And A Life In Between

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Who else wants gougères inspired by Burgundy?

Who else wants gougères inspired by Burgundy?

I mentioned in a previous post that we were lucky enough to visit France again last year. For those who know me, and those who’ve been reading my blog for a while, my love of France is evident.  It is therefore no surprise that each […]

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Moroccan chicken tagine with chickpeas and apricots

Moroccan chicken tagine with chickpeas and apricots

A few weeks ago, there I was with my list in my hand, ready to do Christmas shopping.  Here I must confess; I am not the world’s most creative gift giver.  I always have the best of intentions but my creativity lets me down. Over […]

Happy 2018 everyone!

Happy 2018 everyone!

2018 is there!  I can’t believe another year has passed.  It seems as if I only blinked once and there 2017 has come and gone!

If I look back a bit, I can say that even though the year had its challenges, overall it was really a positive year for hubby and myself.  On the career front I accepted a new position which really took me out of my comfort zone.  The learning curve has been steep (and will continue to be so in 2018) and while I often feel overwhelmed, it is satisfying knowing that I am building new skills.

Personally I managed to (for the most part part!) keep up a healthier eating regime (hubby never has problems with this!) but I didn’t quite meet my own fitness goals.  This is always something that I will have to work on, so my attitude to healthy eating and exercise is to just never stop trying!

Hubby and I could also help my parents move much closer to us in 2017.  They used to live in a small town and it is wonderful having them nearby.  Now there are much less worries about their wellbeing and it provides hubby and me the opportunity to test out our recipes on more people!

The highlight of any year would of course be the prospect of travelling and we are very blessed that we could visit France and Italy last year. (What?! And not a single picture or story on the blog?!  I hear you…)  We had such a wonderful time and arrived back a few kg’s heavier, but tanned from the sunshine and toned from lugging our suitcases around!

Positano

The hardest part of 2017 was saying goodbye to our dachshund boy at the age of 15 years and two months.  We got Toby a few weeks after we got married and he has been such an amazing part of our lives for a long time.  We are still very heart sore.  He was such a loving little boy and had the most special personality.  There are so many things we miss about him (kisses for mommy, playing sock games with dad, the way he pulled his cheeks when he was naughty…) but we take comfort knowing that he lived a very happy and loved life with us.

Toby boy

Other challenges came and went, always handled with the support of hubby and friends.  There were moments of anger, frustration and even a few tears now and then.  Ultimately nothing that a glass of wine could not make better!  (And for those challenges that are still around – I’m coming for you in 2018.)

For quite a few years now hubby and I don’t make any new year’s resolutions as such.  While we have goals that we would like to achieve (Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!) I find it more constructive to focus on the outcomes than trying to compartmentalise things into yearly buckets.  The bottom line is that 2018 will be another year in which we will focus on our dreams.  We will put in the effort required to reach them, while never forgetting to be thankful for all we have and enjoying every moment of our journey through life.

So while on the topic of enjoying life; I really enjoy blogging so much and I’m frustrated that it is often the first thing that I deprioritise when pressures of life gets to me.  In 2017 I have not nearly spent enough time on WorkFoodHome and being more active on the blog is something that I’ve put forward for myself as a goal.  By doing that I hope WorkFoodHome becomes a regular stop for you to get some foodie inspiration, where you can get a travel fix, all dished up for you by hubby and me and served with a splash of humour!

I want to wish you and your loved ones a very special 2018.  May your dreams turn into reality and your efforts into great achievements.

Happy New Year
Happy New Year from Hubby and me!
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 […]

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 […]


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Who else wants gougères inspired by Burgundy?

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Provencal daube stew with beef and red wine

Provencal daube stew with beef and red wine

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My Top 10 Things To Do In Paris

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