Where I Write From

Our dear Celi over at The Kitchens Garden, has revived the getting to know each other a wee bit by asking us to share where we write from.  C said not tiding up before snapping the shot.

For the most part I am neat and tidy but looking at the pic, I see loads I could have in better order.

Where I write from

An abridged version of my little office

We would all love to see where you write from.  Take a quick snapshot, remember no tiding up and share it with us by linking back to Celi’s post Where I write.

In My Kitchen – April 2016

We are still enjoying beautiful extended summery days, however the early mornings and late evenings are somewhat chilly, reminding us winter will soon be here.

Thanks to Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef for managing our monthly get together’s.

Everything in my kitchen this month are all gifts!  How awesome! ♥

In my kitchen…

Is a beautiful dinner service inherited from my Nanna – my mom’s mom.  It has been packed away for the better part of 40 years and with the folks move to the River and having an already fully packed kitchen, they thought I would enjoy using it.  ♥

Dinner service

In my kitchen…

Are 2 butter dishes from my folks wedding, lovingly given to me. ♥

butter dishes

In my kitchen…

Is my great gran’s gorgeous pink hued teapot, perfect for tea for 2. ♥

pink teapot

In my kitchen…

Are my great-gran’s baking pans which she used to use to bake banana bread and sponge cakes.

great grans baking tins

In my kitchen…

Is a gorgeous serving dish just waiting for cheese and biscuits.  Thanks Daddy and Mommy. ♥

serving dish

In my kitchen…

Are serving bowls from my folks – I see retro prawn cocktail served in them, or trifle…

glass serving bowlsglass serving bowls 2

In my kitchen…

And then just as a reminder how lovely village life is, are pomegranates from folk who live down the road.  Thanks Les and Sharon.  Pete is loving eating his childhood favourite fruit.

pomegranates

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Maureen’s blog if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and remember Maureen needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Chocolate Cheesecake

I saw this recipe in an old edition of the Your Family magazine (April 1997) and thought it quite decadent with all the chocolate, almonds and mascarpone.  It isn’t the cheapest of desserts to make and eating it cold from the fridge wasn’t that great.  It was however great at room temperature.  Really thought I took pics of it cut but clearly not.  Oops.

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Ingredients

Base
125g butter, melted
25g castor sugar
100g milk chocolate, melted
50g ground almonds
90g flour, sifted

Filling
500g cream cheese
125g castor sugar
125ml cream
5 XL eggs, separated
400g milk chocolate, melted

Topping
500g Mascarpone cheese
30g icing sugar
5ml vanilla essence
Extra milk chocolate for decorating

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Base – Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the remaining ingredients and press into the base of a greased 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
  4. Filling – Beat the cream cheese, sugar and cream until smooth.  Add the egg yolks and melted chocolate.
  5. Beat the egg whites until still peaks form and fold into the mixture and pour over the base.  Bake for 2 hours and then cool in the oven for an hour.
  6. Topping – Beat the ingredients together and spread over the cooled cheesecake.
  7. Decorate with shavings or grated chocolate.

Corn Bread

I go this super easy recipe from my aunt and is perfect for your next braai (barbeque) and is wonderful with lashing of cold butter.

Corn Bread

Corn Bread

Ingredients

415g tin creamed sweetcorn
1 cup mielie meal
2 eggs
¼ cup oil
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients and place in a prepared loaf tin.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

In My Kitchen – March 2016

I missed January and February this year.  Clearly not off to a very quick start to 2016.

Thanks to Maureen over at The Orgasmic Chef for taking over the monthly installment get together and round up from our dear friend Celia.  I am looking forward to tagging along with everyone.

In my kitchen…

Is the most beautiful gift from Celia all the way from Australia!  It is currently holding a place in John Kehoe’s book, Mind Power.

Celica book mark

In my kitchen…

Are bone handled tea knives, a gift from my mom who knows how much I love bone handled cutlery.  Can’t wait to butter a scone using them.  Think I will have to arrange a tea party.:-)

bone handled cake knives

In my kitchen…

Is a homemade cake platter.  I have been hunting for one to hold 6 “Mandy sized” cupcakes but all have been too small.  So while in Joburg, I found the perfect plate and shallow bowl which I inverted and stuck to the base of the plate using epoxy.

medium cake holder

In my kitchen…

Is a pretty blue “silpat” baking mat from my cousin Renee – which reminds me I still need to make the crackers I have been trying to make since December.

Silpat

In my kitchen…

Is a gorgeous toothpick holder, a gift from my ever loving Pete.

Toothpick holder

In my kitchen…

Were some healthy snacks, fab chocies and what was my favourite spice until it was finished, all from my lovely sister in law Trishy.

Pressies

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Maureen’s blog if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and remember Maureen needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Well, that is explains it

Hello!  I have missed chatting with you all and seeing what you have been getting up to in the blogoshpere.

To get right to it, I now know why I could not run anymore, was permanently hot, had sleepless nights, failing eye sight, had tremours, couldn’t stop eating and had a slight goiter on the right side of my neck.

Without boring you too much, I went to the doctor (under duress) and was diagnosed with toxic autoimmune thyroiditis and was bombarded by specialists to immediately ingest dangerous medication and have radioactive iodine injected into my body or take the risk of having a thyroid storm (crisis), oh and die.  All times I heard them say that –   Urgh!  What they want to do is take my extremely overactive thyroid, destroy it, which will result in a non functioning or underactive thyroid for which I would have to take life long medication.  Incidentally, they don’t tell you this medication only provides one of the  hormones you require and leads to other health issues like osteoporosis!

Every ounce of me said No, No, No!  There HAS TO BE another way to fix this.

According to the doctors there is not and if I do not act immediately, I am taking my life into my own hands and could go into a thyroid storm at any minute and die!  Again, URGH!  When I spoke with the referring doctor about my decision to take an alternative natural route, he laughed at me and I don’t need to tell you what he said would happen if I did not follow the western route.

Fast forward a week and a flight to Johannesburg to help my folks pack for their move here to the River and to see an iridologist, who I used to see when living there who guaranteed me we can normalise my thyroid without a shadow of a doubt AND it will only take the better part of a couple of months.  He answered all my questions the way I was hoping he would and I knew absolutely he was right.  I threw my arms around him in relief.  Not sure that was very professional but too bad.

Butch

Natural healing medication

After one week of taking the medication, my tremours completely stopped, my eye sight improved, I am sleeping much better and I am not permanently having to fan myself although I must say, the appetite hasn’t subsided much, yet…

Woohoo!

It saddens me how traditional doctors aren’t more accepting of the results of homeopathy and how the two can work hand in hand.  No matter as I am fast on my way to a normal functioning thyroid.  Next step is to have the blood tests done again to prove my counts have normalised.  I cannot wait!

7 Fabulous Tips To Sharper Photos

An absolute must read for all aspiring photographers.

moi du toi photography

“I don’t understand it! They looked so great on the LCD screen at the back of my camera!”

Don’t you just hate it when you get home from a photo shoot, where you were totally convinced you had some fantastic photographs, and in feverish excitement, trembling fingers and all, you download the images only to find that once they’re on the computer screen you see that, “Oh no!” – image after image after image is soft, out of focus and just bleh.

Fear not my little buttercups, I know that feeling all too well.  Been there done that, many, many times. So many times in fact that I became totally obsessed with image sharpness and went on a Moira Mission to find out how to fix it.

Here’s what I discovered and to make it easier for us to remember I used the anagram C.L.A.S.S.I.C.   Amn’t I cleverest sausage ever?

How to get sharper images, photography tips and techniques, online photography class, photography course Left:…

View original post 1,038 more words

Pear and Almond Cake with Almond Crunch Topping

The name alone caught my attention when I saw this recipe from the online Delicious Magazine, and then the use of sour cream and nutmeg.  When friends invited us over for dinner I offered to bring dessert so I could try this delicious cake.  I was quite skeptical once I read the length of baking time but it was absolutely perfect and so very moreish. I will definitely serve this regularly and is the perfect Christmas dinner dessert.

Pear Almond Cake 3

Pear and Almond Cake with Almond Crunch Topping

Ingredients

  • 175g softened butter
  • 150g Billington’s Golden Caster Sugar – I used regular caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract – I used essence
  • 2 medium eggs – I used extra large 
  • 220g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 140ml soured cream
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 firm pears, such as Comice
  • A little lemon juice

For the almond crunch topping

  • 50g butter
  • 50g Billington’s Light Muscovado Sugar – I used demerara sugar
  • 2 tbsp double cream – I used normal cream
  • 75g flaked or slivered almonds

Pear Almond Cake 4

 Method

  1. Line a 20cm springform tin with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with the second egg. Sift the remaining flour, a pinch of salt, bicarbonate of soda and the nutmeg together. Fold half the flour into the creamed mixture. Fold in the soured cream, zest and almonds, then the remaining flour.
  3. Peel, core and slice the pears. Toss with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Spread half of the cake mixture over the base of the tin, cover with the pears, then the remaining cake mixture. Bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the almond topping. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the sugar and cream, then stir in the almonds.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the almond mixture evenly over the top. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is toffee-coloured and a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake. Remove and serve warm or cold.

Lack of Running

Don’t go for a run for 3 weeks and BAM you are back to being a lump whose body says forget it, I am not going to do this!😦  Needless to say a lot more cycling has been happening with not much running.

Then, new shoes.  We got lucky with a pair of Asics which were R600 (± USD $42.50) cheaper purely because they are in last years colours!  No improvement to the shoe, just a change in colour.

Asics runners

It is taking a while getting used to these runners too; the balls of my feet burn like they are on fire and my toes get pins and needles so not much fun when I am already battling to breathe, and still trying to enjoy my run.

On the upside, I have started weight training with Pete.  Its what us “getting older” folk are meant to do I believe.  Got to keep the muscle tone, or in my case, built it.😀

Here’s to keeping it all up over the holidays!

Carrot, Apple & Date Overnight Muffins

These delicious muffins smell just like Christmas should and are prepared a day in advance.  The mixture needs to stand in the fridge overnight so this is a perfect recipe if you want something freshly baked in the morning without all the hassle of making a mess.  This is a modified version of my aunts Must Make Muffins and doubles perfectly.

Carrot, Apple & Date Overnight Muffins

Carrot, Apple & Date Muffins

Ingredients

200ml nutty wheat flour
125ml  bran
125ml oats
7.5ml bicarbonate of soda
5ml cinnamon
5ml ginger
5ml nutmeg
2.5ml salt
250ml chopped dates
250ml grated apple
125ml grated carrot
1 eggs
10ml vanilla essence
30ml oil
250ml milk

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Stir the ingredients and divide between 12 muffin tins lined with paper cases.
  4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

In My Kitchen – December 2015

Wow, the end of another year!  Before we wipe our eyes we will be sharing bits and piece in our kitchen in 2016.

As always a big thank you to our friend Celia for bringing us all together each month with these fun IMK posts.:-)  I am looking forward to next year. xo

In my kitchen…

Was one of my favourite meals, Green Thai Curry Chicken.

Spicy Chicken Curry 3

In my kitchen…

Are a few “inherited” glass pieces from new friends Anton and Diane.  Their mom/in-law passed and I was lucky to receive a few treasured pieces.  Mints have never looked prettier in a crystal lidded jar.

Anton & Diane 1

In my kitchen…

Is probably my favourite piece from Anton and Diane as it reminds me of a mixing bowl my Nana had.  Funny how the brain remembers things as my aunt still has my Nana’s bowl and it looks quite different to mine.  I was so excited about this bowl that I had to use it right away.  I will share the recipe soon.

Anton & Diane 3

In my kitchen…

Is a matching serving dish and bowls, also from Anton and Diane.  The bowls are the perfect size and just what I have been looking for.

Anton & Diane 2

In my kitchen…

Are more gifts from Anton and Diane.  These mini baking tins are adorable.  I see some Christmas baking coming on.

Anton & Diane 4

In my kitchen…

Is the most wonderful gift from our neighbours who are only out at the river over weekends.  I keep an eye on their home when they aren’t here, well only when I have to really and they gave me a loving gift as thanks.

LindyAndre

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 and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Community Service

I have always been involved in our community.  It started at Sundays River when Pete and I moved here back in 2003.  I started a local publication

WOISwhich was a great way to meet and get to know a lot of folk in our village and I loved each edition I did every month for 5 years.  Chances are I would still be at it had Pete and I not gone to Mauritius for 3 years.  I am thrilled the gentleman who bought it from me is still doing a monthly issue.

I am involved in our Neighbourhood Watch programme which we started a year ago. Sadly the enthusiasm has worn off and we are left with just a hand full of community members who still do nightly patrols.  There are a lot of apathetic people who find a lot of time to complain but not enough time to get involved.

Neighbourhood watch logo

I joined our local police forum as an ordinary member and I now have a fancy title of Chairperson.  It has boosted my involvement from about 5% to a full 100%.  I certainly know how to make work for myself.😀  Then again Mandy being Mandy I have to know how all the nuts and bolts work and love having things to tick off of a list.  So satisfying.

Kinkelbos CPF Logo

I feel our SAPS are sometimes unfairly given a bad name and are not always properly thanked so on a visit to our local station a few weeks back I took along some custard cookies.  Working closely with SAPS makes all the difference to understanding the challenges they face each day.  Kudos to our local station for doing an outstanding job.

SAPS thanks

Do you have the same problem with the same hand full of willing people being involved in all things community?

Sun Dried Tomato & Ginger Dressing

This is such a flavour packed colourful dressing which keeps well for up to a week in the fridge.  Just a splash is needed per serving so goes a long way and makes for a lovely hostess gift.

Sundried tomato ginger dressing

Sun Dried Tomato & Ginger Dressing

Ingredients

80ml rice wine vinegar
5 marinated sundried tomato quarters
15ml tomato paste
5ml salt
2.5ml black pepper
45ml honey
Zest & juice of 1 orange
10ml fresh ginger grated
125ml parsley
60ml mint
180ml olive oil

Method

  1. Blend all the ingredients except the oil.
  2. Slowly add the oil until creamy and combined.
  3. Serve over roasted vegetable salad

Rosemary roasted vegetable salad

Roasted Beetroot Hummus

This recipe was in the September 2015 issue of Garden And Home magazine which we adjusted slightly.  This is great for the upcoming Christmas parties served with cucumber sticks or toasted seeded loaf fingers.

Roasted beetroot hummus

Roasted Beetroot Hummus

Ingredients

1 large beetroot peeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 400g tins chickpeas
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup water – we halved this and replaced the balance with olive oil
3 Tbsp tahini – we omitted this as we never had any
2 tsp ground cumin – we toasted and ground seed
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut the beetroot into quarters and place on a baking tray.  (I would suggest roasting more so as not to waste the oven on one beetroot – they are fabulous in salads)
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Roast for ± 20 minutes until softened.  Allow to cool.
  4. Place the remaining ingredients and beetroot in a food processor and blend.

In My Kitchen – November 2015

I can’t believe we are nearing the end of another year and there is only one more installment after this before we wave good bye to 2015.  As always a big thank you to our friend Celia for bringing us all together each month with these fun IMK posts.:-)

In my kitchen…

Are Strawberry Popcorn seeds which Pete found while we were out shopping the other day.  Can’t wait to plant them.

Popcorn

In my kitchen…

Are beautiful mini wooden spoons Pete brought back from Malawai for me.:-)

Malawi spoons

In my kitchen…

Technically not in my kitchen but I wanted to share with you, is a teeny tiny book Pete got for me.  It is just bigger and fatter than a matchbox and is filled with the most wonderful quotes.
Your cat book

In my kitchen…

Are our new favourite in-between snack.  They are wonderfully light and crispy and go well with everything from a cup of tea to a glass of wine.

Woolies Rice Crackers

In my kitchen…

Is my new favourite all rounder cleaner.  I know it says for carpets and fabric but I am using it for just about everything – especially the spots where a free living cat is marking in our home.  Wish I could catch him to have him neutered and homed.

Woolies cleaner

In my kitchen…

Are some lovely shells we found on a deserted stretch of beach on a recent walk.

Beach shells

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 and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Mushroom & Butter Bean Goulash

This is great dish to enjoy over rice and comes together in a short time, perfect for a week night meal.  Thanks to Karin for this great recipe.

Mushroom butterbean tomato

Mushroom & Butter Bean Goulash

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece ginger grated
500g brown mushrooms chopped
2 X 410g tin chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp vegetable stock powder
1 Tbsp honey
410g tin butter beans rinsed
Coriander to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry until tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the butter beans and honey and serve with chopped coriander.

Brown & Wild Rice Pilaf

I got great new vegetarian recipes from my sister-in-law Karin while she and my brother were here visiting.  Fabulous flavourful healthy and very moreish meals.  It’s wonderful to see Greg and Karin’s kids enjoy these wonderful meals too.

Brown rice pilaf

Brown & Wild Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

1 cup of brown wild rice cooked according the package instructions
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion chopped
1 large red pepper chopped
500g  brown mushrooms chopped
2 stalks celery sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
410g tin lentils rinsed
½ cup chopped parsley
1 small punnet sprouts
Toasted flaked almonds

Method

  1. Heat the oil and fry the onions and peppers.
  2. Add the mushrooms and celery and cook until the mushrooms and celery are tender.
  3. Stir in the sprouts, soy, lentils and parsley.
  4. Add the rice and flaked almonds.

Spring Garden

Seems the weather hasn’t quite decided if it is Spring yet.  We have had a few splashes of sun here and there with loads of rain and horrible gale winds.  It hasn’t dampened my excitement with getting going in the garden, although some of the seed I have planted may have blown or been washed into the neighbours garden – might have to fetch my veggies there once they grow.:-)

You may remember the gent I bought our garden bench from a while ago.  I couldn’t help myself and bought this sweet bridge from him a couple of weeks back.  It only cost R200 (± USD $14.48).

IMG_7614

The veggie patch is doing well and our cauliflowers are coming along really nicely.

IMG_8142

The spinach has also grown in leaps and bounds.  I shall have to enjoy it soon before the garden critters finish it.

IMG_8143

The mini cabbages are also doing well after being thinned out.

IMG_8144

I planted pumpkin seed which shot up out of the ground a couple of days after planting – they will be thinned out soon too.

IMG_8136

Pumpkins for Africa!

Also new to the garden is zucchini – I am thrilled at how healthy they are looking.

IMG_8140

Not wanting to worry about stakes and the like, I planted bush beans.

IMG_8137

Naturally no garden would be complete without dill and coriander so they were planted too.

IMG_8139I have added a few more things: butternut, sweetcorn, lettuce, rhubarb, carrots, capsicums, parsley, thyme and lavender.  I am sure I have forgotten something in this list.

Our loquats are all ripening but seems the birds are beating us to them all.IMG_7651And passers by are all picking our lemons off the tree before we can.  IMG_8064

At least our peaches are hidden away and hopefully will be worm free again this year.

IMG_7620Now I patiently await our figs.

IMG_8062

In My Kitchen – October 2015

As always a big thank you to our friend Celia for bringing us all together each month with these fun IMK posts.:-)

In my kitchen…

Were some sticky chicken wings – haven’t had them in a while and they were fabulous.

In my kitchen…

Is a quinoa salad, always such a wonderful taste explosion.

Karin's quinoa 2

In my kitchen…

Was some scrumptious macaroni and cheese, unbaked, my lazy way of making it.

In my kitchen…

Is a bottle of Amarula, a gift from my brother Greg and his wife Karin.  I can see getting rid of my winter weight will have to wait a while longer.:-)

Amarula

In my kitchen…

Is a beautiful gift from Greg and Karin’s children, Tom and Anne.  A decorative whisk.

Decorative whisk

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 and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.