Travel

HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

I have countless happy memories of holiday travel with my family; from childhood vacations down the Garden route during the apartheid era, to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand where they somehow I assumed I was a local.

Continue reading “Travel”

Pantry Staples

 

Between long days at work and peak hour traffic many home cooks, like myself, are not inclined to spend hours at the stove on time consuming or complicated week day meals.

To reduce the incidence of ordering take out or delivery I’m sharing my tips and tricks on essential pantry staples and kitchen gadgets that will help you shorten your preparation and cooking times, but still ensure that your meals are delicious and attractive to the senses.

For baking tips on how you can become great baker please go here.

pantry STAPLES 

To ensure that I can rustle up a quick meal even when I am tired and grumpy, I keep these pantry staples around:

  • Eggs
  • Cake flour or fine sponge flour (alternatively for every cup required use 1 cup All purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons, then add back the same amount of cornflour to the cup)
  • All butter ready made frozen puff pastry sheets
  • Garlic
  • Onions – I use red; brown or shallots for cooking and spring / green onions for salads and omelettes or fritata
  • Rice – I prefer basmati
  • Minced meat
  • Tuna
  • Cheese – Mature cheddar, gruyere, mascarpone and whipped cream cheese are my favorites. Also any goat’s cheese adds a wonderful dimension to savory tarts.
  • Yoghurt – I prefer Greek yoghurt
  • Herbs and spices – parsley, coriander, mint, basil and dill can be frozen if the bunch is too big to use up in a few days; salt, black pepper, paprika, oregano, Thai spice mix are my favorite dried herbs and spices.
  • Lemons
  • Mixed salad leaves or baby spinach
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Souring agent – Vinegar – Balsamic or rice vinegar for added flavor or apple cider vinegar for tartness; Pomegranate molasses; Tamarind paste

PUT THESE ON YOUR SHOPPING LIST 

For most cooking and baking, regular ingredients are fine. There are a few items worth splurging on however as the difference in taste is remarkable. These include:

  • Good quality chocolate for baking
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste
  • Stevia or Honey
  • Chili flakes
  • Turkish pomegranate molasses (if you can find it)
  • Cheese (I love Parmesan and Pecorino)

PACK A PUNCH

For an instant upgrade to your meals without adding any calories, add herbs and spices that contain vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. These include rosemary, garlic, turmeric, ginger and cloves. Also potent are cinnamon, sage, oregano, marjoram and thyme.

Mixed fresh organic herbs
Mixed fresh organic herbs

MAKE IT FRESH

For quick and easy meals, buy the freshest in-season fruits and vegetables you can find. The artisanal and organic produce available at many farmers markets produce exceptionally flavorful salads, soups, frittatas and desserts.

Baby carrots
Baby carrots

Making a blog is hard to do :(

I started on this road on 20th October 2014, and after numerous unsuccessful attempts to create a blog via an online news portal, I was ready to give up.

Two days later I saw one of those Facebook sponsored ads for something called Godaddy.com. After a few hit and misses I managed to buy the domains for my chosen website, as well as start to build the website via the Godaddy website builder tool.

I had no clue how hard that would be. There were times when I was able to login to my account but would be unable to edit the website. Although it was built on a template from an existing theme, I found it to be a very un-userfriendly interface… Or perhaps I was just too eager and impatient to sit around and wait for edits to save.

And as most people eventually do, I turned to Youtube to ‘Learn how to start a blog’. The video was very helpful and easy to follow, but still I resisted changing the webhost.

Six months later I finally threw in the towel and changed the webhost and platform for the website. Alhamdulillah, within a few days I managed to use the information from the original website to create a brand new one with a simpler theme and layout. Setting up the site on HostGator was so simple using WordPress.org. They even assisted me, when in my ignorance, I changed a setting that appeared to break the website, making it wholly unresponsive.

Update: Over the months since the blog was first published I have steadily improved the actual design of website. After my initial hiccup when the HostGator reset the website theme, I settled on one of the simple themes included in the WordPress setup. My current theme is by no means perfect, but it serves the purpose for now.

Making a blog is hard to do, contrary to popular belief. Maybe the technical stuff is easier for some than for others, but in all cases there is so much to be aware of with respect to design, layout and content that it takes up a fair amount of time. We definitely do not sit around having tea and cookies all day. I wish!

I have found so much information on everything related blogging on the Facebook group and website of Food Bloggers Central. It has been an invaluable resource and has helped me make the website more user friendly for followers as well as showing me how to improve various aspects of the design and content.

Thanks to Nagi from RecipeTin Eats and her guest contributors for their excellent contribution to improving food blogs worldwide.