Friday, April 29, 2011

Feeling Fruity Friday!

Yay, it's Friday!
And for those of you out there obsessed with "royalty", then's also that day. Hazaa! ;-)

First off, I'd like to point out the new "Blogs" tab. Feel free to peek around in it when you have a chance.

Second (and third and so on), I wanted to highlight a few links I particularly enjoyed this week.

On the gluten-free baking front, Betty Bake served up a fantastic Chocolate Beetroot Cake; while Joyti of Darjeeling Dreams wandered into gf territory this week by rustling up a yummo flourless Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte.

If you're longing for a taste of somewhere exotic, look not further than the Coconut Streusel Coffeecake with Pineapple Vanilla Filling on offer over at Baking Obsession. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it?

Just a head's up: Coconuts are available in SA at the moment. We bought ours at Spar. Shake it to make sure it has lots of liquid in, then de-husk it and crack it open cave-man style!

On the fashion and funk front, no-one rocks a jumpsuit with more style than this lady right here. Her blog isn't called [oomph.] for nothing, you know!

In need of a chuckle? Gravy gets his gritty groove on at funnelcloud :-)

I picked out Uma Thurman's "Motherhood" the other day on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was! I highly recommend it for some weekend viewing if you haven't had the chance to see it yet.

Lastly, for those of you looking to add something a little different to their home library; Porti de Rossi's memoir of her eating disorder and recovery makes for some interesting reading. I've written a review here for your perusal.

If you'd like to purchase your own copy from Amazon, click the image below.

Have a great weekend! 
And if you're in South Africa like me, then have a great LONG weekend!

P.S. The space shuttle Endeavour's final voyage to orbit happens tonight (Friday, 15:47 EDT). If the live streaming of Discovery back in Feb was anything to go by, it should be awesome to watch lift off! ---> UPDATE: Launch scrubbed...won't happen beofre 16 May.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tales of Gardens & Basil Pesto

The rather unseasonal rainfall in the usually dry-by-now Autumn Highveld of South Africa has had a lovely effect on the garden. Rare bits of sunshine and a proliferation of public holidays have added to the garden magic which has transpired.

A previously unused corner of the garden was transformed into a circular winter vegetable patch, with radish and turnip seeds germinating in a record four days from planting.

Our roses are looking ever-so-pretty.

As are the azaleas.

The basil plants, grown from seed last summer, have blossomed into deliciously useful plants, regularly culled for salads and pastas. Knowing, however, that the frost is approaching and with a few regular snail visitors (that I am loathe to kill) leaving their mark, I decided that the time had come to harvest the lot and enjoy the benefits of homemade pesto (of which I am a committed fan - think Adam Sandler as Zohan with his hummus...'nuff said).

  • a colander full of basil
  • 100g raw cashews
  • 1 very, very large tub of grated parmesan
  • about 500ml of olive oil (not too peppery)
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice to cut the oiliness

  1. Strip the leaves off the basil and add to a food processor or blender. Take a moment to lament the fact that fresh basil season is now over, and that a whole lot of basil + hard work is about to = a few tiny containers of pesto.
  2. Add the raw cashews, and enough oil to get the "zhoeshing" started. A fruity olive oil is, in my opinion, going to serve you better than one with a peppery bite which clings to the back of your throat.
  3. Pour more oil in a thin stream through the lid of the blender/food processor while it's running till the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Stir through the parmesan and seasoning with a spatula, and then add sufficient lemon juice to supply the necessary "Nya!" know, the point that the tongue hits the top of your palate as your cheeks suck-in and your salivary glands do their thing...that's when it's ready.
  5. Glass jars or stainless steel tubs work well as storage containers so that plastic doesn't become permanently infused with pesto green.
  6. Proudly stand back and enjoy the fact that all the basil didn't go to waste by being frosted to death, or eaten by greedy snails, and then promptly make some pasta to eat your new stash with.
P.S. I've added a small write-up on Tina Fey's Bossypants to the Bookshelf tab if you're interested in buying the book.

P.P.S. Thank you for the comments I've been getting. I thoroughly enjoy reading them. Please don't hesitate, as every one is appreciated :-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Good Company & *purr*fect hot cocoa

To receive a surprise gift is a marvellous thing, 
especially when it's as delightful as this goodie bag 
I won in a giveaway from the fantastically quirky 

No, I'm defo not being asked to do this.
The gift is just too cute not to share,
and the company is so novel
that it deserves mention.

If you have ever covetously drooled over the pages 
of the UK Magazine Country Homes & Interiors,
then you'll thoroughly appreciate what
good shopping this online shop holds!

And so, I was gifted this oh-so-sweet matching
Gisela Graham Limited bag, purse and mug.
Très chic! :-)

Also from In Good Company are the recently purchased
ceramic Easter Bunny you see in my blog header above,
as well as the following plant pot mug with coaster
(which any gardener is going to love).
The coaster serves not only the regular
under-the-mug function,
but also keeps your beverage warm
if you place it snugly ontop of the mug.
Cool and clever, me thinks!

Now I realise that everyone probably has their favourite
homemade cocoa recipe,
perfect for the nippy Spring/Autumn weather,
but I thought I'd share my version nevertheless.

  • 1 tin of evaporated milk
  • 1 tin of filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • sugar
  • cinnamon stick or block of dark chocolate (optional)
  1. Heat the evaporated milk with the same amount of filtered water on medium heat until it just begins to simmer, being careful not to scald the milk.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.
  3. Add enough sugar to soothe your personal sweetness preference.
  4. For extra-chocolatey cocoa, put a block of dark choccie in the bottom of your mug before pouring the hot cocoa over it.
  5. For "spicy" cocoa, pour cocoa into a mug and then add a cinnamon stick.
  6. Makes two generous mugs of cocoa.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Then bring me my boots!"

I have an addiction for pretty Wellington boots.

I think somewhere in my psyche I harbour grand dreams of owning some sprawling manor house, with acres worth of fields on my doorstep that require stomping through with the requisite footwear.


* dreamy sigh *

 In the meantime, these lovelies are content to keep my tootsies warmly bundled in woollen socks as I tramp about my Winter garden, gingerly splashing water about.

Yes, Winter. 

While the rest of the Northern hemisphere bloggers wax lyrical about the bounties of Spring appearing outside their windows and in their kitchens, we South Africans (and others here on Mother Earth's Southern nether regions) brace ourselves for the claws of cold which are spookily wrapping themselves around early mornings and late afternoons.

So I cheer myself by thinking of my gum boots. My wellies. The foot attire which allows me to "Keep Calm and Carry On" as I trundle through this coming cool season.

For as the Irish proverb goes:
"“The man with the boots does not mind where he places his foot.”

My bucket boot list:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grilled Beef Mushrooms with Rice Salad

"If I grew mushrooms, would that make me a fun-ghi?" said Simeon with a smile before his post-grad graduation ceremony at the CTICC, where Denny Mushroom conference posters were stuck all over the walls of the convention centre.

So-called "beef mushrooms" make a wonderful substitute for meat on the braai, as they hold their own against the heat and retain their flavour well.

Grilled Beef Mushrooms:
  1. Brush mushrooms with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and fresh thyme leaves.
  2. Grill on a medium-hot braai for 10 - 15 minutes, turning often.
Rice Salad:
(serves 4)

  • 2 cups Basmati rice (uncooked)
  • 125ml Hummus
  • 125ml Basil Pesto
  • 1 tin Red kidney beans
  • 1 tin Butter beans
  • 1 large Green pepper (sliced into bite-sized chunks)
  • 4 medium Tomatoes (sliced into bite-sized pieces)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cook the basmati rice with salt according to instructions on the packet.
  2. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large serving bowl, add the rice; hummus; beans; peppers; and tomatoes.
  4. Stir together lightly and season to taste.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Loco For Cocoa



 Cocoa Brownies
* My brand-new, original recipe (created Tues, 5 April 2011)
* Gluten-free
* Nut-free
* Soft, cake-like interior
* Slightly squidgy, chewy exterior

  • 80g sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 35g olive oil
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 45g rice flour
  • 35g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp creme of tartar
  • 60 ml evaporated milk
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  2. Oil a 20cm length (approximately) rectangular ceramic dish. The dimensions of the dish I used to bake this recipe in were 23cm long x 13 cm wide x 4cm deep.
  3. Beat sugar and butter together.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Add in the remaining dry ingredients in one go, with the evaporated milk last. Only once all of these ingredients are in the bowl, give it a quick mix through with your electric beater, just enough to ensure there are no lumps.
  6. Smooth into rectangular dish. 
  7. Bake for 23 - 25 minutes, or just until a cake skewer comes out clean.
  8. This makes 8 medium slices.

Monday, April 04, 2011

"Let's go get some grindage!"

Simeon and I recently spent a divine long weekend in Chintsa East (or Cintsa, according to some), a small village on the Wild Coast of South Africa, in celebration of our 7th Wedding Anniversary (which is, in fact, today...4 April...Happy Anniversary, my bu - you rOcK!)

On our way from East London Airport to Crawford's Cabins in Chintsa, we spotted three cows, standing on a rock on top of a hill which seemed supremely odd. Of course, we had to stop and see what they were doing.

They appeared to be standing perfectly motionless, staring out across the countryside towards the sea. 
In the moment, a memory of an animated series I watched as a child popped into my head: The Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa. It was as if Marshal Moo Montana and his boys were standing looking out over the land, keeping wary eyes out for Terrorbull and his cronies.

We spent a funtastic weekend in each others' company, chatting; soaking up some rays; swimming in the sea; reading; enjoying the views; walking on the beach; canoeing down a river; playing pool; kite-flying and getting Thai massages (uhmm... ouch!) at the Prana Lodge Spa up the road. And then, all too soon, we were headed back to East London Airport.

Our GPS, loaded with the 'Surfer Dude' voice courtesy of Simeon, told us to: "Hang a left up ahead, open her up and see what's under the hood. Then follow the motor way and chill." 
So we did just that, and ended up at Zhong Hua restaurant, for some pre-flight sushi.

Prawn & Avocado California Rolls with Caviar, Salmon Fashion Sandwiches and Prawn Maki.
And so, after a nourishing meal for the body and weekend for the soul, we pulled into the airport parking lot revived. Surfer Dude greeted us warmly with:
"There's no need to thank me, dudes. It's who I am. It's what I do."