Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yummy Spicy Potato Soup

Potato soup brings back fond memories from my school days. We used to walk or catch a bus home from school most days. In winter there would very often be a big pot of potato soup bubbling away on the stove, ready for us when we came in. It was made for us by our Xhosa nanny, Aggie, who was a big part of our family. Aggie did much of the cooking and would often chase me out of the kitchen when I came to "steal" out of her pots. I loved Aggie and she was like a second mom to the four of us!

I tried my hand at some potato soup and if I dare say so myself, I think it is much nicer than the one Aggie used to make for us! As I love tweaking and changing recipes here and there, it is a combination of two different recipes I found on-line. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 and a half kg mixed potatoes (sweet and normal) peeled and chopped
2 large onions diced
4 carrots sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 or 3 teaspoons grated ginger
2 or 3 cloves garlic
2 chillies finely sliced (use less if you not too fond of fire!)
half a teaspoon of nutmeg
salt and pepper 
1 tablespoon of harissa paste
1 and half litres chicken stock 
fresh coriander to garnish if you like

* soften the onions in the oil
* add potatoes, carrots, ginger, garlic, sugar and spices and stir until well combined
* add chicken stock and allow to cook until veg are soft
( I use my pressure cooker so it goes quickly)
* blend and serve piping hot with finely chopped coriander

This soup is really filling so we found we didn't even need bread on the side.
Bon Appetit!

Monday, June 25, 2012

June's Joy Dare week 4

Blessings that I am thankful for....

Day 19
(3 gifts you became today in serving)
only by His grace:
625) patient when feeling impatient and tired
627) humble when needing to admit my shortcomings and make apologies
628) kind when I quietly did their chores that had not been done
& more my own
629) my neighbour coming over for a chat and bringing a delicious cuppachino for me to enjoy
630)  pancakes made by my daughter at lunchtime....
sitting with my 3 kids in the garden and watching them enjoy the sweet lunchtime treat
631) my uncle calling for a chat, good to catch up
632) an old friend making a special trip to visit and bearing delicious tea time treats...
enjoyed catching up out on the lawn in the mild winter sunshine

day 20
(a gift bent, beautiful, loved)
633) bent...a wire heart hanging in my kitchen ... a gift from my sweet sister that reminds me of her daily
634) beautiful....peacefully sleeping baby, looking so angelic
635) loved....hugs when hubby got home from work

day 21
(2 gifts found in light)
636) lightness that comes with forgiveness
637) light at the end of the tunnel...
2 days of school left before we have holidays for 3 weeks
& more my own
638) thankful for my daughter's help in the kitchen today and delicious lemon pudding she baked
639) thankful for time spent with my youngest: reading aloud chapter after chapter and having a good laugh together
640) thankful for a call from my happy sister this evening

day 22
641) thankful for some extra sleep after very early waking when hubby left for work
642) thankful to be able to treat my kiddies to a special breakfast on break up day
643) thankful for getting to the end of where we needed to be with school work for now...
and the fun we had along the way
644) thankful for winning a book prize today
645) thankful for a delightful parcel from the UK that arrived today and brightened our day

day 23
(gifts for Saturday)
646) enjoying a quiet morning of solitude while the rest of the family is out
647) a nap alongside my daughter this afternoon after her morning of volunteer work
648) thankful our teen son's friends feel welcome and relaxed in our home
649) hubby doing it again - cooking for the gang and giving me a night off
650) girls home movie, quietly snuggled under the blankets and enjoyed with my daughter while the guys play x box and make lots of noise!

day 24
(a gift in water, in words, in white)
651) water - rain glorious rain today!
652) words - my sweet sisters both calling me today for a chat
653) white- all warm and cosy in my white gown
& my own
654) time with hubby
655) full house and fun at breakfast time,13 in total, delicious egg and bacon baked in muffin pans and triple batch of crumpets with cinnamon sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, topped off with good coffee

day 25
my own
656) a later than normal lie in for a Monday morning...school holidays, bliss
657) coupons and samples in the mail today
658) blessings of half a pocket each of potatoes, butternuts, onions and carrots from my sweet sister in law
659) watching my sweet baby nephew toddling around my veg garden and trying snow peas just off the vine...the faces he pulled and the spitting out ...too funny and too cute!
660) all my children home tonight...just feels right.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Best broccoli salad

This weekend we enjoyed our first broccoli salad of the season with home grown broccoli.
Nothing gives me more pleasure than serving food that comes from my garden.
 My family is not partial to broccoli but when served this way, they cant get enough!
It is quick and easy to make.
Chop raw broccoli finely along with some spring onions, 
add grated cheese 
 a handful of toasted sunflower seeds.
The dressing is made to taste with mayonnaise, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a little sugar.

Another recipe some of us really enjoy is broccoli chicken.
Steam broccoli and place in a casserole dish with cooked shredded chicken.
Top with a white sauce and grated cheese.
Bake until crispy and enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cultural Exchange - another exciting parcel!

Who doesn't just love receiving a surprise package in the post!
 Our last day of term got off to a great start with another Cultural Exchange pack arriving. We love being part of this fun Worldwide Culture Swap and will continue to sign up as we finish each swap we take part in.
If you are keen to become a culture swapper but are concerned about international postage costs, you can also take part in an individual swap instead of the normal swap with four other families. It is a great way to learn about the world and other cultures.

This delightful pack came from a family in England. They live in a beautiful seaside town called Folkstone.
In the pack there were some photos of the family, the area they live in and places they love to visit.
Letters from the children and a history of their area helped us learn so much more about them and we love this personal touch to the pack.
We loved the beautiful stamp on the pack depicting the Queen too!

We received a Kentish recipe book and they marked their favourite recipe which we will certainly try out, as well as all the others too! Lots of fun in the kitchen coming up!

No pack from the UK would be complete without some beautiful pictures of the Royal family.
They included Union Jack party blowers, balloons, bunting and paper chains as well as a pin-wheel to make and invitations to hold our very own Jubilee picnic!
Oh...I forgot to mention more delicious recipes for this special Jubilee picnic or tea party we will have!

We will be thinking of this special family on 18th July when they cheer and wave as they watch the Olympic Torch coming through their town!
The medals added a lovely touch to the pack!

And there was more...
Sticks of rock candy with their town's name running through the middle
Pencils for the kids
a piece of chalk from the White Cliffs of Dover!

We look forward to enjoying their recipes and culture as we learn so much more! 
Thank you lovely family from England!

Culture Swapper

Friday, June 22, 2012

From the kitchen

We have had a little fun in the kitchen recently.
I love trying out new recipes and our local fresh fruit and veg market has some amazing weekly specials.
 I try to get down there and take advantage. 
Recently I bought a pocket of onions and so it was time to make some onion marmalade!

It turned out really well and my eldest has decided I should produce it in bulk so he can eat jars at a time.
We jazzed up the "normal" cheese and tomato with fresh rocket and basil from the garden and dollops of onion marmalade!

Peppers were surprisingly inexpensive and I made some marinated pickled peppers.
 They will be ready to try in a day or so. 
We picked our first broccoli from the garden today,
 and I hope to make a broccoli salad over the weekend. 
We have been enjoying the abundance of fresh oranges : orange juice, orange cake (courtesy of  my daughter), butternut and orange soup, and oranges for those in between times when the kids are 
constantly hungry.
The kids harvested lemons at their Oma over the weekend and we have been eyeing out a number of lemon recipes to try. Besides pancakes with cinnamon sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, my daughter baked an interesting lemon desert . It is a cake with a sticky and delicious lemon sauce underneath.
Perfect to end off a winter meal!

Monday, June 18, 2012

June's Joy Dare week 3

Thanking Him in the midst of this busy and full life...

Day 12
(3 gifts full)
602) oven full of delicious goodies baked by my daughter
603) full tummies after delicious chicken soup for dinner
604) full night's sleep giving me strength for the new day

Day 13
(3 gifts smelled)
605) clean and fresh scent of washing that dried in today's sun
606) sweet smelling clean baby after bath time...
babysitting tonight so his mum and dad could have an evening out
607) delicious spicy aroma of mince curry at dinner

Day 14
(a gift unexpected, unwanted)
608) totally unexpected- winning a yuppiechef voucher yesterday for my original twist on a recipe!
609) clothes unwanted by another, happily worn and enjoyed by my daughter and I

Day 15
610) an understanding friend's listening ear
611) seeing my boy enjoy his science club and having fun with friends
612) my daughter's help with her baby cousin

Day 16
613) hubby's care when I was not feeling well

Day 17
(3 gifts in your dad)
614) his understanding and gentleness
615) his crazy sense of humour and hearty laugh
616) his amazing story telling that has given me a storehouse full of memories from my childhood
& more my own
617) conversations with far away family today, my sisters and mum
618) delicious orange and poppy seed cake made by my daughter, 
and enjoyed at my in laws for Father's Day tea time

Day 18
(3 gifts from your heavenly father)
619) His strength, not mine
620) His mercies, new every morning
621) His "unimaginable grace"
& more my own
622) a pot of hearty veg soup that turned out really well...
even two of mine who are not soup lovers ate seconds!
623) coal for the fire given by my kind neighbour.... warming the lounge tonight
624) unexpectedly seeing a friend today

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Winter Garden

I have been enjoying watching the garden over the last couple of weeks. 
Despite the cooler weather we have lots to look forward to...

The cabbage and broccoli are doing well and we have been enjoying the kale. I didn't realise the great health benefits of this amazing plant until I decided to do a little research. 
The sweet leaves add pleasant flavours to soups and stews and I look forward to trying some new recipes with kale.

The Bright Lights Spinach/ Chard is picked almost daily. 
Handfuls are finely chopped and added to salads, stews, soups, curry or anything going! 
Most recently we have been adding it to home baked breads and muffins.
Fresh peas are picked every couple of days...I need to plant way more next year! 
They are picked and given to our youngest who does not fancy peas any other way, 
except fresh from the garden. 
Tomatoes are everywhere, little yellow blossoms and even a few green tomatoes already. 

Mustard greens are finding their way into salads and are specially delicious on burgers!
I have been harvesting a number of green peppers and was delighted to find a red one on the same bush.
There are a few green granadillas on the vine and soon we will be gobbling gooseberries...
they are everywhere. Perhaps we may have enough this year to try some gooseberry jam.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June's Joy Dare into week 2

As we head into June, no matter what may come, I continue to give thanks....

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you"
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Day 5
(a gift of peace, of hope, of love)
579) gift of peace - His peace, settling my anxious mind
580) gift of hope - His promise of a hope and a future
581) gift of love - my mum's constant prayers

582) spending the day touring " a never seen before" area of our city with my three children,
loving learning together
583) hubby helping me with dinner of mince and rooti and enjoying hearing about our day

Day 6
(3 gifts ugly beautiful)
584) harsh words turned around with apologies and forgiveness
585) a kitchen with dishes piled high but a beautiful meal enjoyed
586) street art my daughter has been photographing, her project coming together beautifully

Day 7
(3 gifts in what you are reading)
587) " His love is a radical love" from Love Like Him
588) " The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..." 
from our morning Bible study
589) escaping every now and then for a bit of down time with the novel I am enjoying

Day 8
(3 gifts empty)
590) empty jam jar after lunch of crumpets topped with jam & cheese made by my sweet daughter
591) empty house...kids off for an impromptu afternoon of fun with friends....
giving me much needed quiet time to work on some admin
592) " heavy" and aching empty arms after rocking my solid little nephew to sleep tonight....him peacefully asleep, blessed to have him in our lives

Day 9
(3 gifts that made you really smile)
593) the amusing things my witty teen boy comes up with
594) on asking the children who remembers what a sarcophagus is?...
one of my kids saying, "that thing in your throat"....laughter is good medicine!
595) my youngster's cute explanation of how simple it is to drive: one foot to go, one to stop and press in the middle to hoot!

Day 10
(a gift at 8 at 12 at 2)
596) @ 8 still asleep, lovely to have a little lie in
597) @ 12 enjoying the winter sunshine
598) @ 2 or there abouts, visiting my friend at her new house

Day 11
(2 gifts painted)
599) paintings on my walls, gifts from my dad
600) the smiling little yogurt painted face of my precious nephew
and one my own
601) getting out for a bit and helping my friend in her new house

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cultural Exchange... parcel from Catalunya

Would you believe it, another parcel arrived this week from a family exchanging with us in the 
 This time from Catalunya, an autonomous region of Spain, with it's own language, culture and traditions. 
I know we are going to have great fun discovering their very interesting history and more!

Along with a letter introducing the family and explaining their most important festival, we received the following:
poster depicting human towers made during their festival,
a colouring page depicting some of the characters in the festival,
sunflower seeds to plant,
sea shells from the Mediterranean,
home made olive oil soap,
a pink wall lizard toy,
Catalan Flag,
a counting puzzle in Spanish,
assortment of sweets made in Spain, 
shared and enjoyed!

We are so excited to learn from this family and thank them for their interesting parcel.

Culture Swapper

Cultural Exchange - a parcel from Indiana USA!

More excitement this week with a great parcel arriving from Indiana USA! 
It is such fun to be part of the Worldwide Culture Swap and learn more about different cultures, one exciting parcel after another!

We received a letter from the exchange family with some lovely photos of themselves and their home, plenty of information on Indiana, and some interesting items collected from their travels to several other states.
The following items were also in the parcel:
beautiful postcards
instructions on how to make a Native American Feather Headband
some corn meal along with a recipe for corn bread 
Uncle Sam mask
mini American Flag, coins & tattoos
American pencil and windmill toy
a shopping bag from Meijer (our surname!)
and some delicious peanut butter cup chocolates...enjoyed immediately!

We are going to have great fun immersing ourselves in their culture and enjoying discovering more about Indiana!

Culture Swapper

Friday, June 8, 2012

A little fresh air and lion's teeth

Today is the fourth day in row that it has been raining and cold, I am not complaining...I love the sound of rain drumming down onto the earth. I love the cosiness of a fire and the fact that the weather makes us want to stay indoors and take things a little slower. Last week we were blessed with some sunshine, and despite the nip in the air and the kids and I ventured out with a friend and took advantage of the "good" weather.

Not far from where we live is what used to be a forest. A large pine forest that holds many memories of good times with family and friends. Over the last while, the forest has been felled to make way for Fynbos.

We decided to do a circuit of the "forest".  
On the perimeter we passed a flower farm where the workers were chatting away happily as they were planting. In the long grass on the other side of the path we spotted a Blue Crane, our national bird. The views of Table Mountain against the clear sky were magnificent. In the distance, feathery plumes of Pampas Grass glistened in the sunlight.

Along the way we discovered the cutest little wooden seats carved from pines that had been felled. To the children's delight there was also a wooden swing. A patch of clovers was searched for a lucky four leafed clover. Frogs were belting out their songs as we passed the stream.

Wild Dagga or Lion's Tail displayed their brilliant orange blooms. In what is left of the pine plantation, squirrels chased each other in giddy circles around tree trunks. The scent of pine permeated the air, a scent I will never grow tired of. In contrast to the evergreen pines, some trees displayed the last of their autumn glory. I am sure they are now bare after the recent stormy weather.

Beside the path, Dandelions displayed their brilliant yellow blooms and perfectly rounded and fluffy seed bearing orbs. I had seen a section on them in our Handbook of Nature Study so we picked a few to bring home....

We learned so much about this delightful "weed" named after lion's teeth (dents-de-lion in French), due to the shape of the leaves. We learned how the yellow flowers don't open on dark and gloomy days. We studied the flowers, seed heads and parachute type seeds, and marvelled at the blossom bald seed head with it's mosaic pattern. We learned how the seed head is concave before releasing the seeds and later becomes convex and in doing so, the seeds embedded in it are liberated. It was most interesting to learn how this plant is able to conquer us and take possession of our land.

Once again we referred to my Companion Planting book and learned so much more regarding this little wonder which builds up the soil. We learned that the vitamin and mineral rich leaves could be eaten and each had a taste....a little bitter but it could be disguised in a salad, sprinkled over a soup or added to a stir fry. Apparently it makes a brilliant compost too, so from now on it shall be added to the compost heap.
The children made some pencil drawings for their nature journals.
My once reluctant youngest seems to be enjoying our nature studies more. Excitedly, he called me out to the garden the next day to show me his dandelion discoveries! 

I love the way this unplanned learning took place and look forward to visiting the area again and perhaps spending some time observing some of the other wonders of nature in that area. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bo Kaap Walking Tour

Yesterday we ventured off to the Bo Kaap Museum to discover some of the Cape's rich history. I knew were in for an interesting time when we met our guide, Faried. He has made it his mission to educate himself on the history of the area, and grew up in nearby District 6 until his family was forced to leave.
The museum is situated on the fringe of the city centre, at the foot of Signal Hill, in the area that became home to many freed slaves after the abolition of slavery. It depicts the lifestyle of a 19th century Muslim family and showcases Islamic culture and heritage. It is the oldest dwelling in the area, dating back to the 1760s.

Bo Kaap , with it's colourful houses and narrow cobbled streets, is one of the Cape's most colourful suburbs. Many of the residents in the area are descendants of slaves from various African countries as well as Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. These slaves had been imported to the Cape by the Dutch in 16th and 17th centuries.As Faried pointed out, the slaves were incorrectly known as "Cape Malays" despite the fact that they were not all of Malaysian descent. The name however has stuck, and the area is also know as the Cape Malay Quarter.

These two houses were obviously my daughter's favourite!
The colourful houses, once homes to the freed slaves, have either Dutch or British influence, and most are semi detached. The stoep (patio) is elevated from the street and has a 'skinner bankie" (gossip bench).

One can just imagine families and friends enjoying summer evenings together after a days work in the city.

 Faried entertained us thoroughly as he led us through the narrow streets and pointed out various facts. He arranged for us to visit the Auwal Mosque, South Africa's very first official mosque. This was most interesting and we were allowed to enter the mosque. (We have never set foot in a mosque before.) There he explained to us the ritual washing before prayers, why we needed to remove our shoes and many other fascinating facts regarding their religion and culture.

We slogged up cobbled streets to visit a Kramat and enjoy the view of the city below.

 On our decent, Faried took us to a popular corner cafe where we were able to enjoy the
 best samosas and doughnuts the Bo Kaap has to offer.

We also visited Atlas Trading, a treat in itself. They have been selling spices since 1946 and you can find every spice you have ever heard of and many that you may not know! The aroma is just incredible! 
Spices are sold in small packs or by the kilo, dispensed from great wooden boxes and weighed.
Some of the spices are imported from India. One can buy beans, rice, nuts, dried fruit and incense too.
 We stocked up on some necessities and leaf masala, apparently their best seller - a mix of 12 spices that will go will with  anything. They even supplied me with a recipe!

We ended our amazing day with rooti and home made mince curry for dinner.

Culture Swapper

Monday, June 4, 2012

Last of May and into June Joy Dare Gifts

Last of May
Day 29
(a gift at 8h00, 12h00, 20h00)
552) @08h00, hugs from my sleepy boy on a cold winter's morning
553) @12h00 a happy baby waking after a nap
554) @20h00 wonderful family time and dinner at my in laws with relatives who are visiting from Holland 

Day 30
(3 gifts blue)
556) jeans my youngest wore today,
557) the blue jersey he wore,
558) and the smart blue shirt among the big bag of clothes he was blessed with from overseas!
559) kids sharing their Dutch Liquorice with me...yum!
560) leftovers from last night so kindly given to us and enjoyed for dinner after the busy day today

Day 31
561) my daughter and her baby cousin playing & laughing happily together early this morning
562) 3 different friends who popped by and encouraged me when I was finding things difficult
563) reading Ann Voskamp's writings...good for me

564) hubby starting a new job today after 18 months of unemployment
565) encouraging messages

566) perfect morning walk in this beautiful place... lifting my spirits

567) eating the best savoury muffins that my sweet friend brought over to fill hungry tums after our walk

Day 2
(3 gifts funny)
568) laughing hard over breakfast with a friend
569) 3 teens in the car, chattering away and laughing
570) friends coming over and bringing dinner....good fun, good laughs, good times

Day 3
(3 gift's from today's conversations)
571) conversations with my mum...always a gift
572) conversations and encouragement from a dear old friend
573) laughter and cheer in a conversation with my brother

Day 4
(3 gifts found in Christ)
574) never ending grace
575) forgiveness and the ability to forgive
576) beautiful friends who are in Him
& more my own
577) receiving another wonderful cultural exchange package today,
filled with surprises and new learning experiences
578) heart to heart with my almost 17 year old son...where did the time go?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cultural Exchange - second parcel arrives!

On Monday last week, I just had a feeling there would be a package waiting for us on return from our school outing. With great delight, we received 3 packages that day! 
One was a prize of tasty jams that I had won, another a gift for my daughter from a friend in the UK and the third our second cultural exchange pack!

There was much excitement as we unpacked our package from Canada.

In the pack we received the following:
Canadian Flag
Canadian money
Canadian puzzle map
Maple sugar...yum!
Maple Syrup candy
Canada stickers
Canada pen and notebook
Inuit games pamphlet
Brochures and a DVD

The maple sugar was gobbled up immediately and the map puzzle was done. Our youngest was delighted to discover Melville Island in the north - my maiden name is Melvill. 
Next week we look forward to spending some time discovering the wealth of information on the DVD, playing some Inuit games and learning all about Canada. 

Culture Swapper

We are thankful to kind family who sent us such a great package!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oodles of sprudels and billions of beans!

Last Monday we had the pleasure of an outing to Beanland, home of The Bean People....
and makers of magical bath times for little and not so little people!
 As one of the moms said, we all knew it would be a magical experience when we walked into the factory and it smelled like heaven! 

We were welcomed by Sharon and her team of delightful, happy factory workers. The children paid close attention as the safety rules were explained and then we set off on an adventure through the working factory.

First stop, the children had a chance to be creative and try their hand at a new design for bath beans.
 More creativity followed as they got to work with colourful paints and stamps,
 creating their own wrapping paper.

Next they were shown how the foam is cut into the various designs that are inside those magical bath beans. Each child had a turn to use the machine and do their own cutting.

The dying process was interesting....we learned that vinegar alters the pH of the water, 
making the foam shape hold the dye. 
The shapes are dried in a tumble dryer before the next phase of production.

Loading the bean was not as simple as it looked! 
The one I loaded would certainly have been rejected by quality control as I managed to crush the casing with my clumsy fingers!

We then entered the "heavenly zone" where the sprudels were being made.
 One cannot describe that delicious aroma and certainly think it should be bottled and sold 
so all our homes can smell so wonderful!

The children each got to make a sprudel under the watchful eye of the wonderful workers, who patiently instructed them how to make these magical balls that fizz in the bath....
releasing colour, scent and a bath bean for added fun!
Once dried, oodles of sprudels are packaged and boxed....
ready to delight children at bath time!

   The children thoroughly enjoyed their visit to this working factory and were delighted to go home with a surprise pack containing bath beans and a sprudel! Thank you Beans at Beanland!