Wednesday, 19 December 2012

just hanging out








Sam, Megan and I quickly popped into North Beach during our lunch hour yesterday. We had just enough time for an ice cold drink at the restaurant Circus Circus, which has a couple of tables located right on the beachfront. We shamelessly acted like tourists, it was lots of fun! I love this time of year, it's when Durban really does me proud. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

xmas diy no.3: polka dot napkins


Christmas and polka dots. Two of my favourite things at the moment!


What you'll need:
  • seedcloth (cut into squares, each 30cm x 30cm in size)
  • a sewing machine
  • white cotton thread
  • pins
  • red fabric paint
  • paint brush
  • a surface to paint on 



1. Place 30cm x 30cm squares of seedcloth onto your work surface (You WILL end up messing paint on it, so put a little bit of newspaper down first for protection.)

2. Using your paint brush, apply the fabric paint onto the seedcloth in circular shapes to create the polka dots. Make sure to space the polka dots out evenly (roughly 2,5cm apart from eachother).

3. Allow to dry. This may take up to 20 minutes - in that case, go make yourself some coffee or tea whilst you wait!


4. Once napkins are completely dry, the next step is to sew a basic rolled hem. A rolled hem is sewn to ensure no raw edges will fray on your napkins. Although this is super easy, my mom had to guide me on this one (I am still in the rookie phase of sewing!) I found this simple tutorial on how to sew a rolled hem on the interwebs, I reckon it explains it better than I ever could. See here for the tutorial)


Pretty neat huh?


And there you have it, some really cute polka dot napkins for your Christmas lunch! I used a wooden peg to cinch it in the middle to create a bow shape (as seen above).


Monday, 3 December 2012

xmas diy no.2: homemade muesli





Since I was young I've only ever tasted "store-bought" muesli a couple of times. The reason being, my mom has always baked her own for us Groblers. So I'm quite a snob when it comes to muesli, I am easily disappointed if I find too many raisins in mine! (Raisins are boring *rolls eyes* and tend to over-sweeten the muesli) I prefer having an "array" of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits - and who can argue that. It's one of the easiest and tastiest ways of putting nutrients back into your body :)

So here it is, a muesli recipe that gets two thumbs-up from me! I recommend packaging/storing it in a mason jar when giving it to someone as a gift, as this will ensure the muesli stays air-tight and keeps it's crunchy texture. 

HOMEMADE MUESLI (Makes roughly 28 servings)

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecan nuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, raw unsalted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I left out the coconut in my recipe)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 chopped dried apple
  • 1/2 cup currants
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees. (Muesli needs to be baked at a lower temperature than usual)
  2. Combine the oats, pecan nuts, sunflower seeds, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir well to combine, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, combine the oil and honey. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove. Add vanilla and stir well.
  4. Pour oil/honey mixture over the oats mixture. Using two spoons, stir and toss the mixture until all of the oats are coated with the syrup.
  5. Place granola directly onto a baking sheet and place in the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 miinutes, remove the granola and stir, moving the granola around the outside edges into the middle and the middle out towards the edges. Set the timer for another 10 minutes. 
  6. After the second 10 minutes, sprinkle with the coconut and then stir well again. Return to oven and set the timer for one last 10 minute bake. (30 minutes total, stirred twice at 10 minutes and 20 minutes). At the end of the last 10 minutes (30 minutes in the oven), remove the granola from the oven. Stir just a bit then sprinkle with the cranberries, dried apple and currants and leave undisturbed until it is completely cooled. 
  7. Once cooled, stir the granola. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container. Will keep for several weeks.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

'weeping rose' by tretchikoff




My mom brought home this lovely postcard of Tretchikoff's "Weeping Rose" from Fat Tuesday the other day. I can't seem to take my eyes off it... there is something about still-life paintings that I find so engaging. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

recipe: chocolate brownie sandwiches with salted caramel





These brownie sandwiches are probably one of the most indulgent things I've made in a long time! Definitely the kind of thing you would have on an "off-day". Ha ha. The salted caramel was my first attempt and I was really chuffed with how it came out. Caramel can leave you in quite a sticky situation (sorry... I had to) if you don't keep a watchful eye whilst it simmers in the pan. 

I served these with vanilla ice-cream which broke up the richness of the brownie. This dessert was definitely the stuff heaven is made of - no matter how sinful! :)

CHOCOLATE BROWNIE SANDWICHES WITH SALTED CARAMEL (Makes 14 sandwiches)

Ingredients:

360g dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 tsp baking powder, sifted

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Place 210g of the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and gently stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.

3. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 15 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add in flour, baking powder, melted chocolate mixture, remaining chocolate and mix to combine. Set aside to to stand for 10 minutes. 

4. Spoon tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on trays.

For the salted caramel filling:

1 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup caramel (make sure it is cooled if it is homemade. Click here for the homemade caramel recipe)

1. Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamed. Add in sugar and salt and beat until lightly combined. Add in caramel and beat until combined.

To assemble: Spread a teaspoon and a half of caramel filling on the underside of one brownie cookie and place a second brownie cookie bottom side down on top of the frosting.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

xmas diy no.1: spicy christmas cookies



As promised, here is my first Christmas DIY post. I decided to start it off with a very easy, budget-friendly gift idea - spicy Christmas cookies. The great thing is that you're more than likely to have all these ingredients in your kitchen already.

Once baked, the obvious choice would be to package these biscuits in tin containers but if you really want to make these go a long way - bake them with lollipop sticks and wrap them individually with clear cellophane. I must say there's something really novel about something that is individually wrapped! Secure with twine or even washi tape, and there you have the tastiest little stocking filler!


NOTE: I halved this recipe as it makes PLENTY. A normal batch will make +-40 cookies.

SPICY CHRISTMAS COOKIES


Ingredients:

500g plain flour
15ml baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
250g margarine or butter
250g white sugar
2 large eggs


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease and flour a baking sheet.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice into a mixing bowl.

3. Cream the margarine and sugar then add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.

4. Fold in the flour mixture and mix well. Roll out the dough on slightly floured surface (about 5mm thick) and cut out rounds with a cookie cutter. Using lollipop sticks, press gently into the side of each cookie.

5. Place cookies in oven for approximately 10 mins, or until a light golden colour.

Decorate with a *glacé icing.


*For the glacé icing:

2 egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups icing sugar

1. Beat well. Hold cookies by outside edges and spread on top. If you would like to add polka dots to your cookies, mix (in a separate bowl) the glacé icing with a drop of red food colouring.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

a weekend in mcgregor

  

 



  


 

 

 

 


This weekend my parents, grandfather and I visited my grandfather's wine estate in McGregor, in the Western Cape. The remote town (2 hours outside Cape Town) gleams old world charm with it's historical 19th century architecture. It was just the mini break I was needing - peaceful and relaxing. 

The flora in Mcgregor was breathtaking - how often do you get to see bright pincushion proteas growing wildly in abundance?! Or a field full of leeks? I rest my case.

We were lucky enough to experience perfect weather whilst we were down there too, allowing us to really take in the beauty of the town. McGregor boasts 2 nominees for 'Best country-style restaurant' by EatOut magazine - so, by my mom's insistence, we got to try both of them out - De Kaap restaurant and Karoux. If you are ever in the area, be sure to try out the Sunday buffet at De Kaap. (most of the fresh produce is sourced from their own vegetable and herb garden)

Here are a few pics from my weekend - please excuse the quality as these were all taken on my iPhone.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

XMAS D.I.Y-ING


I've slowly started gathering (or should I say pinning) some Christmas inspo onto my Pinterest board. Although my search for awesome Christmas-sy D.I.Y is nowhere near completion, please feel free to have a look and get inspired. Here are a few essential 'bits and bobs' that I know I won't be without -  my favourite item being seed cloth. There is just so much you can do with it, I think it's amazing! (Think dip-dyed table cloths, embellished tote bags, cushion covers, and more.) Over the next couple of weeks I will be testing some of the Christmas ideas I have pinned to my board, so stay tuned. Whoever said the act of "giving" has to be an expensive exercise, clearly hasn't heard of Pinterest. Ha!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

ermahgerd, these biscuits have flowers on them.




I have been absent on my blog for over a month now and it's been quite difficult trying to get back into it. The difficult part being... trying to find the time.

But whilst I have had to focus on other things in my life, the time apart has also allowed me to think about my blog. Like really THINK about it. I needed to do that. I now know what purpose I want it to serve - to me and to anyone who visits my blog.

Well I think that's enough sentimental ramble - let me give you the lowdown on these little treasures that I baked the other day (I upped their pretty factor by dressing them up with edible pansies from our garden). Enjoy :D

ICED OATMEAL COOKIES (Makes +-2 dozen)

Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups old fashioned oats

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugars and eggs.  Add vanilla.  

3. Combine the flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Add to creamed mixture.  

4. Mix in the old fashioned oats.  Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so and then mix again.

5. Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 10-12 minutes.  (They spread, so bake about 6 at a time on large cookie sheets).  The edges will become golden brown but the middles will look underdone.  Cool on pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on racks.  Makes 2-3 dozen.

For the glaze:

2 egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups icing sugar

1. Beat well.  Hold cookies by outside edges and dip upside down in icing.

2. Decorate with edible flowers if you wish.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

recipe: classic vanilla cupcakes





Vanilla cupcakes are the "Little Black Dress" of sweet treats at a birthday celebration. If you use a good recipe, you simply can't go wrong. I mean who can say no to a fluffy cake cloud covered in creamy goodness?

I baked these for my friend Megan's birthday earlier on this week. The reason I've decided to post the recipe is because this particular one (that my Mom passed down to me) is probably the quickest, most foolproof cupcake recipe of them all. Put it this way - I made these an hour before I came to work. But as they say, seeing is believing. So try it out for yourself!

Ingredients:
125g self-raising flour
125g softened butter or margarine (I used Stork)
125g castor sugar
2 eggs
1t vanilla extract
3T milk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. 

2. Mix together all ingredients - the resulting batter should drop lightly off a spoon. 

3. Divide into 12 paper cupcake / muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

To make a basic buttercream icing, simply cream together 100g softened butter with 200g sifted icing sugar. Add the mixture to a piping bag and swirl buttercream onto cupcakes. Decorate accordingly.





Thursday, 30 August 2012

2 days...



I've been observing the mulberries (and flowers) growing in our garden - always a sign that Spring is imminent. Only 2 days until we enter the new season! September also marks a year since I moved from Joburg to back to my hometown of Durban... Wow. How time flies!

Flora photos are from my garden. So if you have silkworms, you know who to call.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

eek.


SOZ. I shall resume the blog next week. I can promise you some baked goods are on their way! :) 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

recipe: cinnamon streusel mini cakes





Was getting some intense cravings for something cinnamon-y yesterday. And so I baked these...

The texture was spot on - the streusel topping gave the cakes a slight crunchiness on the outside, whilst the inside remained light and fluffy. I didn't have sour cream at home, so I just used normal whipping cream with a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. (Good to know!)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups sour cream
For the streusel topping:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled

For the milk glaze:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp milk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. 
Stir in vanilla by hand.
4. Add flour mixture and sour cream, stir until just combined. 
Divide batter evenly among lined cups.

For the streusel: 

1. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers, until combined but still crumbly.
2. Sprinkle half of the streusel over the muffins, pressing it into the muffins. Sprinkle the other half evenly over the muffins.
3. 
Bake for 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean, rotating pans half way through.
4. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing muffins. Once cooled, prepare milk glaze by whisking together sugar and milk.
5. Remove muffins from tin and place on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet and drizzle evenly with milk glaze.




Sunday, 29 July 2012

"pieces" by jockum nordström



HOW cool is this etching by Jockum Nordström? He uses an unusual printing technique called spit biting and soft ground etching to achieve a watercolour effect in his work. Genius!
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