All sorts

I have been wanting to put a few posts together the last while but haven’t got around to any of them, so I will throw them all together here for you.

I promised Karen over at Back Road Journal, I would put a summery garden post together as all she has seen for a while is snow.  Every opportunity I have had to get into the garden, there has either been a gale blowing or it has been raining! Sorry Karen!  Below is one of the two shots I did manage to take.

Potato bush

I also took a  quick shot of the “spare” swallows nest just outside our front door.  They have broken out the base to rebuild and it is the perfect heart shape.

broken nest

I think there are triplets in the nest in use and got a flying shot of mommy or daddy coming out the nest heading out to find more insects to feed the very hungry chirping babies.

flying swallow

I made the most incredibly tender and delicious oxtail casserole a couple of weeks ago and was going to do a post with the recipe and wonderful photographs but all I got was this shocker.

Oxtail casserole

I coated the oxtail (1.3kg) in seasoned flour and sealed and browned the pieces and set aside in a casserole dish.   I gently fried 2 large sliced onions added them to the oxtail, added a glass of red wine and about the same of beef stock, maybe a little more, covered it and let it do it’s thing in the oven set at 180°C for 3 hours, then added some carrots and a tin of butter beans in tomato sauce, covered it back up and let it do its thing for another hour and then served it with creamy mashed potatoes. Scrumptious!

I promised the lovely Emma over at Surrey Kitchens I would do a post in acceptance of the Shine On award she passed my way!  Emma in her own words: “Writer, ideas machine, literary geek, food geek, musician, lover of all animals, especially our beloved rescue cat Miles who is working hard for his cat treats as the face of SurreyKitchen.  Working in collaboration with photographer extraordinaire husband.”  Such a lovely “About Me”.  Thanks again Emma.

Kim over at My Inner Chic asked me to do a video tutorial on how I ice (frost) my cupcakes.  I promise I will do this as soon as I know how and have more than myself at home.  I see quite a few takes with lots of chuckles before we have the final video.  So far I have the tripod, the camera (never used the video function), everything to bake the cupcakes and make the icing.  Now I just need my videographer Pete to be home. 

In My Kitchen – March 2014

Here we are again at one of our favourite times of the month, sharing in Celia’s IMK Posts.  March came around very quickly.  The memories of the festive season are still vividly fresh in my mind as if it was all just last week.

In my kitchen…

Were some chocolate cupcakes.  These dairy free morsels are still my favourite and it’s just as well I don’t bake them every week as I would not stop eating them until they were all finished.

Dairy free cupcakes

In my kitchen…

Is my latest favourite indulgence.  This double cream Greek style plain yoghurt from Woolworths is FABULOUS and as addictive as the cupcakes.  Don’t think I could go a day without it and buy 2 big tubs at a time.

Greek yoghurt

In my kitchen…

Are non Nespresso coffee capsules.  Pete says these are as enjoyable as the Nespresso capsules and work out about R2 cheaper per cup.

Coffee  capsules

In my kitchen…

Are 2 new Tupperware containers.  I really didn’t need them but loved the colour and they were very reasonably priced.

tupperware

In my kitchen…

Is my ever loved fruit bowl, a gift from my Aunty Christine many years ago.  It has stood in the same spot on the kitchen counter for the past 11 years and has overflowed with  juicy sweet figs this season.

fruit bowl

Is my favourite, favourite wooden spoon.  I have put a teaspoon next to it so you can see how small it is.  I have searched everywhere but sadly I cannot find another one like it.  I am starting to think I must find somebody who can turn another one on a lathe for me.

mini woodenspoon

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.

My Running Milestones

You will be very proud to hear I now run the whole course of 3.5km to 4km.  Yippee.  Yay! Woohoo.  So exciting! It literally just happened over night.  Not long after I did my last post about how things were going I set out to reaching 1.5km non stop and did it, battled a wee bit to do it again the next day and then a few days following that I was running almost the whole circuit with short bursts of walking in between and then voilà I was running the whole lot.

Running

Even though I am slow at achieving my goals, I am now back on track to attaining my 5km goal. :-)

I have learnt a few things along the way:

  • I can run further than I think I can;
  • The first part of a run is the hardest;
  • I think up hills are easier than down, I haven’t quite decided yet although I would rather run on a flat road any day of the week;
  • It is much easier running on the road than off-road, on the gravel, grass and the like but I will stick to my trail running;
  • Running with an ipod has helped tremendously as I don’t get distracted with listening to my “heavy breathing” I rather focus on the music which helps distract me when I am feeling tired.  I still need to figure out how many beats per minute I run so I can run in time with the beat of the music with the same beats per minute.  For now I am very happy listening to Adele for the most part, KT Tunstall, John Mayer, Nora Jones and Bill Withers and running faster and slower as I go.
  • Taking shorter strides allows me to run further as I don’t tire as easily as with a long stride.  When I am fitter, I will increase my gait;
  • I prefer shorter roads, long ones just don’t seem to end;
  • Running the whole route has slowed my running down but I will pick it up again;
  • I don’t see too many people on the road but when I do, it motivates me to keep running and not maybe cheat and walk, especially when I am tired;
  • Rest days are important but I don’t like taking days off.

How is your exercising routine going?

Lack of Food Posts

As most of you know, Pete is away a lot of the time which means you will also know I get suckers on my butt and sit at the computer far too long which means supper is always an easy throw together meal.

Apple

When Pete is home, it is not for extended periods of time so we always enjoy his favourite meals and lots of braais (barbecues) so there is nothing new to share with you, very sad I know.

Every now and again I will get a sudden rush of blood to the brain and will make something scrumity like the Anchovy, Garlic, Tomato Pasta, or indulge in Sticky Chicken Wings but for the most part, I throw a chicken with some veggies and  spuds in the oven.  I have been known to get extravagant and on occasion even make gravy.  This will serve me well for at least 3 meals with leftovers to add to a salad.  A couple of other quick favourites are steak and salad or a piece of fresh fish and salad.

I will work on getting back in the kitchen to share something new and delicious with you.

We are in the market for a new Fridge and Freezer

So I need your help finding a new

fridge

and

Freezer

To cut a tedious story short, we bought a new stand alone fridge and stand alone freezer and sadly have had hassles with both.  Defy have agreed to reimburse us fully.  We don’t want to replace them with the same make as every person we have spoken to says not to buy Defy for a myriad of different reasons.

Despite all of this, I really like that Defy have a bigger load capacity on both the fridge and freezer and I can still get units in white plus the fridge allows for many different shelf heights which all the other brands don’t seem to offer when comparing the proverbial apples  with apples.

Problems is – what to get now!  The reason I want to get two separate units and not a side-by-side unit is mainly due to the odd shape of our scullery – I know we might not be in this house forever but we are here now.  If the door leading to the garage is open, the one unit is behind the door and all side-by-side units have the fridge on the right-hand side which would mean the fridge would be behind the door and that’s not very practical as I am in and out of the fridge all day and the freezer at the most once a day.  Side-by-side units also have a much smaller freezer to fridge ratio which doesn’t suit our needs.

Defy fridge frezer

There is a lot more space behind the door so 2 big units can stand side by side

I have started looking at other brands but it is quite a daunting task.

In hindsight, the stand alone units have narrow shelves and I don’t really like the French door style combo as the freezer portion is like a chest freezer so I am starting to think buying 2 fridge freezer combos where the fridge portion is at the top and the freezer portion at the bottom is a better way to go or is it? The freezer sections of these are also quite small.  Urgh!  This was meant to be fun.

Oh and we don’t need ice and water dispensers – they take up too much valuable packing space or is that just me plus these type of units cost considerably more.

What do you have?  How does it pack?  Is it user friendly?  Would you buy the same again?  Hypothetically speaking you are in the market for a new fridge and or freezer, what would you buy?

I really would appreciate your opinions and help. :-)

Anchovy, Garlic, Tomato Pasta

I have been craving pasta for the past couple of weeks.  Maybe my body is lacking something or more likely I was just wanting to eat pasta.  I finally succumbed to the craving and made a scrumptious and very moreish meal, I think even my friend John would be impressed.

Anchovie pasta

Anchovy, Garlic, Tomato Pasta

If you don’t want to make your own pasta, use your choice of store bought.

Pasta Ingredients

200g all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1ml salt
5ml olive oil

Method

  1. Place the flour on a counter top and create a mound with a crater in the middle. Put the eggs, salt and oil into the crater.
  2. Beat the eggs with a fork and gradually incorporate the flour until all the egg is incorporated into the flour.  The dough should be of a rough consistency, feel slightly sticky to the touch and moist. If it’s too sticky sprinkle a bit more flour on the mixture.
  3. Using the palm of your hand push the dough down and away from you. Flip it back towards you and fold it in half. Once again push the dough down and away from you, rotating the dough so that it kneads in every direction. Continue until the dough becomes smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and rest for 20 minutes. Don’t put it into the fridge.  I sometimes even skipped this step.
  5. If you don’t have a pasta machine to roll out your pasta, using a rolling pin, roll dough until flat and fairly thin.
  6. Roll the entire dough up like a pancake and cut into slices. The width of the cut will determine the thickness of your pasta. Unravel the pasta into strips.
  7. Cook for three to five minutes until al dente in a generous amount of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally to separate strands and prevent sticking.

Sauce Ingredients

15 ml olive oil
20 anchovies – more if you can resist eating them straight from the bottle
1 tin Italian tomatoes chopped
5ml sugar
3 garlic cloves crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley chopped for serving

Method

  1. Mash the anchovies in the oil  in a pan.
  2. Add the tomatoes and sugar and reduce by half.
  3. Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Add your drained pasta to the pan with the tomatoes sauce.  Once plated, top with the coriander and parsley.

A few shavings of parmesan wouldn’t go a miss here either.

In My Kitchen – February 2014

I missed out on doing January’s edition of Celia‘s wonderful IMK post as I was still having a wonderful time with my family and didn’t want to miss out on a thing, although I did miss out on reading a few of your IMK posts.  Can’t have it all I guess.

In my kitchen…

Are beautiful cupcake sleeves which I will hold onto for a special occasion.

cupcake sleeves

In my kitchen…

Are my new favourite sprinkles, pearl drops.  They are gorgeous on top of cupcakes.

Pearl sprinkles

In my kitchen…

Is a beaded whisk.  This is definitely the most sturdy and well made whisk I have ever owned.

Beaded whisk

In my kitchen…

Quite apt being the month of love, I have some pretty pink and white heart sprinkles.

Heart sprinkles

In my kitchen…

I have a wooden lemon squeezer.

Lemon juicer

All of these lovely goodies were part of a gift which I got from my cousin Renee.  I am very spoilt. :-)

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…

You may remember my post about getting fit after 40 last year where I mentioned I am learning how to run with the guidance of my ever loving and patient Pete, well…

You will be proud to know that after 3 months I am still running 6 days a week and I am averaging between 3.5km and 4km with each run.  I am working my way up to the 5km mark but then…

Trail runners

Dusty Trail runners

PT Master Pete changed my shoes.  Oh boy, it’s like learning how to run all over again.  Seems breaking in a new pair of trail running shoes isn’t as easy for me as most.  What a silly excuse but I am sticking to it for now. ;-)

Since starting to run a few things have changed:

  • I’m running much further and walking less :-)
  • My shins don’t burn any more :-)
  • I am more motivated on the days I wear the T-Shirt my friend Kim in Minnesota sent me.  Kim’s sister Kay was murdered by her husband and Kim and her family started an annual “Kay Marie Sisto Memorial 5km walk/run” to bring awareness to the dangers of domestic violence and I am honoured to have received one of the special T-Shirts made for this event.  Thank you dear Kim. <3
Kay's T-Shirt

No time for ironing – wash and wear

  • I have lost a few kilos.  Never been easier to loose weight, so if you want to shed a few I can highly recommend going around the block a few times. ;-)
  • I am burning less calories for the same distance. :-(
  • I am eating more
  • My breathing is improving :-)
  • My core body temperature has risen
  • I don’t plod any more, I have managed to find my stride, I think
  • Idiotic villagers walking their dogs without a lead and other idiotic villagers not keeping their dogs in they yards!  This really irks me as I am scared of dogs and  there are laws.  I now have to run with pepper spray!
  • My body is looking worse.  I thought I would be all firm and beautiful by now, but alas, it seems to be the reverse. :-(  I am told it will improve – when though seems to be a long way away.
  • I don’t listen too much to what other people say I should be doing

And a few things have not:

  • I have not lost my drive to run :-D
  • I get red in the face :-|
  • My nose runs which is somewhat irritating
  • I sweat like a pig – I know, not very lady like
  • I don’t enjoy running with the sun in my face
  • I have not been for a morning run
  • I don’t stretch after running, actually I don’t always stretch before either

I am sure to remember a few more things after I post this, oh well, clearly the brain has not improved. ;-)

I can’t believe it either…

But it’s true!  I still don’t quite know why I did it but I did!

I needed to fetch Pete at the airport and it was one of those awkward times when the flight lands right at dinner time and taking into account we live a good 30 minute drive away from the airport plus I had a boot full of groceries to unpack when we got home and with Pete having dinner on the plane, I needed to fill the gap in my tummy, knowing full well I would not last until getting home and having to still cook.

Judge me if you must BUT I found myself at the McDonalds drive through!  After much discussion with the voice in the black box where I had to place my order I finally settled on a Mc Royale and fries.  I thought it best to opt for the Mc Royale as it includes salad ingredients.  If I am going to consume such highly processed food I best try and balance it with something healthy.

Image sourced from Google

Here’s the big shock… I quite enjoyed it.  It wasn’t as “cardboardy” as I thought it would be and the fries were nicely salted and crispy.  Will I go back – probably not but as a once off it was great.

While I sat in the car munching on my burger and fries, it was concerning to see how many overweight  people were driving up to the window to place their order and how many young girls on their own were doing the same thing.  Funny how I never took into account what they would have thought of me, especially seeing as I was wearing my pearls.

It was a dirt cheap meal at R40 and wonder if this is half the attraction of going to McDonalds.

Have you eaten at McDonalds before?

Karin’s Quinoa Salad

My lovely sister-in-law Karin introduced me to the super grain quinoa.  I know, I am far behind in trying new things.  I was also put off by how expensive it is.

Quinoa in a nutshell – it is high in protein, is a good source of dietary fibre and phosphorus and is high in magnesium, iron and calcium, so is good for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant and is also gluten-free and is easy to digest.

Karin's quinoa 2

On it’s own quinoa tastes pretty much like nothing but has a wonderful texture and put with other lovely ingredients makes a fabulous salad.  Karin adapted a couscous recipe from her favourite recipe book, The Cake the Buddha Ate. I highly recommend you make this for a lovely hot summer’s day salad.

Karin's quinoa 1

Karin’s Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup flaked almonds toasted
1 cup fresh coriander chopped chopped
1 cup tinned chickpeas – oops I forgot to put these in
1 cup red and yellow capsicum peppers chopped – I only had yellow
¼ cup dates chopped
¼ cup figs chopped
½ red onion chopped

Dressing

100ml olive oil
50ml apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 small garlic clover crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad and mix through.

Finally… I’m back!

It feels like an age since I sat down to write a post or popped over to read all your lovely blogs; I hope I haven’t missed out on too much in my absence.

Nicely rested with a lovely golden tan after a wonderful holiday with family, it’s time to get the ball rolling again, I’m just not sure where to start.

up river

A quick synopsis of our holiday… We watched in awe with tears streaming down our cheeks as  a friend with Parkinson’s disease stood up and sang in a hall filled with people he doesn’t know.  I honed my skills on reversing our boat trailer, learnt how to throw a throw net and even managed to net a few fish, took a good few blurry photo’s of our resident fish eagle, heard it’s magnificent call, saw a leguaan being attacked by starlings to steer it away from their nests; enjoyed many a breakfast on the river on our little boat – crispy bacon, boiled eggs and toasted seed loaf with a nice cuppa.  We enjoyed a few trips with my folks too which was awesome.  These morning rejuvenated our souls.  We spent a morning in the Addo National Elephant park.  I watched Pete skurf (skiing using a surfboard) for the first time in over 10 years – clearly it’s like riding a bike.  We celebrated my dad and Pete’s birthday and as with so many other meals, ate far too much wonderful food.  We tried in vein to get my mom to put her feet up after her second foot operation on both feet but alas she needs to mother us all – It is wonderful being spoilt by my mommy.  I went for a run most days – yay for me.  We viewed what we thought would be our new home but sadly it was not right, the second was beautiful and near perfect but alas it is out of our price range.  Our new forever home is around here somewhere, I’m just not sure exactly where it is yet.

Pete and I started the new year off by going for medicals and blood tests to check our cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, bmi, fitness and a few other things I have already forgotten- oops.  Seems our medical company is a wee bit confused though as with one of the results I am a year younger than my actual age and with another set of results I am two years older!  Maybe I am supposed to subtract the one from the other to get my actual age.  Haa.  Oh well, guess there is no exact science to it all. Overall I am healthy so there’s a luck although I do seem to be being wrapped over the knuckles for enjoying a glass or two of red wine in the evenings, other than that according to their criteria I am practising 6 of the 7 lifestyle habits. I’m happy with that.

I must confess to not taking many photos this holiday.  I was enjoying the moments of happiness far too much to interrupt them with my camera.

I know that 2014 is going to be a wonderful year for us all and I am looking forward to enjoying the journey with you all.

Family Tree’ing AGAIN!

I am sure you are all bored hearing about me doing family research but to be fair, it’s been a while since I did any work on the tree and I have managed to locate quite a few more family members.  Awesome! :-D

Family Tree

I shall be taking a short hiatus from blogging as the family research is taking up all of my time and with my dog at a bone tenacity I want to get as much done as I can before the end of the year.

Forgive my lack of visiting and commenting on your posts, I will try to catch up with you as soon as I can.

In My Kitchen – December 2013

Here we are at the end of another year.  Thanks again to Celia who so kindly invited us all to partake in this fun monthly event.  I am looking forward to starting afresh in the New Year again.

In my kitchen…

Are 2 escargot dishes.  Escargot is not something we eat very often but have decided that when we do, we want to do it properly.

Escargot dishes

In my kitchen…

Are blue sprinkles.  I am super excited about these as normally I can only ever find pink and the odd occasion when I can find blue, the colours are usually not very nice.

Blue sprinkles

In my kitchen…

Was the first of 2 fabulous pressies.  This first one is from my lovely sister-in-law Trish from when she visited last month.  Isn’t it just the most thoughtful lovely gift!

Trishy pressie

In my kitchen…

Was the second pressie from Mandy (Trish’s daughter – the mother of my Godson).  I was hoping to enjoy the bubbly with Mandy while she was here but alas, time did not allow.  I hope I can keep it long enough for the 2 of us to enjoy together soon.

Mand's pressie

In my kitchen…

Are a few more shells which I picked up on our last ride to, and walk on the beach.

Shells from walk

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.

Riding along the Addo Border

We really are blessed to be living in such a beautiful part of the country, even though the highway is now incredibly close to our home post the new road works and depending on which way the wind is blowing can make for noisy evenings with the traffic buzzing by.

Onto happier things…  just in case you missed my post on the Addo Elephant National Park, it is a mere 2km drive from our home now that they have opened the south gate, a true privilege!  It used to take close to and hour and a half to get into the park before they opened the new gate and just for interests sake, Addo is now the third largest national park in South Africa. :-)

Addo border 60

Pete and I went on a bike ride adventure which led us right to the border of the park.  Sadly we didn’t see any wildlife, although there was evidence of Elephant as we spotted loads of dung.

Addo border 45

The Addo border fence

Addo border 52

Good thing the gate is electrified as an ellie could easily push its way through

Addo border 49

Elephant dung just the other side of the electric fence

There used to be a railway station bordering the park in Colchester eons ago evident by how overgrown  the tracks are which will make for a beautiful photo shoot – soon I hope.  Somebody must have known the station will never re-open as when they tarred the road, they tarred straight over the tracks – or were they possibly just lazy.

Addo border 12

Overgrown rail tracks

Addo border 65

Tracks intercepted by a road

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.