light and fluffy" or "slowly add the flour, which whisking all the time" - I would hate to see the results!

Yes, I guess you can say I becoming Technophobic and am starting to think the Amish have something going for them! I want to let go and just be, write letters in ink and post them (when the Post Office is finished their strike)!

So in my quest to slow down and " Tune out, turn off and drop out", I made a real British Classic. No nation does boiled quite like the British - but this is a real winner! Take your time, write a letter, read a book and smell the roses.

Boiled Beef and Carrots

1.5 kg Topside Beef Roast
2 Large Onions
10 Cloves - studded into the onions
20 black Peppercorns
1 Celery Stick (with the leaves)
5 -8 Bay Leaves (I used dry)
Peeled Whole small carrots
3 Large Potatoes Cut in quarters
Oil for Roasting the Vegetables

Place the beef, the spices, the onion and celery stick in a large pot and cover with water.
Bring to a rapid boil and skim off any scum that might form.
Lower to a simmer and leave to cook for about 2/3 hours, until the meat is tender.
At the 1½ hour mark add the carrots and the potatoes and boil in the stock until just done.
Remove the carrots and the potatoes from the pot, and toss in a little oil and roast for 30 minutes in a hot oven until browned and crispy.
Remove the meat from the stock, wrap in tin foil and leave to rest for about 20 minutes.
Slice the meat and serve with the vegetables and a little of the stock poured over the meat.
Simple, slow and totally delicious.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Going Madhatter

People have always been mis-quoted, in life we all get mis-quoted from time to time. Some of the quotes, while accurate, can be totally out of context. Mis-hearing and mis-quoting often happens when people have been married for a while.

When you have lived with someone for a long time, you often finish their sentences in your head or hear what you think they said. These false memories are as real to the hearer, it is as if they were written in ink. Just like your eyes lie to you all the time, your (mine) ears are no different.

One example I have heard many a married couple argue about is when the husband or wife distinctly remembers confirming an appointment weeks in advance. No amount of arguing will ever convince the injured party that they have not said it or that the other didn't hear it -even after they have said "OKAAAAY, you right!".

So, you ask, how does this tie into me making Soda Bread? It doesn't actually, except that when I got home, I could have sworn there was bread in the box - and there was not. I had created a totally false memory of a loaf of bread that was actually two old stale slices!

I am guilty of remembering things that don't happen, and some of these memories are so clear I would go to the gallows for them (well maybe not, but I can whip a a good argument at a moments notice). There is either a HUGE conspiracy to have me institutionalized for dementia, or I am just living in a parallel universe!

After watching that stupid Demi Moore movie Half Night ( Limited release, straight-to-DVD - thank goodness), where thanks to the evil husband's plot, fears that she may be going insane, I have to start to carry around my camera and tape recorder just to check exactly what is going on around me!

I feel a like Alice in Wonderland when she says "If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

But lucky for my blogging friends, I did have my camera ready for this delicious Onion Soda Bread and I have the pictures to prove it. I will admit the recipe did come to me in a dream - so here you have where a dream becomes reality - no arguments please!

Onion Soda Bread

1¼ Cup Plain White Bread flour
¾ Cup Brown Bread Flour
2 teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda
± 300ml Buttermilk (you have to check as you are adding how much you need)
2 mini Onion Stock Cubes , crushed
1 Teaspoon Salt

Mix all the ingredients together until you have soft dough (enough to hold it's shape, but still sticky).
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (I used heated my pizza stone)
Place the dough on a baking tray of the pre-heated stone,
Cut the dough ¾ through into quarters.
Sprinkle with a little flour and bake for about 20 -30mins until done - and sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.

Enjoy warm with lots of butter and a bowl of homemade pea soup!

And this one from Alice is a gem - especially for me and those of you that know me :

Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope!
I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

When Smoking is good for your Health

We all know the dangers of smoking, but yesterday I decided to try smoking - and it was great! Now don't get all worked up, this kind of smoking is suitable for children and breastfeeding mothers.

I smoked some fresh Mackerel. It is so easy, and the results are much better than any bought variety I have tried. It was soft and juicy, without any added artificial smoke flavourings.

This is how I did it....
It is best to do the actually smoking outside, unless the ventilation in your kitchen is very good. I just used our camping gas bottle.

Take a wok and line it with heavy duty foil. I then added some lemon rind, chamomile tea leaves and plum tree shavings (I had these after my plum tree was pruned early this year, but you can use any untreated fruit or even oak).

Place your bamboo steamer on the wood chips, put the fish in the steamer and cover with the lid and enclose the entire wok in foil, so there are no escape routes for the smoke.

Place the wok on a a high heat (a gas burner works best) and leave to smoke for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave without opening for another 15 -20 minutes.

Throw away the foil - and open the steamer and you will have beautifully smoked mackerel in less than half an hour!

This might seem like a lot of work, but it literally takes 30 minutes from start to finish and I guarantee you will love the flavours. You can play around with the smoking mixture and infuse any flavours which you might like - I have heard that Earl Grey tea also works very well.

Give it a try - at least once, you'll never see smoking in the same light again - just don't get addicted!

I hope you are having a fantastic spring and getting ready for summer. We finished spring cleaning the garage and the storeroom this weekend, so now it's just the house and then we'll be ready for lots of outdoor activities and no more cleaning!

If the shelves are dusty
and the pots don't shine,

it's because I have better things
to do with my time.

This mess is a place!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Banana and Coconut Bread

Bananas and coconut are a great combination and using really old bananas makes it even better! You really have wait until the bananas are so ripe the skin is almost black and the inside is soft and smells like - banana!

I made these in a new "muffin tin" I was given. It's not a actually a muffin tin, because it has a dent in the bottom - I guess it would be like a mini bundt tin. It works very well in a loaf tin too. You can use regular butter instead of coconut oil, and sugar instead of Xylitol - but I love the taste and the guiltless pleasure of having my cake and eating it!

Sugar Free Coconut Banana Bread Muffins

300g Plain Flour
Pinch of Salt
5ml Bi Carb.
75mg Coconut Oil
100mg Xylitol
3 beaten Eggs
3 very ripe Banana (Less for a drier cake)
15ml Lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon (the zest is optional, but it really is worth trying)

Grease and line loaf tin. Preheat oven to 190°c.

Cream coconut oil and Xylitol.
Add eggs.
Mash bananas and add lemon juice and the zest.
Add the bananas to the butter mixture.
Add sifted flour and baking powder and salt and vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and top with shredded coconut. ***

Bake for 50 – 60mins if you using a loaf tin or about 20/25 minutes in a muffin tin, until golden brown and cooked through.

***If you are using Xylitol, spray the top of the loaf (before baking) with some non-stick spray so that is browns nicely.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Weekend in Pictures

This weekend we went to Swellendam to visit Markwin, in an attempt to salvage a little birthday cheer, after not being able to celebrate the actual day with him.

We decided to drive there via the Bain's kloof pass - please click on the link to read all about it's history.

Once we arrived in Swellendam and fetched a rather surprised Markwin, we headed off to find pizza for lunch. Generally speaking, finding good pizza in country towns is not an easy thing. But if you ever find yourself in Swellendam looking for great food and authentic wood-fired pizza -Woodpecker Pizza Deli is the place to go. There are lots of things you can't find in Swellendam - antacid anytime after 6.30pm or even a decent book shop - but restaurants and places to stay, you won't battle with!

Another gem in Stellendam is the Old Gaol Restaurant. This place has a wonderful "story" too.

The Old Gaol Restaurant was established in Swellendam in 2001 by Brin & Judi Rebstein of Jan Harmsgat Country House. Four local ladies, who had gained experience and confidence as employees of the Old Gaol, were offered a 30% equity shareholding in 2004, and are now empowerment partners, responsible for the day-to-day running of the restaurant. (read more here)

This is a silver tea service chanderlier, hanging in the Old Goal Restaurant - isn't is beautiful?

Another historical monument in Swellendam, the Dutch Reformed Church, which had a recent mishap while they were restoring the tower. You have to click this link to watch the drama unfold.

Un menage a trois!

Thanks to Caro's recipe, I was able to make Markwin's favorite - Turkish Delight, it was a huge success and since he is now writing exams, I am sure this will keep his energy levels at an optimum! Thanks Caro!

The best thing about Swellendam - visiting my darling son Markwin!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Salad the Holford Way

I have been reading The Holford Low GL Diet this last week and was really inspired to try some of his weight loss and health improvement tips. He says this is "the only diet that will seriously undamage your health" - which sounds great to me.

I made these two salads, which not only tasted great but are packed full of good things for my over indulged on nougat and Turkish delight body! (more about the Turkish delight on Monday).

Firstly I made a Quinoa and Kidney Bean Salad

1 Cup of Cooked Quinoa ( still warm)
½ cup of cooked Kidney beans (from a tin)
Chopped cucumber
Chopped Red Pepper
1 Small Avocado (slice and drizzeld with lemon juice)
Salt and Black pepper
Lemon juice

Mix the ingredients into a bowl, and add enough hummus to coat and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

The second salad is even easier - no cooking involved.

Tuna and Chickpea Salad

½ cup Cooked chickpeas (from a tin again)
85g of Tuna in Brine (this is enough for one serving, about ½ a tin)
½ an Apple chopped
Red Pepper chopped
Cucumber Chopped
Lemon juice to taste
Fat Free (or low fat) smooth Cottage Cheese (enough to coat the ingredients)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and ENJOY!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Honey Nougat

Last week I received an email from my husband, it didn't say anything - just a link to here. A rather strong hint if ever you saw one!

I spent the day getting all the ingredients ready and then went foodie searching for some tips on nougat making and how to not to make nougat.

I found a recipe which caught my fancy because it uses honey and I know from experience (shopping) that honey really does make good nougat. Be aware if you don't like honey - you are not going to like this nougat.

I am going to try Caro's recipe this week and compare which I like the most.

Honey Nougat

500g Honey
500g Sugar plus 1 Tbsp extra for the egg whites
125ml Water
125g Glucose Syrup
2/3 egg whites (about 85g)
½ Teaspoon Vanilla seeds
400g Mixture of Walnuts and Cranberries
Rise Paper

Boil the sugar, water and glucose to 140°C
Allow the sugar to cool and when it has reached 115°C, boil the honey to 122°C
Meanwhile beat the egg whites and the sugar until stiff.
Add the honey in a slow stream continuously stirring (easier with a stand machine)
Add the vanilla seeds.
Add the sugar syrup and keep mixing for about 15 minutes (like I said you need a mixer)
Spray a swiss roll pan with non-stick spray and place a layer of rice paper at the bottom.
Lastly add the nuts and fruit to the nougat mixture.
Place the mixture in the prepared tin.
I found if I dipped my spatula in hot water it helped to level it out.
Place a second sheet of rice paper on top.
Allow to cool (I used the freezer, but you can leave it at room temperature.)
Cut into blocks and enjoy!

Lastly, I want to wish my darling son Markwin a very happy birthday. I can't be with you today, but you never leave my thoughts. You have brought sunshine into our lives since the day we met you and our family is blessed to have you - thank you for choosing us to be your parents!

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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