Archive for the ‘What is she up to now?’ Category

PostHeaderIcon I’ll be back!

No really…watch this space…I’ll be back..

Feel free to watch this youtube video until you see a new post.

(Click on the picture)


PostHeaderIcon No new entries for a while


This image brings back memories of sitting in front of the television at about 5:55pm waiting for the clock on the test pattern to hit 6:00pm, and the broadcast to start.  I am sure the US had all day television long before we did in South Africa, so while this image is fresh in my mind, some of you may not know it at all.  The point is, this is what you will see for some time here.  Although I am still feeding my family and trying new things in the kitchen, I will not blog about it.  So for now, enjoy the recipes on the blog and maybe I will be back to continue at a later stage.

PostHeaderIcon Breakfast Sausage Patties

Before living in the South (of USA)  I had never heard of sausage patties for breakfast.  Sausages came in casings and was either cooked on the braai (coals from burning wood), fried in a pan along with fresh tomatoes and onion or simmered with sauerkraut and beer.  I never did meet a sausage without his little see-through jacket until I landed here.

We have a great selection of breakfast sausages here in South, some are hot and spicy, others have a milder flavor and are filled with herbs and you even get the sweeter sausages that have maple syrup in them.  Because of the kids I tend to buy the milder flavored sausage, Emily and Alexia love having sausage for breakfast, James will eat it any way I make it and along with eating it for breakfast I use it in my stuffing for pork chops or dressing.

One of our local grocery stores had a special on pork butt roast and this was the perfect time to try making my own.  Our last attempt at sausage was a success in one way, but James did not like the flavor of them.  Instead of following a recipe this time, I found a few examples online and used them all to come up with something that we would like.  It was a great hit.  James loved it, I think his words were something like; “yum, this is so good, how did you get it to taste so smokey?”  Don’t tell him or the kids that it has several herbs in it or none of them will eat it!

Breakfast Sausage Patties:

2 pounds pork butt, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup Bacon fat choped (I trimmed the fat from a packet of bacon I had in the fridge)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped Thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Nutmeg

Combine all the above ingredients well and feed it through your meat grinder.
(I used an old fashioned crank grinder and it worked great, as long as you put the blades in the right way around, lessons learned from our last attempt)

Refrigerate the ground sausage for an hour or longer then form the breakfast patties.  The recipe makes about 20 small patties.  You can either fry them up immediately or freeze them for later use.

I froze 12 of them, we had 4 for brunch and I have 2 more in the fridge waiting to be used to stuff pork chops or turned into dressing.

I am off to the grocery store to buy another pork butt to make more sausage for the freezer.  I was also thinking of  changing the recipe up a bit and making sausage links for a sausage and mushroom dish that I make.  This is another grocery item that I no longer need to buy,  I get to control what goes into the sausage, no preservatives, no fillers, just the good stuff.

PostHeaderIcon No-knead ciabatta bread


My mom and sister have been visiting us for a month from South Africa and although we did a lot of cooking, eating and generally having a great time around the table, there was no time for blogging about it.  Life is back to normal now and I am ready to try a few new things.

Last night while looking through a copy of Cooking light magazine (thanks to my 2 free trial issues) I saw a delicious looking sandwich made with ciabatta bread and roasted veggies.  I figured since I have not had much luck with my sour dough bread and ciabatta bread is already flatter than normal sandwich breads it would be a good intro back to bread making.  I came across this blog called Foodwishes and it a has a great little video attached that shows you exactly how to make a no-knead ciabatta bread.   The blog has everything that you need to make this bread and the video is a hoot so I did not take many pictures of the process, just a few of the final bread and what I ate for lunch today.


This was a very easy bread to make and the taste is fantastic! The crust is hard and chewy and the inside is soft with loads of air bubbles.   Emily (my soft white bread lover) gobbled it up and asked for more.  I ate it for lunch with last nights left overs.  A tomato, basil and balsamic vinegar salad on one slice and left over pork, and roasted veggies on another.  The kids ate theirs with a generous amount of homemade butter.


The Recipe:
4 cups bread flour or 3 1/2 cup white flour and 1/2 cup wheat flour (you can use all purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon yeast
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients using a spatula until you have a sticky wet dough.  Depending on the temperature of your house let it rise between 12-18 hours.  I left mine for 18 hours in a very hot house and it did not over-rise, so the dough is very forgiving.

After the 18 hours, punch the dough down using the spatula and transfer to plastic wrap or as I did parchment paper.

The only thing that I did differently, (it made things a little easier) is using parchment paper.  Instead of shaping the dough on plastic wrap and later transferring it to the baking sheet as suggested in the video, I shaped it on parchment paper.  Lightly oil the paper with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal.  Shape the loaf, punching out the air bubbles as you move and shape the dough.

Let the shaped dough rise for 2 more hours on the parchment paper.  Then pull the parchment paper onto your baking sheet, I used a pizza stone, but you can use any cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 ‘F for 35-45 min – mine took about 40 min to get that nice brown color.

This bread will be great with soups and stews during the cold months and a great building block for a rustic hardy sandwich.  You have got to try it, it is so easy!

PostHeaderIcon Flavored Kombucha

I have made Kombucha every 7-10 days now and I LOVE it.  It is not only very good for me, but I like the taste of it.  The last two batches I experimented with flavors.  After about 7 days of fermenting I strain and bottle it and then add flavor to the bottled tea.  I have tried adding ginger root and it was very nice, but this week I added fresh strawberries and it is awesome!  It mellows the flavor a little and makes it sweeter and gives it a great pink color that my girls love to look at, but neither of them will drink it.  They have running jokes about the Scobies that are going to come alive and eat the dog or run off with the girl’s favorite toys.  I like my Scoby juice as it is known in my house and the Strawberry flavor is great.


I added two fresh strawberries to each bottle and after 2 days here is what it looked like.


PostHeaderIcon Sourdough starter pet

One of the sourdough websites that I have been reading refers to a sourdough starter as a pet.  I think this is such an apt description since you are constantly feeding and allowing it to rest and taking care of it as you do a pet.  For the last 3 days I have had my little pet eating, growing and sleeping in the kitchen and it seems to be doing very well.

The first time that I tried to start a sourdough pet, it was a total disaster.  I had more mold growing than bacteria and the two are enemies when it comes to sourdough starters.  So when I inquired on a Natural living forum about sourdough, the same lady who gave me my SCOBY offered to give me a sourdough starter.  It has been stored in the fridge and not fed for some time and needed to be revived, but that I read was much easier to do than to start your own so I was happy to give it a try.  Information about sourdough starters are also sketchy on the internet.  There are many people who make it, but everyone has different advice so it was hard to sort through all the information.  Fortunately this pet came with a great internet link that has been very easy to follow.  Here is a photo diary of my new pet.

This is what the starter looked like on day 1
This is my first attempt at reviving it.  I took 1 tablespoon of starter, 1 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup of warm water (75′F), mixed it together and let it proof for 24 hours.
Here is what it looked like after 24 hours.  When I saw the amount of bubbles and smelt the aroma, I was excited.  I was convinced that my pet was now ready to make bread.  I searched online and found that this was only the beginning stage of reviving the starter so I let it rest in the refrigerator for 12 hours then, I gave it one more feeding and let it proof.
Now there is a visible foam layer on the top along with lots of bubbles throughout the starter.  Tomorrow morning I will evaluate it again and see if I can finally make my first ever sourdough bread.

PostHeaderIcon Atjar recipe with South African roots

Atjar is an Indonesian sweet and sour vegetable salad or side dish.  In South Africa we make several different types of Atjar, mango is very popular, but one that I love and that my family made was a medley of vegetables.  I have never tried to make it myself, but this week I felt a craving for curry (a key ingredient in the Atjar) and I had to make some.  The recipe I made has almost a pickled flavor and gets better with time.  It is a great way to use up extra vegetables and I had an abundance of green beans, carrots and onions this week due to a co-op pick up last Friday and I am due to pick up another this Friday so I need to make space in my fridge.  When I finished making this, my house smelled lovely, it was a real trip back into my childhood.  The smell was so familiar it was great.  Here is what I did.

Vegetable Atjar recipe

4-5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips (julienne)
1/2 head of cabbage coarsely chopped
1/2 cauliflower coarsely chopped
1-2 cups coarsely chopped green beans
1-2 large onions coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Turmeric
2 tablespoons curry
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
Salt to taste

In a LARGE  pot, heat the oil, turmeric, curry, salt, vinegar until it simmers.
Add the vegetables a few cups at a time and stir fry until cooked, but still crunchy.
Now it is time to bottle the Atjar.  I boil a large pot of water and place the glass jars and lids in the water. Boil it for about 3 minutes, remove and fill them.

I have eaten some of the vegetables already, but most have been bottled and will be opened as we need them.  As they sit the flavor will get stronger and yummier!  The bottles need to be rotated every week so that the juices get a chance to flavor the veggies in the top.  So they will be on their tops for one week end standing up right another.
The biggest question was where to put the jars.  This was honestly the only spot I could think of.  My pantry is very small so there was no way 6 jars were going to fit in there.  I know as soon as James sees this he is going to have something to say about it!  If you have not figured it out, this is on top of one of my kitchen cabinets.

PostHeaderIcon Dessert challenge

I do not normally have a sweet tooth, but this week I felt like something sweet.  So far, I have managed to keep the sweet tooth satisfied by eating fruit and drinking the last of my pineapple beer, but I know it is time to bake or make something before I run out to the closest Harris Teeter and buy a pre-made dessert filled with all the bad stuff that I am trying to avoid.

I asked a few friends and family members to name their favorite desserts and between them they came up with a great list.  I thought it would be fun to pick a few and try to make it as healthy as possible.  Here are their favorites:

Syrup pudding
Bread and butter pudding
Tapioca pudding
Apple crumble
Chocolate brownies and ice cream
Chocolate mousse
Brandy pudding
Tiramisu (my favorite!)
Baba de camelo (translated camel’s dribble, yummy right?) This one will be hard to make healthy, it is a caramel desert made from sweetened condensed milk and eggs.

The plan is to come up with a recipe that is not horribly bad for us and make a few of these lovely desserts.  I am leaning towards Bread and Butter pudding since I already have everything that I need.  This weekend I plan to make a sandwich bread so that will be a great start.

I have also recently come across a recipe for raw chocolate and if I can find the ingredients at my local Health food store, I will give it a try.  Here is a video for making raw chocolate and the best part, it is good for you!

PostHeaderIcon Kombucha

When I was pregnant with Alexia about 3 years ago I started eating mostly organic fruit, and veggies, grass fed beef and raw dairy products.  I loved it, but man it took a toll on my pocket book (purse for those of you who do not live in the South).  One thing that I came across in my quest for a healthier lifestyle was Kombucha.  Wikipedia describes it as “a sweetened tea that has been fermented using a macroscopic solid mass of microorganisms called a “kombucha colony”.  Basically you take a Kombucha colony or SCOBY an acronym for “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast” and you lay it in green or black tea, feed it sugar and it belches out fermented gasses.  Yummy right?

I used to buy GT’s brand at our local Earthfare for a while, but then decided to make my own.  I did not have a SCOBY to start with so I had to cultivate one from store bought tea.  I  remember making about 2 batches of tea, with my homegrown SCOBY albeit a very small one and after that I either got too paranoid to drink it or the tea just did not taste great any more, possible both?!  Hey, remember it has been 3 years since I did it, so forgive my lack of memory and besides I was pregnant at the time so mommy brain may have something to do with it.

The upshot is, my Kombucha brewing days were cut short and I never did try again until NOW!!  Whohoo, I posted on my local mommy forum for a recipe and along with a recipe someone volunteered to give me one of their SCOBY babies.  Did I mention that these things multiply every time you make a brew?  So this lady was nice enough to give me one from her SCOBY nursery and I now have a batch doing very well in my pantry.
On Tuesday I started the batch and will post some pictures as it progresses through the brewing process.  We are on day 4 now and the brew still tastes very sweet so it still has some belching, sorry I mean fermenting to do.
Here is the recipe that I followed.

Kombucha Recipe:
Bring 3 quarts of purified water to a rolling boil.
Add 1 cup of sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.
Steep 4-5 bags of green or black tea bags in the water for10 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
You can put the pot in an ice bath if you want to speed things up.
Pour the cooled tea into a gallon size glass jar, add your SCOBY and 1 cup of fermented Kombucha from a previous batch.
Place a fine weaved cloth over the opening and secure with a rubber band.  Do not use cheese cloth since fruit flies love Kombucha and can fit through the cheese cloth holes.
Place the Kombucha tea in a dark, ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
Allow to mature between 6-15 days.  You will know that it is done by tasting it.
Stick a straw into the Kombucha tea and place your finger at the top, this will secure a few drops inside the straw.  Taste it and if it is still very sweet, let it sit for a few more days.  Start watching very carefully by around day 10 when it will start smelling like a strong vinegar.  Taste and if you no longer have a strong sugar taste and it is slightly sour your brew is done.
If the vinegar tastes becomes too strong you have left it to long.
When it tastes right, remove the two cultures, separate the young culture from the older one.
Store them in a covered glass container in the fridge for up to 6 months or make a new batch of tea with it.
Pour the fermented tea through a strainer lined with a coffee filter and store in a glass container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Do not use metal or plastic to store the Kombucha.

Above is day 1

Day 2, a thin layer of gelatin like structure is starting to grow.  The original SCOBY is at the bottom of the glass container.
Day 4 The original SCOBY has floated to the top and has attached itself to the baby SCOBY.

Day 10

Day 10 – it is done!

Mature and young SCOBY removed from the fermented tea.


My Kombucha is now done and ready to drink.  I had some tonight and gave James a few ounces as well.  He liked the taste, but struggled to get past the fact that this is a colony of bacteria and yeast that live inside a beverage.  That’s OK, more for me to enjoy!

Below is a link to health benefits attributed to Kombucha as well as the risks.

PostHeaderIcon Messy recipe box

It seems like the GAPP went on forever.  My kids could have eaten the whole pineapple in two days if I allowed them to, but it was fun to stretch it out and see what I could make from it.  I am still sipping the pineapple beer with great satisfaction.  There was no sticky mess like 11 years ago and the second bottle was rather tasty.

During the GAPP I also continued sorting out my recipe box.  For the last 9 years I have collected recipes that appeal to me.  Some I try immediately and others lie in this recipe box until I decide it is time to toss it or test it.  Two weeks ago I repeated the process of “cleaning out” my box and it seemed like the right time to put them in some kind of order.  That way I can find recipes without having to search the whole box.  I looked at a few options to organize them using recipe cards or writing them in a book, but I needed something that I could keep clean while cooking, easily make changes and notes on and keep them alphabetically.  So I thought the best way to do it was to type them out and place them in sheet protectors in a ring folder.


I have also saved all the files on my computer so if I need to make changes and want to reprint a corrected recipe I can do so with little effort. I have a tendency to stray way from recipes and come up with my own variation so I often make changes. The folder also has two pockets so new recipes that still need to be tested before making it in my “to keep pile” can stay in there until I am ready to type them up or toss them away.


I am happy with the final result, there are still more recipes that need to be tested, but I will slowly add them to the folder as I get to them.


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