Nomad Life: South Africa

reflection, TazzDiscovers, what it's like to be a nomad, travel, family, south africa, road trip, home school, what it's really like, laundry lifesaver, Spindel, what you need to knowNomad Life: South Africa

We tried the South African nomad life for 9 weeks and managed to learn a lot about ourselves, how much we take for granted in day to day life and how important family is.

Applying for a new drivers license

I managed to lose my drivers license card on Knoetzie Beach in Knysna and I got to experience how small town police and traffic departments work. All things considered, I was quite impressed. Maybe it’s because I can be very persuasive when I need something but I managed to complete an affidavit at the police station, get new photos taken and filed the paperwork at the traffic department, just before 4pm on the day I lost it.

Of course, it still hasn’t arrived in Cape Town so I will have to follow up in Knysna when we head to Durban next week. Fortunately my temporary drivers license is valid for 6 months so it’s not urgent.

Laundry

Obviously not having access to a washing machine will be an issue while you are road tripping through South Africa. You know that you will have to embrace the hand washing way of life but, when you move on every 3 days, things inevitably add up and you spend the first day in your new location, freezing your elbows off as you get through a mountain of washing.

In theory, if you wash what you wear every night,  you won’t have the backlog but after getting lost in Kruger National Park, the last thing you want to still tackle is washing. You won’t be able to hang it out until the next morning anyway so, you end up with a huge pile of washing.

Our secret weapon was our Spindel. This little gem was incredibly useful. No matter how much you wring your washing out by hand, it is still soaking wet. But when you can give your clean laundry a few minutes in the Spindel, your delicates can dry overnight, hung over a towel rail in the bathroom. Bigger items dry within a few hours in the sunshine the next morning.

reflection, TazzDiscovers, what it's like to be a nomad, travel, family, south africa, road trip, home school, what it's really like, laundry lifesaver, Spindel, what you need to knowHomeschool

If I had known how much the road trip would have taught our kids, I wouldn’t have bothered to lug all their books around the country with us. We visited lots of museums, monuments and animal sanctuaries while on the road so, not only wasn’t there a lot of time to “teach” but the unsettled nature of nomad life, meant that I was dealing with more emotional issues with my home sick kids.

Family

You don’t realize how important pets and family are to kids until you hit the road. We thought we could live off the excitement but the kids didn’t manage well. Most days they tried to hide it but by the end of the 9 weeks, I had children crying to go “home home” because they missed their aunt and their grandparents.

As a result, I don’t think doing long trips will work for our family anymore. We will happily explore for a few weeks at a time but we will set a date when we plan to go home for a bit. It will be better for the kids emotional well being.

reflection, TazzDiscovers, what it's like to be a nomad, travel, family, south africa, road trip, home school, what it's really like, laundry lifesaver, Spindel, what you need to knowThat’s all from me for now. If you would like to know more about our South African roadtrip, have a look at our family, travel blog TazzDiscovers. I update it a lot more often than this one and I’m thinking about merging the two in the near future.

Why self catering accommodation is working for us

Since we’ve been on the road, I have been trying to compare and contrast prices in local supermarkets and note how they differ from big city supermarkets. When we were in Montagu, Spar was the closest grocery store and, while their grocery items were more or less the same, their fresh produce seemed a bit more expensive.

We have very limited space in the car so I don’t have access to my “normal” pantry where buying larger quantities means that I can save a little bit. I started the road trip with oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, flour, yeast, butter, cheese, coffee and rooibos tea. This is a life line when you arrive in Oudtshroon after 2pm on a Sunday afternoon with nothing for supper, the shops are closed and, because the accommodation you booked is actually bed and breakfast, you were supposed to book for supper, but no one told you! The above ingredients mean that you grab the offer of a braai with both hands and make braai bread topped with cheese and enjoyed with tea for supper.


In terms on bed and breakfast vs self catering, you will be shocked how quickly costs add up, when you’re at the mercy of the accommodation to supply the meals. I can buy a tray of 18 free range eggs for R45 and 2 packs of bacon got R60 and have breakfasts sorted for 3 days, for the price of 2x R65/head breakfasts. I tested that theory and had breakfast in De Rust as an experiment. The kids had yogurt and muesli parfaits with tinned fruit cocktail for R35 each. I had eggs Benedict that came on toast with processed cheese, bacon and mushrooms for R45 and Anton had a 3 egg, cheese omlette for the same price. With coffee, the bill came to R250.

So, even if small town grocery stores are slightly more expensive, going the self catering route makes so much sense. And let me not even get started on the price of dinners at a restaurant. I have yet to find a restaurant that can offer something I can’t make myself for under R500 for 2 adults and 2 kids.

TazzDiscovers South Africa

Do you ever feel like you’re too full of words? That’s how I have been feeling lately. There are so many words in my head and I have so much to say, but my thoughts are in turmoil and I can’t find a way of putting them down on paper in some sort of order to make sense.

One of the reoccurring themes has been, “what the friggen hell are you doing? Are you crazy!?” It’s has pretty much formed the soundtrack to my life, since we started planning our tour around South Africa and, this particular song loves waking me up in the middle of the night. I mean, who would sell their house, take their kids out of school, pack up everything to go and explore this crime infested, government corrupted country? What if, what if, what if? #danger #crime #violence

TazzDiscovers South Africa

The thing is, in my heart I feel like there is more. There is more to this country than what gets reported in the news. There are amazing people, more beauty than you can ever imagine and so much potential around every corner. All you have to do is to take a moment, and look.

I know that time seems like a luxury these days. Not everyone can do what we are doing and I’m not suggesting that we all take a year off, but we feel the need to do this. I honestly feel like, if I don’t so something different from just the usual daily grind for a little while, I will go crazy.

There is no huge budget set aside for this crazy adventure. Pretty much all we have left is a small amount, after all our debts have been paid. If I had to choose to rather go overseas and try to backpack through Europe on what I have left, I would probably manage the air fare for all of us and then have enough for a cup of coffee before I’d have to turn around and come home. Yip, exactly!

Sometimes #obstacles (like #waves🌊) can be fun. All you have to do is #jump 🙌. Embrace #childhood 👪

A photo posted by Tami, Anton and the Zs (@tazzdiscovers) on

So, here we go. Tomorrow we head for Ashton, then to Oudtshroon and then onto the Garden Route. Along the way we will take a gazillion pictures and I will try and capture the beauty and awesomeness I see, feel and experience, not only on social media, but also on our family travel blog.

I hope you will come along and let us in on your favourite places in and around South Africa. The hashtag is #TazzDiscovers and I invite you to keep an eye on our blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Good Housekeeping Family Day at Backberg Wine Estate in Paarl

Come and play. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Come and play. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

I don’t know about you, but Winter caught me completely unawares this year. It felt like we had Autumn for a day and then plunged straight into cold and rain. Not that I’m complaining because I love Winter, and our drought stricken country desperately needs the rain.

The only thing about Winter, when you’re a parent however, is the fact that bickering can reach unbearable levels, if you happen to have more than one child, and the cries of “I’m bored” tend to get louder and louder. There is, of course, nothing better to look forward to than an outing.

Good Housekeeping Family Day at Backberg Wine Estate in Paarl

Paint and enjoy the outdoors. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Paint and enjoy the outdoors. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

The Good Housekeeping Family Day on the 10th of April 2016, comes at the ideal time in the year when you’ve put the first school term behind you and, while the days may be starting to turn cold and windy, brings about the perfect time to test driving those new winter coats and enjoying the last few sunny days outdoors.

Remember sack races? Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Remember sack races? Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

So why not pop over here for more information about the day and buy a few tickets for yourself and your family? Tickets for kids aged 2-16 cost just R20 and the great thing about that is, once you’re inside, all of the over 30 activities, from petting zoo to old fashioned games, are free. Children under the age of two and pensioners can enjoy the day free of charge. Adult tickets are R120 which includes a free 3 month print or 4 month digital subscription to Good Housekeeping AND R10 of the ticket price is donated to the Save the Children charity.

South African band Goodluck. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

South African band Goodluck. Picture supplied by Good Housekeeping Magazine

What else can you look forward to? How about live music by the fab South African bands Goodluck and Touchwood? Backsberg Estate, which happens to be the first carbon neutral wine estate, will be selling their wines at cellar door prices and while the kids are entertained, you are invited to taste what the estate has to offer.

Will I see you there? Festivities start at 11am and end at 4pm. Remember to share your experience using the #GHFun and #brightFutureSA on social media. There’s nothing left for you to do but to click here to buy your tickets HERE.

Easy Easter Brioche

easy easter brioche, easy brioche, recipe, brioche, easter, baking, fruit loaves, hot cross buns, fruit buns, dried fruitIt has been 6 weeks since we moved out of our house and into Kirstenhof with Anton’s parents, while we wait for the transfer to be registered, so we can tour South Africa as a family. Despite the initial itchy feet and frustration, we have found this to be an ideal transitory rest stop. We had no idea how much we would need to still give or throw away before we hit the road, and the kids have benefited from having a place to call their own as they settle into a home school environment.

The thing about not having a source of income, is that you have to make the tiny amount of money that does come in, STTTTTRREEEETTTTCCCHHHH as far as possible. The same, I guess is true of all of us though, given the state of the economic climate. Kids definitely seem to eat more when they’re home as opposed to taking a lunch box to school. By the sounds of things, home school kids who are permanently hungry is completely normal, if the Facebook forums are to be believed.

Easy Easter Brioche

As I have found it to be cheaper to buy a bag of bread flour and some yeast than buying a loaf of bread everyday, I have made countless loaves of bread over the last few weeks. Since home made bread seems to be a lot more filling, it makes it even more economically viable. For the sake of variety, I have been interspersing loaves of kitke loaf with this delicious brioche recipe, originally found on my friend Alida’s Simply Delicious Food blog, and I have heard no complaints whatsoever. Not only does this bread make the absolute best French toast but I have added cinnamon and mixed spice to it and turned out the most glorious Hot Cross Buns.

While I was just going to share the plain old recipe, as delicious as it may be, it makes more sense to include my Easter themed tweaks instead. Feel free to turn these into Hot Cross Buns or leave them as loaves, and then turn them into Easter French toast on Sunday. I will not be held responsible for any weight gain incurred.

Please remember that this brioche will have to rise for about 2 hours before you refrigerate it overnight so remember to factor enough time in. I usually mix up a batch of dough just before supper, let it rise and then pop it into the fridge. The minute I wake up, I take it out of the fridge and leave it for about an hour to reach room temperature. Then I knock it down and place it into 2 greased bread tins.

You can also shape them into twenty, 60 gram balls to make buns if you prefer. Wrap the baking pans in plastic wrap and leave to rise for a further 2 hours before preheating the oven, brush the loaves with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes (for buns) or 40 minutes (for loaves). It is absolutely worth waiting for.

Easy Easter Brioche (makes 2 loaves or 20 buns)

125ml warm milk

45ml sugar

10g instant yeast

4 large eggs, at room temperature

500g flour, sifted

5ml salt

10ml mixed spice

250ml fruit cake mix (replace with dark chocolate chunks if raisins aren’t your thing)

175g butter, at room temperature

Place warm milk, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together by hand using a balloon whisk. Beat in eggs, one at a time before you sift flour, salt and spices over the top then stir to combine. Attach the K-beater or paddle attachment to your stand mixer and turn the machine on it’s lowest setting. After a minute or so, add the dried fruit (if using) and mix. Allow dough to mix together for a further minute before slowly adding bits of butter. Keep mixing until all the butter has been incorporated and the dough is soft and sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure that none of the mixture has been left behind unmixed. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the dough into a buttered bowl and top with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for 2 hours before placing in the fridge overnight.

Remove bowl from the fridge and let the dough come to room temperature for about an hour. Punch dough down and shape into 2 equal logs or 20 buns. Place dough in 2 greased bread tins and cover with plastic again to rise for a further 2 hours. Preheat oven to its hottest setting. Brush loaves with an egg wash made with the yolk of an egg mixed with a tablespoon of water. You will turn the oven down to 190 degrees celcius just before you place the loaves into the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and the loaves/buns sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Cross recipe

If you want to add crosses, rub 20g butter into 80g flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add just enough hot water (15-30ml) to make a piping consistency. Place slack dough into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle or simply transfer into a thick plastic bag and cut off one corner. Pipe crosses over buns just after you have added the egg wash and just before you place them in the oven.

Top loaves with orange glaze immediately after you have removed them from the oven. Cool in bread pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely before slicing (if you can wait that long).

Glaze

250ml freshly squeezed orange juice

125ml sugar

Boil ingredients together over low heat on the stove until thickened and reduced. Brush over hot loaves once they have been removed from the oven. Serve warm with butter.

What may surprise you about Home School

I know that this food blog has suddenly become very home school orientated and for that I feel I need to apologize. Honestly I have become so bored of being “just another food blog” and all that goes with it that I feel like it’s perfectly okay to talk about what interests me at the moment. If that means I lose readers, then so be it. I plan to share more food related stuff on my Facebook page so, if you don’t follow it already, please click on the hyperlink at the start of this sentence.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. I feel like there is quite a lot that is misunderstood about “home school” and I get that. Heaven knows I had no idea what I was getting myself into and everyone home schools differently. This is probably why I feel the need to write about it. Home school is simultaneously the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve been responsible for and, when I think about the conversations I’ve had with my kids this week, I feel like this was, without a doubt the right decision.

What may surprise you about Home School
So, if you’re thinking about home schooling, I hope that my posts will encourage you in your choice and maybe minize some of the fears you may have.

The first thing I have to mention is that you have to look at what works for you and your family. You know your kids better than anyone else and take the time to find out how they learn. Aside from the obvious verbal vs reading vs pictures, try and find a way of making what they are learning, relevant to their lives. Of course, this isn’t always going to be possible but if you can find a way to contextualize how this type of maths/language/writing will fit into their day to day lives, then you may find that the mental lightbulb lights up a lot more quickly.

Let me give you an example. Earlier this week, I was chatting to Zac about his Maths and some how (Zac can find the most “interesting” questions to ask when he would literally do ANYTHING else than his worksheets) we started talking about how he would like to buy a huge skyscraper one day that could house all the homeless people in the world.

So, we started talking about how much that building would cost, where he would get the money from and how he would repay the bank whatever he borrowed. He was under the impression that just working hard and having a job would be more than enough to make his awesome dream, a reality.

Which lead us to the discussion about personal budgeting and how much life costs. Insurance, medical aid, car repayments and rent. While I felt like I was dashing his dreams, I felt it would be far more insulting to pat him on the head and say, “that’s nice dear”. I could see from the direction the chat went that rather than giving up, he was inspired to look at things differently and find another way to make his dream come true.

On our way back today, we started talking about foreign currency, then race and apartheid and then eventually Umkhonto we Sizwe. I’m not sure how these topics would have been presented in school but I do know that the teacher would have not had enough time to answer all the questions we did and, out of what the kids did understand, it probably wouldn’t explore the complexities and contextual details that our chat unearthed. So, while today was a non workbook day, where we went to Cape Point and saw baboons, tortoises and smelled the fynbos, the information covered today would have taken more than 12 years in even the most expensive formal education.

Homeschool: Socialization

The first thing people ask when they hear that your kids are home schooled is, ‘but what about socialization?’. Like I’m raising my kids in a cupboard.

And even if I was, how many of you had a good experience at school? Maybe you were one of the popular kids who fitted in and made friends easily. If that was the case, then you probably had a good experience. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. I was teased, bullied and tormented for 12 years in various ways and I left school feeling worthless, stupid and ugly.

What’s so great about Socialization anyway?

The ‘socialization’ I experienced was rubbish, and the only thing it taught me is that people suck. So please forgive me if I don’t believe sending my kids to mainstream school, just for the socialization aspect, is worth it.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that things haven’t improved in the last 20 years. My son was in school from 2010-2015. In those 5 years he was verbally abused, picked on, ridiculed and had his possessions damaged. His socialization experience taught him the same thing it taught me. The pressure and stress it placed him under meant that he wasn’t even learning anything academically anymore because the bullying continued in the classroom, where it was pointed out to him over and over again that he didn’t fit in, he wasn’t good enough and he couldn’t do anything right. All because he saw things differently and he didn’t blindly follow instructions like a zombie.

My daughter was in school from 2013-2015 and, despite the fact that she is a social butterfly, school became about who was her friend and who wasn’t every day. She told me how some children didn’t have friends and who were laughed at and teased for not fitting in. On any given day she could tell me who was her friend and who wasn’t and how she didn’t understand why someone played with her yesterday but didn’t want to play with her today with no explanation given.

Kids are way more broken today than they were 20 years ago. More children come from homes where their parents don’t have time to engage with them face to face and never get the attention they crave. Sure, they have all the latest toys and gadgets but snuggle time, tickle games and laughter is in short supply when they are shuttled from one activity to the next with screen time as their main companion.

When you add all that together, it doesn’t take rocket science to work out why they act the way they do when it comes to social situations. Children need to be taught how to behave. They need to have their questions answered and be guided towards the skills that will help them be compassionate, kind and emotionally mature.

If you allow the media, computer games and books to teach those skills, you are taking a huge risk. Have you looked at what kids watch on TV lately? Either they will start thinking that life is a singing, choreographed dancing Disney musical or they will think that slapstick comedy or toilet humour is the order of the day and start throwing cream pies in their friend’s faces.
Girls especially seem to pick up on the ‘drama’ and translate that into how they should treat the people around them. Even if eye rolling and ‘whatever’ seems cute to you when they are 5, it will soon lose the cuteness factor when they are refusing to listen to you when they are 15. TV is not real life. Nor are books like Sweet Valley High or Twilight. Unless you clue them in then you are setting them up for a life of disappointment and unrealistic expectations.

If boys aren’t taught how to treat girls. they will automatically assume that what they see on TV or in the computer games they play, is true to life. So they will start expecting every girl that catches their eye to obviously reciprocate their affections and do whatever they want her to do. The media has tried to convince us since the dawn of time that if you drink/eat/use/wear/buy this product, it will lead to a happy, fulfilled life where all your friends will hang out with you on this yacht in the sunshine where you will have the time of your life. Ja, we all know how that pans out, right?

So, I choose to home school my kids because I want them to be well rounded human beings who are able to reason and use logic to find a way of making a difference in the world. If they lack the ‘social skills’ they would get from being bullied on a daily basis then I’m okay with that. Instead, they can rather talk to grown ups they meet in the grocery store and in the library.

They can learn how to ask the right questions while being kind and compassionate. This will be far more beneficial than whether they were popular or not.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying that the way you are raising your kids is wrong. However, if your kid is a bully, please do us all a favour and find out why. My kids aren’t perfect and I still have a mountain of stuff to learn about being a parent (I never claimed to know it all). Please feel free to weigh in here and let me know if you think I have the wrong end of the stick.

Home schoolers, I’d love to connect with you and hear what you have to say about the topic. I am still very new to the home school game and probably haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg.

What you need to know about homeschool

Some say, “A change is as good as a holiday” but that implies that change is relaxing, peaceful and a respite from the pressures of day to day life. A LOT has changed since the last time I blogged and I am tense, stressed, worried and sleepless.

Of course, moving out of the house where I raised my kids for the last 11 years was never going to be fun and I am grateful that we have a place to stay while we wait for the transfer of the house to happen but I just want to hit the road already.

On top of everything we have been homeschooling for a month now (although it seems MUCH longer) and I honestly feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew. The responsibility weighs heavily on my shoulders. This is not something to be taken lightly.

What you need to know about homeschool

I chose the workbook centered approach so that my lessons were outlined for the day and the amount of planning needed from my side was minimal. But there is SO MUCH WORK!

After all the research I’d done beforehand, I had pictured home school to be more cuddling in bed reading than working one on one with each child to help them understand subtraction. There are loads of articles about teaching fractions using Lego and playing loads of Monopoly but there is more to Math than that.

On a good day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and I love it but 65% of the time I wonder how we are going to cover all the material by the end of the year. Thankfully I have learned to manage my level of frustration and choose to focus on the small foundation blocks my kids are coming to grips with.

Like my friend Sam reminded me this morning. It is still early days and we need to take courage in the fact that we will get there. If my kids were still in mainstream South African school, they would still be focused on inter house/school athletics and having their stationery counted.

At least what they have learned in the last month is tangible. I know they won’t be left behind as the rest of their class grasps or doesn’t grasp the concepts that their overworked, underpaid teacher needs to impart to them amongst all the admin and extra responsibilities they face everyday.

Chocolate Crunchies

easy, chocolate, crunchies, baking, recipes, lunch box fillers, sweet

Wishing you and your loved ones every blessing in 2016. Happy New Year!

Would you believe that this post was actually scheduled to go live on 28 December? I have no idea why it didn’t and, by the time it was supposed to, my ISP informed me that I hadn’t paid my subscription so they were going to suspend my sites.

Now, I’m not one of those people who are comfortable with shirking their financial commitments however, despite jumping through all the required Government hoops on the last day of my contract on 30 November, I only received my final salary on 14 January (and that was after pulling strings (to get information) from a few of my old colleagues who had become friends over the 11 years I had been there).

Obviously, once money came into my account on the 14th, I didn’t even have time to blink before it was gone again.

As you may already know, my family and I plan to tour South Africa this year which means that we are selling our house and hitting the road. The original plan was to leave in mid January but because the house was in desperate need of some work, we had to shift things a bit and are now looking to start in early February.

So, after placing the house on the market on 12 January, we were shocked, pleased and grateful to have an offer on the 14th of January. This is absolutely a testament to God’s timing. Friends have been asking us for months whether we had placed the house on the market yet and seemed sceptical that we would manage to sell in time to leave in January.

Which means that, if all goes well this week, we will be able to leave for our South African tour in the first week in February 2016. #SoMuchExcitement

Anyway, back to the recipe I was supposed to give you last year but, since it will definitely feature in our “padkos” (road trip food), it actually fits in better right here. These chocolate crunchies are packed with oats, coconut and cocoa so, despite their robe of dark chocolate sauce, the “good ingredients balance out the butter and sugar quite nicely.

And you don’t even have to wait for the crunchies to cool before you pour on the topping. When the topping is poured on, while the crunchies are still hot, you will find that the icing sinks in before it hardens to form a delicious layer of crisp, dark sweetness to hit that sweet tooth right in the gut. Good luck getting these to last a week in your house. In fact, invite some people over or take this tray bake to a party. You don’t want to tempt yourself with these tantalizing titbits. It’s a little ridiculous how easy it is to finish a pan full all by yourself. No judgies!

easy, chocolate, crunchies, baking, recipes, lunch box fillers, sweetChocolate Crunchies

500ml whole wheat flour

500ml coconut

500ml oats

250ml sugar

30ml cocoa powder

10ml baking powder

375g butter, at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a 30x45cm oven pan with baking paper making sure you leave a generous edge all the way around. You will use this later to help you remove the crunchies from the pan. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl of a stand mixture and beat on low speed until combined. If you don’t have a stand mixer, feel free to use your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Press this mixture into your prepped oven pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. It will still seem a bit soft when you remove it from the oven but don’t worry.

While the crunchies are baking, mix together 500ml icing sugar (sifted), 15ml cocoa powder, 60ml butter (at room temperature) and just enough hot water to make a smooth, spreadable paste. Pour this over the crunchies the minute they come out of the oven. Use the back of a large tablespoon to spread the icing all the way to the corners of the crunchies. Let this set for about 20 minutes before using the baking paper to lift the crunchies out of the pan and onto a chopping board. Slice while still slightly warm and cool completely before storing in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cake

christmas, xmas, recipes, ice cream cake, choc mint, chocolate, ice cream, easy, no churnCustard, for me, will always be one of those comfort foods that make me remember my childhood. I haven’t even considered it as one of the first things I cooked until now because, until I started writing about it, I’d forgotten how (in order for me to eat it) I would have to make it myself because my family LOVED custard so thick, it could be used to build a house.

Urgh! I feel sick just thinking about it. For me, custard has always had a single requirement. It must have the consistency of *Ultramel and have absolutely no lumps! Now I will admit here that the custard I’m referring to “cooking” was made from the shop bought powder. I know! I’m sorry but I only learned about crème patisserie when I started blogging and now my custard powder is used to ONLY make custard cookies. Of course, once I learned that proper ice cream was made using a crème patisserie base, it took some trial and error before I came across a recipe that would hit the spot every, single time.

Now, the title of this post isn’t custard. It’s Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cake so maybe it’s time I stop waffling…OOOH WAFFLES *drags mind back to the task at hand* and actually give you the recipe. Sorry, I have the attention span of a goldfish when it comes to food.

So basically, the premise is that you make the crème patisserie and, while that’s cooling, you gently whip a tin of caramel together with some more cream. Once that is nice and thick, you add a drop of green food colouring, 2.5ml mint essence and 150g Nomu Decadent dark chocolate bits (or more, to taste). You then gently fold that into the cooled custard and you’re ready to turn it into  showstopping delight.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cake

Crème Patisserie

125ml milk

125ml cream

15ml sugar

20g corn flour (Maizena)

50g sugar

3 large egg yolks

5ml vanilla extract

20g butter

Heat the first 3 ingredients to just below boiling point on the stove. While you are waiting, mix the corn flour, sugar and egg yolks together to form a smooth paste. Add a scoop (I use a 60ml cup measure) of hot milk to the egg mixture and stir well. Add the mixture back to the pot and whisk with a silicon whisk until thick and creamy. Add vanilla and mix. Remove from the heat and add butter. Stir until the butter has melted and has completely incorporated with the custard. Set aside to cool in a clean bowl set in a bigger bowl filled with ice cubes. To prevent a skin from forming, cover the custard with cling film or saran wrap, pushing the plastic down to touch the top layer of custard.

christmas, xmas, recipes, ice cream cake, choc mint, chocolate, ice cream, easy, no churnAssembly

200g **Tennis Biscuits, caramel or choc mint flavour (crushed with rolling pin or in food processor)

100g butter, melted

397g tinned caramel or Dulce de leche

250ml cream

A few drops of green food colouring

2.5ml peppermint essence

150g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Crush biscuits and mix with butter until it starts to look like wet sand. Press into a large, greased cake pan to form a base. Refrigerate until needed.

Gently whip cream and caramel together. You want smooth and creamy, not stiff. The mixture will thicken while standing. Add essence and food colouring. Mix well making sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl. Gently fold in cooled crème patisserie and add chocolate. Pour mixture onto your prepped biscuit base and cover in cling film (saran wrap). Wrap the entire dish in heavy duty aluminium foil and free until needed. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Top with grated peppermint crisp or melted chocolate if preferred.

* ultramel – a brand of ready made custard that can be bought in all major retailers. While delicious, homemade is always best.

** Tennis Biscuits – this is a popular coconut cookie used as a base for many sweet, unbaked desserts in South Africa. It is available in plain, caramel, cinammon and choc mint flavours. If this is not available where you live, try using digestive biscuits or graham crackers flavoured with 50g desiccated coconut, cocoa and 50g mint flavoured chocolate.