Thursday, 18 September 2014

Selfie and such

My husband bought me a remote for my camera as a birthday gift. I love it. I've been playing with it this past week and took a few photos of myself.

I do love black and white.

I need some distraction from the problems we have. A lot of unexpected bills which we cannot pay, one in particular that arrived yesterday which totally blindsided us due to an error by the contractor who built the house.  All the plans we had for the garden will have to be cancelled and the holiday I was secretly hoping for in October will also not be happening. I tried baking something yesterday to make me feel better and for the first time in my life I managed to ruin a banana bread. Needless to say I did not take a photo.

But hey, nothing stays the same so this too shall pass. Maybe we win the lotto or maybe I find a job. At least we have some good weather right now!

Monday, 15 September 2014


One of the great things about our new neighbourhood is the activities hosted by the neighbourhood association. We've had several parties for the Word Cup Soccer, we've had a neighbourhood barbecue and on Saturday we had BINGO! They even had an afternoon session for the kids with lots of prizes.

Stella didn't find it all that interesting but the older kids loved playing and most of all they loved winning something from the prize table... Stella almost cried out Bingo a few times just so that she could win a prize but it wasn't her lucky day. Next time!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

You guessed it. I had spinach and I had mushrooms. So yes, a quiche was inevitable, right?

I searched the internet for recipes but didn't find anything I wanted to use so I just made it up as I went along. The result was delicious and the quiche was enough to serve two dinners (with a side salad) and one lunch which made me feel thrifty too!

Here's what happened. I made a pastry which is basically flour, butter and sesame seeds. While it was chilling in the fridge I sauteed a big bag of fresh spinach leaves with a bit of crushed garlic and olive oil. Once wilted I let it rest in a colander so that the excess fluid could drain away. The next step was cooking the mushrooms and letting it rest. Then I whisked three eggs and added 300 ml double cream which I just happend to have in the fridge (yay!). After I rolled out the pastry and draped it into my pie dish I pricked the pastry with a fork.  I decided to blind bake the pastry for about 15 minutes just to give it a head start.  Layer the spinach and the mushrooms on the pastry. Make sure you squeeze as much juice as possible out of the spinach before adding it to the quiche.

A sprinkling of grated cheese goes a long way. Lastly pour over the double cream and egg mixture (remember to season it with salt and pepper!). Place it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Red Velvet Cake

I finally baked a red velvet cake! For my birthday, because it isn't every day you turn 40...
The cake turned out really well. I was happy and as such ate way too much of this cake. But it wasn't a very easy cake to bake. A few things didn't work out as I had hoped and I'm still not sure why my cake didn't rise as much as I expected. I probably should have looked for an easier recipe but regardless I will certainly find an excuse to bake this cake again.

The frosting is a winner, in fact my husband wants only this frosting for all future cakes. Let me not think about the calories involved. Let's not go there. The only thing you need to know is that this cake is fabulous. Enough said.

Here is a link to the recipe from delicious magazine and here is a copy:

200g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
235g plain flour, plus extra to dust
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large free-range eggs, separated
30g cornflour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
235ml buttermilk
60ml red food colouring (we like Silver Spoon)
1½ tsp white wine vinegar
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the frosting
300ml double cream
600g full-fat cream cheese (we like Philadelphia, see Tip)
500g mascarpone
300g icing sugar
White chocolate holly leaves and gold sugared almonds to decorate

1. To make the sponges, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4, then grease, dust with flour and base-line 3 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar together with an electric hand whisk for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
2. In a second large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa. In a third bowl, mix the buttermilk with the red food colouring. Sift a third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then pour in a third of the buttermilk and mix together until just combined. Repeat this process with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk.
3. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form fairly firm peaks. Add to the cake mixture, a quarter at a time, folding gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated.
4. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles. Gently fold into the cake mixture, then quickly pour into the tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of each sponge comes out clean.
5. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Cut each sponge in half horizontally to create 6 rounds.
6. To make the frosting, whip the cream in a large bowl until you have medium-firm peaks, then set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and icing sugar together until stiff, then fold through the whipped cream.
7. To assemble the cake, put a sponge on a platter and spread with a layer of frosting. Top with a second sponge, then repeat until all 6 sponges are layered with frosting. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a palette knife as you go. Finally, decorate the top with white chocolate holly leaves and gold sugared almonds. Chill the cake for a few hours before slicing; it will keep in the fridge for four days.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Een Zee van Staal

Last week as we were driving away from the beach at Wijk aan Zee we stumbled across a sculpture park next to a huge steel factory. It is aptly named 'een zee van staal' which translates to: an ocean of steel.

It was pretty incredible to be able to run around and even climb these huge steel sculptures. They are beautiful. The ominous weather even added to their beauty. Of course the irony of its location was not lost on me, but somehow they seem to fit perfectly in the landscape.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Banana Buttermilk Muffins

I found my new favourite banana muffin recipe!
It was on a blog called Alida's Kitchen and I love it and so do the kids.
The main reason I made them was because I had buttermilk in my fridge, two ripe bananas and half a cup of chocolate chips. Clearly a sign that I had to bake muffins. I just had to do it. And I cannot wait to bake them again!

Here is a link tot the recipe and here is a copy:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup well-mashed ripe banana (I used 2 large bananas)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (I used plain chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Spray 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
In a separate bowl (or in a liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, banana, oil, egg and vanilla.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and fold until just blended. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, and fold until combined.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes and then move muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. completely.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Break: : Love

The end of the summer holiday is upon us. I would be lying if I said that we had summer weather the last two weeks. In fact I have been pretty depressed by the lack of sun but today we braved the weather and headed to the beach. I love the beach.

It turned out to be a beautiful day.
A bit of sun shine, lots of wind and the kids having a great time.

Tomorrow it is back to the school run routine!

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