I’ll admit it. I couldn’t even make pasta.

My friend who just got engaged recently messaged me after her engagement party:

“I got 3 cookbooks. You know what that means…”

I told her she’d be fine, naturally, as we all know where my cooking skills stood while I was engaged.

Let’s just say, there were none. My cooking life motto today is “you learn fast, or you go hungry,” and no-one wants to go hungry.

The kitchen was the place I ate dinner at home. I never joined in on cooking, and I don’t even recall my mom asking me to help, because she’d probably have gotten a big no. I could not boil pasta, I could not make rice, and I can’t explain the joy on our parents’ faces when we received not one, but four toasted cheese machines for our engagement! (don’t worry, we took two back). Everyone pitied Greg, who couldn’t cook anything either may I add, wondering what this grown boy would be eating for the rest of his life.

We never cooked for the first few weeks of being married. During the week of Sheva Brachot, the week commencing the wedding, we small dinner parties were hosted in our honour at different friends and family. They also gave us all the leftovers, so we were pretty sorted for a long, long time.

 

And when all the leftovers were finished, we needed to learn to cook. We actually went to a friend one night who taught us to cook fish and roast vegetables. Literally. How to roast freaking vegetables. I think I even struggled to cut the butternut. It’s really funny thinking back to those times. We’ve since been cooking fish and roast veggies like pros.

We barely cooked Shabbos supper for our first year of marriage because we were always invited out (ok, often we’d invite ourselves out too). Nowadays, we cook shabbos for 7 – 10 people like it’s no big deal (ok, it’s 10 purely because that’s how many we can fit around our table. Also, I think we only have 12 plates), and people at work always seem to think that I’m cooking crazy shabbos meals every week.

We’ve learnt to make some fancy, and even very simple foods. We make quiche without a base (because who has time to make all that pastry?), make our own delicious challah for shabbos, chicken a la king, risotto is a recent favourite, delicious fish, we’re having foreign friends over and making a South African bobotie.

I wouldn’t even quite go so far as saying I love cooking. I do like to eat though, and I like to try new things sometimes. More than cooking, I like entertaining, and cooking up nice things for guests. I even find baking a mission – even though I somehow got this reputation as a baker – all those measuring utensils, spoons, bowls etc that need to be cleaned? But I do love a good or impressive dessert. Greg on the other hand actually likes cooking. Guys, I kid you not when I tell you we were useless. The other week we even bought egg poacher pod things, and had poached eggs for the first time!

When I think about it, we’ve come a long way in our little food journey over the last few years. I’m telling you, I still surprise myself.

Do you remember the first few things you learnt to cook?

It’s been a little quiet around here.

I feel like I’ve been a little scarce here other than my 365 project. I just haven’t been finding time to write, or to think of things to write about. I like to get fresh air (sometimes) during lunch, and like to chill to stay away from the computer when I’m home (I do spend far too many working hours in front of a computer.

Well, we had a pretty rad anniversary. We found some slow background music on 8tracks and cooked a super fancy food (lamb shanks, anyone?) and the entire meal definitely cost us far less than going out. Turn off the light and pop some candles on your table and it’s instantly a whole lot more romantic than any kosher restaurant you can probably find in South Africa. We’re definitely adding candle light to more dinners, everyone deserves some romance, and who cares if all you’re eating are something like hotdogs for dinner. We hand crafted each other gifts, and I was so happy with what I did – I must do a blog post on it. I laughed at how Paleo friendly our lamb shank meal was was – served with green beans (actually, is that paleo friendly?) and cauliflower mash. Deeeeelicious. Thanks to the wonderful people of twitter (and one in particular) who assisted in lending this poor couple a recipe. If in doubt when cooking lamb shanks: the slow cooker.

The best part of our anniversary was definitely watching our entire wedding video. We didn’t get something fancily edited, basically just a recording of the entire night, but the truth is we didn’t want one. Our parents were paying and they said it was important – and we are so thankful that we have it. Pictures are wonderful and beautiful, but there’s nothing like actually reliving the whole night. It warmed my heart to tears (literally) to see my friends, those who have or are getting married, friends who flew from all over the country and the world, the beautiful messages and their smiling faces. There was so much laughter and dancing at our wedding that I can’t even explain. We literally laughed our way through (with some tears along the way). It was interesting for me to see how I seemed a little stressed on the day getting ready, but as soon as we arrived at the venue and the night progressed, I completely loosened up and relaxed. I clearly know what I was doing 😉 We took so many video shots while watching, and this one is my favourite (I can’t watch it enough):

Oh goodness, I may not have mentioned (and maybe I should have, or still should do an actual post about this), but my chlidhood bestie and I started a blog together. It’s nothing fancy as of yet and our posts are a little sporadic, but it’s kind of exciting for us 🙂 Go follow Our Shabbos Menu to see what’s been cooking in our kitchen when we have all those guests over!

One of my best friends got engaged a few weeks ago, and I’m so incredibly happy for them. It’s nice to have a friend’s wedding where you can actually be around to help and discuss and be there for her leading up to the day, which sadly hasn’t been the case recently. Too many weddings out of town. Too many of my best friends are getting married this year (all in different countries around the world may I just add), and it’s difficult to pick and choose. Also, I’m just not rich enough for all of that. I’ve already missed 2 weddings recently, and those were only in Joburg. To top it off I have a serious case of Wanderlust, and it’s not helping that so many people at work have awesome and fun trips planned (today a colleague is on her way to SXSW. I mean, too cool.) I’m tempted to take a trip, but choosing destinations is hard.

I’ve had a couple of “meh” days at work. The ones that make you pretty sad. Maybe I’m just going through a bit of a rough patch. I mean that’s totally normal, right? But it was nothing that a lindt ball, a long shower, nail panting and some super girly series couldn’t fix (Pretty Little Liars is the only thing I watch these days, and it’s very sporadic). I hardly watch series anymore and I have no idea where people find time for it. Perhaps it’s because Greg and I watch such drastically different shows. Occassionally we’ll watch some of the comedy stuff, yknow, 2 Broke Girls, The New Girl, Modern Family (though I don’t remember when we last watched that) FRIENDS, and of course, Survivor. I guess I like to do other things sometimes.

survivor_season28_brains_brawn_beauty

This weekend, with the colder weather we did something completely uncharacteristic: we watched a movie (at home. We usually choose series over movies). In fact, we watched two movies. Even more uncharacteristic because I usually fall asleep. We watched Mao’s Last Dancer, which I was meant to see years ago with a friend, and  I’ve subsequently read the book (which was at least a million times better). We also watched What To Expect When You’re Expecting, surprisingly it wasn’t quite what I expected and had a lot of heart. I’ve worked on a Fertility Clinic as a client before so I really felt the plight for some of these stories. It was a surprisingly good movie 🙂

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I miss a lot of my friends who’ve moved from Cape Town. That is always hard and a little sucky. I called my friend a couple weeks ago, and it’s funny how the 5 minute conversation we said we had time for quickly turned into 20 minutes. Thank goodness for whatsapp and the interwebs allowing you to keep in touch with people effortlessly. But the truth is, it’s really not the same as a catch up on the promenade or over coffee.

I guess that’s what’s been going on recently. And you? I love to hear from readers 🙂

My life according to Buzzfeed quizzes

While this could be a serious post about how we let our careers, families, society etc define us, and how we should empower ourselves to create our own definition of self… it’s a lot more light hearted. Every 5 seconds someone else is some bizarre movie character/actor/location/item of clothing according to buzzfeed. Well, let’s see what would become of me:

What font are you?

WhatFontAreYou_2

Everyone at work seemed to think this was an accurate one. Many weren’t happy with their Garamond or Times New Roman selves.

Which “Frozen” character are you?

WhichFrozenCharacterAreYou

He’s rather lovely and wise, isn’t he? (Truth is, I got the snow monster the first time, and that just made me sad)

What should your college major actually be?

WhatShouldYourCollegeMajorBe

Well, I did do a Bachelor of Arts. Nailed it.

What would your fate in The Hunger Games be?

WhatWouldYourFateInTheHungerGamesBe

It’s true, I’d probably never make it, even though I kind of wish I would.

What do you need in your life right now?

WhatDoYouNeedInYourLifeRightNow

I LOVE ICE CREAM! And look how cute this little piggy is!

Which FRIENDS character are you?

WhichFriendsCharacterAreYou

I laughed at this. Because Greg is totally Ross.

What food suits your personality?

WhatFoodAreYou

Well, at least I’m not vegetarian or afraid of carbs, right?

Which Spice Girl are you?

WhichSpiceGirlAreYou

I miss the Spice Girls, and Emma was totally always my favourite. I also totally had a Spice Girls cake for a birthday once.

Which “New Girl” character are you?

WhichNewGirlCharacterAreYou_Cece

Not strictly from Buzzfeed, but who doesn’t love New Girl. So, Cece. Headstrong and doesn’t take bullshit – yeah, I’ll take it.

Basically guys, it’s like Buzzfeed just knows me.

Channukah, selfies and a latke recipe

I love Channukah. A festival of light and miracles. Singing and eating of oily food. To commemorate the little pot of oil that last 8 nights all those years ago. People like to associate Channukah with Christmas because they’re around the same time of year, but I really don’t know anyone who does 8 days of presents (or even 1 for that matter). Either way, how can you not love the concept of Chrismukkah after that OC episode years and years back?

Truthfully, my favourite part is the candle lighting and singing every night. I actually avoided the donuts for the most part, but I couldn’t resist making potato latkes one night all in the spirit of the holiday. Well, we didn’t have potatoes so we settled for sweet potatoes. Which was fine by me.

Here’s the recipe I found on pinterest and adapted.

Sweet Potato Latkes

  • 3 potatoes (or sweet potatoes)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • oil for frying
  1. Grate the potatoes and onion. I was debating on even adding a carrot. Could be yum.
  2. In a large bowl combine the grated potato/onion with all the other ingredients.
  3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and drop potato mixture in dollops into the pan.
  4. Fry until golden on each side, and then place on some paper towel to get rid of some of the oil.
  5. Eat! We like to sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over it, but sour cream and/or salmon and/or cream cheese are also popular options.

channukah_potato_latkes

You could totally eat them anytime of year, don’t wait til Channukah. Enjoy!

Yuppiechef’s Simple Summer Cookathon

Greg and I really love entertaining. It’s funny to think that once upon a time neither of us could boil an egg or pasta (alright, that may have just been me), and now we host Shabbos dinners and birthday parties – we sure have come along way to say the least. You’ve heard me talk about Yuppiechef before (come now, you dont know about Yuppiechef by now?), and recently they announced the menu for this years cookathon, something they apparently do every year. It was news to me but I was pretty keen to take part!

How does the cookathon work?

Yuppiechef provide you with a menu, and it gives you the fabulous excuse to throw a dinner party. We invited friends, and bought the ingredients without even batting an eyelid! Things did get a little bit complicated, as my gran passed away that week, so we almost cancelled, changed the date, friends couldn’t make it – so it resulted in a lovely late-night dinner date for Greg and I. Experimenting in the kitchen, that’s pretty fun (and only a husband as wonderful as Greg could put up with my crazies). Also, on the 5th night of Channukah, it really made a perfect evening (I mean, I just love Channukah). Nothing wrong with that.

So without further ado, the menu:

For starters: Avo, melon, nut brittle and rocket salad.

So crisp, so fresh, so summery. OK, so we didn’t have time to make the brittle and bought peanut brittle instead, which obviously we forgot to add… but that dressing was so delicious, we absolutely can’t wait to make it again. Please take note that my husband loves me so much that he agreed to cut the watermelon into star shapes because I insisted it would taste better.

For mains: Classic wild mushroom risotto

Risotto is something we only recently discovered. It’s one of those things you can’t get at any of the kosher restaraunts here, so we kind of had to make it ourselves. And we love mushrooms. And this cheesy, mushroomy, warm goodness in your mouth… delicious. Apologies for the lack of photos for this course, as the middle course the kitchen got quite busy around this time.

For dessert: Chocolate pudding and strawberry swirl ice cream

OK, chocolate pudding, I thought. That’s nice. Nice?! No way. That little tub of chocolate goodness was the most delightful thing to ambush my tastebuds. And that ice-cream?? OK, I seriously can’t wait to make this again! I actually prefer them a little undercooked so the inside is practically raw. Yum.

Zero points for food styling as after the week we had and only being able to do this late at night, asethtics kind of got lost among the need to eat. But guys, we had so much fun. Even when it landed up being just the two of us. (Probably, because it landed up being just the two of us). I think Greg and I should plan dinner parties for two more often, and not just “dinner”. I’m already planning when we’re going to be making that salad and dessert again. Thank you Yuppiechef for all the fun, as usual 🙂

A baked a-what?

So there seemed to be much fanfare regarding the dessert I posted yesterday, which I made for Friday night. It was a baked alaska, looked very impressive and was actually particularly easy. I mean, you may have gathered that I’m really no baker or masterchef in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking and I seem to have this nasty little habit of trying new recipes when I’m having guests over. That can go either way.

Anyway, so Greg’s cousin in the UK, at the tender age of 13, is an incredible baker with probably more talent than I could ever dream of having. She sent me some magazines with her parents when the last visited and I found these magazines the other day hidden between my other recipe books.

With this on the cover, I had to try and make it.

BakedAlaska01

So here is everything you need

For the ice cream:

  • 175g fresh raspberries
  • 700g vanilla ice cream (I made this parev/non-dairy, so you can just use your favourite non-dairy ice cream recipe)

For the chocolate sponge base:

  • 75g softened butter/margarine
  • 75g caster sugar (I don’t know the difference between all these sugars. So I used icing sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150 caster sugar (again I just used icing sugar)
  • 25g icing sugar for dusting (yeah, I skipped this part)

Now let’s make it!

BakedAlaska02

  1. Crush your raspberries with a fork and mix them in to the softened ice cream.
  2. Line a round bowl with cling wrap and put your ice cream in it to set.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180. Put all the sponge ingredients into a bowl/food processor and zjoozj (or if you’re like me, mix it all in a bowl with a wooden spoon and hope for the best), then bake for 15 – 18 minutes.
  4. Now we assemble! Set your oven to 220.
  5. Make your meringue by whipping the egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually  beat in the sugar, until it’s nice and glossy.
  6. Put the circle of sponge cake down, and tip out the ice cream on top of it. Rather make the sponge base bigger than your ice cream because you can always trim it down (and yum, bits of cake to nibble on)
  7. Now, cover the entire cake/ice cream concoction with meringue. The meringue will basically act as an insulator and stop the ice cream from melting when your place the whole thing in the oven.
  8. Put in the oven for 6 – 8 minutes until browned.
  9. EAT!

BakedAlaska03

bakedalaska04

OK, so zero points for food styling (I’ll get there), but it’s pretty delicious. And looks impressive too, and if dessert isn’t about ending your meal with a bang, well then, I don’t know what is.

Do let me know if you try making this, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Instagram Roundup

We all have voyeuristic (read: stalker) tendencies, so I’m sure you don’t really mind getting this peak into my life. This instagram edition includes food (yum), some magic (awesome!) and, well, you’ll have to scroll and see.

Our baby, our deepfreeze

We’ve decided to keep her! And she’s slowly getting filled with deliciousness. See my challah’s all the way down in the bottom – yay – no more musical food being played in our kitchen 🙂

 

Vida Break

Greg and I went celebrating the fact he finished exams with a Vida frio. Yum. (Later we also went for a cocktail at the One & Only at the Waterfront). That day also inspired this blog post about relationships, which a lot of people seem to enjoy/relate to.

 

Rissotto love.

Rissotto is a dish we’ve tried making recently. You can’t get them at kosher restaurants so I had to resort to making myself. This chicken, tomato and pea rissotto was all sorts of delicious.

 

Oh, Magicians.

This is how magicians procrastinate while studying. He’s very particular in noting that he didn’t make this trick up, so here’s to just letting the universe know. But for the record, Greg is super talented.

 

Burn, baby, burn (ouch).

So I got a little bit burnt not so long ago. And then again over the same area. I did forget while getting dressed that morning, resulting in this glorious tan. Summer is clearly on her way.

 

A baked, what?

A baked alaska. I think it’s because it’s like an igloo. I made this for dessert this past shabbos. It has a chocolate sponge cake base, raspberry (parev) ice cream and toasted merengue on top. You cover the ice cream in merengue and it insulates the ice cream when you put it in the oven. Nifty, right? (and delicious.)

 

I hope you all have an amazing week 🙂