Bits and Pieces

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

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

Big Tree 00001

Imagine the stories this tree could tell!

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

treadmill

Look at me go!

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

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

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

5 series

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

Fortuner

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

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

I promise to share something tasty next week.

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. 

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. 🙂

The Beautiful Blog Award

What a lovely surprise being nominated for the Beautiful Blog Award from my new blogging buddy John over at Sybaritica. By profession, John is a lawyer who lives with his wife in Canada’s Arctic – it looks EXTREMELY cold.  All of Johns food posts are a pleasure and luxury; he cooks the most extraordinary (mainly Chinese influenced) and exotic meals fit for a king.  Do pop over to John’s blog for a culinary treat.


It seems there are no rules to the award other than thanking and linking back to the person who gave you the award and paying the love forward to 7 other bloggers.

I always find this the most difficult part of accepting an award.  Who to pay the love forward to.   To be frank, I would like to nominate all of the blogs I follow but in sticking with the rules and in alphabetical order, my 7 nominees are…

  1. Back Road Journal – Karen lives in the most magnificent and beautiful  1730’s home with an apple orchard and has a summer home on a lake in Maine.  Karen’s passions are travel and food.
  2. Go bake Yourself – Choc Chip Uru, aka CCU is a darling 16 year old wise beyond her years and a clear professional baker in the making.
  3. Just a Smidgen – Smidge is a beautiful poet, artist, photographer, aspiring cellist, and bon vivant with a passion for baking and culinary creations.
  4. Kiwsparks – Kathryn is a remarkable artist, writer and designer who has the most magical commands of the English language, which I am sure stems from her teaching art, English and study/research methodology.
  5. Lavender and Lime – Tandy, a fellow South African and longest standing friend in this list is a guru when it comes to pasta dishes.
  6. Sarah’s Place – Sarah shares the most inspiring beach life, photography, fabulous food and brilliant knitting patterns.
  7. Zesty Bean Dog’s Blog – Jen has recently completed all of her yoga study and cooks the most incredible meals featuring a weekly inspirational pizza and has a thing for yuzu.

John, thank you again for nomination me for this lovely award! 🙂

The ABC Award

My lovely friend Tandy over at Lavender and Lime awarded me The ABC Award.  Tandy is a great inspiration as she is always busy with new challenges and evolving her wonderful blog.  Thank you again Tandy.

There are no specific rules attached to this fun award; just share something about yourself using each letter of the alphabet and pay the love forward to as many or as few bloggers as you wish, which is always a very difficult task, so I will do nearly as Tandy did; I will pass this onto my top most recent commenter’s.  They are listed at the end of this post.

A – AUTHENTIC – Genuine

B – BELIEVER – In all things good

C – CAUTIOUS – Rather safe than sorry

D – DEDICATED – To everything I commit to

E – ENTHUSIASTIC – It’s so much easier and nicer than being lethargic and apethetic

F – FAMILY – Is everyting

G – GRATEFUL – Consciously for so much every day

H – HONEST – Too much for my own good some days

I – INQUISITIVE – I’m always asking zillions of questions

J – JOTTER – I am always writing notes and even notes of notes

K – KIND – It never hurt anybody being nice

L – LOVING – I love hugs and the power of touch sharing a love filled word

M – MARRIED – Very happily

N – NEAT – Painully so

O – OPTIMISTIC – Always trying to find the good

P – PEDANTIC/PARTICULAR – I just like things in order

Q – QUESTIONS – I have a very enquiring mind

R – REALIST – It is what it is

S – SOFTY – I am very sensitive and take things far too personally

T – TRUSTWORTHY – I honestly can keep a secret

U – UNIQUE – I often have different ideas to the norm

V – VOLUNTEER – I have an uncontrollable urge to help

W – WRITER – Of The Complete Cook Book and another 2 in progress

X – XENOPHOBIC Opposer – What ever happened to love thy neighbour

Y – YORKSHIRE PUDDING LOVER – 🙂

Z – ZEN – It’s hard to beat quiet reflective time

Thank you too to my top commenter’s, I always appreciate and look forward to your kind words.  Enjoy putting your ABC’s together.

Tanya – Chica Andaluza

John – From The Bartolini Kitchens

Betsy – Bits and Breadcrumbs

Kim – My Inner Chick

Greg – Rufus’s Food and Spirit Guide

 

Reader Appreciation Award

What a way to end last year with the surprise of receiving the Reader Appreciation Award from John over at The Bartolini Kitchens Blog.  A few years back, John realized that some of his family’s recipes were rarely being prepared and would likely be lost if no one used them. So began his journey, with his Mom Theresa, and  his Zia (aunt) Lea ensuring that the family recipes would be preserved, used, and now shared on his lovely blog.

It is always such an honour to receive an award and being able to share the appreciation by paying the love forward to other fellow blogging buddies.

The rules of this award are to:

  1. Award your top 6 bloggers who have commented the most.
  2. Be thankful.
  3. You cannot award someone who has already been awarded and you cannot give the award back to me.
  4. Don’t forget to tell the bloggers you’ve awarded.
  5. If you don’t want to pass on this award, that’s okay to. Just admire it.

Well point number 3 ain’t so easy as my top 6 have already all been nominated so I am nominating the following bloggers:

  1. My friend Michael over at Oishii – Michael loves to share great recipes which he discovers from popular restaurants, cookbooks, food magazines (Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, etc.), tv shows, friends, family, and other blogs as well as developing his own.  Michael doesn’t blog that often but when he does, you can guarantee an exceptional recipe every time.  Oh and  just in case you wanted to know, “Oishii” (pronounced “oy she”) is the Japanese word for delicious.
  2. Second on the list is Linda over at Fired Up Cooking SA – Linda who also doesn’t blog that frequently, writes a monthly article called ‘Camping Chat’ for the Caravan and Outdoor Life Magazine  as well as their ‘Cook-Out’ articles.  Linda makes the most incredible meals over a camp fire from starters, to mains and even desserts.
  3. My Australian chef friend Anna over at The Hospitality Guru has been privileged enough to meet the Queen no less.  Anna’s most recent accolades include having worked with the Prime Minister & Cabinet to create official events at Parliament House, dealt with famous performers and entertainers in preparation for the Australia Day live concert, to Manuka Oval working on the Prime Minister’s XI Cricket match.
  4. Next up is Bobbi over at Bam’s Kitchen.  Bobbi currently lives in Asia and Bam’s Kitchen is a place where you can experience some very unique international dishes that even teenagers will enjoy.
  5. Angie over at Angie’s Recipes makes the most magnificent meals that she photographs so beautifully!  Angie has taken food photography and turned it into culinary art and it’s easy to see why her recipes are so popular.
  6. Last but certainly by no means least is Barbara aka Smidge over at Just a Smidgen.  Barbara is a poet, artist, photographer, aspiring cellist, and bon vivant who has a passion for baking, culinary creations and the wonders of existence of her my hometown,Calgary, Alberta.

The Versatile Blogger Award

I am thrilled to share that Jen, a new blogging buddy over at Zestybeandog’s Blog has awarded me The Versatile Blogger award.  Jen loves to experiment with new ingredients and thinks of ways to prepare fresh foods in a unique way all the while being busy with studying and working.

I have previously received this award from my friend ChgoJohn and originally by Tandy who writes the Lavender and Lime blog as well as by the lovely Tanya over at  Chica Andaluza.

Here is a rerun of my interesting and random facts that I have shared about myself:

  1. I learnt from doing a challenge on Tandy’s blog that I would not eat roadkill.
  2. I probably drink too many cups of tea in a day, especially in winter.
  3. One of the first things I do when visiting family or friends, is look in their fridge.
  4. I love sharing motivational quotes.
  5. I have the strangest idiosyncrasy of having to smell everything.
  6. I bake cupcakes / muffins every week – sweet and savoury.
  7. If I could magically play an instrument, it would be the violin.
  8. I love to knit and crochet.
  9. I am extremely loyal to my family and friends.
  10. I absolutely adore cats – they are fur children after all.
  11. I love making and working from lists and have been known to make lists of lists.
  12. I get claustrophobic.
  13. I have been thinking of cutting my hair for the past 10 years and will hopefully make a decision soon.  I am still thinking about it.
  14. I  am like a dog at a bone and won’t stop until I have completed something, even if it takes longer than planned.
  15. I am a neat and organised person.
  16. I am committed and enthusiastic about what I do.
  17. I was crowned Miss College forever ago.
  18. I am an arachnophobic.
  19. I REALLY do not enjoy winter.
  20. I love crossword puzzles
  21. I never leave home without a bottle of water.

Thanks again Jen for honouring me with this lovely award, I feel super special to have been selected. 🙂