Friday, July 21, 2017

All-In-One Chocolate & Pear Pudding

I absolutely had to save and share this delicious recipe from the SPAR Savour online magazine (July 2017). The thing I love most about it, is it's all done in the food processor and tossed in the oven to bake. Super easy peasy. My kinda baking!



    1 cup (250 ml) cake flour
    ¼ cup (60 ml) cocoa powder
    125 g SPAR Castor Sugar
    150 g SPAR Salted Butter, cut into small blocks
    1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
    ½ tsp (2.5 ml) bicarbonate of soda
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence
    3 Tbs (45 ml) milk
    2 x 415 g cans SPAR Pear Halves, drained

    SPAR Crème Fraiche or vanilla ice-cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place all the ingredients, except the pear halves, in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth, thick batter.
Spread the batter evenly over the base of a greased 24 cm baking dish.
Arrange the pear halves cut-side down and push them into the batter, allowing the batter to bulge around them.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Check at 20 minutes.)
Serve warm, dolloped with crème fraiche or a scoop of ice cream.

Friday, December 12, 2014

#003: Open Letter to a Dying House Plant

Dear, Stupid Plant.

Here’s the thing… Living or dying is not really a choice for you to make.
I chose you. I paid for you. I own you.
And after years of shitty plant stuff involving regularly scheduled watering, moving you around to find the perfect sunny spot in the apartment, extensively researching your type online for vital information and so on and so forth, I think you pretty much owe it to me to live.
I’ve done my bit and quite frankly, I’m done with your shit.
You waltzed into my home covered in beautiful white flowers. You flowered once more… and that was IT! Not a single flower three years later.
Essentially, I’ve been robbed.
Let’s not even talk about the time I picked you up to give you some love, and a dirty, giant worm crawled out of your holder, very nearly scaring me to death and causing me to fling you clean across the room. You watched in silence as I swept up the potting sand in the living room, not ONCE offering an apology or a helping hand. Branch. Leaf… you know what I mean!
You’re supposed to be purifying the air with your fancy green leaves, but I don’t know how that’s physically possible, when I seem to spend half my life dusting them. Each. One. Individually. How are you sucking air in through all that dust? I call bullshit.
I don’t think you quite realise just how busy I am - running a full time job, running a home on my own, running on the treadmill every day. Running, running, running. Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is run, with little or no support from anyone. The LEAST you can do is stay alive, flower and look pretty. Those, by the way, are your basic biological functions. I’m not asking you to do anything out of the ordinary for a plant. I don’t expect you to start balancing the cheque book at the end of each month, but hey, I also don’t expect you to be ungrateful and die on me.
If this letter comes off sounding a little hostile, it’s because I’m officially at breaking point.
I’m done taking crap from you, in my own house.

I trust that you will action all requests timeously.
Should you require any further information, you know where to find me.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

#002: The worst Thanksgiving dish I've ever had

Yappy Kathy has been spayed.
At least, that's how it feels.
She'd been charmed into the car with the promise of long, romantic walks on the beach, and instead, has had her most important bits unceremoniously ripped out - the bits that make you like boys. And now, boys can't seem to understand why she can't muster up a little enthusiasm when they dangle the lead in her face, wanting to play.
Dangle away, you big fake. You won't fool me again.
Perhaps you shouldn't even call her Yappy Kathy anymore. Now she's Sedate Susan, occupying a seat at the table, passing the gravy, smiling on cue, barely tuning in to the buzz of inane conversation around her.
Thanksgiving used to be her favourite time of year, but once you've been spayed, just about everything loses its sparkle. Lumpy gravy. Lump in throat. It's excruciating.
Harder still, sitting next to the one who'd had her spayed. He's in his element, chuckling away at the inside jokes he shares with his people. They're with His People this Thanksgiving - another nail in the coffin for this holiday.
She's dressed in the traditional colours. No-one else has made the effort, and it makes her feel even more out of place - some sort of Thanksgiving joke. They're all thinking it, but nobody's saying anything. Talking but saying nothing.
She should never have come. What was she thinking?
She could have been with Her People, doing the things they do. Instead, she's doing everything backwards. It's all wrong. The time they serve their big dinner. The things they're putting on the table. The traditions are off. They're off.
She takes another bite of Lonely Pie with a side of mashed dreams.
Yes, she thinks. This really is the worst Thanksgiving dish I've ever had.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#001: What could happen in a second

It could happen in a second.
But, everyone knows that… Predictable.
It’s the falling out of love that happens just as fast.
The single epiphanic moment when you know it’s broken, forever. The Ol’ Mare has had a few in her time time – moments that stand proud in my often foggy memory. After forty years of flexing the Dreamer muscles in my brain, I sometimes can’t tell what was real, and what I’d imagined. Did I really go there? Do that? Was that really me, or something I dreamt up?
But those moments, like lighthouses in the storm, will forever remind me when and why those tempestuous loves ended. So, that was why. Ah, I remember now. Don’t let nostalgia cloud your judgement, girl. Stay on course. Head steadily toward the lighthouse.
There was the one who sobbed into his pillow, little girl noises from The Tough Guy, begging me not to end it. Another, that night at the club when his best friend, pupils pulsing, slurred out the name of The Other Girl. And another still, his broke ass standing on my veranda, smoking my cigarettes, drinking my scotch telling me how “marriage is a big word” – the same word he’d used to win me back just days before.
Guess he didn’t know there’d be no more “winning back” after the second I finally clicked. None of them did. The Second broke it.
Love. Trust. Loyalty… all gone in just one little second.

Monday, January 21, 2013

EASY Hot & Sour Dumpling Soup

This simple dumpling soup is PERFECT for rainy days and is made up from basic store cupboard / pantry ingredients. I always hate it when celebrity chefs use the words "store cupboard" and "pantry basics" because, let's face it, normal folks like you and me don't keep our cupboards stocked with the hundreds of exotic ingredients that they use. But! This is my own recipe and I really DO keep these ingredients in my kitchen all the time. You'll see that i've used bottled lime juice. You're welcome use freshly squeezed, but in the effort to always have lime juice around, I do keep the bottled stuff in the fridge for emergencies. I also often buy a pack of frozen dumplings from the Chinese grocer and keep them in the freezer for unexpected guests. I boil them up, drain and then zap them for a few minutes in a greased medium-heat pan to make potstickers, served with a soy dipping sauce (soy sauce, chopped chill & garlic and a few drops of sesame oil). Delicious!

TOP TIP: Buy fresh chilies, wash and towel dry them thoroughly, then freeze in a sealed plastic container. As you need a hit of chill in your dishes, chop as much as you need with a sharp knife while still frozen. Do the same with washed, unpeeled fingers of ginger root.

(Serves 2)

Place the following in a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes:
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 thick slice ginger root
  • 2 tsp bottled lime juice
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 green chill, sliced in half lengthways (keep it whole for less heat)

Strain out the bits and pieces and place the clear broth in a bigger pot with:
  • 12 frozen pork and leek dumplings (6 per person; use whichever flavour / filling you like)

Bring to the boil and then GENTLY simmer for 5 minutes.

Divide the dumplings and broth between 2 big soup bowls along with:
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli per bowl
  • a few drops of sesame oil and slices of red chill in each as a garnish


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Complete Projects: Brendan's Throw

It's done and dusted. After Brendan (my baby brother) dragging his lip, feeling ever-so sorry for himself that I've made throws and baby blankies for loads of people, except him, I decided to take on my biggest crochet project to date - a throw for Brendan's new home. It would have gone a lot faster if I wasn't taking time off to buy a home and start a new job etc etc etc, but finally - here it is!

It's taken roughly 18months when I really could have done it in ±6. But as you can see, it's been a real labour of love! Even though the pattern's called a "granny square", I didn't want it to look "granny", especially since it's for a boy, so I went with quite bold, masculine colors.
I've done granny square blankies before but there were a few "firsts" that make this one a little special. This is the first time that I've successfully joined squares, using an unbelievably simple technique that you can find here. It's also the first time that I've done a "shell" edge, which turned out quite nicely - if I say so myself.

I watched a simple shell edge tutorial on YouTube and then pretty much did my own thing.
I'm sure Beena cat will be happy that it's done now so she can climb back into my lap again. She wasn't happy at all with this cosy looking blanket sitting in my super cosy looking lap and she couldn't get a piece of the cosy action. She did manage to get a few cat hairs on it, but nothing that Brendan will really notice. (Sh! Don't tell him.) In fact, now might be a good time to ask if you know of any good cleaning tips for great big granny square / ripple blankets? If he needs to give it a wash, should he just take it to the professionals?
Anyway! I'm happy that he's got something to throw over his knees / feet on those cold Johannesburg nights when he's relaxing in front of the tv. And soon I'll be starting a blanket for Donovan - my other brother. I'm thinking shades of blue and grey for Don's.
But first, I've got to turn my bedroom around, from drab to fab! I've bought the readymade curtains, but I need to buy the patterned border for the bottom. I have very high ceilings so standard curtain drops aren't long enough. Then I need to paint the back wall, put up a shelf and sew the great big cushion covers for the bed. I've bought the accessories, so once I get going it shouldn't take to long.
I just need to actually START. Oops.