30/07/2014

Why is this picture so popular?



This picture is the most popular post on this blog for nearly 2 years! Why? I suppose it all comes down to these plain rolls looking so good? What was on it? Whole wheat seeded roll with pastrami, lettuce, sharp cheddar and mustard. I started this blog with absolutely no experience especially in regards to photography. the only thing I have learned is to always add something green.


So my question remains: why is this picture so popular? Is it the food, the colours (love those carrots), the photography elements (light, composition etc)?


I would appreciate your input so I can improve my photos so all my lunchboxes would excite so many people as this one. Anyone is welcome to comment and please do. It is always good to know what people like and what they don't like. 


Maybe we should extend it to all aspects of the blog? What improvements or changes should I consider? What should I stop doing? This is your opportunity to become involved in this blog.


For all those readers who have been with me from the start, thank you! Seeing you visiting my blog makes me feel like someone out there gets it. For all the new readers, welcome and I hope to see you interact more. Leave a comment, whenever whatever, even if it is just to say hi!


25/07/2014

Lunch box: Friday, 25 July 2014

 



Today I want to show you the difference between Lazy-Mum and 5-Minute-of-effort-Mum. I admit I have been Lazy-Mum for a while now and even last nigh but though: Enough! So this is what Lazy-Mum's lunch box looks like (below): just leftovers, thrown into a lunchbox - pork bangers, mash and my secret mushroom pepper sauce with some steamed brusselsprouts. Not very appetising to look at right. 



And how do I change it? By spending 5 minutes to change it (above) to my PlanetBox (a much better portion size too) and adding an orange, strawberries and grapes. Was it so difficult? No, I'm just lazy!
Little Em is having a a pork banger cut up, 2 steamed brusselsprouts and a steamed mushroom as her snack, with halved grapes and yoghurt. She really is enjoying the baby-led-weaning approach.






24/07/2014

Baby-Led-Weaning


Baby-Lead-Weaning is a concept that suggest babies (from 6 months onwards) should be allowed to feed themselves. You therefore provide them with appropriate food selections - usually whatever it is you are having for breakfast, lunch or dinner- cut into finger portions and let them decide for themselves what they want to eat and how much.


It is a scary concept, as I was scared Little Em might choke but babies have a natural gag-reflex that prevents the food from reaching too far back. This reflex apparently slowly recedes to the back of the throat as they grow older, so it is better to start early. Babies following this method also learn to chew their food first then later learn to swallow (preventing chocking as well) whereas spoon-fed babies learn to swallow first then chew. Little Em was brought up as spoon-fed up to about 7 or 8 months and I moved her over to a partial spoon-fed and partial baby-led method. So far it has been going great. Lunch is spoon-fed at school. Snacks are these lunch boxes and dinner is finger-foods.


I always include yoghurt for calcium, protein and diary. I added toddler sausages (no skin, no salt etc) and some leftovers from dinner: steak slice, veggies and kiwi fruit. I also added some prune puree for fibre.

22/07/2014

Weltevreden Playground Stellenbosch


We were fortunate enough to have one sunny day in the middle of our June/July winter and we immediately headed to Weltevreden Estate in Stellenbosch. It was so nice that I thought I should share it with you. On a wine estate, hidden on a back road is a children's paradise that caters to their every need but takes the grown-ups needs into consideration as well.



The have real wood-fired pizza ovens with child friendly pizzas options such as Hawaiian pizza as well as gourmet pizza for the grown-ups such is the one pictured. They have thin crispy bases and are really delicious. I would probably go for the pizza alone! The also have chicken strips and other options in the (very) unlikely event that your little one doesn't like pizza.




I really do love the decor with real Italian flavor: red and white tiles everywhere! They have popcorn and slushy machines. Everything you can dream of!


Ice cream and cool drinks for the kids and a decent wine list for the adults including other beverages such as beer and champagne. The wine really does make the experience worthwhile to the parents as well.


There are 2 playgrounds: one big and one small but with lots of slides, places to climb and even some cycles to ride. They have child minders everywhere to help with watching the little ones and the place is enclosed so only one entry in and out. If the kids get too much for you they also have seats outside the play area and a nice restaurant to sit and eat.



Little Em is only 9 months old but even she loved it, being taken down the slides and watching the bigger kids playing. I will definitely take her again. They also so do kids parties with pizza and chicken strips to share. An event for any day.


 A brilliant place for a sunny afternoon! See you there next time!

21/07/2014

Lunchbox: Monday 21 July 2014


I love chicken schnitzel. Even pork schnitzel or any schnitzel (hmm veal...) so of course I make extra for dinner (always with garlic mash and sweet peas) and added it to the lunch boxes. I love mine with just some lemon juice so I added some to the lunch box as well and some huge juicy strawberries. It's almost low carb!


I hate doing purees for Little Em. How can it be tasty? Especially when you start mixing all the different components such as meat, pasta and veggies! So I have recently read about "baby led eating", which basically means you give your baby food, real food the same as you will be eating and just cut it into smaller more manageable pieces. So herewith Little Em's first lunch box!


I added some sliced chicken schnitzels, steamed carrots and baby sweetcorn, a strawberry and yoghurt. I also added some of her cereal for in case she is still hungry after these nibbles. She has been enjoying finger foods so much and really I had no choice in the matter anyway: she was starting to grab the spoon every night frustrating me trying to get a loaded spoon in her mouth while dodging these fast sticky little fingers!


She really has grown so much. I am still used to just placing her in her bed and not have to worry about her getting up or even rolling around. Now though, things have changed (she is 9 months old after all!). The other night she scared me senseless. Our baby monitor has a night vision camera attached (for lazy people like me), which means I can check on her without going into her room. Well, I heard her moan a bit and we switched on the camera to see what she was doing: there she was, sitting straight up with just her one, creepy glow-in-the-dark eye close to the camera! Almost crapped my pants! At least in daylight she is a cutie pie...

15/07/2014

Bastille Festival 2014 Franschhoek


Am I lucky or what? My birthday corresponds with the annual Bastille Festival held in Franschhoek and as has become our tradition, we attended with some friends. I love it as all the locals go to such lengths to bring French flair to the wine lands.


Little Em's also enjoyed it very much. So much in fact that we couldn't get her to take her afternoon nap!

 

As with all our outings to Franschhoek, we couldn't leave without stopping at the French Connection Bistro for some off the best food ever. I did break with tradition and instead of ordering my veal with three mushroom sauce I ordered the sweet and sticky pork ribs and instead of ordering the creme brûlée, I ordered the pecan nut pie. As always it was delicious!



Hubby had a rib eye steak with the three mushroom sauce and fries. The sauce is just so amazing I need to try and recreate it at home. He also broke tradition and had the steamed lemon pudding. The way we order dessert is as follow: I choose 2 options (as I can never make up my mind!) and I order one and he orders the other, then halfway through we swap!


We really had a great time and the venue was so cozy with the wood burning stoves that we could enjoy the afternoon without worry for the little ones. 


Another year has passed and I'm another year older but hopefully a lot wiser. I have a great Hubby and a beautiful little girl to brighten any day. It can only get better from hereon!


14/07/2014

COHEN DIET: Beef And Mushroom Curry



I had another curry craving and found the most wonderful selection of curry mixes from Woolworth's. They had Rogan Josh to Butter Chicken and I just couldn't resist. So here is my 15 minute curry.



For best results I marinate my beef in the sauce for 30 minutes before I cook it. This also works great with chicken. Instead of the mushrooms you can enjoy this with my quick cauliflower rice.

Serves 1

  • 1 chicken breast or steak, cut into strips
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp diet sprite
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced. 
  1. Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, curry and turmeric powder in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the beef or chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes (optional).
  2. Heat a frying pan to medium heat, spray with a little bit of oil.
  3. Fry the mushrooms until browned.
  4. Add the beef or chicken and fry for a minute until brown. Add the Sprite and cover with a lid for 5 minutes, allowing to steam. If the sauce begins to dry, add some more sprite.
  5. Steam until the meat is cooked but not dry.
  6. Enjoy

10/07/2014

M & M snack pack!



Can food ever be classified as an arch nemeses? If so, then I have definitely been confronted by my nemeses in the form of a M&M Snack Pack! Sweet and salty, crispy and chocolaty with a couple of nuts! All I can say is damn! I love this stuff, I can't walk away and I don't even want to talk about the amount of calories I consumed in one sitting.


What is in it you ask? Everything, including the kitchen sink! Pretzels, mini cookies, peanut m&m's and salty almonds!  It is quite expensive as the only place where I have seen it so far is at the Cape Town International Airport for just about R150.00, but it was so worth it.



There are other snack packs available and I will make it my mission in life to try them all!

08/07/2014

Greek Salad Sanwich


Matthew Stewart's Every Day Food shares salads morphed into sandwiches! Here we have the iconic Greek Salad Sandwich.

As this sandwich has so much salad veggies in there already, I would add some protein on the side in the form of a grilled chicken breast and yoghurt.

Available form Zinio.com

04/07/2014

LITTLE PINK CHEF: Macaroon class





We have done some cooking classes with The Little Pink Chef though usually not something sweet, so I was very happy when Maryke was able to organise a Macaroon Cooking class for us with an pastry chef, Lisa-Marie Swanepoel. I will share some of the recipes later but right now I just want to share our experience with you.

We were optimistic but assumed that this would be a highly technical class which we will never be able to do at home, in other words something we will do only once as it would be too difficult to do at home. But we were so wrong. Lisa-Maria did not only make it look easy but explained the steps in such a way that it seemed less and less daunting.

We ended up with such amazing macaroons (and one hell of a sugar-high) and at least several possibilities for future macaroon based parties!



A picture of our luminous pink ground almond mixture before we added the whipped egg whites.


This is a good picture to see the consistency of the 'batter'. If it is too loose then the macaroons won't rise.


The end result was beautiful and it is difficult to explain the joy of biting into a freshly baked macaroon straight from the oven. Even adding a filling seems unnecessary.


We had so many different ways of decorating the macaroons, though I must admit I like them either plain or with a little shimmer.


A special mention must be made for this amazing chocolate butter cream filling. We added coconut essence on a whim and it turned out so delicious that we were eating the filling by the spoon before we even had our first macaroon from the oven. I took some home and had to throw it in the bin as I was having a spoonful every time I walked past! And after I had chucked it in the bin I immediately regretted it! This would be fantastic on cupcakes and can't wait to create an excuse to make it again.



We really had a fantastic time and it turned out that with the right guidance, we can make macaroons everyday! Thank you Maryke and Lisa-Marie!




03/07/2014

COHEN DIET: Lunchbox with ricotta tarts



Home-made sugar free pickles, ricotta and asparagus tart and pink lady apples. Quick and painless! So far this week I have been struggling a bit with healthy eating in general, whether it is the weather (I prefer proper comfort food when it's cold!) or just because my heart isn't in it, I don't know. But we only have a couple of weeks left before we head off to beautiful Phuket and I want to look at least decent... So back to the drawing board.

01/07/2014

Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary | Mount Nelson Restaurant




Our tradition is to attend the Mount Nelson Hotel for our anniversary (firstly as we were married at this beautiful venue in 2012 but secondly it takes the hassle out of deciding where to go!) so on Monday, 30 June 2014, we spend our second anniversary enjoying a wonderful meal at the Planet Restaurant. We love it as we always go early and have a few drinks at the Planet Bar.

This is also a fantastic venue for their very traditional English Afternoon Tea not too be missed, serving savoury goodies at the table where you sit and sweet perfections on a huge table in the middle of the classic dining room. With an astonishing selection of teas, you will find sometthing for everyone!

Over the last 2 years the Mount Nelson have changed their menu to include more and more traditional meals and therefore we ended up having Lamb and "Cape-pondweed Bredie" (better known as waterblommetjie bredie) which is a almost like a green bean stew but with a local plant and springbok being a very popular game. For dessert we had Amarula Panna Cotta, Amarula also being a local cream liquor. The starters were amazing as instead of ordering from the normal menu, we ordered our starters from the tapas menu and each tapa is served with a cognac that compliments the particular dish. We unfortunately dived into the tapas before I could take a picture but what I can say is  the chicken was falling of the bone and the little mushroom tarts are a particular favourite of mine.

Here is the menu: 

Starters
Mushroom empanadas |R65
Served with Savingnac 1999 Pot Still

Peri Peri chicken wings|R85
Served with Joseph Barry 10yr old Cape Pot Still


Mains


Lamb noisette

Cape-pondweed bredie with fresh peas and braised mini shank,
lamb kidney pie|R170


Nut and seed crusted springbok loin

with spätzle, crispy chakalaka croquette and a roasted carrot purée|R185 


Desserts


Bananas!
banana caramel tart with caramelia mousse,
pot au crème and banana caramel ice-cream|R75 


Amarula Panna Cotta

coconut cake, pecan nut crisp, vanilla ice cream|R75