Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our Schatzi

Six years ago, a few weeks after our wedding (and after a few episodes of the 70s show), we purchased a tiny dachshund puppy and called him Schatzi. He is the furry light of our lives, a surrogate quadruped only-child with an eccentric personality brought on by being raised by two highly eccentric human parents.

He is a true delight to be around, fiercely protective of those he loves, and owner of the cutest over-sized, wrinkled front paws; velvety snout and soft ears. After he takes naps in the sun, the top of his furry head smells like sunshine.

To our great and unmeasurable grief, he has just been diagnosed with lymphoma. So, dear readers, I'm going to be taking a blogging/internet break to live in the moment, cherishing every precious moment with our little boy that I can.

We have him on the best raw diet, supplements, homeopathy and cortisone treatment available, but have decided not to subject him to the endless vet visits, needles and pain that chemotherapy would entail. As a very humane vet we know told us:
"Dogs live in the moment. They can't understand why they are in pain."
So we've decided to focus on keeping him as healthy as possible for as long as possible, and to just make whatever doggily days he has here on earth as fantastic as possible!

We don't know what the future holds - we're hoping beyond all hopes that he will be one of those cases that confounds medical knowledge by living way beyond his prognosis. And we're praying that if there's a sausage-shaped miracle to be handed out by God, that it'll be Schatzi's for the taking.

Join us in that fervent prayer for him, please.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Butternut-Chickpea Hummus Recipe

My fave post-work snack!


  • 1 small baked butternut
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tblsp water
  • salt
  • cumin
  1. Zhoesh ingredients together in a food processor.
  2. Serve on brown rice cakes with butter lettuce.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Aubergine Flower

1 - Slice.

2 - Fry in a little olive oil till soft (about 5 mins each side)
and sprinkle with salt.

3 - Serve as a flower with a centre of pesto
and a pollen dusting of Danish feta.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Treat: Chickpea Brownies

Sounds gross right? WRONG! This is awesomeness on a plate. Don't ask me how this turns out so yummy - it just does!

Discovery? Browsing for recipes with garbanzo beans, I found this base recipe at Group Recipes and then set out to make it decadent without being loaded with fat.

The result? Adjectives uttered that you want any good brownie description to include: moist, rich, chocolatey... See below and surprise your taste buds by making it!

My Garbanzo Bean Brownie Recipe

Brownie Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb + 1/2 tsp creme of tartar
  • Zhoesh all ingredients in a blender/small food processor.
  • Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 20 mins in a buttered square baking dish.

  • Melt two tablespoons each of butter + milk + sugar on low heat till sugar is dissolved. Then stir in two tablespoons of cocoa powder.
  • Pour icing over brownies and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Born-up-a-gluten-free and have a grand weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Basiliciousness part two!

This recipe isn't really much of a recipe at all. It's just an amalgamation of two intense flavours tempered with little "toasties" :-)

To make:
  • Zoesh about 8 tomatoes in a food processor and then simmer them on the stove for ten minutes with some salt.
  • Garnish with fresh basil (in fact, just after this photo was taken, I threw in a whole handful of basil leaves and it was sublime!)
  • Top with a mini gluten-free "toastie" (recipe below), which are just slices of day-old homemade potato flour scones drizzled with olive oil and grilled till crispy in the oven. (Crumbled cream crackers, croutons or melba toast would make a great substitution if you're blessed enough to be able to eat gluten).
Makes 12

This recipe comes from a TV show which used to air on South African TV when I was little called "Kideo", presented by the lovely Natasha Sutherland (the ex-wife of that philandering, ridiculously corny singer, Steve Hofmeyr) and a talking donkey puppet called Mr Chinwag!

You cannot ask for a simpler, more reliable recipe, which makes soft, delicious scones when baked with cake flour. Obviously, having to de-glutenise the recipe changes things a little.

Yes, the recipe is still reliable. Yes, the scones are still mouthwateringly soft WHEN EATEN STRAIGHT OUT THE OVEN AND STILL WARM! As soon as these reach room temp and you've only used potato flour, they get rigid. BUT that's what makes them perfect for slicing and grilling into "toasties", so it's a win-win situation :-)

  • 2 cups flour
  • (if you're using normal cake flour made from wheat OR a gluten-free cake flour mix which you can substitute cup-for-cup, follow recipe as is. However, if you are using only potato flour, you will need to allow for about 1 cup of milk or just over).
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb + 1 tsp creme of tartar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Beat egg & mix all ingredients together with a spoon.
  2. Bake in a buttered cup-cake pan for 12 - 15 minutes (or till golden) at 175 to 180 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


My twenties have brought with them a taste for fresh basil that my teens did not harbour. I am an avid balcony gardener, and proudly nursed a fledgling basil plant to glorious and riotous bloom right through the highveld Winter of 2009 (a miracle in itself, apparently, when even Keith Kirsten says to rip 'em out and start fresh in Summer), only to have a garden critter who likes the taste almost as much as hubs and I decimate it a month before Spring. The joys of pesticide-free gardening, right?

So the fresh basil for today and tomorrow's recipes comes courtesy of a friend and colleague of mine, Carolina, who gifted me with a large ziploc bag full of beautiful basil before Winter gets its claws in.

Cheesy Sweet Potato with Leafy Greens

  1. Scrub sweet potatoes and bake, wrapped in tinfoil, in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 60 minutes.
  2. Once soft, slice open about three-quarters of the way through, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and insert a slice of Gouda cheese. Pop the potato back in the still-warm oven for about 5 minutes till the cheese is melted.
  3. Serve on a bed of salad greens (I used sweet iceberg lettuce, fresh basil and cucumber slices).
  4. Born-up-a-gluten-free-tree!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


My new-found enthusiasm for fitness has culminated in a more open-minded approach to exercise. Since it's my week in-between the finished boot camp and the next one (yes, I signed up for a second one), I'm trying to keep up my fitness levels.

My brother, a life devotee to exercise/fitness fanatic of note, who has completed such hardcore sporting events as the Comrades Marathon and Ironman South Africa, has recently started supplementing his swimming and boxing training with kettlebell workouts. As such, he offered to introduce me to this rather odd workout and I thought that this week was a good time to try it out.

Apparently, the origins of kettlebell use are obscure, with the Russians believed to be the ones to popularise it, while the robust heaving and throwing nature of Scottish Highland games hint at the possibility of something similar being developed in the Celtic culture. Either way, kettlebell training seems to be quite du jour in the US, with proponents such as Pavel Tsatsouline and Mike Mahler pushing the overall strength-cardio benefits of this workout form.

Using a 7kg kettlebell, I did 10 rounds of a beginner's kettlebell progression workout my bro brought along for me, which I've uploaded here if you'd like to try it for yourself. If you do a web search for kettlebell training/workouts, you are bound to find a website (or twenty) which demonstrates the form of these exercises via video uploads.

Verdict? It was an enjoyable 30-minute workout which left my heart pounding and my shoulders aching. And while I wouldn't say that I was hooked by this workout form enough to run out and buy my own kettlebells, I would highly recommend it for anyone who is bored with their hum-drum gym routine and wants a strangely robust new challenge which makes you feel as if you're getting in touch with your prehistoric genetic roots. :-)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Perfect Potatoes v. 2

Fun to eat, these potato "subs" are perfect
eaten like a sandwich!

  • Bake a few small - medium potatoes in the oven for 45 - 60 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Allow to cool slightly, slice open three-quarters of the way through, sprinkle with low-fat feta cheese and garnish with a baby spring onion.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Weekend treats

I'm celebrating my last day of four-weeks of hour-long, five-day-a-week, early-morning boot camp classes with one of my favourite things for a weekend treat - cocoa dressed up as a baked good.

I chanced upon this excellent recipe one day when all I had in the way of gluten-free flour was potato flour. Since potato flour likes to be baked with friends, I figured that I needed to find a recipe which minimises flour usage. I immediately thought of brownies.

The original recipe is over at Joy of Baking filed under healthy, low-fat desserts; but I've reduced the sugar content substantially, de-glutenised it and have used real butter/sour cream (I'm SO not one for using low-fat/artificial substitutions because I figure that treats are supposed to be exactly that - TREATS - not soulless imitations of the real thing!) Therefore, I am by no means asserting that these are low-fat, but rather lower sugar and lower fat than, say, a normal cake recipe. As always, moderation is key I suspect.

Quick tip: These are beyond excellent frozen. Yes, that's right, eaten right from the freezer after being frozen for about 12 - 15 hours. It's like some sort of ice-creamy-biscuity-chewy effect which is quite the taste sensation. Try it - you might like it :-)

Chocolate Brownies

  • 80 grams sugar
  • 75 grams butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg
  • 45g flour (I used potato flour)
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb + 1/2 teaspoon creme of tartar
  • 60 millilitres (4 tablespoons) sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  2. Butter a 20cm square pan/oven dish.
  3. Beat sugar & butter together.
  4. Beat in egg & vanilla.
  5. In a seperate bowl, mix together flour/cocoa/raising agents.
  6. Fold flour mix into sugar/butter/egg mix.
  7. Stir in the sour cream.
  8. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (till edges pull away from tin slightly, but centre is still soft).
  9. Remove once cool & place on a wire rack to cool OR leave it in the glass baking dish pre-portioned and loosened, cover with foil/cling wrap and freeze (can be frozen for 1 - 2 months apparently, but it wont last that long unless you have the iron will of, well, Iron Man?)
  10. Makes around 6 decadent slices, or 12 littler ones, which I can't handle because it seems cruel to dole them out little-by-little.
Born up a gluten-free-tree and viva cocoa-filled weekend treats!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Perfect Potatoes v. 1

Craving salty crisps?
Wanting something satisfyingly delicious without ingesting too much sodium and oil?
Go for the real deal: the root (so to speak) of the item - blessed potatoes.

Step 1:
Scrub potatoes well coz those peels are staying put! Chop and boil potatoes in salted water till soft, but still retaining their shape.

Step 2:
Saute one of these babies along with some onions in a little oil till soft.

Step 3:
Toss the boiled potatoes together with the sauteed peppers/onions. Sprinkle with feta cheese and garnish with a dollop of basil pesto.

Monday, March 01, 2010


It's a new day, a new week and a new month.

Focus for today? The market veggie produce I picked up and what to do with it without killing it's natural flavour.

First up: Beetroot.

I have noticed that many people seem to harbour an aversion to root vegetables (other than carrots), and perhaps that would be an aversion I shared if I thought the only way to cook such a vegetable was to boil it.

But nay - the secret with these hardy veg is to intensify their natural flavours (which are actually sweet, not bitter).

Best way to do that? Roast them!

First things first:

While the oven is pre-heating to around 180 degrees Celsius, scrub your beetroots (the skins do slip right off after roasting though, for those who don't like the texture), top 'n tail them and line them up on a baking sheet/roasting tray wrapped in tin foil. Roast for around 60 - 90 minutes, until nicely tender but still al dente when poked with a knife.



While the beets are roasting, pan fry some chicken breasts in a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper over low - medium heat.

Make some basil pesto by zoeshing together olive oil, fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan/pecorino, salt and pepper.

Let your roasted beets cool a little bit, then toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve with a tender chicken breast topped with basil pesto.