Friday, October 4, 2013

Good Food and Wine Show 2013

I had the good fortune of obtaining 2 tickets to the Good Food and Wine Show.  Included were 2 complimentary tickets to the Woolworths Real Food Theatre and a choice of viewing any celebrity chef in person.  I invited Saaleha to join me and we opted to attend Gary Mehigan's show since we love Masterchef Australia and let's face it, the judges on that show truly make it wonderful.

Now I've never entered a cookoff before and even though I've watched it countless of times on Masterchef Australia and its South African counterparts, I still felt ill prepared.
When we finally got to Woolworths Real Food Theatre, I was excited to see that it was pretty well organised.  Kamini Pather, the winner of Masterchef South Africa 2013, was our host and she went around talking to all of us and made us feel comfortable.  I'm not used to a lot of chatting while cooking and I felt a bit out of my comfort zone when I had to talk into the microphone!


Anyway, our mystery basket was waiting for us.  Eggs were the main theme and we also had a block of cheddar and bok choy to go along with it. 

What on Earth is 'Bok Choy'?
I looked at this vegetable and I couldn't figure it out.  Apparently it's some sort of Chinese cabbage. Who knew?
Luckily Saaleha had a fantastic idea in mind and she got to it.  She came up with souffle's (genius!) and then we realised we didn't have any ramekin's, so we improvised with these little metal cups they gave us.  
We decided to do a second item, but I had an absolute brain freeze and couldn't think of anything.
Luckily I went over to the table filled with various ingredients and then decided to make Chocolate, Pecan nut and cranberry muffins...in those small tiny metal cups.  Some of our items didn't cook up in time, so we improvised and Saaleha came up with the most amazing soft, egg mixture which she dubbed 'soft tops'.  It melted in my mouth.  

Joy!

This was our result:


 Afterward we all gathered around with the other attendees and ate our food.  It was not a competition and there were no prizes, but it was a lot of fun and I now have loads of empathy for the Masterchef contestants!

Grater plate
Later on, we walked around a bit, bought a whole lot of goodies including this awesome grater plate for garlic, ginger, nutmeg, etc. and the most amazing toffee from Sweet Temptations.  I was also quite impressed by the Basilur Tea company.  I adore their packaging! 
Basilur Tea

Before leaving we just had to make a stop over at the Lazeeza's stand as their custard slices always make me salivate.  I grabbed some custard slices, and their must have burfee cupcakes.  Delicious! 

Sweet Temptations Toffee


If you follow Masterchef Australia, you would probably be quite appreciative of Gary Mehigan's humour, and wisdom.  He is brilliant in the kitchen and I am so glad I watched his show.  He made a delicious looking prawn ravioli dish with prawn oil.  Unfortunately I didn't get to taste it, but it looked amazing.  I love that he used simple and few ingredients to create a wonderful dish.

Gary Mehigan in action


Images courtesy of Saaleha from ShootCake (Thanks for coming with me Saals!)





Thursday, August 15, 2013

I ♥ South Africa : Garden Route Holiday


My husband (Z) and I decided that it’s time we do a ‘local is lekker’ trip and so we decided to finally take that trip down to the Garden Route. We found great deals online which included our accommodation at the luxurious The Plettenberg Hotel and The Conrad Pezula.  We paid a really low rate and both hotels had some great specials because we booked just before the mad December rush.


We flew with SAA and I hated it!  The flight was terrifying as it was a small aeroplane and the weather was really bad.  When we landed in George it was storming and quite miserable.  We just headed straight to the hotel in Plettenberg Bay and pretty much prayed that the weather would improve.  The next morning it was really windy, but at least there was sunshine.  The concierge recommended that we take in other sights, as the conditions on the beach would be too windy and not really safe for swimming.  And so we decided to do the long trek up to The Cango Caves which was outside Oudtshoorn.  First of all, the beautiful mountain terrain had me gasping at every turn as I fell in love with the scenery.  I must admit though, the moment we got over the one side of the Outeniqua mountains, you could just see the difference in climate and vegetation.  It was a lot drier and wasn’t as green.  It is after all the Klein Karoo! After what seemed like hours of driving (it wasn’t) we finally reached The Cango Caves.  These are beautiful caves which have formed in a limestone ridge which runs in the Swartberg mountain.  The stalactites and stalagmites (the rocky ‘daggers’ that have formed in the caves) of the caves created beautiful imagery and designs in the caves.  It’s definitely worth the visit!



On our way back, we stopped at the Cango Wildlife Ranch.  They have some amazing animals there and I was enthralled with the male white lion.  He was such a majestic creature.  The great thing about the Cango Wildife Ranch is that they allow you to touch their resident cheetahs.  However, a thunderstorm quickly put a stop to that.  I did get to see beautiful tiger cubs playing and sleeping so that was a definite highlight.




When we returned to Plettenberg Bay, the weather brightened up and we enjoyed the rest of our stay at Plett just soaking up the sun and enjoying the waves.  The water was a bit cold but nevertheless, we still enjoyed it.  



After a few days in Plettenberg, we headed to our final destination: Knysna.  The Conrad Pezula IS AMAZING!  Upon arrival we were offered a wide selection of coffees and the beauty therapists gave us free hand massages while we relaxed and waited to check it.  I had a wonderful spa treatment and the food and other amenities here were great!  I wish we could have stayed here much longer!  The hotel is not situated on the beach, but there is a shuttle that takes you down to Noetzie Beach.  Noetzie Beach is a bit of schlep to get to if you don’t have access to the Pezula estate.  It’s down a steep incline, which only allows one car at a time to go down.  Fortunately it looks like only residents of the beach and the Pezula hotel are allowed to go down there with a vehicle, so there’s no major risk of an accident.  Once we got there it was absolutely breathtaking.  We felt we were on our own little isolated island.  What I loved about Noetzie Beach were the most incredible ‘castles’.  Some of them were privately owned or leased to the Conrad Pezula for their use for guests.  It’s a sort of relaxing place where you can just chill and read a book or play a few board games – which they supply.  You can even stay there if you wish.  While we were heading down to the beach, and having a tour of the castle, there was a large CRASH in the upstairs bedroom and when we went to investigate, we came face to face with a HUGE baboon!  He quickly sped away but it was a bit shocking.  Our host explained that they sometimes sneak into the castle if there’s an open window or door and try to take food.  They don’t really harass people, but they’re always on the lookout for food.  It was quite hilarious to witness!  The beach itself feels isolated and I loved it. It was so beautiful and I could just sit there and relax all day.


Before we left the Garden Route, we visited the gorgeous Tsitsikamma National Park and went on a few short trails.  It was beautiful and I really enjoyed the scenery and walk over the ocean on a mini-bridge.  I know that the Otter Trail normally goes through this area, so I can imagine what a wonderful and challenging experience that must be!  We went past the Bloukrans Bridge which has the highest bungy jump in the world, but we were too chicken to try it out!



I’ve left the best experience of this trip for the end.  My wonderful Z, knowing how upset I was about missing my session with the cheetahs earlier, booked us a session to WALK with Cheetahs at Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre.  And by that I mean,  tie them on a leash and take them for a walk for an hour. I WAS THRILLED! OVER THE MOON!  This has got to be one of my favourite experiences ever! It definitely tops my swimming with dolphins experience (I shall blog about that soon). I practically cried with joy! I turned into Elmyra. I just wanted to hug the cheetah and go all crazy, but of course safety first!  I was the first one taking a hold of the cheetah while others were still terrified.  What a wonderful experience.  The cheetah allowed us to touch him, pet him and to walk next to him.  It was such a privilege to be able to do that.  What a great way to end our holiday.  It was amazing and I’m so glad we got to experience it.

This post has been entered into the  Travelstart Blogger Experience Contest 


Monday, July 8, 2013

I ♥ Books: Anjum's New Indian and Make it Moroccan

On Friday morning I was on my way to upgrade my cellphone (yes hello iPhone 5 FINALLY) when I stumbled upon the Exclusive Books sale.  I had a few minutes to spare before the cell phone retailer opened up and so I decided to browse the sale items while I waited.

I'm glad I did.

Look at what I scored: Make it Moroccan by Hassan M'Souli (Gourmand 2009 winner - Best African cookbook in the World) and Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand, host of 'Indian Food Made Easy'.



Make it Moroccan

Make it Moroccan

Anjum's New Indian

Anjum's New Indian

During a sale I tend to first check out the recipe section as it's a section that I both admire and fear at the same time.  I love food, but I balk at the idea of making complicated meals.  I try to keep my meals simple and focus on keeping it easy and stress-free and that's why I adore chefs such as Donna Hay.  Even though I bought these two books on a whim, I'm captivated by the colour of turmeric and the boldness of the tajine.  I can't wait to try these recipes out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I ❤ Events: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is practically over and with that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is close to an end. This month, I attended various events held in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness. I was treated to a spectacular high tea, and even took part in a 5km charity walk. This disease is tragic and can be averted if detected early.  

I'm always looking for new projects, so when I was commissioned by fabulous ladies, Fehmz and niQi to create my signature heart brooch pins for the 'Pretty in Pink' competition in aid of Breast Cancer Month, I jumped at the opportunity, donned my pink fairy wings and waved my very pink wand! 

I decided to use pink beads since we're in the midst of Breast Cancer Month.

I 'upcycled' a broken pink necklace and used the pieces to create a scarf/hijaab pin for a segment of the prize hamper.



So what do you think?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I ❤ Health: Of treadmills, vitamins and chocolate


I didn't want to do a clich├ęd, 'Let's get ready for Summer!' post, but it seems that this is where I find myself.  Let's face it: you can't eat that many cupcakes, cakes, chocolates and cheesecakes (the 4C's) post-Ramadan and still think you can get away with it! So here I am, slogging away at the treadmill and avoiding all my favourite treats.


I must admit that I hated working out, but I realised that was because I didn't have an actual 'plan'.  So I decided to do some research and found some great ways to overcome the hate.


Jillian Michaels


I'm not a fan of home exercise videos.  However, I've watched one or two of Jillian Michaels home exercise videos and I loved them.  I really like how she explains what she's doing, what your body is doing throughout the workout and she has a tough-no-nonsense approach, which, let's face it, is something some of us need.  Her routines gives different levels for beginners and the more experienced fitness junkies.  I really like the fact that she doesn't use too much gym equipment in her workouts, so that's great for those who don't have access to them.

I'm currently using the Jillian Michaels: 30 day shred video.  The video gives you three levels and should take you 10 days to do each level if you're consistent.
Check out her website for fitness plans and other tips.  

Nike Training Club app for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch


This is a great app.  No, let me rather state that this is a WONDERFUL app.  It helps you track your workouts, share them online if you'd like (which is something I'm too embarrassed to do, lol) and of course gives you great workout plans.  I love that it has videos so you can check how to do the exercise while you're at the gym.  Some of the workouts are great for home use as well as they don't require any equipment.


Women's Health Slimdown Slamdown Challenge


Women's Health have started an online challenge for their readers to get in shape for Summer.

I haven't joined up with it as yet, but it looks like something that could work as the training and meal plans have been designed by the Sports Institute of South Africa.
They have different plans designed for training and meals and a lot of the routines can be done at home with very basic equipment.

Mark's Daily Apple


The 'Paleo' or 'Primal Living' diet caught my eye when I first read an article by Tim Noakes, a Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at University of Cape Town.  The diet suggests that our bodies are not designed to consume grains, dairy, and other foods which are not completely natural.  This diet suggest we should be eating as the Cavemen did.  Even though I'm not entirely convinced about giving up dairy (I really love cheese and yoghurt), this is a fascinating read.



Not to be confused with the 'Cavemen diet'

Sportron and FoodState vitamins


I must admit that I'm not that consistent when it comes to my consumption of supplements.  I hate taking tablets in any form and I've even bought a pill cutter for those pills that are just huge.  My sister, a complete health nut, started researching FoodState and Sportron vitamins and found a huge difference when she started using it on herself and her children.  I've tried the multivitamin from Sportron (Ultraguard combo forte) and the Calcium (Calcitone) supplement and I'm quite relieved that both pills don't have a weird aftertaste and are not that huge at all.  I call the Calcium my own personal sleeping pill as I have quite a restful sleep after taking it :)  I find that the multivitamin has helped with my sugar and chocolate cravings as well.


So there you have it, I've shared my personal beginners guide to health and fitness.  Please note that I'm not recommending it to anyone for their own use,  and I'm certainly not a health and fitness professional, so if you do use my own personal reviews, please do so at your own risk :) 


By the way, I am cheating with a piece of dark chocolate every now and then :) I love dark chocolate :)




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I ❤ Food: Roasted Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Soup



I love, love, LOVEEEEE sweet potatoes and coconuts.  
After finding a recipe in Larissa Green's 'Love Green Food' which combined both these ingredients in a delicious soup, I decided to tweak it just a bit to suit my taste buds.

This is PERFECT for these chilly Winter evenings! This soup makes a great alternative to the traditional haleem that everyone drinks copious amounts of during Ramadan!


Ingredients:

  •   2-3 medium sweet potatoes, diced.
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • 1 Teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon ground red chilli (add a little bit more if you want a ‘kick’)
  • 1 Teaspoon Robertsons Thai spice
  • 2-3 leeks chopped – chop the white part only
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon ginger – chopped
  • 750ml – 1 litre vegetable stock.  This really depends on how thick you want your soup to be, I used 3 Ina Paarman sachets, and went according to the instructions, but added a little bit of extra water.
  •  ½ cup  / small can coconut milk
  • Parsley and toasted coconut shavings for garnishing (optional)

Method:

1)  Preheat oven to 220°C.
2)  Mix olive oil, honey, vinegar and sweet potatoes in an oven proof dish.
3)  Roast in the oven until it caramelizes.  +/- 10 minutes. 
4)  In a pot, heat the ghee on medium heat and add the leaks. 
5)  Add ginger, garlic and the rest of the spices.
6)  Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
7)  Reduce heat.
8)  By now the sweet potato should be done.  If it is still a bit hard, not to worry, add it to the pot and cook until the sweet potato is softer.
9)  Switch off the heat and leave to cool for a bit.
10)  Puree with a stick blender or regular blender.
11)  Reheat in the pot and add coconut milk.
12)  Garnish with fresh parsley, toasted coconut shavings and crackers (optional).
13)  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ramadan

Ramadan Kareem!  It's already Day 6 of Ramadan.  I can't believe how fast this fast is going (haha).  I've been quite busy this side.  Studying, volunteer work and other commitments have taken up most of my time and I don't see much of an end in sight!  However, I did manage to brainstorm some ideas and I'm glad to say that there are definitely some new developments on this side :)  In the mean time, here's a sneak peek on something in the works...