Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just in case you needed reminding...


Trays...


...should NOT be eaten!


Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, December 07, 2012

It's a love - hate kinda thing...


Green smoothie. You are my friend.

Those are the words I mumble to myself when I stare into the green depths of my glass when I am about to down a green smoothie concoction and I have NO IDEA what it will taste like (this time).

For such is the nature of the beast: the taste is different EVERY TIME.

Since I usually eat a rather large amount of salad, vegetables, fruit and nuts on a daily basis, I tend to only drink green smoothies when I am feeling "rough around the edges" from too much indulgence in things like cream (oh home made ice-cream, you delicious fiend...) or dark chocolate (an ongoing frenemy indeed).

When Simeon sees a glass of green heading towards him, he tends to silently sigh, take a sip and say something like:
"Hmmm...earthy."

And this from a man who can eat an ENTIRE family size green salad with NO dressing OR carbs OR little tasty bits of things that MOST humans require to make a GIANT green salad palatable (he uses salt....yes, JUST salt).

But moving on (since that doesn't really HELP my point), THIS PARTICULAR GREEN SMOOTHIE turned out REALLY well. Like I could drink this on a daily basis if I WANTED (or, like, HAD) to.

Why a green smoothie recipe in this season of blessed indulgence and yummy things like Christmas mince pies?

Because (if I am anything to go by) it is often the season of OVER indulgence and EXCESSIVE EATage of yummy things, hey.

Green smoothie. YOU - ARE - MY - FRIEND!


Ingredients:

  • 1 green apple
  • 2 handfuls of kale or baby spinach
  • 1 third of a large cucumber (with the peel on)
  • 1 ripe banana (tweak the sweetness with more bananas if you wish)
  • 1 teaspoon of protein powder (I use raw rice protein powder)
  • 1 good pinch of cinnamon powder

Method:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Fill to about half way of the height of the ingredients with cold filtered water.
  3. Zhoesh well till smooth and creamy.
  4. This makes about 6 cups of smoothie.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

I went to a craft store and...


Craft stores that sell rubber stamps are to me what catnip is to a kitteh!

Plus, they are way cheaper than buying wooden stamps!


  • Picked me up a lighthouse and some mistletoe for my stamp collection.
  • The cheap and cheerful boxes are for storing pretty bitties like postage stamps and stampy stamps.
  • Gold stars are fun and Christmasy for decorating brown paper wrapped gifts...
  • ...As is white satin ribbon (R20 for 20 metres from Osmans fabrics).
  •  The pretty pre-made Christmas postage tags are from Spar.
Need insipration for decoration and creation?


 *Heart* this UK Mag!


Sim made me a cuppa, and I indulged in one of my favourite old-fashioned(ish) activities...writing snail mail.

This time of year, it can only be one thing - Christmas cards for geographically scattered family members!


I highly recommend finding someone's latitude and longitude, and brightening their post box!

Even if it's a veritable stranger in the form of a long-lost friend or an out-of-touch family member, I like to think that the holidays give you a reprieve which allows you to say:

'Thinking of you. Happy 2013!'

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Epic Pigeon Holes

Don't you just love a good bargain?

There was a silent auction recently at Simeon's workplace where we managed to nab an AWESOME piece of (2nd-/3rd-/4th-/?-hand) solid wood furniture for a REALLY EXCELLENT price which has been PURRRFECT for organising my craft room (or our so-called "pottering room") into its neat 50-pigeon-holed glory!

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER shots:


I just *HEART* functional spaces so much (and being able to find little fiddly things quickly too!)

As the AFRIKAANS saying goes:
'n Plek vir alles en alles op sy plek!
(A place for everything and everything on its place!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My French Fairy Tale

As part of my final semester marks for my university beginner's French course, I created this little stop motion animation.

What fun it turned out to be doing something I have never done before and using language skills I didn't have in January!

La Princesse de l'Épée [The Princess of the Sword]
P.S. You'll need sound...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

"Oh no you di'n't!"


Is criticism ever a good thing?

I have never been a fan of the term "constructive criticism". Criticism is criticism, and when you're on the receiving end of it, it usually hurts. Like being hen-pecked by a thousand tiny chickens or being pruned in your moer-in like a bonsai tree with no root space.


However, I do appreciate what Olabode Anise says about the topic on the website Tiny Buddha today. There are quite a few poignant statements he makes about the subject in his article: Constructive criticism is a sign of your potential.

One of my favourites:

It is so easy to internalize everything someone tells you, and that is perhaps the biggest mistake that could be made. At that point, what someone has said is holding more weight than what you believe about yourself. No one’s words should ever be so powerful that you begin to doubt who you believe you are as a person.

And just for fun, here's a link to Urban Dictionary's take on the phrase:


:-)

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day: Gifts for a Coffee Lover

Simeon and I have been travelling around Iceland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands over the past month; arriving back in South Africa just in time for my first semester university exams. We're slowly getting back into the routine of home again.

I thought I'd share the gift we put together for my Dad - a real liker of quality coffee and milk chocolate!

1 - Take an empty tissue box...

2 - Sim used a carpet knife to cut the top off...

3 - Insert a brown paper bag...

4 - Fold the edges of the paper bag down until it covers the box...

5 - Pick out some lovely flavoured chocolates...

6 - And some great quality coffee...

7 - Tie string around the gift box, attach a card & insert tissue paper into the box...

8 - Put the jars of coffee in first & arrange the chocolate around them...

9 - Happy Father's Day!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

*Potjiekos*


In Afrikaans (which stems from Dutch), a potjie  is a little pot. These pots are, for the most part, really not so little and actually weigh a whole lot since they're made from cast iron.

According to Wikipedia, they were brought to South Africa from the Netherlands in the 17th century. These so called potjie pots (which is a little odd, as it means: little pots pots) usually have three legs for packing coal/wood underneath for cooking, a heavy lid that keeps the contents in even while they're boiling furiously, and a sturdy handle for lifting a heavy, fire-hot vessel.

Almost every culture that has some cold weather during their year-long cycle has some version of stew, and potjiekos (direct translation: little pot food) is basically a very traditional version of just that...stew.

And we all know stew has a hundred-and-one incarnations! Meat, veg and a starch of some sort can be remarkably versatile.

My version is an entirely vegan recipe, made on the day we christened our potjie pot (size: #4, which feeds around 8 - 10 people).


Ingredients:
  • 1 kg carrots
  • 1.4 kg baby potatoes
  • 700 g - 1 kg pumpkin chunks
  • 1 punnet each of zucchini + patty pans + baby butternut + baby gem squash
  • fresh curry leaves
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh basil
  • fresh thyme
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • water
  • agar-agar

Method:

  1. Once the new pot has been 'seasoned' for use by heating over the fire and wiping out with cooking oil numerous times, you're ready to begin your cooking exploits. 
  2. Lay the fresh herbs along the base of the pot. Make sure they cover the entire base of the pot. This will do two things: 1 - prevent the vegetables from burning during cooking, and 2 - flavour the entire potjiekos evenly.
  3. Cut carrots into chunks and baby potatoes in half. Add them to salted, boiling water in the potjie and cook with the lid on for at least 40 minutes.
  4. Test the carrots and potatoes to see that they're almost cooked. Now add all of the softer vegetables: layer pumpkin chunks first, then baby gem halves, then patty pan halves and zucchini chunks. Top with enough boiling water to cover, season with more salt and put the lid back on the pot. It goes back onto the fire for another 30 - 40 minutes.
  5. Test that the veg are done. Take the pot off the fire and stir through 1 tablespoon of agar-agar. This will act as the thickening agent (when the stew cools, it will turn slightly gelatinous, but this abates when the leftovers are reheated).
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with basmati rice.
  7. You will find that a stew cooked over a fire is infused with a delicious smoky flavour. And you might get a kick out of the authenticity too: (wo)man versus fire! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

*French for Fun and Practise*


J'ai une soeur. Elle s'appelle Esmeralda. Elle a 26 ans. Elle est avocate. Elle parle anglais et francais. Elle est mariée. Son mari s'appelle Jimmy. Il a 27 ans. Il est un professeur. Il parle anglais et allemand. Ils ont deux enfants. Le fils a trois ans. La fille a cinq ans. Ils ont un chien. Il s'appelle Fred. Le chien a sept ans. Il a faim, bien sur. Tres faim. Quelquefois il mange escargots dans le jardin. Pardon, escargots! 


I have a sister. Her name is Esmeralda. She is 26 years old. She is a lawyer. She speaks English and French. She is married. Her husband's name is Jimmy. He is 27 years old. He is a teacher. He speaks English and German. They have two children. The son is three years old. The daughter is five years old. They have a dog. His name is Fred. The dog is seven years old. He's hungry, of course. Very hungry. Sometimes he eats snails in the garden. Sorry, snails!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

*Inspiration...*

*...I need me some of that!*

With a Chaucer assignment due soon,
and a whole bunch of new German/French to learn,
all I *really* feel like doing is
looking at pretty pictures.

Here are a few of my favourites.
(Hover over captions for links).

And P.S. -
Middle English is actually a foreign language -
don't let anyone convince you otherwise!

Rob Ryan Umbrella from In Good Company
Wooden Letter Rack from Papa Stour
Little Black Sheep Clutch Purse from Misala
All The Buzz Wallet from Mod Cloth
Birds Nest Bell Jar from In Good Company
DIY Chocolate & Coconut Milk Ice-Cream from Vittles and Bits
Tea Cup and Saucer ("January") from Portmeirion's Botanic Garden Collection
Cavallini Paris Rubber Stamps from In Good Company

Saturday, March 03, 2012

*Breakfast*



Rooibos Tea and (Gluten-Free) Toast 
with Peanut Butter

Rooibos tea - a South African favourite!
One of the pleasures of childhood was waking up on a Summery Saturday with the entire day stretched before you like a treasure chest waiting to be discovered. No school. Zero responsibilities. Ample sunshine.

But first, breakfast.

And in South Africa, at my parents' house, that usually meant hot white toast with Black Cat peanut butter.

Oh, the simple joy to be found in biting into a slice of crunchy hot toasted bread smeared with (melting) peanut butter that was so gooey it glued your gums together! Paired with a frosty glass of cold milk to make swallowing easier (or possible), it was decadence.

A decadence I have, however, been sorely missing for some years (because, let's face it...sometimes rice cakes just don't cut it!)

So I set about baking some fresh gluten-free bread on Friday afternoon in order to ensure that there would be toast on (this leisurely) Saturday morning.


My Homebaked Gluten-Free Bread Recipe


My bread flour mix:
  • 1 kilogram of Entice Rice rice flour
  • 550 grams of Nature's Choice potato starch
Mix flours together well and store in an air tight container.

Ingredients for bread:
  • 1 kilogram of my bread flour mix
  • 10 grams (1 sachet) of instant yeast granules
  • 20 millilitres (4 teaspoons) of white sugar
  • 100 millilitres (20 teaspoons) of olive oil (or another vegetable oil)
  • 500 - 1000 millilitres (0.5 - 1 litre) of tepid/lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt chrystals
Method:
  1. Put 250 millilitres (1 cup) of tepid/lukewarm (approximately 37 degrees Celsius, which is body temperature) in a bowl and stir in 20 millilitres (4 teaspoons) of sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve slightly, then sprinkle the 10 gram sachet of instant dried yeast granules over the water/sugar mixture and stir through briefly. Allow this to sit on the counter for about ten minutes. The yeast will start frothing happily.
  2. While the yeast is having a party in a bowl, get out a much bigger bowl. Measure out your 1 kilogram of my bread flour mix and add it to this big bowl.
  3. Keep approximately 750 millilitres of tepid/lukewarm water at the ready. Take 250 millilitres (1 cup of that) and stir in 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) of salt chrystals. Stir until the salt chrystals have dissolved.
  4. Make a well in the centre of your flour. Add the 250 millilitres (1 cup) of salty water, the 100 millilitres of olive oil (or another vegetable oil) and the happy frothing yeasty liquid into the flour and stir through.
  5. Next, continue adding tepid/lukewarm water to the mixture and stirring it through until the dough resembles something between a scone dough and a cake batter. There is definitely no kneading involved in gluten-free bread making as there is no gluten to make the dough stretchy!
  6. Allow the dough to sit on your counter for about 30 minutes while it rises. In the meantime, grease three loaf tins. I would suggest you use those silicone non-stick loaf tins, as the softer dough and use of rice flour can make the end product a little difficult to get out of regular tin loaf pans.
  7. Once the 30 minutes has passed, divide the dough into the three loaf pans and allow it to rise for another 20 to 30 minutes. While this is happening, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 Fahrenheit) and shift the oven rack to the middle of the oven.
  8. Drizzle some vegetable oil over the top of each loaf, and use your (clean) fingers to spread it (gently and evenly) on the surface of each loaf.
  9. Bake the bread (there's nothing quite like the smell of freshly baking yeasty bread), one to two loaves at a time (I would definitely not recommend baking three at a time unless you have a fancy convection oven that distributes the hot air evenly throughout the oven) for 30 - 40 minutes. From 30 minutes, insert a cake skewer or kebab stick into the loaf every 5 minutes till it comes out clean.
  10. Leave the loaves in their silicone loaf mould/loaf tin for 10 minutes after baking before turning out.
  11. Slice with a sharp bread knife. 
  12. Best eaten fresh if sandwiches are what you're after. If not, then keep it wrapped in wax paper/tin foil once cool and keep it in the fridge. It goes quite hard but makes for excellent toast over the next couple of days.
  13. Although I have never tried, I suspect it could be frozen and thawed (for toasting) as well.
  14. Serve with the topping of your choice and, above all, enjoy the pleasures of eating homebaked bread!

Woolworths sells a great organic, sugar-free peanut butter.
The only ingredients are tasty, organic roasted peanuts!
This magnificent tea cosy was purchased for me by my darling husband from "Out of Alex" for R165. Not only is it handcrafted, but it works like a dream, keeping one's tea nice and hot for over an hour. Plus it's really easy to wash and supports an excellent cause. For a list of stockists, see their website. Simeon bought it for me from the Bryanston Organic Market (where the company has a stall) which makes for a wonderful Saturday morning outing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blueberry Flapjacks

A heart healthy sweet treat to celebrate love week.

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (15ml x 12) chickpea flour
  • 10 tablespoons (15ml x 10) potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml x 1) vegan rice protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml x 1) ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 - 2 cups (375 - 500ml) filtered water
  • 2 handfuls of blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) oil
  • your favourite jam
  • double thick cream (optional)


Method:
  1. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  2. Whisk in 375ml of water till batter is lump free. Add more water a little at a time if a thinner batter is required.
  3. Stir through the blueberries.
  4. Use a non-stick crepe pan, lightly oiled, to make the flapjacks. Flip when bubbling.
  5. Spread with yummy sweet jam and add some double thick cream for decadence.
  6. Bon appetit!

And to my bu: you make every day of the year love day! :)


Monday, February 06, 2012

Fragrant Jasmine Rice with Pumpkin, Peas and Arugula
















A quick (from start to finish in 20 minutes if you use pre-sliced/frozen vegetables) and tasty meal with a nice mix of flavours that compliment rather than clash. You would not believe it doesn't have butter in it, as the pumpkin lends such a rich and buttery flavour to the dish (so it's healthy too).
  • 2 cups of jasmine rice
  • 500 grams of diced pumpkin
  • 250 grams of frozen green peas
  • 40 grams of fresh rocket/arugula
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 large green chilli (optional)
  1. Cook the rice in salted water according to the instructions on the packet, which is usually approximately 20 minutes. Boil the pumpkin in the same water. If the pumpkin chunks are small enough, they'll be cooked within this time.
  2. About 7 minutes before the cooking time for the rice is up, add the green peas.
  3. At the end of the cooking time, drain any remaining liquid. Stir through the rocket/arugula and the olive oil. As you do this, the pumpkin pieces will break up and become mushy, adding a lovely butteryness to the dish.
  4. If you prefer an extra zing to your dish, use a kitchen scissors to finely slice in a large green chilli. If not, garnish with something mild like a herb of your choice or cherry tomatoes.
  5. Serves 4 - 6 people.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Crunchy Salad

I love finding new ingredients while grocery shopping.

Woolworths is now selling fresh julienned beetroot in small bags in the fresh vegetable fridge.

Beets are one of those maligned vegetables, hated by many due to their association with the bottled pickled variety. But fresh beetroot sliced thinly makes a crunchy, sweet and colourful addition to any salad.

J's Crunchy Salad
Serves two as a main salad or four as a side salad


  • 2 x 40g bags of rocket (arugula)
  • 1 bag of julienned fresh beetroot (approx. 4 small beets)
  • 240g tinned chickpeas (drained)
  • 75g raw pistachios (shelled)
  • olive oil
  • salt
Toss together, dress lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Enjoy.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Carrot and Apple Cake


In addition to gluten-free, I've been baking egg-free and dairy-free of late as well. This recipe is a great place to start if you're baking for someone who has multiple allergies or problems with cholesterol.

I concocted the recipe using my Mom's gluten-free, egg-free banana bread recipe as a starting point, and playing around with egg and butter substitution.

My Mom generally substitutes half a large mashed banana per large egg in a recipe for sweet baking.

For sweet or savoury baking, I've begun substituting 1 tablespoon of whole flax seeds and 4 tablespoons of water per large egg in recipes.

You can also use chia seeds in the same proportions without needing to grind them first. They have the benefit of being milder tasting than flax seeds as well.

Egg-free doesn't have to be scary. Have fun with it.


Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge