In My Kitchen – September 2014

Yippee, it is officially Spring – days will be getting warmer and evenings will be getting longer – oh happy days.

Thanks to the lovely Celia’s over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, we get the opportunity to peek into so many wonderful and different kitchens every month.  If you haven’t already, why don’t you share a little of what is in your kitchen with us.

In my kitchen…

Are the most beautiful napkin / flower holders.  We originally only had 3 and my my sister-in-law Trish had the other 3 so I asked I could have her 3 – she lovingly obliged.  They originally belonged to our parents-in-law.  I would love to hear where they originated from.

napkin flower holders

In my kitchen…

Are an ever growing pile of matches which Pete collects from the various countries he visits.  Seems though, our Lion (not photographed) brand of matches are still the best.

Matches

In my kitchen…

Is a bacon, mushroom and leak creamy pasta – a fabulous dinner with plenty leftover for lunch.

Bacon, mushroom leak pasta

In my kitchen…

Is dried lemon grass which I found at Woolies.  I am looking forward to using it in a curry soon.

Lemon grass

In my kitchen…

Are drying peppadews – the seed with be planted soon and hopefully we we will have lots of peppadew baby plants.

Drying peppadews

In my kitchen…

Is a Mandy special – I never inherited my mom’s ability to arrange flowers.  I thought strelizia’s and red Brazilian peppercorn branches would make a nice display.  I will endeavour to get better.

Strelitias

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up.

Mrs Beeton’s Family Cookery

I am nearly back to normal and organised after my impromptu trip to catch up with your posts. :-) 

I was having so much fun reading through the first of the old books from my aunt that I launched straight into reading the second one; Mr’s Beeton’s Family Cookery.

Old cookery books

I really am taken back in time when I read these wonderful old books.

Unfortunately I could not find a publication date in this book.  I went to Google to see if I could find it but alas.  I did however learn Isabella Beeton wrote articles on cooking and household management for her husband who was a publisher of books and magazines – a great help in getting her books published and that she died at the tender age of 28 a week after giving birth to her fourth son.  It seems many of the recipes were actually plagiarised from earlier writers, but the Beetons never claimed any of the contents were original. The intention was as a guide of reliable information for the aspirant middle classes. “Mrs Beeton is perhaps described better as its compiler and editor than as its author, many of the passages clearly being not her own words.

Mrs Beeton's Family Cookery

The book has nearly 3000 recipes and includes sections on labour saving, household work, servant’s duties, laundry work, marketing, renovations, carving and trussing, the art of “using-up”, table decoration, table napkins, meals and menus and more.

I am so pleased they don’t write the way they used to, it was all very complicated.

Part of the Preface which is 3 full pages reads:

“Mrs. Beeton’s competitors have paid her the compliment of imitation and adaptation up to, and sometimes beyond, the limits that the lay and public alike proclaim its merits, and even the writers of romances of domestic life have recorded how it constantly rescues young housekeepers from perplexity and woe.”

I love that eggs have their own chapter of recipes and their is even a chapter dedicated to South African cooking although it was a first for me to read: “Many South African colonists consider the iguana – a large kind of amphibious lizard – a very welcome addition to the bill of faire, and say that the flesh of this reptile is anything but unpalatable.

There are so many anecdotes I want to share from this book but not sure what to include and what to leave out.  This is a whopper of a book with nearly 900 pages.

I had to giggle when I read the chapter on “The Housewife” under the organisation category: “Whether the establishment be large or small, the functions of the housewife resemble those of the general of an army or the manager of a great business concern.” Then under “A Woman’s Home” “should be first and foremost in her life, but if she allow household cares entirely to occupy her thoughts, she will become narrow in her interest and sympathies, a condition not conducive to domestic happiness.” My mouth was agape when I read in the “Management of Servants”: “Where there is a large staff or servant’s…” Clearly things have changed dramatically.

There is advice on buying a home which includes knowing what the composition of the soil is and to not be too fussy when looking for a home.  Goodness me!

When taking a house in a new locality, it is etiquette to wait for the residents of longer standing to call, thus evincing a desire, on their part, to become acquainted.  It may be that the mistress will desire intimacy with but a few of her neighbours.”  Not sure this has entirely the same connotation today.

In the event of your being invited to dinner, after calls have been made, nothing but necessity should prevent you from accepting.  If you really cannot accept, state the reason frankly and plainly.  Opportunity should also be taken to call in the course of a day or two, to express regret that circumstances made it impossible.  All so very formal and strict I’d say.

There are 24 pages as well as 4 pages of pictures covering household hints on how to clean,repair, renew and uses for anything from ball valves to tortoiseshell and velvet ribbons as well as what to do if your clothing or somebody is on fire.

Mrs Beetons mechanical laundering

We definitely have it easy now days with modern washing and dryer machines and electric irons.  All the hand-washing would not have been my idea of fun.

The Marketing chapter covers everything from where and when to purchase meats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, covers the quality of all meats, has sketches of the different cuts of beef, mutton/lamb and pork and provides guidelines on whether to buy large or small quantities of certain items as well as how to test the freshness of your larder and storeroom groceries.  There is also a guide on when foods are best, in season and at their cheapest and best.

The chapter on the cook covers very strict instructions on the importance of early rising, preparation of meals, kitchen duties, importance of cooking, how to dress and be economical and advice on how to be efficient in the kitchen.

The Kitchen chapter covered everything from the construction and arrangement of a kitchen to equipment, fittings (including the ceiling), furniture with a detailed explanation on which is the right kitchen clock, various cooking methods, and the carious ways of heating – electricity, coal, oil etc, culinary utensils and their care as well as a list of kitchen utensils.

Mrs Beetons kitchen utensils

The Art of Cookery chapter leaves nothing to the imagination as it encompasses everything from reasons for cooking, action of heat, constituents of food, the nine methods of cookery, quantities and measures, table of equivalents as well as a comprehensive cook’s time-table.

The recipes cover many chapters and I hope to share a few iconic recipes when I can.

The book even has a chapter on table decoration with all the do’s and dont’s.

The last chapter is dedicated to table napkins with 12 pages on the various ways of folding napkins:(The Bishop, The Fan, The Boats, The Palm, The Lily, and the Cactus, The Slipper, The Rose and Star, The Mitre, The Cockscomb, Fleur-De-Lis Varieties, The Boar’s Head, The Sachet and The Vase) “It must, however be remembered that it is useless to attempt anything but the most simple forms unless the napkins have been slightly starched and smoothly ironed.  In every case the folding must be exact, or the result will be slovenly and unsightly.  If not quite certain how the designs are executed it is better to practise on a piece of paper rather than to risk soiling a napkin.

Mrs Beetons napkin folding 1

Mrs Beetons napkin folding 2

Mrs Beetons napkin folding 3

The interior front and back covers as well as the last few pages of the book have advertisements.  I wonder what it cost to place an ad?

Rumford Complete Cook Book

I am away on an impromptu trip at the moment so please ignore my lack of visiting your blogs.  I will be back next week. :-)

Old cookery books

I was thrilled the Rumford Complete Book Book was on top of the pile as it is the one with all the handwritten recipes in my gran and great-gran’s handwriting!  What a nostalgic and wonderful treasure to be able to hold and read them!

Rumford Complete Cook Book

A few of the recipes make reference to measurements in teacups – not quite sure what that equates to in today’s terms.  I might find out in one of these wonderful old books.

old family recipes

I soon learnt that Rumford is a brand of baking powder and they are still going strong today.  The book was written by Lily Haxworth Wallace, a lecturer, teacher and writer on domestic science for the department of home economics of the Rumford Company.  The book was first published in 1908 – 106 years ago!

Rumford
The Wholesome
Baking Powder
Best of the High Grade Powders
Made of the genuine Professor Horsford’s phosphate, it restores to the flour the nutritious properties absolutely necessary to health, of which fine wheat flour has been deprived in the process of milling.  Professors Horsford’s phosphate is made by us solely for our own use, none being sold for use in any other baking powder.

Part of the Preface reads: “It is not claimed that these recipes are all new.  Some are original; some the gift of friends who have experimented till good results were obtained; some are old family recipes, never before printed; while others are standard rules that have stood the test of years and are still at the head of their respective lists.  However, all have been tested and may be used by the novice and the same certainly of success as when the ingredients are combined by the experienced cook.”

They must have had very small wine glasses back in the day as 4 wine glassfuls were equivalent to 1 cupful.  I reckon 1 of my wine glasses would equal 3 cups.

A common ingredient through the book was orange being used in everything from omelets to cream pies and steamed puddings with prunes also being a prominent ingredient as well as breadcrumbs and oysters and all the recipes used a minimum of ingredients and none of the recipes mentioned what temperature the oven should be set at.  Guess a moderate oven was the flavour of the day.

I love that the end of each chapter had a few blank pages headed Memoranda, similar to the idea of what I put in my book. :-)

There is a chapter dedicated to recipes for the sick and advice includes: “Have all hot beverages brought to the door of the sick room in a covered pitcher, then poured into the cup, thus avoiding the danger of spilling liquids into the saucer while carrying them to the patient.  When liquid foods are given, other receptacles than those for medicine should be used, as the association of the two is often times unpleasant.”

“Be very careful to keep such foods as milk, beef tea, etc., covered while in the refrigerator, to avoid contact with other or more odorous foods.  If the refrigerator has more than one compartment reserve one exclusively for the use of the sick room.”

What a lovely old book.

International Scone Week 2014 – Afternoon Tea Scones

The lovely Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts our International Scone Week each year.  It started back in 2011 when Celia and her friends Heidi, and Joanna decided it would be a great thing to do annually and I agree.

Last year my mom was visiting and I remember us enjoying the rustic olive oil scones for our lunch.

Afternoon Tea Scones 1

I turned to the old books my aunt lent me for this years recipe.  I decided on the recipe with the least amount of converting – it was only after the fact I found out a ‘gill’ is equivalent to half a cup so may have used another recipe.

Afternoon Tea Scones 2

These are small scones and baked with a slightly raised dome.  They have a lovely light crumb and are delicious with strawberry jam and lightly whipped cream.

Afternoon Tea Scones

from Mrs Beeton’s Family Cookery book

Ingredients

125g flour
30g butter
1 tbsp castor sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg lightly beaten
±30ml cold water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. In a bowl, lightly rub the butter into the flour.
  3. Add the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in the egg and water to form a soft dough.
  5. Gently pat the dough out on a floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thick and cut out 8 small rounds.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.

Afternoon Tea Scones 3

In My Kitchen – August 2014

Yippee, just one more month to go until Spring.  I shall be counting the sleeps, but before we get there, here is what is in my kitchen this month.

In my kitchen…

Is a belated birthday gift from my folks.  I have been wanting a tier cake stand for a long while but couldn’t find a plain white one until I nearly tripped over one a couple of weeks ago, plus it was the last one in store (other than the display) so it must have been waiting for me.

Cupcake stand

In my kitchen…

Are egg cups.  These are something else I have been searching for and every person I ask seems to think I am mad and repeat back to me, “egg cups, you are looking for egg cups?”.  Clearly we are the only household left who enjoys boiled eggs with toast fingers.

Egg cups

In my kitchen…

Is some of the wine which I meant to share with you last month.  We bought these when we were at the wine estate.  I love that these are part of Graham Beck’s Game Reserve campaign.

Graham Beck game reserve

In my kitchen…

Is the best champagne sealer I have ever come across.  This one allows you to seal a bottle super tight by turning the handle.  The more you turn, the tighter the seal as opposed to the other clip on versions which don’t work quite as well.

Champagne sealer

In my kitchen…

Are tea-light stands.  They add a lovely low light elegance to a dinner table.

tealight holders

In my kitchen…

Are beautiful old cookery books which my Aunty Christine was kind enough to share with me for a while.  I want to read each book page for page – never know, I may even do a series on one of these, like I did with our very much loved Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book.

Old cookery books

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up.

The Value of a Smile

My Aunty Christine gave me this lovely message which she received from a friend in her bible study group.

Smile

These are my pearly whites from a shoot I did for a newspaper ad for a tile company what feels like a lifetime ago.  The companies slogan was, “The personal service of our sales consultants, our technical staff and our deliveries, will give you a lot more to smile about”.

A smile is nature’s best antidote for discouragement.
It brings rest to the weary, sunshine to who are sad
and hope to those who are hopeless and defeated.

A smile is so valuable that it can’t be bought,
begged, borrowed or taken away against your will.

You have to be willing to give a smile away
before it can do anyone else any good.

So if someone is too tired or grumpy to flash you a smile,
let them have one of yours.

Nobody needs a smile as much
as the person who has none to give.

It really is a beautiful and simple message, one which we are all capable of giving.

Teavive Tea

Please excuse my lack of visiting your blogs, I am in the midst of a few projects taking up my time.  I will catch up with you all soon again.

Alison at Teavivre in China contacted me and asked if I would like to test some of their Chinese green teas.  Naturally being the tea enthusiast that I am, I jumped at the opportunity.

Teavivre tea 1

I have had Chinese tea before with the most enjoyable being jasmine tea so was excited to receive my samples and was eager to get taste testing.

Please bare in mind the following is my layman explanation of these teas.  You can view the Teavivre website for any health benefits, caffeine content, their origin and pricing etc.

I noted these teas are meant to have a sweet undertone and mostly an orchid aroma.  I found them all to be what I would call savoury.

Teavivre tea 2

First up was the Bi Luo Chun Green Tea (Pi Lo Chun)

Bio Luo Chun Green Tea (Pi Lo Chun) 1This tea had an asparagus, lentil, bean nose and had a slightly bitter taste with faint jasmine undertones.
Bio Luo Chun Green Tea (Pi Lo Chun) 2

Second up was the Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Tin Green Tea

Lu Shan Yum Wu Green Tea 1 I got the aroma of cooked green beans mixed with potatoes and it tasted like lentils.Lu Shan Yum Wu Green Tea 2

Then it was onto the Lu Shan Uum Wu Green Tea

Non Pareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea 1 Only South Africans will understand when I say this tea smelt like samp and beans and tasted exactly like samp and beans too.Non Pareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea 2

Next up was the Non Pareil te Gong Huang Shn Mao Feng Green Tea

Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea 1 This smelt like kelp and tasted like what kelp smells like.Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea 2

Finally it was The Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea

Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea 1 There was a very slight fishy and seaweed nose with a grassy taste.Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea 2

I was not remunerated or asked to do a review on these teas. I did a this post as a courtesy after receiving the tea.

One foot in front of the other

Some days I feel I could conquer running 10km no problem, other days, well I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other to finish my 5km circuit; funny how we have “on” and “off” days.

Running stuff

All my running paraphernalia minus my ipod – oops, forgot it charging

I have been doing this running thing now for 8 months – can’t believe it’s been that long.  Thought I would have been doing much better by now, then again, I’m not sure what or who I am supposed to be comparing myself to seeing as I had never run before.

My first goal was to run an entire kilometre without having to walk and then work my way to doing a 5km route under an hour.  I have successfully achieved both targets and now run my full 5km route in just over 35 and a half minutes.  Trying really hard to crack the 35 minute mark.

I mentioned previously I started running with heavier arm weights as the arms need as much help as they can get!  Seems though I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew as I start getting aches and pains in my lower back – almost stitch like plus the heavier weights have slowed my time down – updated plan is alternating between the heavier and lighter weights.

I am also changing my routine for a while to see if it will improve my times from a 6 day running week to a one day on one day off – I feel like I want to start climbing the walls when I don’t run so will see how I go with the new schedule.

The latest bit of unsolicited advice I received was, “You know you are killing yourself and you are ageing yourself with all this running.”  Well, aint that grand!  I am running 5km, not 100km!  Shame, poor old man is only trying to be helpful I guess.  He also wants to stop me running and chat for half an hour while he is out for his walk and insists on flagging me down for a chat.  I just smile and wave as I pass him now.

The strangest of things come to mind while I run and I keep telling myself to put it on the list when I get home or make the call or whatever it is and as you can guess, I don’t remember any of it when I get home, except for when I am out running again.  Might have to keep pen and paper with me – haa.

I still haven’t done a morning run – I know, can you believe it.  It will have to wait until the weather starts warming in the mornings before I venture out – great excuse to keep putting a friend off who reminds me most weeks to join in with a Parkrun – not entirely sure why I keep putting it off – don’t feel I am a proper runner yet I guess.  Geoff, I promise I will do a parkrun with you soon-ish. :-)

How is your exercise routine going?

A trip to Addo in our new SUV

The day after we got our new “truck”, we decided to head into the park.  Only thing is it was hands down the windiest day of the year, the kind of wind that shakes you to your core.  It took the better part of 2 hours to get our new chariot clean inside and out after our adventurous drive.

Trok

You can see the wind blowing on the dunes in the background in the photo below.  Seems some animals weren’t too perturbed by all the gusts blowing up and down.  They were all to happy soaking up the warmth of the sun and grazing on the long grass, no doubt tickling their noses as it blew left to right.
Addo June 2014 1

We followed a lone buffalo for a while and it was interesting to see how he walks and eats – not even stopping to take a bite – a true meal on the run.  It almost looked like this fellow suffers from alopecia with his coat all blotchy.Addo June 2014 5

We came across two “teenage” elephant bulls having a little tussle.  Not sure it was anything serious but they were testing each other’s resolve and strength and it seemed the smaller of the two was the feistiest running his mate into the bush.Addo June 2014 16

We were reminded of the true wildness in the park when we came across a kudu head and horns with the spinal column still attached.  This must have been a large bull looking at his horns.  A male kudu’s horns start to grow between the age of 6 and 12 months, twisting once at around 2 years of age, and not reaching the full two and a half twists until they are 6 years old – occasionally they may even have 3 full turns.Addo June 2014 24

On route out we went past a couple of families of meerkat.  They were all busily looking around standing up on their hind legs, scanning the horizon for any predators.  I wasn’t quick enough to get a decent photo though before they scurried back underground to safety.Addo June 2014 27

We also spotted this bottom jaw which we thought to possibly be from an elephant but aren’t too sure.  Do you possibly know what it is from?

Addo June 2014 32

In My Kitchen – July 2014

I was worried that by the time July rolled around we would be freezing.  I am pleasantly surprised  to say that for the most part we only have the odd really cold day with loads of berg winds in between.  Long may it last.

In my kitchen…

Are two fabulous Kenyan teas which Pete brought back for me on his last trip there.  It is hard to choose a favourite but like I have said before, I could move to Kenya for their lovely tea.

Kenya tea 2

Kenya tea 1

In my kitchen…

Is clearly very strong Kenyan coffee because even the picture is blurry.  The aroma of this coffee is intoxicating and the flavour is very deep and rich with lovely earthy undertones.

Kenya Coffee

In my kitchen…

Is another blurry photograph – clearly I have a little sugar rush from enjoying one too many of these wonderful little morsels.  These have been a standard Duty Free item since we can’t get these addictive chocolates in SA any more.  Sadly they don’t last very long in our home.

Daim chocs

In my kitchen…

Are mini spicy cherry liqueurs, a product of Namibia.  I keep forgetting to taste one so have no idea what they taste like.  I am sure though, they will warm the cockles of your heart on a cold Namibian winter evening.

Cherry liquer

In my kitchen…

Is my latest addiction.  I found these heavenly morsels as a treat for Pete but alas I polished all 4 packets before he even got home!  They are so good I called the company who make them to compliment them on their product and they kindly sent me a voucher for 8 more packets!  Oh dear, I see extra running in my future to compensate for the increased calorie intake!

Diddle daddle

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up.

Quick Coconut Chicken Curry

This is the ideal week night meal when you want a quick,  tasty and satisfying meal.  It may seem like a long list of ingredients but it all comes together and ready for the table in the amount of time it takes your rice to cook.

Quick coconut chicken curry

Quick Coconut Chicken Curry

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seed bruised
½ tsp cumin seed bruised
½ tsp chilli flakes – more if you like it hotter
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece of ginger grated
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp brown sugar
400g tin coconut cream
4 chicken breasts sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the spices and gently fry for one minute.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, zest, stock powder and sugar and fry for one minute.
  3. Add the coconut cream and allow to reduce by one third.
  4. Add the chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with basmati rice.

 

Bits and Pieces

Apologies upfront for the bad quality photo’s in this post.

Pete and I enjoyed a lovely few days on a road trip away where I touched a 1000 year old yellow wood tree in the Tsitsikamma Forest…

Big Tree 00001

Imagine the stories this tree could tell!

and ran on a treadmill in a hotel gym for the first time.  I know, country bumpkin I am.  I haven’t had a gym membership for the better part of 2 decades and don’t live anywhere near a gym (great excuse) so until now, road/trail running has been it.

treadmill

Look at me go!

We also visited (sorry no pics) a wine estate in the hopes of getting some brut rosé bubbly but alas – it was insultingly expensive.  We thought it was due to there being a wine festival that weekend but on chatting with family and friends who have all visited wine estates over the last few years, all said that purchasing wines at local stores in all our provinces is much cheaper than buying directly from an estate!  That makes no sense.

The lovely Cristina over at The Blog Around The Corner , who writes about everything that inspires her from interior design, to travelling, cooking and photography awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thanks again Cris, it was such a lovely surprise receiving the award from you. :-)

The time had come to get rid of my beloved car as she was getting a little long in the tooth and to invest in a new one.

5 series

We enjoyed many happy miles together.  I will miss her.

Fortuner

All new and sparkly. This is a pic from the brochure – mine is far too dirty from playing on dirt roads yesterday to have her photo taken but looks exactly like this when clean.

There hasn’t been must to share on the cooking front, the cooler weather has necessitated comfort food. so we have been indulging in all our favourites – oxtail casserole, vetkoek and curried ground beef, braai’s (barbecues) and roast dinners.

I promise to share something tasty next week.

Garden Update

I mentioned to Norma over at Garden to Wok who does a weekly round-up of what she has harvested from her garden every Monday that I had recently spent the day in the garden tiding things, well more like ripping everything out and replanting selectively.  I promised to take a couple of photos to share what the garden looks like now before winter really settles in.

The bed below the dining room window was a mix and match of oddments, it is now dedicated to these lovely succulent roses.

Garden May 2014 5

Relaxing in the dappled shade from the fig tree branches

The aloe and succulents outside the front lounge window were getting very crowded and overgrown so much so the stones were all hidden.  Majority have been removed with a few of the bigger ones now evenly spaced.

Garden May 2014 4

Finally room to breathe

The clivia’s have all been moved to a mostly shady spot where they can thrive and hopefully flower.

Garden May 2014 9

Wonder what colour flowers they will produce…

These thing-a-ma-jigs (have no idea what they are called) have been planted as ground cover and will hopefully soon be filling in all the open spots of soil.  They also produce the most beautiful yellow flowers on long stems.

Garden May 2014 10

Having a chat with the air plant

Our lemon tree which we had to hack a while back is thriving again and is enjoying not being crowded by the roses any more.

Garden May 2014 8

Being guarded by two succulents with thing-a-ma-jigs ground cover for company

Clearly not all air plants need to be up in the air – ours slid down its wooden host and has settled nicely on the ground next to our garage.

Garden May 2014 6

Nice view up the driveway from the ground

A few odd bowls next to the front door.  Think they need a bit more attention than they received.

Garden May 2014 7

At least they are colour coded

This poor little birds eye chilli was dug up and transplanted into this pot.  Seems he wasn’t very happy about the move.  Hope he perks up soon.

Garden May 2014 14

CPR may be necessary

By the time I got to the back garden, I was exhausted so the ferns still require a little attention as you can see by all the brown leaves.

Garden May 2014 12

The wheelbarrow nursery also requires much needed attention.

Garden May 2014 13

A touch rusty but still very useful

How are things in your garden?

Pete and I are away for a few days.  I will moderate your lovely comments on our return and catch up with your posts. 

In My Kitchen – June 2014

It can’t possibly be half way through the year already!  I remember reading Celia’s IMK posts when we were living in Mauritius and promising I would join in just as soon as we got back home – that was 3 years ago!  Before any more time runs away, lets have a look at what’s in my kitchen.

In my kitchen…

Are strelizia’s aka bird of paradise, aka crane flower from the garden brightening up the cold days.

Strelitzia's

In my kitchen…

Was a fun gift idea of Pete’s which we put together for a friends birthday.  We used old tins, sea sand, plain white candles and glass lantern covers.  You can replace the tins with metal mugs, add shells or pebbles on top of the sand, use fancier candles, possibly add a ribbon.  We like the simplicity of these.

Candle lanterns

In my kitchen…

Is a lovely olive dish and forks, a birthday gift from my brother Chris and his wife Elmien.

olive dish and forks

In my kitchen…

Is an impromptu gift from my dad.  These biscuits are frightfully moreish!

Angels nougat biscuits

In my kitchen…

Is a new brand of coffee pods I found for Pete’s Nespresso machine.  I am wondering if they are a little more expensive being individually wrapped which doesn’t suit the container I keep all of Pete’s other pods in so these get forgotten in the cupboard.

Cafe Impresso pods

In my kitchen…

Is a cake stand, a gift from my cousin Renee.  I love the detail on the rim.

Cake stand

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up.

Garden of Eden, Knysna

Pete took me to the most beautiful place in the world – well the most beautiful I have ever seen –  The Garden of Eden in Knysna.  If you are ever in the vicinity, I highly recommend a visit.  It costs a mere ZAR12.00 (± USD1.15) per person with all the costs going to preserving the forest.

Walking through this mostly untouched dense indigenous forest rejuvenated my soul and I will definitely return to take more photographs – for a mini retreat if you will.

Garden of Eden 46 - Copy

– A beautiful path leading into heaven

Garden of Eden 2 - Copy

– Imagine a romantic picnic in this magical secluded spot

Garden of Eden 18 - Copy

– I wonder if is hobbits live inside these trees

Garden of Eden 8 - Copy

– I love the way this fern is growing out of the broken tree stump

Garden of Eden 3 - Copy

– I was fascinated by the moss

Garden of Eden 9 - Copy

– A very tall and very old yellow wood tree – the two in our garden look very different seeing as they don’t have to fight their way through the thick of a forest to find light

Where is the most beautiful place for you?

Running and Riding

Pete has been the most wonderful PT Master / Coach with my running and motivates me to keep improving on what I have already achieved.  Just before I decided to get some viral bug of sorts, we did a couple of runs and rides – they were awesome!

First up was a 20km ride which was mostly road riding – it was wonderful to see how my stamina has improved since I started running although not having ridden for quite a while, my derrière was not very happy.

7.54km run

It doesn’t look like much from the picture but these 7.5km were beautiful!

Then we did a 7.5km trail run which took us onto old closed roads, running alongside sand dunes, had us scaling fences and climbing up and over a few inclines.  Best of all was having a family (herd) of no less than 12 kudu ran across the trail a few meters in front of us.  They are quite majestic when they run considering they are such big antelope.  It was incredible to see them.  They were quite interested in watching us run passed with their big ears listening to our every step.  Pete keeps saying he wants to get a GoPro camera – that way I could share with you exactly what we see.

Long beach ride 1

Next up was another 20km ride which started on beautiful old overgrown dirt roads full of spoor and droppings, we assume kudu, smaller buck, no doubt bushbuck and small wild cats.  The winding gravel track led us to what we thought would be a deserted (or possibly private) piece of land with kilometres of private beach.  Lo and behold there were 3 parked 4×4 SUV vehicles with the occupants spread out on the beach fishing and picnicking.

Long beach ride 28

First prize to the person who can spot what should not be in the picture.

The only way onto the beach was down a very steep set of wooden steps which were easier to descend than I thought with a bike under one arm and camera under the other.  The ride on the beach was magnificent – we were confident we would find more whale bones but alas we did not.

Long beach ride 55

We rode on the low water mark where the sand is it’s hardest and then over rocks and pebbles until we had to walk our bikes over a few dunes back to another dirt road where we have ridden before – I remember the steep hills very well, only difference now is I am stronger and can traverse them a lot easier. Yay.

Last up was a 8.2km run which was just before I realised I had a bug.  It would have been the most brilliant run had I not been so tired.  I didn’t know I was as tired as I was until I tried to keep my pace as with previous runs.

Saddest part is the viral whatever it was (yes, I went to the doctor) kept me from running for a whole week!  It was pure hell I tell you.  I was climbing the walls not being able to hit the road for my run.  I am all better now and back into the swing of things.

How’s your exercise routing going?

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Dad always keeps interesting recipes aside which he finds in his Star newspaper for me to try when he and mom are visiting.  Angela Day runs a series of recipes with chocolate being the theme for Thursday 17 April 2014.

First on the agenda with the latest batch of recipes was a chocolate meringue pie which came in as winner with a unanimous vote.  Instead of making one pie, I opted for 4 smaller ones which worked very well for halving to share amongst 8 people.

Personally I would have preferred a softer centre and would add a minimum of 50ml extra cream – possibly even 100ml.  Overall though it is a lovely decadent pudding to share.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Ingredients

200g chocolate digestive biscuits crushed
80g butter melted
125ml chocolate hazelnut spread – (I omitted this)
300g dark chocolate
150ml cream – (I would definitely increase this)
125ml sugar
30ml water
5ml lemon juice
3 egg whites

Method

  1. Combine the crushed biscuits and melted butter and press into a 22cm pie plate or loose bottomed quiche tin (I used 4 smaller loose bottomed tins) and place in the freezer (I think the fridge is sufficient) to harden.
  2. Spread the hazelnut spread over the biscuit base or omit like I did.
  3. Combine the chocolate and cream in a bowl and microwave on a low setting for 1 to 2 minutes until melted and smooth.  (I melted the chocolate over a double boiler and stirred in the cream until combined once melted).  Pour over the base and refrigerate until set.
  4. Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn up the heat and boil until the mixture reaches 115°C on a sugar thermometer or test by dropping a little mixture into ice water.  If it forms a brittle thread, it is ready. (I took the saucepan off the heat just as the mixture started to colour).
  5. Just before the sugar syrup is ready, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer to form soft peaks.
  6. Once your syrup is ready turn up the speed on the mixer and beat the egg whites, slowly pouring in the hot sugar syrup and beat until the mixture is cool.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe blobs over the chocolate mixture.
  8. Use a blowtorch to brown the meringue or place the pie under a heated grill for a few seconds.

In My Kitchen – May 2014

May, my birthday month has arrived and so far it has not been too cold, yippee, although I am already starting to count the sleeps until Spring…

In my kitchen…

Is a set of broad shallow pasta or soup bowls.  There were dirt cheap so I quickly bought a dozen, not that I could seat 12 people for dinner but I couldn’t resist.  Never no, I might have a soup followed by a pasta course – just so long as there are only 6 of us at the dinner table.

soup pasta bowls

In my kitchen…

Is a batch of rusks ready to go into the oven.  The kitchen has the most wonderful smell while these are baking and drying.

unbaked rusks

In my kitchen…

Is the most magnificent chicken stock powder.  I used it when we lived in Mauritius and then my mom found it at a Chinese store in Johannesburg and has been keeping me in regular supply.  I use it to make liquid stock, add it into gravies for extra flavour, sprinkle it over a chicken before roasting and quite honestly could eat it straight from the tin.

Chicken stock powder

In my kitchen…

Is an organic quinoa.  Not sure it is any different to the previous quinoa I bought as quinoa on it’s own tastes pretty much like nothing but when made into a salad using the recipe I got from my sister-in-law it is an absolute winner.

Organic quinoa

In my kitchen…

Is an unidentified bone.   I may have asked this question before, so my apologies if I have.  Do you know what it is?  We found it on the beach so assume it has to belong to a sea creature of sorts.

unidentified bone

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun.

Running, running, running

A few more running bits and bobs.

5km route

This is my normal 5km route.                                                                                                                            The thicker lines are where I run the same section of road twice.

  • I have included wrist weights to my daily running in the hopes it will help the old arms a bit. *
  • I am very slowly in minuscule increments improving my times.  I was hoping I would have improved a little more by now but as Pete reminds me, at least I am being consistent.  I have managed to run 5.2km in just under 40 minutes (39min30sec)
  • Running is a really good stress reliever.  I cannot tell you how often I have been thankful I can go for a run after somebody has subjected me to their drama.
  • It never ceases to amaze me when people drive passed me or if somebody is in their driveway when I am running by, how they all seem to get a kick out of yelling “come on, faster, lift those feet”.  Why do they find it so amusing?
  • I have come to the realisation I am not a graceful runner nor do I look like a runner.  No matter as I am the one running as opposed to all those with opinions who sit on the couch, alongside those who tell me to run faster.  That sounded a little nasty, sorry.
  • I am able to munch on a few naughties without too much guilt as I seem to be running it all off, phew! :-)  I can’t quite satisfy my appetite like I used to and eat loads more and for the first time in over 40 years, I am craving carbs!  John would be so proud with the amount of pasta I gobble up.
  • For the most part I am running 5km with each run which is great and I have settled into a routine of after taking a day off, my first run is about a minute slower than my best time then my second, third, fourth and fifth (sometimes sixth) runs, I get a little faster with each run.  That’s my method, not sure if it is right or not but it works for me.

How’s your exercise programme going?

* I have subsequently bought heavier wrist weights and running with an additional 2.3kg has slowed me down a bit.  I am now running 5km in about 41 minutes, all after just cracking the 40 minute mark.  Hope to get back there soon.

PS. I will tell you soon about a 7.5km trail run Pete and I did – it was awesome!

Naan Bread

Pete and I ate copious amounts of wonderful naan while we were living in Mauritius.  Sadly I cannot reproduce exactly what we ate then but this recipe comes close.

naan

I rolled my naan a little too thin

Naan Bread

Ingredients

7g active dry yeast
250ml warm water
60ml white sugar
45ml milk
1 egg beaten
10ml salt
± 4½ cups all purpose or bread flour
60ml butter melted
4 garlic cloves minced

Method

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sugar, milk, egg, salt, and flour to make a soft dough.
  3. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  You may need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  4. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled in volume.
  5. Punch down the dough and knead lightly. Pinch off small handfuls of dough the size of a golf balls and roll into balls and place on a tray, cover lightly and allow to rise until double in size.
  6. Roll one ball of dough into a long oval. Lightly oil a heated pan and cook the dough until puffy and lightly browned.
  7. Turn and brush the cooked side with butter and garlic and cook until browned.
  8. Continue until all the naan have been cooked.