So I went forth and, finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night
And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So, heart, be still!
What need our little life, our human life, to know if God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things, both high and low, God hideth His intention.
The Desert 1908
Marie Louise Haskins 1876 – 1957
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Personally I was very happy to see the end of 2012 and I waved it goodbye last night with a smile on my face and a glass of champagne in my hand! It was a year of solitude and suffering for me (in among so many great blessings too and I do prefer to focus on those rather than the negatives) but thankfully that is at an end now and, although I am not completely healed….yet….. I am looking forward with great anticipation to 2013 and all it’s new promises. And a delicious steak that I have been promised as soon as I am able to manage it I do wish each and every one of you the very best of everything, the realization of your heart desires, happiness, love and good health throughout the year that lies ahead of all of us, a blank book, it’s pages clean and waiting for each of us to write our life story in it. I pray it is going to be a best seller, bigger and better by far than 50 Shades of Grey or whatever, and definitely in better grammatical style Speaking about “that book trilogy” my grandsons have been some of my greatest blessings this year during my enforced stay at home. For those who do not know I have been going through a series of reconstructive oral surgical procedures so socializing was out of the question….as was eating regular food. I have spent 18 months drinking smoothies and slurping up soups, custard, jelly, soft ice cream and baby gloop. Not much fun in that and so any entertaining from the grandsons and my faithful pooch, Tasha, became the highlight of my days! One day my daughter sent over the first of the Fifty Shades of Grey books for me to read (now remember I had no desire to read so she said this would definitely pique my interest and get me reading HAHA) So 4 yr old Jay brought the book in and said “Here is Fifty Shades of Grey for you to read Nan.” So I gave him a sort of smirk and said thank you (while wondering why HE had to bring the book in to me) and over the following weeks I desperately tried to get those pages to turn but somehow not even that worked for me. It was not my type of book at all (sorry darling daughter) and I just could not get into that animal Christians head at all….so the book sat on my bedside table, largely unread, I dont think I got past page 20 if that. Until the day Jay walked in and asked very conversationally “So did you enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey Nan?” And I replied that I had not read it…..his response: “WOT?? But everybody I know has read that book Nan and they all thought it was fantastic!” I panicked briefly, wondering if he had actually read the book surreptitiously and was going to ask me what parts I did NOT enjoy and then I remembered he was only 4 after all
Over and above no desire to read books I have been struggling to write and have had absolutely no inclination to read any blogs, I have been suffering from deep depression which does remove one’s ability to enjoy those simple pleasures but, with good medication, I am doing much better and I promised myself that even if I only wrote down 3 lines along with some photographs I was going to be doing a blog post today. So, here I am fulfilling that promise. And I will try, for now, to do at least 2 posts a month, if not more. I am not short of photographs of food that I have taken and laboriously edited over the past months, I certainly kept myself busy during the long days and it is something that gives me a lot of pleasure so I clung to it and did lots of photography and editing. My beloved has stood by me throughout this journey and has supported and cared for me so very well. I am indeed fortunate and very blessed to have a husband of his caliber and I appreciate him so much. Not being able to socialize means that I have not done the shopping either, he has done all of that. I am so keen to get to a mall sometime soon and just take hours of browsing to see whats new on the shelves. I have not been to church in 18 months and cannot wait to accompany him once again and sit under God’s word. So 2013 is going to hold a LOT of changes for me! And I welcome them with open arms, as I welcomed the new year in. I think, in general, among all the people I have been in communication with, 2012 has not been a great year. So many folk I know have suffered so much, certainly more than I have! My sister in law lost her beloved husband of almost 4 years very suddenly to a pulmonary embolism and she is walking into the future alone, trying to sort out her life that was thrown into such turmoil in an instant. Hubby and I will be walking alongside her so that she is NOT alone. We can encourage, support and care for her along the way. Fortunately her faith has deepened and strengthened through this. I encourage all of you to reach out to someone during this new year and to find out what their troubles are and to walk the distance with them. All is not always as it seems and so many are suffering behind the cheery, brave smiles that are the facade for the general public to see. We ALL need someone to support and help us…we all need company, we all need a shoulder sometimes…we all need someone to bounce possibly our deepest dreams and desires off to get the courage needed to go out and succeed. Maybe we are stuck in a cycle of abuse in the home and all we need is someone to tell us we are worthy of so much more and don’t deserve what is being dished out to us…..so many possibilities exist where we can come alongside someone and help lift their life’s burdens, just a little bit, and make 2013 a better year for everyone!
And on that note, caring is sharing so here is a very easy cookie recipe that I make every Christmas holiday and everyone enjoys it so much. I may have them somewhere in my blog archive on my original blog but I think they need a new introduction and a dusting off. Try them, you will be so surprised at how easy they are and they just don’t fail…..they make wonderful Christmas (or any time) gifts for family and friends, or elderly neighbors and when the boys visit their little hands are always reaching out for just one more butter cookie!
CRISPY CURRANT BUTTER COOKIES
250g Butter at room temperature
120g Castor Sugar
300g Cake Flour
125g Corn Flour
2,5ml Vanilla Extract
100g Currants – washed and dried well
Icing (Confectionery) Sugar or Castor Sugar for sprinkling
I added the finely grated zest of half a ClemenGold to my dough. It was a very good addition and gave these already delightful cookies a delicious citrus boost!
Preheat oven to 180 oC
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
Place butter and sugar into mixing bowl and beat until very pale and creamy
Sift flour, corn flour & salt into a bowl then add to batter together with the currants
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter using a dough hook or a wooden spoon (I use my K blade on my Kenwood mixer)
Using your hands roll 15g amounts of dough into neat walnut sized balls and place in rows on the lined cookie sheet
Flatten each ball gently with a fork – it’s a stiff dough so will crack slightly around edges
Bake 10 – 12 minutes in the centre of the oven (mine baked for 12 exactly)
Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then sprinkle with icing or castor sugar
Remove gently with a spatula and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack
Pack into airtight containers when cold
Makes about 60 cookies – that is if you can resist the fabulous tasting dough while rolling it into balls!
Phew, I’m done, and I wrote more than 3 lines too!
Have a great week everyone, I promise I will be back soon
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So it took longer than a couple of days to do this post (due to unforeseen circumstances) and here we are already into next month! A part of me is very gleeful about the time that is going by so fast because I need it to fly by so that I can complete my reconstructive surgery journey. I have just one final procedure to face and timing for the operation depends on the condition of my bone when I have my x-ray mid October. Possibly December but I was told more likely January! Of course I am holding out for end November! Ever the optimist…..
At the same time as I have been undergoing this metamorphosis my blog has been undergoing some serious changes itself and it is now ready to be launched for the world to see. This is all very exciting for me as I have finally become the owner of my own domain and self hosted blog for the first time. I must be growing up at last! My friend and IT Ninja Fritz from Real Men Can Cook (and they can!) has been squirreling away in the background whenever he has a spare moment, mostly late at night when regular folk are sleeping, migrating the blog from wordpress.com onto a self-hosted WordPress installation, pulling all the content across and implementing the new template that I bought. A few other modifications and voila! Brand spanking new Browniegirl blog! I hope everyone is going to love it as much as I do. Going self hosted means that I am able to add and change things and also I am now in a position to host advertisements on my blog, the first of which you will see go live this week. The lovely header was designed by Jackie Buss from Inspired by Food and she is also designing a couple of other new bits and bobs for me. I am deeply grateful to these two lovely young people for all the help and input! There are still a few features to add and change but those will come as
I we get the time to tinker!
I recently joined the Bloglovin’ family as a way to subscribe to blogs and I am loving it. It is a great way of receiving notification of new posts to all your favourite reads in one email and you can very easily add or remove blogs to your subscription. I like that because it means just one email, I can glance through the links and see which posts might interest me and then go and read them. No filling up of the inbox with an alert from every blog that I have subscribed to! Sadly when you move away from wordpress.com your current subscribers cannot be moved over to the new site. I would hate to lose even one of you precious readers, so I am also registering the new Browniegirl blog with Bloglovin’ which will give you all the easy option of subscribing to my posts. It is very quick and easy to sign up (you only need an email and password) and I am ardently hoping that you will all make this move with me. I look forward to sharing lots of delicious new recipes and food stories and memories with everyone on my brand spanking new blog.
To celebrate the new blog I am sharing a really easy and sweet recipe with you…this one comes from my childhood and is something I have made over the years for my own children. My mom used to call these Sunburnt Fingers but I have never known why. Maybe the shape she cut them into (they were more rectangular than the squares I make) and the colour? She used less cocoa than I do but then I prefer darker chocolate.
Please do pop over and get the recipe and remember to sign up with Bloglovin and follow my blog so that you won’t miss out on any posts. This current site that you are reading now will remain active for a short period to redirect non subscribed readers to the new blog and it will then be closed.
I look forward to seeing you all on the flip side and remember please….comments are the lifeline of any blog. I love interacting with my readers so lurkers, do step out of the shadows and “meet” me
With gratitude to all those who have read this blog over the past couple of years. I look forward to making new memories with you all!
Easter – a time of year when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and a celebration of His resurrection to life on Easter Sunday. On Good Friday it is traditional to eat hot cross buns. Easter Sunday is the day of feasting and celebration, the day when kiddies all go on their Easter egg hunts and overdose on sugar and chocolate. For many families it is a tradition to bake and enjoy a Simnel Cake, a light fruit cake that has a layer of marzipan (almond paste) baked into the middle of the cake and another layer to decorate it when it is cold. It is also decorated with 11 little marzipan balls – these symbolize the eleven disciples of Christ (Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ is not included).
Recently my friend Michael Olivier called and asked me if I would be interested in baking his Granny’s Simnel Cake for him to include in the Easter edition of Crush! Online Magazine. I was delighted in his faith in my abilities to recreate some childhood memories for him and set about preparing the ingredients and baking the cake according to the recipe supplied by Michael. What a delightful cake! And one that I will adopt for my own families Easter celebrations from now on!
GRANNY’S SIMNEL CAKE (courtesy of Michael Olivier)
For the almond paste
250g castor sugar
250g ground almonds
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence [some like to use almond essence]
For the cake
180g butter [don’t even be tempted to use margarine or vegetable fat]
180g soft brown or Moscovado sugar
180g cake flour
¼ tsp each ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves and fine salt
3 extra large eggs
150g Orange River Raisins
150g Orange River Golden Sultanas
60g chopped mixed peel
grated rind of 1 lemon and one orange
2 Tbs smooth apricot jam (for brushing on cake before the applying the almond paste topping)
1 egg – for brushing over the cake before grilling.
Prepare a 20cm cake tin by lining it, bottom and sides, with greaseproof or silicone paper.
In a large glass bowl mix the sugar and the finely ground almonds.
Whisk the eggs until frothy and add only enough, a bit at a time, to give the paste a soft texture.
Flavour with the vanilla essence and knead gently for about a minute.
Divide the almond paste into three portions. Roll out one third to make a circle 18cm in diameter which will go into the centre of the cake. Wrap the remainder tightly in double cling film and set aside. One half will be used for the 11 balls and the other to roll out another circle to place on top of the cake once completely cooled.
Preheat oven to 140C.
Using your mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy and then add the sugar and beat together until pale in colour and light in texture.
Sift together the flour, spices and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the eggs one at a time and add about a third of the flour mixture with each egg as this helps to prevent curdling.
Add the fruits, the mixed peel the grated rinds and stir together with a wooden spoon to mix well.
Spoon half of the batter into the prepared cake tin. Level it off with an off set spatula and then put the circle of marzipan on top.
Spoon the rest of the batter on top and smooth over allowing a little bit of a dent in the middle to ensure that the cake ends up baked with a nice flat top.
Bake for 1hour 45 minutes, insert metal skewer into the middle to test. If it comes out clean, the cake is baked. If not test after a further ten minutes baking. Remove the cake from the oven.
Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cake is completely cooled remove it from the greaseproof or silicone paper. If it is slightly domed, put it upside down on a baking tray.
Set your oven’s grill on high.
Heat the apricot jam and brush over the top of the cake. Roll out one half of the remaining marzipan into a thickish circle the exact diameter of the cake (use the pan to measure) and place it carefully on top of the cake.
With the remaining marzipan, roll out 11 small round shaped balls and place them around the edge of the cake.
Brush the marzipan and the balls with beaten egg and set in the oven to brown gently, watching all the time for about 1 – 2 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill. Otherwise use a blow torch to brown it.
Garnish with some little candy or small chocolate Easter eggs. And do place a little fluffy chicken on top.
As I sit here writing up this post my skin is being caressed by the most beautiful cool sea breeze blowing gently in the window. It has been so many months since I last felt that and my whole body is cheering on the advent of Autumn. This is MY time of year…the season that I delight in the most! In previous years by the time Easter came upon us autumn had all but disappeared and winter was already making her presence felt with wicked north westerly gales and driving rain. I remember well that my daughter, who has her birthday at the end of March, throughout her childhood years bemoaned the fact that she could never have a swimming party around the pool! Instead all her little friends arrived dressed up warmly in coats and boots and they had to play indoors! This year for the first time sweet daughter was able to have her wish……for her 33rd birthday!
If you are on this roads at this time of year do drive safely and have a wonderful time with family and friends. We remain home at this time of year as brownieboy has to work. Usually our Good Friday is quiet with those who want to going off to church to commemorate the crucifixion. In true Cape style I always enjoy some pickled fish for my lunch on this day! YUM! On Easter Sunday the family gathers at daughter and son in laws home to participate in the excited hunt for Easter Eggs. Then we all head to church as a family to celebrate Christs resurrection. After church we gather around the table at our home to feast!
Now it is time for a nice cup of soothing rooibos tea before bedtime…… and a slice of this delightful Simnel cake would do very nicely too thank you!
I wish you all a Blessed and Happy Easter.
This recipe was first published in the 17th issue of Crush! Online Magazine and also on Michael Olivier’s website Crush is available globally and provides very interesting reading with interactive pages. Just supply your email address to subscribe and your issue will drop into your mailbox once a month – absolutely free of charge!
Passionfruit, passion fruit or granadilla as it is locally known in South Africa, is plentiful at the moment. I cannot resist those dark purple orbs when I come across them and will bring my stash home excitedly and place them in a bowl on the sideboard so that the aroma can envelope me while I go about planning what to do with them. I love the mix of tart and sweet pulp in any number of ways. I love mixing the pulp of one into some Greek yoghurt and serving it on top of my muesli in the morning with a drizzle of honey. My plans always include making a few bottles of passion fruit curd baking some cakes and I love them in my tropical smoothies right now. My hubby has a weird way of enjoying them. He stirs the pulp, together with a teaspoon of sugar, into a glass of icy cold full cream milk. The acidity of the granadilla slightly curdles and thickens the milk and he slurps away happily….lost in childhood memories! When buying granadillas from the grocery stores or markets be sure to select them carefully. Weigh them one by one in the palm of your hand. If they are light it means they are probably quite old and past their prime and will disappointingly hold very little pulp. They need to be heavy in your hand, be turning or have turned a lovely dark purple colour and starting to wrinkle ever so slightly. A crinkly heavy granadilla is the sweetest juiciest one.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Douglas asked me for some old fashioned cookie modeler recipes so I was paging through my ancient first recipe book that I had when I got married in 1978 and I came across a recipe that I have sadly neglected lately. An easy to mix and bake yoghurt loaf using the yoghurt container as your measurement. I cannot remember where I got this recipe from, possibly one of the magazines of the day and it is one that was a favourite in our household while my children were growing up. You can ring the changes by changing the flavour of the yoghurt that you use, you can add a hot syrup, pouring it over the cake as it comes out the oven, or leave it out, you can iced it with glace icing or leave it off….you can just have it as is. My kids used to eat it similar to banana bread, spread with a little bit of butter. As a sandwich it used to make a delicious sweet ending to their lunch breaks at school.
My favourite flavour of course is granadilla. So here is my version of this lovely loaf cake.
MOIST EASY PASSION FRUIT YOGHURT LOAF CAKE
This is a very easy loaf to bake using, as measurements, the cleaned container that the yoghurt comes in. Use the older round shaped containers weighing 175g (that’s about 6 ounces) and not the modern small square shaped containers. Use any flavor yoghurt that you wish. The possibilities are endless but my favorite is the passion fruit.
1 ½ Containers (175g each) of Granadilla or Passion Fruit Yoghurt
3 Containers Self Raising Flour (use a clean dry yoghurt container)
2 Containers Castor Sugar
1 Container Cooking Oil (I use half vegetable and half coconut oil)
3 Large Eggs
Fresh Raspberries or Blueberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 180
Grease and flour one large loaf pan or two small ones
Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar
Beat the eggs in a medium sized bowl and beat in the oil and yoghurt
Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix together well
Gently stir in the berries. I like to put a line of berries on top down the middle to sink into the batter as it bakes
Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of pans
Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
If you would like to add some glace icing as I did this is how I did it….
100g Icing Sugar – sifted twice
Pulp from 1-2 ripe wrinkled granadillas depending on size
Mix together and if needed add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to get a pouring consistency
Once the loaf is completely cold place the rack over a baking sheet or tray and pour the glace icing over the loaf so that it drips down the sides. Allow to set slightly before cutting and enjoying!
A very big thank you to everyone who has been so supportive throughout a very difficult time for me. I so appreciate and value each one of you. I am mending well from the reconstructive oral surgery I had 3 weeks ago. I just take it one day at a time right now and don’t think of the rest of the procedures that I still face through the year. It kind of overwhelms you if you do that. The worst I believe is behind me and I am very grateful for that. For now it is just waiting. Fortunately I have the planning of the next SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba to keep me busy and out of mischief :) More news on that very soon.
Have a great week!
I firmly believe that animals rock this planet in so many ways, but not all are blessed to be living in good homes where they are loved and cared for and pampered. My friend Linda over at The Squashed Tomato started Romeo’s Wish last year, an iniative that raises money for food and other much needed products for underprivileged animals. Please go over there and see how you can support this wonderful cause and make Romeo’s wish come true. Follow the link and “like” the facebook page so you can keep up to date with Linda’s news. You can also follow Linda on twitter with the handle @squashed_tom
Tarte Tatin……the word conjures up cold nights and comforting food eaten around the fireside with a delicious glass of sweetish wine to accompany it. Tarte Tatin also conjures up visions of firm crisp apples and caramel and delicious puff pastry. So easy and simple to prepare and yet so delicious and comforting. ClemenGold also conjures up wintry thoughts as it is a winter citrus and only available for that season….but I turned both into a wonderful summery delight this past week.
The new year has firmly entrenched itself and 3 weeks have just flown past in a blur. Here in the Western Cape where I live we have been overwhelmed by a heatwave of massive proportions. I have not been able to bear spending any time in my kitchen during the days. Nights are oppressive and everyone is battling to sleep. I think airconditioning companies have been benefiting from it all. In the bowels of my freezer I came across a bag of ClemenGolds this past week that I had popped in there towards the end of the 2011 season. As I was contemplating them the idea of using some for a tarte tatin came to mind. Using my favourite spices of course for my ClemenGold goodness. It ticked all the right boxes for me….quick and easy to prepare and delicious with a big scoop of icy cold vanilla ice cream! I was sold on the idea and this is what I came up with…
SPICED CLEMENGOLD TARTE TATIN WITH RICH BUTTER PUFF PASTRY
Easy to prepare
1 roll good quality Butter Puff Pastry – thawed but still cold
2 ClemenGolds (or other clementine/mandarin if you cannot get the ClemenGolds)
125 g butter
100 g Light Brown Sugar
½ Lemon – juice only
5ml NoMU Sweet Rub
1 Vanilla Pod – split and seeds removed with the tip of a sharp knife
2 star anise
1 Egg – lightly beaten for brushing the pastry
Wash and slice the ClemenGolds thinly (leaving the delicious peel on) and set aside. I am so in love with my new Lassar ceramic knife that is perfect for this job
Unroll the puff pastry and, using your skillet as a measure, cut out a circle about an inch wider all round than the size of the skillet that you are using. Set aside in the fridge until needed
Place the skillet (it needs to have an oven proof handle) onto the hob over a low to moderate heat
Place the butter, sugar, sweet rub and lemon juice into the skillet and melt all together without stirring
Add the vanilla seeds and pod and star anise
Allow the mixture to caramelize and turn a medium golden colour giving it a bit of a shake every now and again. Don’t allow it to go any darker than that as it can burn very easily
Remove the pan from the heat and place the ClemenGold slices in the caramel in circles, overlapping the slices slightly and placing the last one in the centre of the pan so the whole base is covered
Set aside to cool for 10 – 15 minutes
Preheat oven to 200C while the caramel is cooling
Remove puff pastry from the fridge and place it lightly over the top of the caramel in the skillet. Fold and tuck the extra bits down the sides carefully as the caramel might still be hot enough to burn your fingers
Brush lightly with the egg wash and bake on the middle shelf in the oven until the pastry is puffed up and a deliciously medium golden brown colour
Remove from the oven then place a large flat serving plate over the top of the skillet
Using oven gloves or a couple of folded dish towels hold the plate and pan tightly together and in a quick motion flip them over and place plate down on to the counter
Remove the pan – if any slices have remained behind gently lift with a spatula and place back into position
Allow to cool slightly then remove the star anise and vanilla pod and cut into wedges
Serve with whipped cream, crème frâiche or ice-cream (personally I prefer the iciness of ice cream with the still slightly hot tarte tatin!)
browniegirl tip: Wash the stickiness off the vanilla pod then let it dry thoroughly on your windowsill in the sunlight. Once dry pop it into a jar of sugar and cover tightly. In a week or two you will have delicious vanilla sugar for all your baking needs
To interact with Lassar ceramic knives visit their facebook page or take a peek at the Essentials page in the latest Crush online magazine edition to see how to slice and dice an onion…the Lassar way!