And A Life In Between

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Oxtail and lamb shank pie

Oxtail and lamb shank pie

Hubby and I never need a reason to put a bit of effort into a meal (!) but last week Sunday, when the opportunity presented itself to us, we could not resist a bit of a splurge!  Hubby’s parents were about to go off on […]

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Provencal daube stew with beef and red wine

Provencal daube stew with beef and red wine

Winter is firmly here and in typical winter style, the weeks are filled with beautiful sunny days but come the weekend it is raining and freezing cold!  (Not that I am complaining one bit – we really need the rain down here in Cape Town.) […]

Winter foods that are good for you

Winter foods that are good for you

Who can believe we are just about in the middle of June?  To me it still seems as if Christmas was just yesterday!  But the winter woollies have definitely come out and the mornings and evenings have a bite in the air.  It’s the time of year where during the week you leave home in the dark and get home in the dark.  Not to mention that between the heater in the car, the air-conditioning in the office and everyone sniffing and coughing around you, you start thinking that it is probably just a matter of time before you also succumb to some winter ailments!  But fear not; the good news is that although winter is upon us, there are some really great winter foods that you can add to your weekly shopping list to give you a boost in the cold months ahead!

Below is a list of foods that will be a firm favourites on our table this winter.  There’s great seasonal veggies, some comfort food staples and foods packed with flavour to warm the taste buds on a cold winters day.  Best of all though, is that all of these foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients to help your body stay healthy this winter.

Kale

Kale

Possibly one of the healthiest winter foods around, kale can be classified as a proper super food.  One cup of kale can trump a whole week’s worth of other foods: 684% of the daily value of vitamin K, 206% of the suggested daily amount of vitamin A, and 134% of vitamin C!  Furthermore it is high in protein and fiber and low in calories.

I only discovered kale about a year ago, but now we love cooking with it.  You can serve it raw in salads, add it stews, soups or stir-fries. You can even treat it as you would do with spinach – I do love a bit of creamed kale! Some shops even sell kale chips!  Versatile, delicious and good for you!

Citrus

Citrus

It is well known that citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are a great source of vitamin C.  Vitamin C is important for fighting off germs that cause colds and flu, and even builds your resistance to infection; in other words, it can really boost your immune system!  Oranges and grapefruit also contains a good amount of vitamin A, which helps with your bodies ability to maintain healthy mucus membranes and skin and are a good source of dietary fibre.

Perfect for bringing a bit of sunshine to a cold winters day, eat your citrus fresh.  You can also squeeze a bit of lemon juice into hot water for a healthy start to the day.  Use lemons and oranges in dressings or marinades and make sure you get your vitamin C fix!

Turnips

Turnips

Typically root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots are the staples of hearty stews in the winter, but why not try turnips this year?  One way in which we prepare it is to dice some turnips and carrots into small blocks.  Fry it with salt, pepper and some olive oil until it starts to soften and then add some peas for a touch of sweetness. It’s a wonderful side with any roast!
Turnips are a great source of minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. It is also a low-calorie vegetable – a 100 gram serving only has 28 calories. To boot, it is also loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C, with 21 milligrams per 100 grams, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA).

Garlic

Garlic

I can’t imagine cooking without garlic – we use it so often!  Some people are scared of that morning-after garlic breath, but I must say, even though we use it a lot in food, we never have this problem.  (If you’ve never tried it, you HAVE to try roasting entire garlic bulbs in the oven until it is soft and sweet – if you push the garlic clove with your finger it will just ooze out.  Totally delicious!)

With garlic, you get an excellent supply of manganese – 23 percent of the daily value – containing essential enzymes and antioxidants that perform all kinds of amazing feats in the body, including the healthy formation of bones and connective tissues, bone metabolism, calcium absorption, and proper thyroid function, just to name a few. Garlic also contains 17 percent of the daily value in vitamin B6, and 15 percent in vitamin C, all while allocating good amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Numerous studies show garlic’s amazing health potential in nearly every area of the body, from removing heavy metals to the prevention of numerous ailments, such as the common cold, hardening of the arteries, and gangrene, destroying contaminants in baby formula, and even in slowing the aging process!

So, add it to your chicken, meat, salad dressings, marinades, stews, soups to keep the winter blues (and vampires!) at bay!

Polenta

Polenta

Tired of the same old starches in winter?  Give polenta a try and you might just fall in love with a new winter comfort food.  A favourite staple of Italian cooking, polenta is cornmeal that you can make in a variety of ways.  You can use it in the place of bread or pasta and can serve it as a creamy ‘porridge’ or once made and cooled down, down you can fry it, bake it or grill it.  Add butter, stock and veggies to jazz it up even more.  As it is made from corn, it is also gluten free.

This creamy corn dish is a low-fat complex carbohydrate (corn) that is high in fiber.  Corn is also a surprising source of several vitamins, including folic acid, niacin, and vitamin C, and its insoluble fiber helps fill you up and lower cholesterol.

Tumeric

Tumeric
I’ve never really thought about turmeric as a tangible vegetable – it comes in powder format in a little box, right?!  That was until I saw a program on tv last year where the benefits of tumeric was highlighted.  Especially in its fresh form.  Since then it was a bit of a hunt to find fresh tumeric but recently I have come across more and more supermarkets selling it in its organic form.
This bright yellow spice contains potent antioxidants and benefits that studies have shown can fight diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  Basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It’s also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium!

Further health benefits of tumeric include an improved ability to digest fats, reducing gas and bloating, decreased congestion, and improved skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.  Relief from joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, reduced joint swelling, and greater range of motion when used regularly have also been listed as additional benefits of using turmeric.

Research also suggests that turmeric may be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, lowering cholesterol counts, protecting the heart, relieving indigestion, improving liver function, and even preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Cancer prevention and inhibited cancer cell growth –specifically cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, and lung, and childhood leukemia – are also on the list of possible benefits.

Phew – that is impressive!

If you’ve never used fresh tumeric, winter is definitely the time to do it. It adds lovely flavour (and colour) to any curry.  You can also add it to rice, or saute it with some cauliflower or potatoes.

Honey

Honey

Honey is the perfect all-natural sweetener! Its natural sugars help to prevent fatigue and boost your energy level, its antioxidants help bolster your immune system, and it even has antimicrobial properties to help kill bacteria and soothe winter sore throats.

Honey can also serve as a remedy for sleep difficulties; add a spoon of honey to some warm milk for a bedtime treat.  Otherwise get a bit of an energy boost and some vitamin C by adding some honey, lemon and ginger to hot water and have it in the morning.  Mmm, just the thought of it makes me feel healthy already!

Red pepper

Red Pepper

Red peppers are low in calories and just one cup of them will give you move than your daily quota of vitamin A and C.  (All peppers are good for you, but red peppers contain the highest amount of vitamin C.)  Additionally, peppers are a good source of vitamin E, which plays a key part in keeping skin and hair looking healthy (which is just what the doctor ordered in the winter, with the onslaught of heaters on our skin!).  Peppers also contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids,  particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

There are many ways to add red peppers to your diet this winter.  Think lovely sweet and roasted peppers or cut in strips in veggie filled stir fries.  Another favourite, inspired by Provence, is red peppers stuffed with some ground beef and rice.  Or how about red pepper soup!  There is absolutely no reason not to make the humble pepper the star of your dish!

Ginger

Ginger

I love the smell of fresh ginger!  And adding a bit of ginger to stir-fries, soups, salad dressings and marinades gives a cold winters day a lovely zing.  Made into hot tea, ginger releases the compounds gingerol and protease, bringing a rush of comforting warmth that actually increases cardiovascular circulation – just what you need on a cold winters day.

Ginger is a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.  Ginger is listed as an herbal medicine with carminative effects: a substance that promotes the release of intestinal gas. It’s also an intestinal spasmolytic, which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. That means it can settle an upset stomach, relieve vomiting, and ease gas and diarrhea discomfort; but it’s also effective in preventing nausea in the first place.  Ginger reduces side effects associated with chemotherapy, including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. Studies also show ginger to be protective against osteoarthritis pain and several cancers, including ovarian, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers.

Now… I wonder if it’s got the same benefits in the form of ginger biscuits?!

Red wine

Red Wine

In case you need an excuse to have a glass of red wine a day, I’ve got you covered!

Having your glass of red wine at night is not only a great way to sit back and relax after a hard day at work; it can now keep you warm guilt free!  You can sit back while its antioxidants that slow premature aging and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers do their thing!  Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant compound. Resveratrol also protects your heart and arteries against the effects of saturated fat in your diet, so drinking one or two glasses of red wine a day can help protect your heart and prevent cardiovascular disease,

The alcohol in red wine, when consumed in moderation, raises your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, helps prevent the formation of blood clots and can help to protect your arteries from the damage caused by “bad” LDL cholesterol.

With super food credentials like that, adding it to your winter shopping list is a must! (Hubby, pass another glass, please!)

So there you have it, my list of good winter foods that are a must on our shopping list.  If you found this information helpful, you can head over to the Food Facts website that supplied all the nutritional information for my post and look up the facts on your favourite foods.

If you have any super foods you want to recommend, I would love to hear from you.

My Top 10 Things To Do In Paris

My Top 10 Things To Do In Paris

I simply love Paris. Hubby and I have had the privilege of visiting it a few times and with each visit I just feel more at home there.  We’ve never stayed in the same area twice, so every time we have found new parts of the city […]

Pizza bread with rosemary, onion and feta

Pizza bread with rosemary, onion and feta

Autumn is my favourite season.  The days are still warm and the evenings have just the right amount of chill.  For me it is the best time for a lazy day outside on the patio, enjoying the last bits of warm weather.  And lunch doesn’t […]

Taste of the Amalfi Coast – homemade Limoncello liqueur

Taste of the Amalfi Coast – homemade Limoncello liqueur

 

Amalfi Coast, Italy
Amalfi Coast, Italy

In a post from about a year go, titled “Memento“, I wrote a little story about one of my most treasured ornaments brought back from holiday.  It’s these two little ceramic glasses from Italy’s Amalfi Coast.  However, as much as the glasses are a memento in itself, the content thereof at the time also plays a big part in why I love them so much!  The restaurant we got the glasses from used them to serve icy cold shots of the local lemon liqueur, limoncello, at the end of dinner!

Limoncello is the official liqueur of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.  It is a bright yellow ‘digestivo‘ and has a wonderful lemony flavor without being overly sweet or bitter.  Before we left for holiday, we read that the story if you’ve made a suitable impression on your waiter, he will bring out a little limoncello for you at the end of your meal.  And apparently if he really likes you, he might even offer you more than one glass!  Now, I’m not saying that our waiter liked us, but the fact that we got at least two glasses each night we visited the establishment, plus the fact that on the last night he arranged with his boss to give us the glasses for free must count for something!

Capri, off the Amalfi Coast, Italy
Capri, off the Amalfi Coast, Italy

So back at home we were naturally longing for the beautiful taste of the Amalfi.  Here in South Africa limoncello is an imported product (I’ve seen one local variety  on the shelf and it really didn’t taste very good) and for a small bottle it can really get a bit pricey.  So we looked high and low for recipes that we could make ourselves and we’ve finally settled that the one from Mamma Agata is really the best one; it taste like the Amalfi Coast in a bottle.  The first time we made it was for my father-in-law’s birthday and it went down a treat.

A few weeks ago we finished the last bit of our batch, so it’s that time again!  (As I’m typing here, hubby has just opened the lid on the lemon peels that’s been steeping in the vodka for the week and the lemon fragrance is just amazing!)

Give it a shot (literally and figuratively) – you will love it!

Limoncello
Our homemade Limoncello

 

Limoncello 

(makes about 2 litres)

Ingredients:

zest of 7 large lemons

750ml vodka

5 cups water

2.5 cups white sugar

Method:

  1. Peel the zest from the lemons, being careful not to cut into the bitter white rind.
  2. Add the lemon zest to a bowl/jug that has a lid.
  3. Add the vodka to the lemon zest and close the lid.
  4. Leave it to stand in a cool place for 7 days.
  5. On day 7, add water and sugar to a pot and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Bring the mixture up to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Take the sugar syrup off the heat and pour into a jug to cool.  (We let ours stand for a bit just to cool down slightly, and then we place it in the fridge.)
  8. Once the syrup is cooled, strain the lemon peels from the vodka and discard the peels.
  9. Pour the vodka into the same jug as the syrup and stir well.
  10. Serve in small glasses, straight from the freezer.
    Lemon zest
    Zest lemons
    Lemon peel soaking in vodka
    Lemon peel soaking in vodka

    Lemon peel and sugar syrup
    Lemon peel and sugar syrup

NOTE:  The limoncello will keep for one to two years (not that it will last that long!).  Store it in bottles with a cap or cork in a cool, dark place.  When you want to drink it, chill the limoncello in little glasses in the freezer.  It has to be icy cold when you have it.

Homemade Limoncello

March 19, 2017
: Makes about 2 litres

By:

Ingredients
  • zest of 7 large lemons
  • 750ml vodka
  • 5 cups water
  • 2.5 cups white sugar
Directions
  • Step 1 Peel the zest from the lemons, being careful not to cut into the bitter white rind.
  • Step 2 Add the lemon zest to a bowl/jug that has a lid.
  • Step 3 Add the vodka to the lemon zest and close the lid.
  • Step 4 Leave it to stand in a cool place for 7 days.
  • Step 5 On day 7, add water and sugar to a pot and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Step 6 Bring the mixture up to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Step 7 Take the sugar syrup off the heat and pour into a jug to cool. (We let ours stand for a bit just to cool down slightly, and then we place it in the fridge.)
  • Step 8 Once the syrup is cooled, strain the lemon peels from the vodka and discard the peels.
  • Step 9 Pour the vodka into the same jug as the syrup and stir well.
  • Step 10 Serve in small glasses, straight from the freezer.

Roasted beef sirloin with bone marrow gravy

Roasted beef sirloin with bone marrow gravy

A few weeks ago it was my work’s annual staff conference. All the staff across the country get together for a weekend of presentations, team building (and definitely some partying)! Safe to say that come Sunday afternoon when the conference ends, you are totally exhausted and […]

Chicken and courgette noodles with cottage cheese and basil puree

Chicken and courgette noodles with cottage cheese and basil puree

So, what is the most difficult thing about having a food blog?  That you just want to eat all the time, of course!  Not being blessed with the best of genes (sorry, Mom!) it means that I always have to watch what I eat.  So […]

Love is in the air on this Valentine’s day… 5 memorable moments

Love is in the air on this Valentine’s day… 5 memorable moments

 

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is indeed in the air!  Hubby and I never make a big fuss of Valentine’s Day; love should after all be celebrated every day.  (However, you know us by now – there should be no doubt that there will definitely be something homemade and special on the menu for supper tomorrow evening!)

Amidst all the reminders about love and romance my thoughts have turned to the romantic things hubby and I have experienced during some of our past travels. Most of them was never planned to be romantic as such, but the experiences just turned out to be that way.  Not hard to imagine when you are travelling around with the love of your life!  (What, do I hear you saw “aaaawwwww”?!  Of course!  It’s Valentine’s Day – I can afford to be a bit soppy!)

So, with today being Valentine’s Day here, are my top 5 most romantic moments on our travels to date to get you into the mood for a bit of romance – every day!

A boat ride on the canals of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Sunset Cruise

Amsterdam Canals

The hotel hubby and I stayed at was not in the centre of Amsterdam and as a result they had a boat that took guests to and from the centre each day.  On this specific morning hubby and I caught the boat with quite a few people from the hotel, but in the afternoon, when we were picked up, it was this enormous boat… and just the two of us!  We sat at the back of the boat and the skipper was kind enough to go really slow.  Watching Amsterdam slipping by as dusk fell was a perfect, romantic sunset cruise, just for the two of us!

Getting up close and personal with the windmills of Brugge, Belgium

Bruges, Windmills

Bruges Windmills

Bruges Windmills

Upon arriving in Brugge, hubby and I immediately hit the road on foot to make the most of our time there.  Next to the river that runs through the small city we discovered these beautifully restored old windmills sitting on top of grassy hills.  It was so romantic to stroll the banks of the river hand in hand and getting up close and personal with these graceful giants.  To top it off, we found a local little bar where we were the only tourists!  Great food, great wine and beer, great views… and the best company!  These are the things romance are made of!

Cruising the Canal du Midi, France

Canal du Midi, Le Boat

Canal du Midi, France

Canal du Midi, France

Now the Canal du Midi really deserves a post all on its own; I’ve just never found the words to do justice to the experience!  That said, the 5 days hubby and I spent on the Canal du Midi in our rented little boat was the thing dreams are made of!  It gave us quintessential France, beautiful countryside with small towns dotted along the side, dried sunflower fields passing by slowly.  Lanes and lanes of plane trees.  Green vineyards.  Postcard houses.  Simple lunches with baguettes, cheese and wine.  Sitting under the stars until late night, sipping wine.  The most peaceful and perfect time hubby and I ever had together!

Acting like a local in Florence, Italy

Florence sunset

Florence, Italy

Piazza Michelangelo

I absolutely love Italy.  In fact, our whole Italian holiday should count as one long romantic experience!  One that really stands out for me was in Florence.  We walked from our hotel to the Piazza Michelangelo, which is famous for its beautiful views over Florence.  On the way there, on the banks of the Arno River, we found this little bar.  Nothing fancy, just a few plastic chairs and tables overlooking the river.  It was just before sunset and the sky had this amazing orange colour (just as orange as the Aperol Spritz we were having as sundowners).  Sitting there, looking out over the river with the last rays of sunshine on our faces was so romantic.  The romance took a bit of a backseat on the steep climb up to Piazza Michelangelo afterwards (!) but once at the top the beautiful views brought the romance straight back!

Locking our symbol of everlasting love on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, France

Pont des Arts, Paris, France

Pont des Arts, Paris, France

Pont des Arts, Paris, France

For the final romantic moment; one that was definitely planned by hubby.  On arrival in Paris, we headed straight to the city.  Hubby was very specific about which direction he wanted to go and I did not think anything of it, even when we came across the Pont des Arts bridge.  The Pont des Arts is famous for lovers locking padlocks, which has their initials engraved on it, to the fence.  The key to the padlock is then thrown into the Seine river as a symbol of love can never be broken.  When we “accidentally” stumbled across the bridge, I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a lock of our own.  Or so I thought.  Until hubby produced a lock that had specially engraved while still at home; even with the date on which we were going to be there!  How romantic is that?!  (Towards the end of 2015 the city of Paris started removing the locks, after the bridge collapsed for the umpteenth time under the weight of all the locks.  I am so happy that our little lock could watch over the Eiffel Tower, even just for a little while!)

Ann Landers said:  “Love is friendship that has caught fire.  It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving.  It is loyalty through good and bad times.  It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”  

May your Valentine’s Day, and every other day of the year, be filled with love!

Chargrilled beef with herb dressing and leeks

Chargrilled beef with herb dressing and leeks

Follow my blog with Bloglovin There is something to be said about ‘pure’ food.  I’m not talking organic food per say, but rather about food where the food speaks for itself.  Where the ingredients are shining in their own right. Don’t get me wrong! What is […]


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