Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Feedback: gluten-free, egg-free chocolate cake recipe

I am SUPER chuffed! :-) 
A reader left marvellous feedback on my Mom and my's collaborative gluten-free, egg-free chocolate cake recipe (thank you!!)

I'm overjoyed it was so useful to her and her son, as I think it must be especially difficult for children who have many food allergies, as they can't partake in "regular" food with their friends (and may not understand why).

Check out her fantastic tips for incorporating dairy into the cake as well:

Rahel from TX said...

This cake is actually BETTER than a regular chocolate cake! Fantastic soft, crumb (no gumminess!) and great taste. It is the BEST gluten-free, egg-free cake I have EVER made since I started baking 4 years ago for my 5yr old with a lot of food allergies! I cannot thank you enough for posting it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! God bless you and your mom for sharing this recipe with the world :-)

These are my notes with some changes, mainly to incorporate dairy:
** about 60-80 ml milk instead of water
** 60-80ml (5 tablespoons) melted butter instead of vegetable oil
** instead of 200ml sugar, 120 ml sugar+60ml condensed milk, which is sometimes a good egg substitute for baking.
** I used King Arthur’s GF multi-purpose baking flour

Monday, June 27, 2011

Moer Koffie

If you're ever travelling in South Africa, and someone says to you: 
"Ek gaan jou moer!"  
make sure you either duck, run or have mad-ninja-skills because, basically, you're about to be hit really hard.

And that is indeed the verb usage of the Afrikaans word "moer".

Now what on earth, you ask, has that got to do with anything?

Well, moer is also used to describe a delicious coffee beverage that warms you from top to toes. It stems not from anything violent, but rather from the Middle Dutch noun moer which meant "a layer of sediment". This described the fact that the drink is made with coffee grounds not in a fancy coffee plunger, but rather simmered in an enamel or aluminium coffee pot on the stove or over a fire. It's served strained through a strainer, all deliciously sweet, strong, milky and addictive.

There are most probably many MANY opinions on what constitutes this traditional drink, but simple is always good, and here's my take on it.

An enamel mug (coated tin)
  • your favourite plunger coffee beans, ground 
  • filtered water
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • hot milk
  • needed: a stove-top kettle (or small saucepan) and a small strainer
  • Follow the instructions on the back of your pack of ground coffee beans for the correct water to coffee grounds ratio (as if you were making it in a plunger).
  • Add the right ratio of cold water and ground coffee to your stove top kettle or small saucepan.
  • Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Pour into a coffee cup (or traditionally, an enamel mug) through a small strainer to filter out the coffee grounds, and then sweeten using condensed milk to taste. Add hot milk to temper the coffee strength.
  • Variation: simmer the coffee WITH the condensed milk in the pot on the stove. Add cinnamon sticks for spice.
  • Enjoy with a buttermilk rusk (see recipe) for breakfast on the stoep (patio).
If you ever visit Cape Town, there's a market in Tokai called the Porter Estate Produce Market that serves moer koffie. I last blogged about it in 2009, but visited again this month, and wanted to share a couple of photos.

Cool wire art made from chicken mesh.
A tea and hot chocolate stall with a quirky design feature.
Boerenkaas (cheese) with cumin from the Constantia Cheesery.
Super cute Sally :)
The moer koffie stall...enamel pots, condensed milk and all!
The portly PEP pig logo.
Romanesco and sprouting broccoli for sale at the veggie stand.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Choose Day ---> Gratitude

Isn't incredible that almost half the year is gone already? I'm pretty sure I remember baking Christmas mince pies "just the other day"!

That being said, the past two weeks has seen me needing to dust-off my prayer boots for family, friends and friends-of-family. Interestingly enough, this time for quiet reflection and intercessory prayer coincided with a lack of ability to "get stuff done" because my right hand was quite out-of-action after the burning.

My bu always says that Tuesdays are Choose Days, and if that's the case, today is gratitude day...
Gratitude for my body's innate ability to heal itself, with fresh layers of pink skin growing up under a nasty burn.
Gratitude for my brother narrowly missing chopping off his one finger entirely in a freak light changing accident.
Gratitude for the cortisone which helped my Dad's gout attack brought on by the stress of his son landing up in hospital on a Sunday night.
Gratitude for my sister-in-law's medical test coming back all fine. 
Gratitude for family travelling through Christchurch narrowly missing the earthquake by a margin of minutes.
Gratitude for a child getting the help she needs after having a severe asthma attack.
Gratitude for my loving husband and family; my warm clothes and food; my bed to sleep in; my car to drive when so many, many people in South Africa (and the world) go without love, warmth, food, shelter, and transport on a daily basis.
Gratitude for the ability to use all my senses and limbs.
Gratitude for the faith that prayer holds, as well as the hope that prayer brings for the unsolved problems in this world that often times make you look around and say: "God, are you out there?"

Because at the end of each day, you have to believe in something. Make it good.

A few gratitude photos from the past fortnight:
The frivoloty of joining the Letter Writers Alliance and the joy of putting pen to paper for correspondence again.
All those rose buds blooming on one stem of the same rose bush that, a few short months ago, almost died from a fungal disease.
The magnet I made for my brother after he sent me a photo of his finger. The sentiment was as much for him as it was for me, because the photo was horrific.
The lunar eclipse from our courtyard, a reminder that this planet is very much a 3D object in a very large universe.
Beautiful roses from my husband, an intrinsic romantic, brought home for me as a "get well" gift.
A custom order finished for a new life about to enter this world, with every hand stitched inch of it celebrated as I could bend my hand fully again.
The last of our turnip harvest, a funny and misshapen thing to be sure, but it tasted so good in a warm bowl of vegetable-basmati rice shared with my sweet heart :)
The lovely grain of the wood on the work bench my bu planned and hand made from scratch. He's been talking about it for years, and finally made it....and it's nothing short of fantastic!
 P.S. Today, at 17:16 UTC, the June Solstice occurred. High fives to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere that we are past the mid-point of Winter!

Friday, June 17, 2011

SPECIAL: Girl's African Shwe Shwe Fabric Booties


It's Summer time in the Northern hemisphere, and these bright and light cotton shoes are perfect for allowing little toes to stay fashionably cool and breezy! 

10% of the proceeds from the sale of this pair of booties goes to the 

Size 2 (3 - 6 months)
Now only $7.00 (R48)!

Available to buy using PayPal here
Available to buy using credit card or EFT here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tasty Gluten/Egg/Corn/Nut-free Pizza

South Africa being the unique country that it is, shopping aisles took a long time to catch up to food allergies. I think back to 2005, the year I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, when the only gluten-free flour available on the shelves was sorghum meal (masquerading as Maltabella porridge). I baked a batch of muffins using that, and recall that they were "killer" for all the wrong reasons.

Thankfully, times have changed. And while pre-made gluten-free items are still over-priced and under-yummy, the availability of a grand variety of gf flours means that the opportunity exists for one to take the plunge into the world of allergy-free baking.

Enter my new-found, magic flour combo. First, I mixed a little bit of each of the flours below with some water and used a teaspoon to taste each one for bitterness and after-taste. Second, I used the 700:300 flour ratio suggestion from gluten-free girl and the chef. Third, I combined the flours according to my preferred taste quotient and came up with my new favourite all-purpose gluten and corn-free flour.

Here's the recipe for my magic flour mix:

400g white rice flour
200g sorghum flour/meal
100g millet flour
300g potato starch

Now, using this flour combo, bring on the pizza!

I used as my starting point the "Thin-crust pizza base" recipe from Jacki Passmore's
Gluten Free Bible: Delicious gluten-free food (Bible (Penguin))

Ingredients (modified from original recipe):
  • 2 x 10g sachets dried yeast
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 2 cups gf plain flour (I used my magic flour mix)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with a quarter cup of lukewarm water. Stir through and let it sit for 10 minutes to make the yeast all frothy and happy.
  2. In a deep bowl, mix the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre, and add in the yeast + water, as well as the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Then use one cup of lukewarm water and add it bit by bit (you probably wont use the whole cup, so please don't pour it in all at once) while you stir till you get a dough that is soft, but not sticky. Don't worry if it's a little too much on the sticky side, because you can always add a little flour in to bring it back. Also, bear in mind that you're not going to knead this dough, so don't expect it to look like a ball of tough, gluteny dough.
  4. Cling wrap the bowl and leave it to stand around for 30 minutes until some rising action has happened.
  5. Line a baking sheet with some non-stick baking paper, and spoon some dough onto the sheet. Use your fingers to smoosh it out to the desired shape.
  6. Brush the top with a little olive oil and bake at 220 degrees Celsius (428 Fahrenheit) for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted at the edges.
  7. For freezing: Allow to cool and then use pieces of baking paper in between pizza bases in a sealable container before freezing. You can reheat these from frozen under the grill in about 6 to 10 minutes.
  8. For eating straight away: top with your choice of toppings and enjoy!
Topping: Homemade Napoletana sauce, raw mushrooms, Danish feta cheese and alfalfa sprouts

Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all of you who commented with encouraging words and/or well wishes. Each one was much appreciated!

Thanks also to those of you who made the time to go check out heart.felt stuff.

Congratulations to Commenter # 11 (chosen by random.org), Carolyn from All Day I Dream About Food.

Your owl pin will be flying its way over to you soonest. I hope you, or someone else you know, will enjoy this little hand made clothes/purse accessory!  :)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Shop Launch and Giveaway

"If you never try, you'll never know what you are capable of."
~ John Barrow ~

I sat down to re-watch Julie & Julia yesterday after burning the back of my hand on the oven. I wish I could say I was cooking something, but the only thing cooking in the kitchen was (literally), me!

So after running my hand under the cold water tap and trying not to cry while my husband went to the pharmacy to get some burn cream, I sat down on the couch to watch the movie for the second time. The first time I watched it last year, I remember the 'blogging' theme being what I noticed the most. This time, however, it was Julia Child's character and her stubborn refusal to give-up on finding something she would enjoy doing while in France that jumped off the screen at me. And then I realised why.

I've been on sabbatical from teaching for a few months now, a profession that I ultimately love, but that I find physically and emotionally draining every few years and need to take a rest from (or risk giving it up for good, which I don't want to do). I've been fortunate enough to have the time to look around and, like Julia ask: "What is it I really want to do?"

For the first time in my life, I found my hands (literally) turning to needlework. I've never been an able needleworker....a piano player, a bad cellist, a chef, a mosaic maker, a gardener, a hugger, yes...but never a person adept at sewing. Then one day recently, with time on my hands, I picked up a needle, some thread and material...and I created something as a gift for someone which they actually liked...and so kept going.

At the suggestion of my bu and parents, I decided to launch my own online shop featuring my hand crafts. Lord knows, in the current economic climate, it's a risky and idealistic choice...I'm aware. But even so, heart.felt stuff was born! A little dream made real. 

Will it work? I don't know. 
But I know I need to try! 
Because if you never try, you'll never know, right? :)

Please celebrate with me by: 
  1. taking a look at my shop, and 
  2. by entering my giveaway for yourself or someone else, in which you can win a version of this little hand sewn stuffed felt owl brooch - perfect for adding a little quirkiness to an outfit, or a little bling to a purse! Just leave a comment below saying: "Hi" or something of the sorts, and make sure that I can get hold of you (either through your profile, or by leaving an e-mail address).

Comments will close on Monday, 13 June 2011 at midnight (UTC -12), which would make it 14:00 in South Africa on Tuesday, 14 June (UTC +2). 

The winner will be announced here shortly thereafter (using random.org), along with a post featuring a gluten-free pizza (and the flour mix it was made from) I discovered which will change your home made pizza life forever...I promise! :-)

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Fat Dog Cafe

An e-mail from my brother-in-law's wife arrived today, announcing their imminent departure from their home in New Zealand on a round-the-world tour before settling in Australia.
It got me to reminiscing about our visit to NZ last year, and a wonderful cafe they recommended to us while in Rotorua.

The Fat Dog Cafe and Bar sits off one of the main streets in Rotorua, a stinky little town due to all it's sulphurous hot springs with a wonderful forest, lake and Polynesian spa that makes up for the smell!

The place is wildly popular with the locals, which is always a very good sign. But while the lines are long, the service is quick and friendly, and there is always more than enough to be looking at. 

I mean, just take a look at the menu, scribbled delightfully on the wall in a multi-coloured profusion of options!

Table numbers aren't used there. Instead, it's a mish-mash of kitsch paraphernalia like turning flowers and plastic red duck tea-pots which take the place of drab old numbers! 
The array of dishes on offer is truly astounding, and yet labelling and knowledge is excellent in terms of what dishes contain/don't contain on the allergy front.
We treated ourselves to the Butter Chicken Curry served with a very unusual side salad (yay for people using root vegetables like beets raw and spiralised!)
We also tried the Kumara Wedges (like roast sweet potatoes), served sprinkled with spring onions (unusual) and with a sour cream dipping sauce (no tomato sauce/ketchup here!)

There is no part of this cafe that is boring....the wall, tables, chairs, roof....they're ALL fodder for artistic inclinations. And the end result is just one of sheer and utter fun!

For more photos, please visit my Flickr Set for the Fat Dog Cafe! Their cool water branding is truly something to behold. :)

P.S. If you're feeling shoppish, or giftish, please mosey on down to my new Etsy shop for some good deals...I'd sure appreciate it y'all!

P.P.S. I'll be back later this week for a giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled (which if you take it literally, could be terribly uncomfortable!)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Gluten-free, Egg-free Chocolate Cake

This recipe from my Mom is just wonderful. 
It never flops. 
It gives you the most moist and tender crumb around, and it stays soft for days. It's chocolatey and delicious without being too sweet either. 
You can whip it up from start to finish in under 35 minutes.
And best yet: when served to people who don't know it's gluten-free, and are expecting some sort of "different" taste.....all resistance crumbles!

Mom's Choccie Cake

Prep Time: 10 - 15 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 1 bundt cake (serves 8 generously)

  • 2 large bananas
  • 250ml gluten-free cake flour (e.g. in SA, Nature's Choice GF Cake Flour)
  • 125ml lukewarm water
  • 60ml vegetable oil (something neutral, like sunflower, works best)
  • 60ml cocoa powder
  • 200ml sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  1. Pre-heat oven to 178 degrees Celsius.
  2. Mash bananas with a fork in the bottom of a mixing bowl.
  3. Use an electric mixer to mix in the sugar.
  4. Add in the remaining ingredients, and mix until just lump free.
  5. Grease a bundt cake tin, or a rectangular baking dish (approx. 28cm x 17cm).
  6. Add batter and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, or until a cake skewer inserted comes out clean and the cake has pulled away from the sides ever so slightly.
  7. Remember, ovens vary in their hotitutdes, so err on the side of caution and check with a cake skewer/toothpick rather than relying only on time.
  • 80 grams of 70% dark chocolate
  • approx. 2 Tbsp milk
  • Heat on a low stove, stirring occasionaly, or use the microwave on a low setting to melt it slooowly (don't burn the chocolate...it'll make you want to cry!)
Born-up-a-gluten-free-tree (or bon appetit!)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

And the winner is...

Thank you to the eight of you that entered my first giveaway (1 in 8...those are pretty good odds!)

Thanks to RANDOM.ORG and their "True Random Number Generator", the winner of Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston is:


Congratulations oomph! Your book will soon be on its way to Hawaii :-)