Some tips to help children eat healthy

Some tips to help children eat healthy, hiding veggies, vegetables, vitamins, parenting, feeding, cooking with kidsI’ve been fortunate enough to never have picky eaters at home. From day one, the kids have embraced broccolli, cauliflower and green beans. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been fairly nonchalant about them not wanting to eat (missing a meal won’t kill them – I promise) but I’ve made a choice to never make food an issue to fight about.

Honestly, we are not much of a “fast food” house because we literally have never been able to afford it. My kids had a take away meal the other day because they wanted the toy that came with the meal and they HATED it. They actually said that the burger tasted like cardboard. Even though they don’t mind veggies, they kick up less of a fuss when it is hidden in their food. So here are a few tips for you.

 Don’t cook food especially for them every time you prepare a meal

My food processor is my best friend but a basic grater will do in a push. It doesn’t have to be a top of the line appliance but it makes a huge impact on how many veggies I can hide in my bolognaise. Seriously, carrots, celery mushrooms and even lentils are hidden in there sometimes which doesn’t only help with the amount of meat needed (and bring costs down) but it ups the nutritional value a lot. If they know that what is on the table is the only option between a full tummy and a hungry one, then more often than not they will eat what is available. The important thing is to leave emotions out of it and remain outwardly calm at all times.

Introduce new food items slowly

Most children aren’t big fans of change, especially when it comes to food. Many tend to request what they’ve already tasted and chances are, they almost always ask you for the unhealthy food. When you want to feed them broccoli, don’t just put it on the table and force them to eat it. Instead, tell them that it’s really yummy and will give them more energy to play. A little encouragement from their favorite superheroes can also help. In the 90s, the the Popeye cartoon was really helpful in feeding spinach – Popeye’s favorite food – to kids. Today, you can probably tell your children that if they want to be as strong as Captain America or Batman, they’d have to eat their veggies.

I’m pretty sure you heard all about the starving children in Ethopia when you were growing up but I chose to never guilt my kids into eating food. That’s just asking for food issues when they are older. There are wonderful charities that help less fortunate children who don’t have the privilege of three square meals a day but highlighting this fact and trying to lay guilt on my kids would only make them feel bad about not wanting to eat supper. They are also not required to “clean their plates”. I usually ask them to have just one bite of whatever is new to them just to try it. If they don’t like it, fine. But they will be asked to try it again and after a while you find that you’ve raised very adventurous little eaters.

 Bring them into the kitchen

Involving your children in preparing your family’s meals can help them understand and become interested in what they’re eating. Take them to the kitchen and show them the different kinds of ingredients that you’ll be using when making meals. If they’re old enough, teach them how to cut vegetables and meat.  If they see how yucky solidified lard is after you fry shop bought burgers, they might have second thoughts about asking you to buy it next time. They may even be willing to help you make it from scratch yourself.

 

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Reviews and Ratings

Let’s talk about restaurant reviews and ratings. Before we start we should maybe look at the rating scale of 1-5 and associate some sort of meaning to them. If a restaurant scores 1 most people would read that to mean “bad/shocking/terrible”, 2 would mean “below expectations”, 3 would mean “meets expectations”, 4 would mean “exceeds expectations” and 5 would mean “mind blowing”. Does that sound about right?

Now, let’s talk about expectation vs cost. If you are going to a child friendly steak house for example, what kind of food would you expect based on the type of restaurant and what you are paying? When my kids where much younger, a child friendly steak house was pretty much the only place we could go where they could play while their parents could eat in peace. I know there is a lot of varied opinion on this though, so I won’t generalize. Now what would it take for a child friendly steak house to rate 5 in a restaurant review? While you think about that, let me move on.

Let’s say that you’re a blogger and you get invited to review a restaurant or “experience the food” for free. This is what a lot of people would call a “sponsored post/review” (even if the restaurant says that they don’t expect a blog post on it). So you go to the restaurant and you’re so excited you tweet and instagram the hell out of it. If you don’t do an actual blog post on it (as well) you will probably put up a review on an app like TripAdvisor or Zomato. Now, will you remain impartial and rate the experience honestly or will you rate the meal a 5 because you received it for free?

If we use the above mentioned rating scale, I can think of a lot of restaurants who would “meet expectations”. Take a child friendly steak house for example, you know why you are going to a child friendly steak house , you know what food you can expect to eat, what the service would be like and you know how much it will cost you. If the service is amazing or the food doesn’t make you feel ill the next day, you might rate your experience as exceeds expectations based on what you were expecting. If the food and service were worse than you were expecting then the rating scale would probably go all the way down to 1.

I don’t think I need any more examples to draw your attention to the fact that we should be more careful with our 5s. We should save those 5s for the restaurants who really do blow our minds. 3 out of 5 shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, because our expectations were met. You should know what you’re going to get when you spend a fortune at a restaurant, where you had to book 6 months in advance and had to remortgage your house to pay the bill. If you go to this restaurant and you expected macaroni cheese or fish and chips and then you want to complain about the price, then you might have to consider that your research didn’t pay off. The restaurant shouldn’t be slated because you didn’t take the time to find out about how the ordering system works or the fact that the foods are meant to be shared by the table.

What do you think? Have I got the wrong end of the stick here or have I hit the nail on the head? It’s quite possible that the reason I don’t get a lot of invitations is because I am “too honest”. It’s the same reason I also have to weigh up whether it is really worth my while because of the expectation associated with my acceptance. I am open to correction though because I am well aware about how much I still need to learn.

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Today’s Puff Pastry Challenge

vegetarian, gazpacho, wild rocket, pinwheels, easy, kid friendly, today puff pastryWhen Today sends you a box of “mystery ingredients” and challenges you to make something outside of the norm, you go out of your way to avoid the clichéd quiche, pies, puff pastry pizzas and tarts. After all, everyone knows how to use puff pastry as a base for savoury baked goods so I thought, “Let’s find something different to do” and came up with these Roasted Tomato Gazpacho with Wild Rocket Pinwheels.

My mystery basket contained baby tomatoes, wild rocket, 2 rolls of Today Puff Pastry, feta cheese and balsamic vinegar. Since a small tub of tomatoes won’t go very far to feed my family of 4, I bought some more so that I could make enough soup for everyone. This classic flavour combo was a hit and the kids have asked me when I will be making these fab pinwheels again.

Today’s Puff Pastry Challenge

Roasted Tomato Gazpacho
1kg baby tomatoes
1 small (or half a large) onion
1 garlic clove, leave skin on
5ml sugar
5ml salt
30ml balsamic vinegar
125ml white bread, cubed
5ml ground cumin
125ml olive oil

Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius. Place washed baby tomatoes into a shallow, oven proof dish with the garlic clove (yes, leave the skin on) and onion. Drizzle with 10mls olive oil. Add sugar and salt and roast for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Soak bread briefly in cold water and drain, squeezing as much water out as possible. Rescue the garlic clove and remove the skin. Place tomato, onion and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and process briefly. Add bread, balsamic vinegar, cumin and the rest of the olive oil. Process until a smooth soup has formed, scraping down the sides of the food processor often. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Chill before serving.

Wild Rocket Pinwheels (adapted from The CookSister)
100g wild rocket, washed well
40g pecorino cheese, finely grated
40g pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 garlic clove
100ml olive oil
400g Today Puff Pastry
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Place the first 4 ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process until finely chopped. Slowly add olive oil through the spout of the food processor while the motor is still running until it has been well incorporated.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a large baking sheet with non stick spray or butter. Unroll the puff pastry and flatten with your hands. Spread about 60ml of pesto all over the pastry, leaving a 1cm border all the way around. Roll up the pastry (from the longest side and moving away from you) as tightly as you can. Slice the pastry into 1cm discs and place onto the prepped baking tray. Brush each pinwheel with beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Serve immediately with the chilled gazpacho.

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When your child bullies mine

parenting, bullies, kids, school, anger, hatred, intolerance When your child bullies mine
I have to wonder what they are learning at home
Is it hatred that they’re seeing
When you’re driving on the road?
Do you talk trash about people
Who look, talk or act differently from you?
Will they know what patience, tolerance and responsibility look like?
Or will they lash out at anyone who doesn’t behave the way they expect?

When your child bullies mine
I have to teach them about how many people are hurting
And how they can show compassion
Because if a child is so broken inside
That he/she feels the need to break others
Then I need to teach my child how to see past the hurt
And understand that they are not the ones at fault

Because while we cannot fix it, just recognizing the pain will help us learn and grow and adapt. The old adage that “Hurt people, hurt people” is true. Every day these broken people push into the traffic or steal parking bays without a care in the world (in fact, they will probably swear at you too). They will force people out of the way as they board a bus and arrogantly ask, “Why must I wait? What for?”

Please don’t think I am claiming to know it all. I know how hard parenting is and I recognized that raising children is a 24/7 365 days a year exercise that never, ever takes a break. Active parenting is teaching my kids every minute of every day about what the world is really like and how they can make a difference despite all the challenges we face. My kids are awesome, amazing individuals because Anton and I put the work in. We have treated them like human beings from day one and we would rather be strict now, so that they understand the bigger, more important rules later on.

Parenting is an ever changing sea. You have to adapt and learn with your kids if you want to keep your head above water. Boundaries help them feel safe so, when they learn that no means no, it actually helps them come to terms with the fact that you can’t always get what you want.
Imagine what a difference that would make, to all of us living alongside each other in the world. Compassion, tolerance and responsibility.

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Best Lemon Meringue Pie

best lemon meringue, recipe, baking, lemon recipe, how to make lemon meringue from scratchWhen life hands you (loads of) lemons, you make lemon curd and Lemon Drizzle Cake and lemon meringue and so on, and so on. Of course everyone has their favourite lemon meringue recipe so a blog post should offer something different and a valid reason why you defer from the simpler recipe to make it from scratch without a tin of condensed milk in sight.

Not that there is anything wrong with condensed milk, you understand? But I couldn’t possibly share the good old faithful tennis biscuits & butter base, tin of condensed milk, lemon juice and zest and 3 eggs separated (with 180ml castor sugar) one, could I?

So, despite all the lemon recipes I’ve shared already, I’m just going to go ahead and share another one (especially since I just noticed I haven’t actually shared a lemon meringue recipe on this blog before). I should mention that I tried making golden castor sugar by grinding up normal brown sugar in my food processor and it was an epic fail. The next time I tested this recipe I used castor sugar and it was a winner despite being the first time I used corn flour in the meringue.

best lemon meringue, recipe, baking, lemon recipe, how to make lemon meringue from scratchHow do you make meringue? I usually just whip up egg whites with a pinch of Cream of Tartar and slowly add the castor sugar. I have never added corn flour or vinegar before, but I’ve heard that many people prefer it that way.

Like all good things, this Lemon Meringue takes a little of planning ahead and some resting time but I promise you won’t regret it. This tart is everything lemon meringue should be. It is smooth, lemony and not too sweet with a crisp pastry crust and a feather light, caramelized, crunchy meringue top.

Best Lemon Meringue Pie

Best Lemon Meringue Pie

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8-10 servings

Like every thing in life, truly special things take time. This Lemon Meringue Pie is worth every extra minute it took to plan ahead.

Ingredients

  • ** Pastry
  • 180g cake flour
  • 20ml icing sugar
  • 100g cold butter
  • 1 egg yolk (save the egg white for the meringue)
  • ** Filling
  • 3 lemons, finely grate zest before squeezing out about 125ml juice
  • 1 orange, finely grate zest before squeezing out about 75ml juice
  • 100g castor sugar (or grind regular white sugar in a food processor until fine)
  • 30ml corn flour (cornstarch) (Maizena)
  • 3 egg yolks (save the egg white for the meringue)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 90g butter, cubed
  • ** Meringue
  • 4 egg whites (that you saved from earlier)
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 10ml corn flour (Maizena)

Instructions

  1. Pastry
  2. Place the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and get that motor running.
  3. Cut butter up into smaller blocks and drop down the chute of the processor while the motor does it’s thing.
  4. When the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs, add the egg yolk and blitz for a few more seconds until it starts to come together.
  5. Turn the machine off and remove the blade. Bring the mixture together with your hands and wrap the flattened disc in plastic.
  6. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
  7. Filling
  8. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius and prep a pie dish or cake tin with butter or non stick spray. Place a baking sheet in the oven to warm up. Your cake tin will be placed onto this hot baking sheet to ensure your pastry bakes evenly.
  9. Roll out your pastry and carefully transfer to your prepped dish. Push pastry into the corners and trim the edges. Don’t trim too closely as pastry does shrink once baked.
  10. Cover uncooked pastry in baking paper and fill with dried beans or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes then remove paper and discard rice/beans. Bake pastry for a further 8 minutes until golden brown.
  11. While you are waiting for the pastry, prep your filling. Heat sugar, corn flour, lemon zest and juices in a medium saucepan on the stove. Stir continuously until thick and smooth (this takes about 5 minutes).
  12. Remove the pan from the heat while you beat egg yolks and whole egg together and add it to the pan. Whisk briefly to incorporate and place mixture back onto the heat. Stir over medium heat until thick and smooth (it should look a bit like thick cream).
  13. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter until all the butter has melted and the curd is glossy. Set aside while you make the meringue.
  14. Meringue
  15. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar one spoon at a time until fully incorporated and the meringue is glossy and thick. Gently fold in the corn flour until no trace of it remains. Work gently to ensure that you don’t knock any of the air out.
  16. Fill your pastry shell with the hot lemon curd and top with the meringue working from the outside of the tart to the center. Place onto the hot baking tray in the oven and turn the temperature down to 160 degrees celcius.
  17. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the meringue is golden brown. Watch this carefully as the meringue could burn before the full 20 minutes are up.
  18. Turn off the oven and leave the lemon meringue inside the oven with the oven door ajar until completely cool. I prefer to not refrigerate as I find the meringue goes soft.
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Tandy’s Chocolate Souffles

baking challenge, chocolate, souffle, easier than you think, easy, Tandy SinclairThe list of recipes I want to test is over a mile long now. It has become one of those “to do” lists that get longer everyday but I get nowhere near making a dent into before I add another 5 items to the list. One of the recipes I was asked to test was sent to me by Tandy who asked me to try out her soufflé recipe a while back. It was only when she followed up with me a few weeks ago that I realized that I’d been sitting with it for a year! Sorry Tandy! This is really not like me (but why is time flying past so quickly these days?).

I do get a little apprehensive about recipes that require careful measurement and have quite a few steps. Since I hadn’t made a soufflé before, I would have to admit that I was procrastinating a bit. As a lazy baker I did try and take as many shortcuts as possible and hopefully this will go a long way to encourage you to try it too.


Tandy’s Chocolate Souffles

Step 1:

200g white sugar

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed

Blitz sugar and vanilla seeds together in the bowl of a food processor and set aside.

Step 2:

85ml milk

1 egg, separated

8g vanilla castor sugar (from what you made in your previous step)

15g cake flour

baking challenge, chocolate, souffle, easier than you think, easy, Tandy SinclairBring milk to boiling point in a small saucepan. Set aside the egg white to use later. Beat egg yolk and sugar together in a small bowl then slowly add flour. Beat well with a fork until smooth. Place a scoop of hot milk into the egg mixture and stir well to temper the eggs. Turn the heat down on the stove before adding the egg and milk mixture to the pot and stir well with a spatula until thick and smooth. Transfer custard into a small bowl and sprinkle over 15ml of your vanilla sugar. Set aside. This pastry cream yields about 110g of custard so you will need to measure out 100g for the next step.

Before you start with your final step, melt about 20g of butter in the microwave. Set aside about 80g of vanilla sugar for the next step and use the rest for the bowls. Brush butter using upward strokes into 8 small or 6 large ramekins and sprinkle with sugar. Swirl the sugar around the bowl to coat the sides before shaking the excess back into the bowl of vanilla sugar. Repeat until all the bowls have had their insides buttered and coated with sugar. Set aside the bowls and put a baking sheet in the oven. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celcius just before you want to serve the soufflés.

Step 3:

100g pastry cream

30g cocoa powder

5ml ground cinammon

5 egg whites (about 175g) (make this Lemon Curd with the 4 egg yolks you have leftover)

60g vanilla sugar

Set up a bain marie by placing a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the hot water in the pot. Slowly heat your pastry cream in this glass bowl stirring with a silicon spatula. Add 1 teaspoonful of cocoa and cinammon mixture at a time stirring well after each addition until thick and smooth. While you are busy with this you can whisk your egg whites to soft peaks in the bowl of a stand mixer using a whisk attachment. Slowly add the vanilla sugar until the meringue has become thick and glossy.

Remove your chocolate pastry cream from the heat and add a bit spoonful of meringue. Fold meringue into the chocolate custard using a figure 8 motion. Add remaining meringue in batches until everything has been well incorporated.

Scoop soufflé mixture into each bowl making sure that you only fill each ramekin halfway. Sprinkle spoonfuls of your remaining 20g of vanilla sugar over the top of each soufflé and let them rest for about 5 minutes so that the sugar melts in to the chocolate. Run your thumb around the edge of each bowl to clean off the excess sugar and to help the soufflés rise evenly.

Place ramekins onto preheated baking tray in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with sweetened whipped cream.

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Expos and Festivals

Since I’ve started blogging, I have been to a large amount of expos and festivals, often on my own dime, and I can count on the fingers of half a hand the times where it has actually been worth it. I usually avoid publishing anything on this blog that have “negative vibes” but maybe, if I say something, things will change.

My biggest issue with these events is the selling of tickets but never controlling overcrowding. If you are selling tickets to an event, you should know ahead of time what the absolute maximum number of people can enjoy the even at a time. Emphasis on the word ENJOY. Do you enjoy fighting for samples, having nowhere to sit and having to queue for drinks? Well, no. I don’t either. If you oversell for an event, you will have complaints. If you’re justifying your heavy ticket price for a “small, exclusive event” then, for heaven’s sake, don’t sell 12 000 tickets.

Gripes, issues, challenges, expos, festivals, family, food, wine, quality, costYou often don’t notice a good event until you go to a bad one. We went to the Getaway show earlier this year and the following worked in its favour.

  • Each tent had a letter associated to it. The stands then were marked on a map with that letter and a number. You could therefore easily figure out where the stand was that you were looking for.
  • The tents were air conditioned and there were places to sit and catch your breath when the sunshine outside became too much.
  • There were tons of people but it never felt crowded because the whole field was used and the tents were spread out so that you never felt like you could barely move in a confined space.
  • Kids (under 12) were allowed in for free. There were rides that they could go on and keep themselves entertained for hours. If those rides had been free, then I would have been happy to pay for a ticket for them. Since they weren’t free, I was glad to pay since I didn’t have to pay for the kids to get in to the Show.

The next issue I’d like to address is the price of everything. There was one year I decided to find out how little I could spend at a Show. After paying R100 to get in, I spent about an hour looking at all the stalls. A handful of products were outstanding enough to warrant a purchase. If I had bought 1 of each item I found impressive, I would have spent around R500. And that was before I had even bought anything to each to sustain myself through the show. So, if you and a partner (or heaven help you, a family) go to one of these shows, you can expect to spend a minimum of around R1000 per person especially if you want to attend the Celebrity Theatres.

My question is this, if you are already paying over R100 to get in, why should you pay more to watch someone cook for 30 minutes? I know there are shows that let you into the cook alongs or demonstrations as part of the ticket price but this is few and far between. To expect someone to pay R120 for a ticket PLUS R50 per 30 minute cooking demo is a bit much.

Yes, I know food and wine festivals are very different from travel expos but if you cannot find a way to distribute your samples without people crowding around your table and leaving nothing for anyone else, then rather don’t bother. It feels like we’re trying to make something work without thinking this through smarter. Brands have an opportunity here to think outside the confines of their 6x6m stand and find an innovative way to introducing new people to their products.

I also recognize that not every event is billed as “family friendly” but you guys are missing out on a huge market here. I don’t like leaving my family behind (and organize baby sitters) so that my husband and I can attend an event on our own. If you cannot make your expo and festival family friendly then you will lose out on a huge portion of your available target audience. The Cheese Festival and The Getaway Show have the right idea. If they can get it right then I’m sure you can think of something.

My final gripe is the shocking food, especially when it comes to wine festivals. Good grief people! Just because most of the people attending are too tipsy to notice, it doesn’t mean that the blotting paper you’re selling should taste like cardboard. Have you no shame? I have spent R50 on a dry roll and overcooked piece of steak one too many times. If this is my own option at a festival then I’d rather not go.

Come on you guys. We CAN make these events family friendly and not devastating on the pocket. I’m not saying I want stuff for free. I just want to feel like it was worth driving all the way out there because I had great food and a great time with my family. I’m willing to pay for it but the standard of these festivals and expos have dropped so low, that it has put me off for life.

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Out and About: July

Despite the fact that July was an incredibly busy month, it feels like we will never get to the end of it already. I feel like payday was a million years ago and there is just SO MUCH MONTH left! In terms of events, product launches and media drops, it feels like everybody and their cousin decided that July is perfect for everything to happen and since I work full time, I have to weigh up my options before I say yes to all the things.

When I take annual leave at work and, instead of using the time to rest and recuperate, I use it to attend blog related functions, I find myself feeling a bit ragged after a few weeks. Instead of getting to sleep late on my days off, I have to get up at the crack of dawn so that I can navigate the traffic and arrive at a function on time. Since then there is an expectation to create content during and after the event, work takes over and the event itself is anything but relaxing. It is enjoyable of course, but it is also hard work.

Out and About: July

Travel, blogging, out and aboit, cape town, blogger, events, south africa, foodieThis month started with a fantastic weekend in McGregor. We were invited to explore McGregor as a family and the weekend was jam packed with places to visit and roadtrips within roadtrips. I wrote about it over here on our family travel blog TazzDiscovers.

We were planning to go to Travel Massive at The Village Idiot but the event fell on Anton’s birthday so we had to give it a miss. Around the same time I had a week where I was scheduled to lead Worship at church two weeks in a row which meant fitting in practices after work during the week.

Travel, blogging, out and aboit, cape town, blogger, events, south africa, foodieThen Zomato turned 7 years old. So they had a party at Protea Hotel Fire & Ice. Did you know I share my restaurant reviews on Zomato? You can check it out here. It is by far the easiest and most effective way for me to review restaurants and I love the fact that the app picks up on your location and can suggest places nearby where you can go and have something delicious to eat. I have used it many times when I am home with my family and we want to go somewhere but we are spoiled for choice in Cape Town. I often then use the app to search for coffee shops and restaurants in surrounding towns so that we can not only explore new places for TazzDiscovers but I also get to add a review to my Zomato profile.

Travel, blogging, out and aboit, cape town, blogger, events, south africa, foodieAt the end of that same week, Societi Bistro launched their culinary Tour Through France. 10 weeks, 10 wines, 10 exceptional wines. This gastronomic experience will be available for your eating pleasure from 22 July to 29 September with the weekly menus changing every Wednesday.

Travel, blogging, out and aboit, cape town, blogger, events, south africa, foodieThe very next week I was in Pretoria for a meeting on Monday and Tuesday before I was back in the office on Wednesday with just enough time to sort out a day off for Thursday. Good Housekeeping is kind enough to invite me to attend their Celebrity Bake Stars event in Cape Town every year and the goody bags are so awesome, I really have a hard time saying no. If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram and my Facebook page, you can relive my experience by checking out the #GHBakeStars hashtag. The event managed to raise R15 000 for The Institute for the Blind.

All that’s left really, is the Winelands Chocolate Festival happening at Lourensford this weekend. If you can’t get there yourself, follow me on social media on Sunday to see what it’s all about. Sitting in on the baking demonstrations is by far my favourite part of these food expos so I will try and share as much as possible as I learn more about my hobby of choice.

That just about wraps up my first “Out and About” post. I do love how busy I was in July and I wish I could have said yes to more events. Unfortunately attending events does not pay the bills and so I have to hold down a day job and find time to take care of my family while blogging as often as I can. This does mean that blogging slips down the to do list a bit as creating unique content takes more time than you would imagine. It also requires a level of creativity that sometimes escapes me when I haven’t had the time to recharge my brain.

C’est la vie!

 

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

baking, recipes, lemon, drizzle cake, lemon syrup, lemon glaze, things to do with lemonsIf you follow me on social media, you may have picked up that my family and I spent an amazing weekend away in McGregor earlier this month. This was part of a media educational that we were invited to and we will blog about it on our family travel blog, TazzDiscovers.

We plan to take the kids out of school at the end of the year, sell the house and write our way around South Africa with a special focus on all the towns that don’t get huge exposure from hefty tourism budgets and marketing. If you’d like to know more, keep an eye on our Instagram, TwitterFacebook and Pinterest accounts.

The house we had the pleasure of staying in for those 2 nights and 3 days was called The Kite House and it has the most gorgeous back garden. There are birds aplenty as well as a pool (which was super tempting to take a dip in but it was SO COLD) and a lemon tree on either side of the garden simply dripping with fruit. I checked with the managing agent of the property and got the go ahead to harvest as many lemons as we possibly could. We found a tiny corner in our already overstuffed car to squeeze the lemons into and drove home with the smell of lemons wafting around our little Figaro. Yes, we named the car (which is a red Ford Figo) and she’s been part of the family now for just on 5 years.

So obviously with all the lemons in the house I had to make lemon everything to use them up. I tried a new recipe for lemon meringue for Anton’s birthday, which was a perfectly edible flop. I made lemon curd for dayz and I’m still working through our citrus harvest. I made Citrus Pie Bars last night and I plan to give the flopped lemon meringue recipe another go when I find some time this weekend. I like the idea of preserved lemons but I have no experience in how to use them once they have been canned. I’ve never eaten preserved lemons with anything before and I have no idea whether I will like them. Do you have any ideas?

While you’re thinking about it, how about we make this recipe for Lemon Drizzle Cake? I know people think of Lemon Drizzle Cake as a loaf but loaves have never spelled celebration for me and, since this was a replacement birthday cake for Anton, I had to make something that looked a bit special.

baking, recipes, lemon, drizzle cake, lemon syrup, lemon glaze, things to do with lemonsLemon Drizzle Cake

150g self raising flour

5ml baking powder

85g ground almonds

120g butter, at room temperature

120g castor sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

125ml buttermilk

10ml lemon zest

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and prep a large cake tin (or 2 smaller tins for a layered cake) with butter or non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy then add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with splashes of buttermilk. Once all the ingredients have been full incorporated, fold in the lemon zest.

Pour mixture into prepped cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes until done. If cake starts to brown too fast, lightly place a layer of foil over the top of the cake after about 30 minutes of baking. Bake until the cake is cooked through. You can check this by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick is dry, it’s done. If not, bake for a further 10-15 minutes until done.

While this is baking, start making the syrup.

Lemon Syrup

Place 200g of castor sugar in a small pot with 150ml freshly squeezed lemon juice. Heat gently until the sugar has melted. Boil for about 5 minutes until the syrup has thickened and reduced. Pour this syrup onto the cake straight after you have removed it from the oven. Use a fork to prick holes all over the cake to aid absorption. While you are waiting for the cake to cool off, make the glaze.

Lemon Glaze

300g icing sugar, sifted

50-80ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed

10ml lemon zest, for decoration

Combine icing sugar and lemon juice and stir until thick and smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and top with lemon zest. Give the glaze about an hour to set before serving. This can also be made a day ahead but it doesn’t keep very well. Eat within about 3 days for best results.

 

 

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Boston Cream Pie revisited

baking, recipes, boston cream pie, cake, creme patisserie, pastry cream, custardOne of the hazards of keeping a blog going for almost 5 years is that you start forgetting what you’ve already posted and run out of ideas for new things to write about. Maybe I should start learning how to bake recipes made famous by the French, Italians and Greeks. The recipes I’ve been playing with lately are certainly more complex than I usually post but I’m trying to improve my skills.

You may have noticed that I have started including a few personal posts in amongst the recipe posts and I find that I really enjoy sharing just a “normal life” post with you instead of feeling obligated to include a recipe. What do you think? Do you like these posts or should I rather stick to recipes?

Like most writers, I am horrified by the quality of my older posts. I had so much to learn when I started blogging and I’d like to believe that there is a vast improvement in what I write today vs how I posted 3 years ago. I am my own most vicious critic to the point where I am sometimes overwhelmed by how much I still need to learn and grow.

Boston Cream Pie revisited

baking, recipes, boston cream pie, cake, creme patisserie, pastry cream, custardWhen I looked at a post I did about Boston Cream Pie in 2012, I cringed at the quality of the writing as well as the horror of having “copied and pasted” the recipe. I haven’t made that mistake in so long that I had forgotten that I did that in the beginning. I was so tempted to delete that post and replace it with this one but I think it is a good comparison and reminder about how much I have evolved since then. I think I’ll leave it there to encourage me that I am actually improving.

I used the same custard recipe as posted in the previous post but I went out of my way to find an awesome sponge cake recipe that would really make this cake a show stopper. Back when I started baking, one of the first cakes I taught myself to make was an old fashioned, Hot Milk Sponge and this is what I want to share with you today. Remember, you want to make the custard and the ganache before you start baking the cake so that everything has enough time to cool down. You could even make these two components the night before so that you have enough time to assemble everything and chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours so that everything sets before serving.

Boston Cream Pie

Crème Patisserie

125ml muscovado sugar (divided)

5 large, free range egg yolks

45ml cornflour (Maizena)

500ml full cream milk

1 vanilla bean

60g butter, cut into small cubes

Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Place seeds in a medium bowl together with your 5 the egg yolks and 60ml of the sugar. Whisk briefly to combine sugar and egg. Set aside.

Heat milk and the remaining 60ml sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the empty bean pod in the milk to infuse the milk with vanilla flavour. Stir the milk gently until the sugar has dissolved and it has almost reached boiling point.

Carefully add half the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to temper the egg. Add the egg and milk mixture back to the pot and return to the heat. Stir continuously until the custard is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter one piece at a time until each piece has melted before adding the next one. Transfer into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure you press the plastic wrap down onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

125ml fresh cream

250g dark chocolate

Heat cream to boiling point in the microwave (about 2 minutes at 100% power). Chop chocolate up roughly and place into the hot cream. Allow to stand for 2 minutes before stirring gently until smooth and glossy. Set aside until cool, stirring every 10 minutes. If the chocolate sets up before you use it, place it in the microwave and heat for 20 seconds at 60% power. Stir again until smooth before using it to top the cake.

baking, recipes, boston cream pie, cake, creme patisserie, pastry cream, custardHot Milk Sponge

4 large, free range eggs

500ml white sugar

5ml vanilla extract

250ml milk

100g butter

560ml cake flour

15ml baking powder

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and prepare two large cake pans with non stick spray or butter. Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper. Set aside.

Place eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat well until light yellow in colour and thickened. Add vanilla extract and beat well.

Combine milk and butter in a heat proof bowl and heat for 4 minutes in the microwave at 100% power until the butter has melted. Stir well and keep aside.

Sift flour and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture. Set stand mixer to lowest setting and mix gently until combined. Slowly add hot milk to the cake batter and mix well until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of flour left behind. Mix briefly on medium speed until the batter is well combined.

Divide batter between 2 prepped cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (rotating the pans after 20 minutes). Use a toothpick or clean knife to check if the cakes are done by inserting the toothpick/knife into the center of the cake. If the knife still shows signs of wet cake batter, return cakes to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes until the cakes are done.

Set cake pans onto a cooling rack and wait 10 minutes before carefully turning the cakes out. Carefully remove baking paper from the bottom of the cakes and cool completely before putting the cake together.

Assembly

Level the tops of the cake and slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have 4 sponge cake layers. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and top with about 125ml of the custard. Place the next layer on top and repeat until you have stacked the 4 layers together. Place this in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.

Once the custard is sufficiently chilled and the tower of cakes seems stable, remove from the fridge and carefully top with the chocolate ganache. Allow cake to stand and ganache to set for about 1 hour before serving.

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