The Liebster Award

It is always an honour to be nominated for an award.  It gives you the reassurance you are doing something somebody else appreciates.   I was originally awarded the Liebster Award by my blogging friend John over at From the Bartolini Kitchens and now from Kalesija who blogs at The Vintage Cook Bookery.  Kalesija writes about cookbooks as time capsules, why she collects them, and how they reflect cultures, trends, technology and food history and currently has 3,633 cookbooks!  That’s a very impressive collection!

In light of the fact I have already received this award and with it being that super busy time of year for everybody I shall break all the rules and not forward it on at the moment but will answer Kalesija’s lovely set of questions.

  1. What are your favourite herbs to cook with?
    Hands down my favourite herb is coriander – fresh, dried, ground, whole – I will find a way to incorporate it.  Rosemary is another firm favourite.
  2. What food do you absolutely refuse to eat?
    Tripe and foie gras
  3. What are your favourite kitchen appliances?
    I don’t own too many kitchen appliances and would much rather chose my chef and pairing knives as my favourite.
  4. If you won $10,000 on the Food Network show, “Chopped”, what would you do with it?
    $10,000 equates to roughly R100 000 so I would loads to play with.  I’m hoping I don’t have to stick to buying kitchenware as my first thought would be to replace our lounge suite, it is very tired and I would have loads of change to replace our patio furniture and possible enough to put towards another lens for my camera.
  5. If you could choose one country, whose food you like cooking the most, which country would it be?
    That would have to be South Africa.  I am patriotic, what can I say.
  6. If someone said to you, “For your birthday, I’m going to import any food from anywhere in the world for you, and money is no object”, what would it be?
    That would have to be truffles – I have yet to taste one and seeing that money is no object, I would like to try the black and white one please.  Hope this generous person is also going to prepare speciality dishes with these lovely truffles.
  7. What is the most you would spend for a cookbook (new)?
    Hmm, well seeing that we first printed my cook book when we were living in Mauritius which was a complete disaster and had to reprint it and weren’t able to recover the funds from the first print, that would have to be the most I would ever spend.
  8. Do you follow a recipe exactly, or take some ‘artistic license’, even if making it for the first time?
    That all depends on the recipe – if I am baking something new I will generally stick to the recipe as changing ingredient amounts can cause havoc but if I am cooking something I do tweak it here and there.
  9. Have you ever made your own cheese and if so, what kind? Would you like to make your own cheese, if you haven’t already tried it?
    Nope, never made my own cheese – although John insists it is quite easy, so we have decided we shall wait until I am able to visit him so he can give me a personal lesson.  I wonder if I should use some of that $10,000 for an air ticket…
  10. Do you keep a stocked pantry (if you have some space), or do you just buy what you need for the next few meals? (canned goods, dried pasta, etc.)
    I have a pantry cupboard which is always stocked with a few essentials and baking goodies and loads of cat food.
  11. What would your ‘dream’ kitchen be like?
    Big and filled with loads of light and tons of counter space and at least double the amount of drawers I have now, under counter lighting with a separate scullery and separate laundry.

Thanks again to Kalesija for honouring me with this super award. :-)

Getting to know you series – 3

Before the year is out, I thought we should do the third and final round of getting to know each other.  As always there are no rules; all I ask is for you to link back to this posts so I don’t miss out on your answers.

Pammy's rose

1.  Who would you be honoured to have cook in your kitchen?

James Martin.

2.  What have you always wanted to cook or eat but never have?

Truffles – maybe James can bring them along when he comes to cook for me.

3.  What is your favourite part of a chicken?

The oysters, although they are not very filling.

4.  Do you use a knife or a vegetable peeler to peel potatoes?

A knife – I can’t operate a vegetable peeler around a potato, it makes me feel like I have 2 left hands.

5.  What one item do you keep in your kitchen you know you shouldn’t use but do?

Aromat – I know, I know!  How about if I justify that I only ever use it when scrambling eggs and occasionally on chicken wings.

6.  Do you like using culinary foam on your meals?

Absolutely not – I won’t tell you what I think it looks like either – very off putting!

7.  What 3 meals would you take to a friend who is sick in bed?

Cottage pie, chicken curry and lasagne.

8.  Bovril or Marmite?

Absolutely bovril.

9.  Do you dunk your rusk in tea or coffee?

Nope – they are crunchy for a reason, why would you want to ruin that by making them all soggy, which also leaves a horrible mess at the bottom of your cup.

10.  Which do you prefer, crunchy or chewy cookies and biscuits?

Definitely crunchy.

—o0o—

Quick No-Knead Bread

One of my favourite no-knead breads is the Crusty Artisan Bread, a fuss free recipe where you leave the dough to rise for between 8 and 24 hours before baking.  I have made this very moreish bread on a number of occasions to rave reviews and most everybody says it’s the best ciabatta they have eaten.

I then read about a no-knead bread which is ready to go in 2 hours or less over at Eat, Play, Love, which Kristy originally read about over at Five Euro Food and naturally I had to give it a go.

quick no knead bread 1This is a lovely loaf of bread which is a more traditional loaf than the artisan bread.  I made a second round of dough and baked it in 8 mini loaf tins which we enjoyed with friends.  They did however say they thought a bit more salt was needed.  I am very tempted to bake this super easy recipe in a Dutch oven as with the artisan bread and see what the difference is.

Quick no-knead-2

I couldn’t wait so I cut the bread while it was too hot -oops

 Quick No-Knead Bread

As seen on Eat, Play, Love

Ingredients

8g dried yeast – I used instant – it’s all I can get
50ml warm water
400g plain flour – I used unbleached stone ground bread flour
3tsp sugar – I used brown
1tsp salt
250ml warm water

 Method

  1. Place the yeast into a small bowl and pour over the 50ml water. Set aside and allow the yeast to activate for approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Pour in the activated yeast and the remaining water and mix well until the flour is completely combined. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm spot to prove for approximately 60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Dust the dough with a little flour and fold over a few times.  Form the dough and place in a prepared loaf tin. Make cuts into the top of the loaf  and sprinkle on some flour before setting aside in a warm place to rise for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
  5. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
  6. Remove the bread from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Our hot tray died

Seems I am one of the few “old-fashioned” people who still uses a hot tray.  Ours gets turned on twice a day every day.  Well, it did until it decided to implode on itself a short while ago.  I was very impressed to see how safely it did implode.  It had a very good innings as we have had it for a number of years before which, it belonged to Pete’s folks.  We guesstimate it to be around 40 years old.

Hot tray

Seeing this “antique” lasted so well, naturally we thought to replace it with the same make.  I am saddened to say like with so many other things, the quality of this product has gone from extremely good to extremely poor and doesn’t come at a reasonable price either.

We are now on our 4th one!  The first one’s handle which is now plastic and not wood like our old unit was broken before we even took it out of the box.  The second one had a screw rolling around inside of it and the third one’s handle where it attaches to the unit was broken.  We opened the second and third ones in store and thought we checked them properly – clearly not!  Not to mention the cost saving for the manufacturers who have shortened the length of the electrical cable by half.  So frustrating.

We thought to try a different make, which turns out is more expensive, smaller and if possible is made even more poorly.  More frustration.

It’s somewhat a miracle that I managed to make contact with the manufactures.  I was unable to contact them via their website as their “contact us” page required a verification code, which after several attempts did not not allow me to complete my complaint, I then emailed them.  I am still waiting to hear back from them!  Finally after a long run around I managed to contact  them telephonically, not that that helped very much – I am STILL waiting to hear back from them.  Each time I call, albeit I speak with the friendliest lady, I get given the next excuse or should I say promise, which has yet to come to fruition.  Fear not I shall persevere, it is now a matter of principle.

Not being able to function very well without a hot tray, we went to a different store where they take better care of their goods and sold us the best of the bad at a better price with a a hassle free guarantee.  Here’s to it lasting as long as our previous hot tray.

Do you use a hot tray?

Cob in foil on the fire

A friend of ours rang us up the other day and offered us a fish which he had just caught.  How can one refuse such a generous offer.  Even better was the gift of it being scaled, gutted and filleted.  BONUS!  Thanks Bernie, you are a star.

Cob in foil 1

All ready to be wrapped up an put on the coals

With having Pete home the last while and the weather being so lovely in the evenings, it is no surprise that we braai (barbecue) just about every other night and enjoy dining al fresco.

This cob was so moreish that we have enjoyed it twice in one week.  Now to wait for another kind offer of more fish or get on the river and catch one ourselves.  You can substitute the cob with any other fish – the simple flavours will compliment anything from sole to stock fish.

There really is no recipe for this, more a guideline, a un-recipe if you like.

Fish in Foil

Ingredients

Fish fillet of choice
Butter
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Black pepper
Lemon zest
Fresh Dill

Method

  1. Place the fish on a piece of tin foil.
  2. Place all of the ingredients over the fish.
  3. Wrap the fish in the foil tightly.
  4. Hand the package to your husband to cook over the coals.
Cob in foil 2

No prizes for this pic but the fish was delicious!

Must Make Rusks

It has been forever since I shared a recipe.  Sorry about that.

Must make rusks

I know I have said this about this recipe before BUT seriously if there is one rusk recipe you have to try, this is it.  It has to be the most versatile recipe as you can mix and match or change the dry ingredients each time you bake them and every time the result will be a perfect rusk, promise. :-)

Below is what I did this time around and they are fabulous!

MUST MAKE RUSKS

Ingredients

2 cups oats
2 cups wholewheat pronutro
1 cup nuttywheat flour
1 cup cornflakes
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup bakers mix – dried saltanas, raisins and currents
2 tbsp baking powder
5ml salt
¼ cup oil
1½ cups plain yoghurt
250g butter melted
2 extra large eggs lightly beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease two large loaf tins with butter.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients and add the sugars, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the oil, yoghurt and eggs to the melted butter and mix well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Place the mixture into the tins and bake for approximately 45 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Once the loaves are cool, cut them into fingers and arrange on a baking sheet and dry in the oven for 3 to 4 hours at 100°C.

In My Kitchen – November 2013

Wow, can’t believe I just typed November which means this is our second last IMK post of the year.  It is also very exciting that there are so many new contributors to this fun monthly peek into each others kitchens.

In my kitchen…

Is a leftover piece of cheese and caramelised onion pizza which I made yesterday for lunch.

cheese onion pizza

In my kitchen…

Are some lavender sweet peas waiting to be put in a vase, as well as some pretty pink ones which I placed at our entrance hall, so not really in my kitchen and a smaller arrangement which I will put on my desk.

Sweet peas lavender

Sweet peas pink

Sweet peas vase

In my kitchen…

Is a beautiful mini viola plant which my sister-in-law Karin gave to me. :-)

Mini viloas

In my kitchen…

Are my coriander seedlings.  These guys are ready to be potted for the herb garden so they can join the rest of the coriander and other happy herbs.

coriander seedlings

In my kitchen…

Well, technically just outside of my kitchen are 2 fig tree slips which I planted when we pruned the fig tree. I am thrilled that they are growing.  I planted a few others but don’t think they have survived.  I reckon I should have seen a leaf shoot on all the slips I planted and not just a bare twig.

fig tree slips

In my kitchen…

Are some shot glasses which I use for individual place settings when we have family and friends over for dinner.  They really work well and are considerably cheaper than mini vases.

shot glass vases

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.

What keeps you busy every day…

You would think with me not having a job earning a salary and moreover not having children to cart to and from school that I would have all day on my hands to do anything my heart desires like writing or honing my photographic skills but alas.

Mandy UK 2008

A Dali piece in London – time melting away
Forgive my bad photography – it was before I learnt how to properly take a photograph

I have a sister-in-law who on each time we speak insists on asking me what I do all day.  I wish I had a simple one sentence answer which would sound meaningful and fulfilling but sadly there isn’t one.

Just yesterday I said to Pete AGAIN I am getting a whole lot of nothing done every day.  I am always busy with something or another but don’t feel I am getting anything meaningful or anything with weight done in any one day.

When Pete is home I cook breakfast, lunch and supper which takes up a portion of the day with preparing, cooking and cleaning up, thank heavens for a dishwasher.  Now if I could get it to pack and unpack itself, that would be awesome.

Then there are all the normal daily duties of keeping a home which takes up another portion of the day – not to mention I hardly get time to get into the garden, let alone just the herb garden.

Let’s not forget the fur babies who require their grooming and lots of snuggles and smooches.

On and off there is always something I need to help Pete with which involves endless hours on the phone or emailing with backwards and forwards tapping away at the keyboard or booking flights and the like.

There is the daily reading and writing of posts and moderating comments from you lovely folk.  This is one of my favourite times of my day.  I love connecting with you all.

Let’s not forget the time I set aside for my new exercise regime – yes I am still going strong, although my knees aren’t 100% happy just yet.

This all excludes the day I set aside every week to head into the big city to do shopping.  Living out of town with only one store in our village which only has the basics makes the list quite long and takes me most of the day to get done.

When I do push things aside and make the time to write, the phone will ring – oh how do people know.  Now if I don’t answer, some folk will ring my mobile just to make sure everything is okay so I cannot ignore the phone.  Oh yes, and there are the knocks at the door with somebody popping in for a cuppa or the loveliness of family visiting and spending quality time with them.

There are loads of other things which will only come to mind as I hit the publish button.

Now if I could just find an extra 4 hours a day to dedicate to writing my next book, that would be fantastic although it is also difficult to feel inspired when dedicating specific time.

What keeps you busy all day?

Getting fit after forty is not for sissies

Have you ever woken up, looked in the mirror and realised what used to be an okay body has now turned into a cellulitey flabby mess.  Well I have been doing that for the past 2 years and recently the need to get myself back into shape was important enough for me to get started.  Finally!

So, after being realistic and researching what exercises can be done at home, mostly without equipment (isometrics) I have settled on a weekly routine which includes 3 arm exercises, a tummy exercise, cycling and learning how to run.  That may sound silly but I have never run, not even around the block.

Vibram Merrels

Very tired feet

Pete bought me a really good pair of running shoes – a new age pair of runners based on Vibram technology – none of those padded and cushioned running shoes, these are based on running “barefoot” the way we are naturally supposed to run, just like the bushman – so from the outset I am learning properly.

Pete who has been running his whole life is well versed on how to do it properly and even sent me a supporting article on his theory of a run-walk sequence of getting fit without hurting yourself and staying motivated.  Oh isn’t theory wonderful.

This is where the age factor really hit home.  I have always been active so was fooled into thinking I was semi-fit.  It is a tad hard to get past the brick wall and have the endorphins takeover.  I am now of the opinion I was 100% unfit and with each new day I am getting stronger and fitter.  Woohoo!  Although this would have been a MUCH easier task had I started 15 years ago.  Lesson learnt a little late but better late than never.

Pete is an incredible motivator and PT Master.  I have been able to, albeit with a wee bit of wincing, run a bit further and on occasion slightly faster than the day before, proof that Pete’s theory really does work.

As you know, Pete does a lot of travelling and it was just pure chance he was home long enough to get me started.  Now, its all up to me without the motivational and encouraging words every few metres.  I asked Pete to make a tape for when he is away so I can play it over and over while I am running but alas he did not.

Oh and there will be no cheating or guessing what I achieved as Pete gave me a Garmin heart rate monitor, calorie counting, GPS thingy so just as soon as I have uploaded my daily stats Pete will be able to see exactly where I ran and what my times were no matter where he is in the world.  Isn’t technology amazing.

So, here’s to be sticking with my new found regime – summer won’t be a problem, it’s those winter days which worry me a bit.  Then again by the time winter comes I will be as fit as a fiddle and my tenacity will carry me through those cold days.  Well that’s what I am telling myself.

Learning how to use Lightroom

I have a wonderful and very special friend Moira, who unconditionally teaches me all I know about photography and has now started teaching me Lightroom – a post processing and photo management programme.  Moira is truly a gifted teacher who understands exactly how to make you grasp and understand what she is teaching.  A real gift!

I don’t want to utilise Lightroom for anything more than enhancing an image.  As Moira explained to me, when using Lightroom, think of the photograph as a beautiful model without any make-up on and using Lightroom to add a little bit of lip-gloss and possibly some eyeliner. 

Seems there are a few more lessons involved for me, but after lesson one, I am happy to share with you a picture I chose (an old one) to play around with.

Lrlearn

The original photo

Lrlearn1-57

The original photo with a few minor adjustments

Lrlearn2-57

The original photo with a few minor adjustments with added vignettes

Oh dear, only after I had finished making all of my changes did I notice that the original file I chose was not in its original size format.  I had already reduced the file size by 75%.  That will teach me for using an old photograph.  Oops, sorry Moira!

Sadly Moira and I live three and a half hours drive away from each other so I am not sure when lesson two will be able to take place.  In the meanwhile I will practice, practice and practice, using more current photographs.

My brother Greg and his Family

Seems I have a bit of a family theme going on at the moment seeing this is my third family post this month.

Earlier in the month my brother Greg and his lovely family visited the River for a family vacation and stayed at my folks holiday home just down the road from our home.

Greg, Karin, Tom, Anne

Unfortunately the 2 days we set aside to do a family photo shoot  didn’t work out so the best I can do is share this 18 month old family portrait with you.

Sadly Pete was away at the time of their visit.  I think Greg and Karin felt a little sorry for me being on my own, even though I am more than used to it.  They lovingly invited me to join them every evening for dinner.

Karin is a vegetarian while the rest of the family are omnivores so there was a wonderful array of dishes and Karin opened my eyes to how delicious and varied vegetarian food can be.  I hope to share a few of her recipes soon.

Besides all the eating, which we as a family are very good at, it was such a heart warming experience to be a “fly on the wall” to watch how my brother and his family interact.  I never realised children can be so well behaved!  Tom is 7 and Annie 5 and never once did they argue with mommy or daddy when they were told to switch the telly off or get washed up for dinner, oh and these two little ones eat everything, what a refreshing change.  After dinner, instead of everybody sitting in front of the telly, they played games together, the children put on shows (so adorable) and they shared their favourite bits about that days outing with each other and planned what they were doing the next day before it was bath and bedtime for the little ones, which also came with no argument. Lovely.

I received daily notes from Tom and Anne with messages of how much they love their Aunty Mandy with pictures of the animals they saw, the sand dunes they played on, the river they swam in and the fish their daddy caught.  I even have a note saying Aunty Mandy is the best! :-D  I will treasure that always.

Notes for Aunty Mandy

It was lovely to spend time with a part of my family whom I hardly get to see as we live so many hundreds of kilometres away from each other.  Special times, the after effects of which are still keeping me all warm and fuzzy.

Workshop Update

Pete hasn’t been home much since we got his Workshop but when he has been home, he has managed to start personalising his creative space. :-)

Okay, so I helped a wee bit by painting three window boxes and planting some chillies and chilli seeds in them and placed them on the front of the house to hide the paving bricks.

Workshop update 1

Pete has turned his windows into lovely stained glass windows.  Just a few finishing touches to the windows are needed when he is next home.

Workshop update 5

Workshop update 2

Here’s a sneak peek inside.  Pete is still finishing his workbench area and storage shelves which you can’t see in this pic.

Workshop update 4

Pete got a burgee from one of his oldest mates which he has mounted on the top of the roof.  Now we can always see which way the wind is blowing.

Workshop update 3

“A burgee is a distinguishing flag, regardless of its shape, of a recreational boating organization.” – soured from Wikipedia”

Oh and I have just decided that I NEED a few raised beds for some veggies so shall commission my ever loving husband to make me a few. :-)

Getting to know you series – 2

It doesn’t feel like it but it’s been over 9 weeks since I re-posted the first of our 3 instalments of getting to know each other better, so thought it time to post the second set of questions.

Remember there are no rules to play along, no having to tag anybody, just join in if you want to.

Simply copy the questions and fill in your answers on your blog. :-)  Please link back to this post so I don’t miss out on your answers.

Pammy's rose

1.  What 5 items are always in your fridge?

Milk, butter, eggs, cheese and yoghurt.

2.  What 5 items are always in your pantry ?

Flour, sugar, cat food, tea and tomato paste.

3.  Do you write a grocery list or do you shop off the cuff?

I always make a list and I always buy more than what is on the list – oops.

4.  What is the most used item/s in your kitchen?

Hands down my mugs and kettle – I drink tea all day.

5.  What do you have in your kitchen that may seem strange to other people?

A basket of rose quartz

6.  If you were to enter a Come Dine With Me challenge, what would you cook?

Starter:  My nana’s wonderful carrot soup and melba toast

Mains:  Slow roast Greek lamb, mint jelly, roast vegetables, crispy roast potatoes and gravy

Dessert:  Crème Brûlée and vanilla coffee

Probably all too rich for one sitting but in theory its nice. :-)

7.  If you could invite any 4 living people in the world to dinner, who would they be?

Adam LambertAlison BothaJohnny Depp and Brandon Buys.  Talk about a strange mix of people.

8.  What is your favourite breakfast out?

Eggs benedict at my friend Roy’s Rose Garden Tea House  - it is served on potato rosti with crispy bacon – THE BEST!

9.  What one condiment could you not be without?

Hot English mustard

10. Some people seem to have a problem eating leftovers or reheated food, do you?

Absolutely not, sometimes reheated leftovers can be even nicer the next day.

 

—o0o—

WordPress Family Award

It is always so nice getting recognition from fellow blogging buddies and when you are bestowed with an award, one with such lovely meaning, one that makes you all warm and fuzzy, you can’t wait to share it.

wordpress-family-award

One slight problem though is this is a WordPress award so sadly I can’t pay the love forward to my non WordPress friends even though they still form part of my family.

The lovely Ada over at More Food, Please honoured me with this award.  Ada shares the most wonderful recipes and does lovely restaurant reviews.  Do pop over and say hi to Ada if you haven’t met her yet.

This award was created by Shaun over at Looking For Reasoning to a Complicated World and below is what he wrote about the award:

“This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I start this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award.”

The rules are:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
  4. Let your 10 family members know you have awarded them.

So, without any ado, my family award nominees are:

  1. John – From The Bartolini Kitchens
  2. Tanya – Chica Andaluza
  3. Kathryn – Kiwsparks
  4. Diane – Photographs and Recipes
  5. Celi – The Kitchens Garden
  6. Kay – Pure & Complex
  7. Barb- Just A Smidgen
  8. Tandy – Lavender and Lime
  9. Celia – Fig Jam and Lime Cordial
  10. Lisa – Gourmet Wog

Jamie’s Crystal Heart

I receive the most beautiful greeting every morning when I open my office curtains.

Jamie's heart-3228

It is the crystal heart I received when my Godson James was born.  I love that when I open the curtains, the crystal catches on the curtain and waves at me before it settles down to watch over me while I sit at the computer.

When I hit a “blank”, I always turn to look out of the window for inspiration and seem to always settle on looking at Jamie’s heart.  I love how its colours morph throughout the day depending on how the sun streams through the window.

Jamie's heart-3202

Depending on the time of day, it reflects all the colours of the rainbow which instantly puts a gentle loving smile and hug in my heart.

Jamie's heart-3205

Jamie, thank you my darling boy for being with me every day. I love you very much. xo

Daniell Cheetah Breeding Farm

On our last drive back from Johannesburg, we went via a different route and per chance saw the Daniell Cheetah Breeding Farm (a non profit organisation), which is approximately 90 kilometres from home – can’t believe we haven’t heard about it before.  We promised ourselves we would definitely pay them a visit just as soon as we could.

As luck would have it, we were able to go just the other day.

Daniel Cheetah farm 2

What a fabulous experience.  Now, I am not one for animals in cages but do believe there is a place for it and Daniell Cheetah Farm is just one of those places.  The aim of the Daniell Cheetah “Project” as they call it, is to play a part in the conservation of the Cheetah, the re-establishment of pure gene lines, as well as educating people on the importance of conserving the cheetah.  Besides knowing the cheetah is the fastest land animal, we learnt that the cheetah is quite vulnerable out in the wild – who knew!  They are the only big cat who purrs and interestingly they can’t retract their claws entirely and their whiskers curl forward allowing them to touch their preys face enabling them to sense when their prey is dead.

Daniel Cheetah farm 9

As you all know, I am somewhat fanatical about cats and jumped at the opportunity to interact with the wild cousins of our fur babies and was allowed into an enclosure with two serval sisters.  The one was very playful and relaxed while the other sister was a little on edge to have two strangers in her space.  The serval has a fairly short tail which allows it to jump 3 meters in hight – a longer tail would inhibit it’s jumping and servals have the longest legs of any cat, relative to their body size.

Daniel Cheetah farm 22I just love the distinctive long black ears on a caracal which have tufts exceeding half the length of the ear.  The one we saw had a cold, poor dear and was doing quite a lot of sneezing.

Daniel Cheetah farm 32

Being able to stand next the second biggest cat in the wild, the lion and hear it “grunt” is incredible!  They make the most amazing sound which seems to come from the pit of the stomachs.  I think they call it woofing – a very deep sound which seems to make their bellies contract while they almost purse their mouths and point their noses slightly up in the air.  Their coats felt as wirey as I had imagined and the two 9 month old brothers had just started growing their manes and believe they will nearly triple in size by the time they are fully grown.

Daniel Cheetah farm 80

The leopards were not interested in acknowledging our presence and were quite happy snoozing on top of their wooden pillars.

Daniel Cheetah farm 110

Trying to get a photograph of a meerkat is quite a challenge.  They are such busy, almost hyper active little things who don’t stop for a second!  These family orientated foraging guys can look directly into the sunlight and can close their ears keeping sand out while they burrow. I never realised just how small they are either; they weigh no more than 730 grams.

Daniel Cheetah farm 129

There are also black footed cats at the farm but alas I was unable to get a photo to share with you.  They are nocturnal felines and I guess would be no bigger than your average domestic cat and would say they resemble a tabby cat with spotted fur with stripes on the legs.

In My Kitchen – October 2013

Doing Celia’s IMK posts are always such fun and also serve as a reminder of how quickly the year passes by.  Winter seems to be a distant memory now and Spring leading into Summer is a very happy time.

In my kitchen…

Is the newest edition to our family – a Nespresso coffee machine.  Coffee takes on a whole new meaning with this fancy machine – if it’s good enough for George Clooney, well then it’s good enough for us. :-D We are busy working our way through the various coffees to decide which are our favourite so we can order just those.  Seems just after we bought our machine and phoned to register it, there are 5 new coffees which we missed out on.  So in total there are 21 coffee blends to enjoy.

Nespresso

In my kitchen…

Are my new teabag and teaspoon holders which sit on my tea tray at the kettle.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with my others, I just felt like a wee change and all it cost me was reaching into the back of a cupboard.

Teabag spoon rest

In my kitchen…

Is the nuniest gift from Pete’s nephew Simon and his lovely wife Elaine.  They know all too well how cat crazy I am and I am in love with this little hanging kitty who is currently keeping my arum lilies company.  Isn’t he just too adorable!

Hanging kitty

In my kitchen…

Is another gift from Simon and Elaine.  I forgot to share this adorable tea towel with you months ago – oops!

Kitty tea towel

In my kitchen…

Are two watering frogs.  You pop them into an indoor pot plant and fill them with water and they slowly release water into the soil, all the while looking cute.

Watering frogs

In my kitchen…

Finally, something food related – is a jar of tomato jam which Pete and I bought in Graaf Reinet on our drive home from Johannesburg last month.  We also bought the best lamb chops I have ever eaten.  I was so impressed with the chops I phoned the owner of the butchery the following morning to thank him.

Tomato Jam

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.

Thank you

Over the past couple of years, my blogging community has grown from nobody reading my posts to a few unknown visitors, to my first comment, to new acquaintances who popped in more regularly and now, here we are are, a family.

Isn’t it wonderful how our friendships have formed as we get to know each other better even though we have never met face to face.

Best of all is the concern we have for each other.  I talk to Pete every week about you, my blogging buddies and what’s happening in your lives, because that’s what family does and then when things get a wee bit haywire here, you genuinely ask me how I am and send me well wishes and love from across the miles and oceans which separate us.

So, thank you all for your unconditional love, support and your friendship.

Sending you all a warm sunny South African hug,

:-) Mandy xo

My Cake Icing Stand

With the amount of icing I do, I thought it would be nice to have a turntable style icing stand and why buy when (not even sure I would find one in PE) I can get my Pete to make me one.

Cake icing stand

So when he was home from a business trip, I pounced on him with the idea and within a couple of hours, I had my one of a kind fabulous cake icing stand.   I LOVE IT!!!

Pete used scraps of wood which he had in the garage, added 4 marbles, a touch of glue, a nut and bolt, some paint, et voilà, one gorgeous and oh so fun to use cake icing stand! What a difference it makes to be able to give a slight turn of the stand on not the cake or cupcake while icing. :-D

The table top turns so smoothly over the marbles which have been glued into little recesses Pete made in the base while the nut and bolt slip through a hole made in the centre of the top and the base.

I need to put in an order for a pasta drying stand, which must be able to be dismantled for easy storage.  I have been tempted to use a clothes horse but to date use a piece of dowel which I stick between 2 dining room chairs, which reminds me, it has been far too long since I made pasta.

Thank you Yuppiechef for the personal touch :-)

Living in a small town has it’s disadvantages, the lack of 00 flour being one of them.

I subscribe to receive Yuppiechef’s emails which are always jam packed with specials, new products and other wonderful things but all too often everything I like only ever makes it onto my imaginary wish list.  There are needs before I can get to the wants.

Anyhoo, a short while back when I opened the ever enjoyable email from Yuppiechef, what was smack bang in the middle of the screen, yip, 00 flour for R25.00 for 1 kilogram.  I could not resist and hit the buy button.  I am still amazed even with this small order, there was no delivery fee, bringing the pretty package right to my front door!

Yuppie Chef order 1

As far as I know all companies charge a delivery fee unless the delivery is over a certain amount and within a certain kilometre radius, neither of which I would qualify for under any other circumstances but Yuppiechef delivers for free throughout South Africa.

After completing my order I received a confirmation email thanking me for my order as well as subsequent emails keeping me up to speed with where my order was and when I could expect it to arrive.  I really do appreciate and enjoy the efficient way in which Yuppiechef has dealt with my teeny tiny order. 

Yuppie Chef order 3

On opening my pretty pink package, inside was a neatly sealed box and when I opened it, before I even got to my 00 flour I found a card, with a lovely handwritten message.  The card is perforated leaving you with a post card – such a clever idea!  Even better, the card “is printed on masuga™ paper – a locally produced environmentally friendly paper made from 90% sugar-cane waste (amazing, hey?) and 10% virgin wood fibres.  It is fully recyclable.”  Awesome!

Thank you Yuppiechef!

Right, now to get into the kitchen to make pizza, pasta and pie. :-)

Yuppie Chef order 4

Disclosure:  I was in no way compensated or requested to mention Yuppiechef.  I was so impressed with their service, I felt it warranted a mention.