Saturday, February 26, 2011

Space Shuttle Docking

The space shuttle docked with the International Space Station
at 21:14 SAST.
You can watch the hatch opening, space station boarding
and other general live goings-on at the
same links as on Thursday, 24 Feb (post below).

If you missed blast-off,
(and you're a bit of a space geek like my hubby and I)
there are some super cool pics available:


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery's Final Flight

Thursday, 24 Feb 2011
16:50 EST
23:50 SAST (that's for you, South Africans)

Check out all the action LIVE at
Spaceflight Now
or just press play below :-)

Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegetable Minestrone

Before the recipe, a lesson in etymology:

The word minestrone originates from the Latin word minestrare meaning: "That which is served."

You're likely to be familiar with the popular version of minestrone soup, which includes vegetables, beans, meat (and sometimes also noodles). But minestrones range from thick soups with heavily cooked-down vegetables, to lighter broths with vegetable pieces (sometimes with a meat and/or bean base).

Regardless of its modern day ingredients, the style of soup (or zuppa) is reported to have come from Italy, and belongs to the style of cooking called cucina povera (poor kitchen); meaning dishes which have rural or rustic roots. It's a make-do-with-whatever-ingredients-you-have-on-hand kinda soup, and I love it for that!

As a German proverb says:
"It's better to have no spoon than to have no soup."

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 450g butternut
  • 10 green beans
  • 1/8 tsp garlic flakes
  • 2 tsp salt crystals
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (whole)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves (whole)
  • 2 small, very mild green chillies (chopped with seeds)
  • Garnish: fresh basil and chives
  • Optional: raw cashew nuts and olive oil
  1. Chop all vegetables into small pieces and toss into a medium sized pot.
  2. Add the salt, garlic flakes and very mild chillies. Also add the fresh rosemary sprigs and 8 basil leaves (whole).
  3. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover the vegetables and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the two rosemary sprigs, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh basil and chives.
  5. If you'd like to enrich the soup, you can drizzle it with olive oil and toss in a palmful of raw cashew nuts.
  6. This recipe makes enough for four people.
Buon Appetito!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Love Week, Day 5: Yoga Love

Today is February 18...full moon!

(photo taken at night on long exposure using a tripod)

It never really occurred to me before today that the moon is one of those strange cosmic forces which links the entire planet in such a way that we ALL experience the full moon on the same date.

I haven't been sleeping well at all the past few days, and when one of my yoga teachers suggested yesterday that we practise Chandra Namaskara or the moon salutation, I suddenly understood why.

No, I don't go so far as to believe that I am somehow linked to the moon's feminine energy, or some such thing. Instead, quite practically, I realised that I like to sleep in a dark room, and that the moon has just been so darn bright that I haven't been able to get to sleep with it shining through the white curtains! And when I finally have fallen asleep out of sheer exhaustion, my sleep has been so light that I wake up feeling really tired.

Ah, that strange and wonderful moon...tricky lady. :-)

Regardless, it felt good to honour the lunar cycle in flowing asanas...invigorating even (which was preferable, since four nights of sleep deprivation would probably have necessitated someone having to wake me up from today's Savasana!)

(a meditative corner in the garden of the yoga centre)

So here's a written salute to the bright lady - may she always smile her cheesy grin down upon us!

P.S. If you'd like to try Chandra Namaskara for yourself, Yoga Flavored Life has a nifty little set of stick drawings to help you through. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Love Week, Day 3: Food Love

Oven-roasted sweet potato wedges,
garnished with pecorino cheese and fresh chives,
served with homemade tomato sauce.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


"You can't wrap love in a box,
but you can wrap a person in a hug."

~ Author Unknown ~

(Love Week, Day 2: Art & Garden Love.)
(Sculpture on display in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens,
Cape Town, South Africa.)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts and Crafts

Happy Love Day!
(Start of Love Week, Day 1: Hubby & Craft Love)

This love hedgehog was a happy little handmade felt project gifty
for my lovable hubby on V-Day.

The template can be found here.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Martha Stewart's Banana Bread (Gluten-Free)

This comforting and more-ish banana bread stays moist for days; something of a feat for many gluten-free breads. The original, gluten-filled recipe can be found at

This was the first recipe where I didn't substitue cup-for-cup with gluten-free flour. Instead, I went and found a site which lists what the weight of a cup of rice flour is versus a cup of normal cake flour (btw, it's quite a bit heavier), and so modified the recipe accordingly. This handy trick allowed rice flour to stand alone as the flour of choice without dragging the recipe down to a heavy end-product. You live and you learn, right.

OR = Original Recipe

  • 113g/1 stick butter (room temp)
  • 75g sugar (OR: 1 cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 195g rice flour (OR: 1 and a half cups of cake flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (very ripe)
  • 125ml/half cup buttermilk (OR: 125ml sour cream)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (OR: 1 tsp vanilla)
  • 125ml/half cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius (OR: 350 fahrenheit).
  2. Butter a loaf pan.
  3. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and beat.
  5. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mix till just combined.
  6. Stir through bananas, buttermilk and nuts.
  7. Pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  8. Bake for around 1 hour 10 minutes, but start checking from 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven when a cake skewer comes out clean, rest in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out to cool.
Substitutions for eggs and nuts:

My thanks to Rahel from TX on her wonderful feedback and tips! Here they are:
- 2 heaping tablespoons of condensed milk in place of the eggs; and
- reducing sugar to 3/4 cup if using the condensed milk; and
- leave out the nuts!

    Monday, February 07, 2011

    Snapshot-of-life #16

    Whatcha doing?
    Nothing...just hangin' around.

    Sunday, February 06, 2011

    Snapshot-of-life #15

    Colourful postage stamps from a colourful country.

    Saturday, February 05, 2011

    Snapshot-of-life #14

    When you're three-and-a-half,
    even a stuffed frog dressed in armour
    is fair game for a sword fight.

    Friday, February 04, 2011

    Snapshot-of-life #13

    "I'm sorry I missed your last class," she said.
    I patted her shoulder and told her that it's ok, she's moving on.
    "Just like you," she answered without missing a beat.
    And just like that,
    the last two years of this chapter of my life drew to a close
    and it was time to go.
    When one door closes, right...

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    Snapshot-of-life #12

    "What are you drinking?" she asked.
    "Cocoa," I answered.
    "Ah, lovely. Made with milk and sugar?"
    "No, just cocoa powder, water and coconut oil."
    The look of disgust told me exactly what I'd always known -
    this was a beverage of acquired taste.