Travel to Suid-Afrika

Groete uit Suid-Afrika! This is now the end of day three here, and it will be the 2nd night in a real bed here. Two nights sleep got lost in travellation..

We had a good flight over, and I enjoyed sitting next to the window from home to Montreal; I even managed to spot my house from the air! Food at the Montreal airport wasn’t bad, but it has to be the most expensive airport food I’ve seen yet- $9 CAD for a sandwich. Then off to London, where we window shopped at bit in the airport, and reveled in Marks & Spenser’s food. Mmmm…I was so happy to eat that again.

Arriving in Cape Town, I realized I had come slightly under-prepared for the weather here. In winter, it is anywhere from 4-18 deg. Celsius; sort of like September/October in the Maritimes. Most trees retain their leaves, but some have shed them, giving the place an autumn-like feel to the place (except for the beautiful hibiscus and other plants that are still green and lovely.

Today we ate lunch at  Melissa’s and then at Ocean Basket for supper. At melissa’s, I had rooibos  cappuccino for the first time ever- and loved it! After telling the barrister I was from Canada, I convinced him to tell me some tips on making it; can’t wait to give it a try.

Well, I will try to update this as the vacation progresses!

First of a series of fifteen-minute posts—McDonalds and Maple Sugar

Today, I started working at McDonald’s. I’ve never worked at a fast food place before, and I do not particularly like their food. But I wanted a part-time, flexible job, and thought that the experience might be interesting.The first four shifts are all just training; today I basically just went over policy and basic chores like sweeping, so it wasn’t really interesting. I am offered a job at a garden center, and I believe I will take. I have till tomorrow to decide though, so I will be able to “sleep on it”.

Last Saturday, I went to a maple sugar camp with a couple of my friends, and tasted syrup poured on snow and still-warm maple cream(after watching it being made).

Both of the above mentioned foods are not particularly healthy-at least not when consumed excessively-, so it is a bit ironic that I will now mention that I am looking into studying to become a nutritionist or a dietician.  Ahh…decisions!

Below is a shot of maple cream being made- thick syrup, stirred until it is cold and opaque. Mmm!

Image

Wedding, bike trips, food, and house decorating

Wow, as usual it has been a long time since I have blogged any.  I hope to be doing this more regularly from now on(doesn’t everyone say that at least once?) and perhaps set a day aside that I post something, say Sunday evenings.  The reason for nor blogging more is not a lack of time, desire or topics…it is usually because I end up sidetracked and more often than not wasting my time somewhere like facebook.
I will just give a quick recap of what has been my summer up till now. I don’t mean for this blog to be simply a public diary, but sometimes a little background info as to what is going on in the blogger’s life is interesting as well.

In June, my room mate got married, so a lot of my extra time had something to do with that. It was really fun; I planned a little bridal shower at a local historical house for her. This was my first time planning any sort of event whatsoever, so I was pretty pleased that it all came together. I did leave inviting people a bit last minute, so not every one came, but still a decent amount. I did a bit helping to get the reception site for the wedding decorated. I thought lupins would make a good showy flower as they were in bloom and plentiful at the time. I was in the wedding as a bridesmaid too, so that was exciting and also new for me. It was a beautiful wedding; the bride released swallowtail butterflies in the park during the photoshoot which made for some cute photos with the bride and butterflies on her dress. It was a coolish day, so they had no desire to fly away right away.

In July, my room mate was preparing to move into her new house with her new husband, so the house was in a somewhat messy state most of the time. I took a couple weekends to go away. The first weekend in July I went to visit my parents and my aunt had a BBQ for everyone which was nice. The next weekend, I packed up my bike and went down to Hopewell cape for some camping. It took me about 4 hours to get to the camp site, me taking my time and stopping a couple times on the way.  That was a very nice weekend; I met a couple nice couples at the campground. One of them gave me extra blankets, which were gladly received as it was a cool wet weekend. The second couple were from Tasmania. I had a nice long talk with them about various topics during which I discovered that the man used to live beside my Granddad in Westbank B.C. ..small world eh?  I got to see the Hopewell flowerpot rocks, which I had not seen, even though I’ve been living in N.B. for 15 years. The next weekend I didn’t do any overnight trips, but I biked to Parlee beach in Shediac  which took me almost 2 hours each way.

This past weekend was mainly filled with helping my room mate move in to her new house. I now have  a spacious 2 bedroom apartment to myself for the time being, until I decide to get a room mate. I will probable be blogging quite a bit about decorating in the near future. I hope to have it looking mostly the way I want it by September.  I will post lots of before, during and after photos. Here, you can see the living room during the move and now how I quickly arranged everything yesterday. At least I have one peaceful room in the house, even if the others are chaotic at the moment! 🙂  I would like to make one of the rooms into an artsy type room where I can put up artwork, pictures of things and quotes of things that inspire me. This room could be used for dance, exercise, crafts etc.  The front sunroom I hope to make a cosy reading nook with plants and chairs and some art. This is what my room mate and I were planning on doing with the room a year ago, but because of various things, never really happened.  I also hope to paint the bathroom at some point. As you can see HERE, right now it is white on top with this rusty orange bottom. I like the color, but I feel that it would look better with a color change. I was thinking a light sandy brown on the bottom and a light green on the top part. Does anyone have any ideas?

I haven’t been cooking as much as i would like to, but here: are some dishes that I have made in the past month or so.  The first image is a pasta salad I made with some veggies and  imitation crab; it was actually pretty good, though I did add a bit too much onion. The second is a salad I had with sautéed sausage and mushrooms, I believe..   I just finished making a chocolate cake, but I won’t post any photos, because it wasn’t the greatest. I was in too much of a hurry ( I don’t have patience when it comes to waiting for cakes to cool!) so the cake fell apart a bit as I was taking it out of the pan. I cut it in two and put a layer of fresh strawberries and banana in the middle and then iced the outside with chocolate icing..we will see how it tastes tonight at bible study. Everyone continues to love the weekly cookies I make. Every batch is different; I never really know what I am going to end up with. I throw things together that I think would taste good together. Some batches turn out better than others, but they always seem to get eaten either way!

Well, thats it for now, but I’ll keep posting on how the re-decoration is going.

Peace and blessings to all!

~Liz

Soup…bean soup that is!

{This post was actually written a couple months ago…I just never got a round tuit. *}

Well, here I am again. I don’t have my camera, so my posts will be a little more boring until I find it or get a new one(which I don’t really want to do until i know what happened to the old one)

I made some black bean soup the other night. The recipe was from a book a friend lent me called “Romancing the Stove”, full of Indian inspired recipes. Apparently I didn’t read the recipe very well though, because I realized after I’d bought the beans that they were supposed to be black eyed beans instead. Other than being darker than it should have been, I don’t think that it made much difference. I ended up cooking it much longer than I was supposed to and I think it was much better that way, since it allowed the flavors to blend well and the beans to get softer. I would give this recipe 3 of  stars; it was a good soup. I’d make it again I think, but it wasn’t anything too special.

Here is the recipe, with my changes  in brackets:

2Cups Black eyed beans (black eyed beans)                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10cups         water                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 2Tghee(oliveoil)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               2driedredchiles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2bayleaves                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           1tspcuminseeds                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1cinnamon sticks                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 cardamom pods                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1tsp ground turmeric                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1tsp chili powder (didn’t have any)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   2 tomatoes (dried tomatoes)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             1tsp sea salt                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              fresh grated ginger                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1tsp roasted ground cumin                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               2t fresh coriander leaves(didn’t use)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Soak beans overnight, change water, rinse well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover and simmer till tender. Hear the ghee in a saucepan add chili bay leaves and sizzle till brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and sizzle till brown. Add the spices to beans. mix well and simmer for 5 minutes.  Garnish with coriander leaves.  Serve with rice or bread.  ( I added 1 grated carrot and a chopped onion to give it some more texture and flavor)

* When I was a kid I remember going to my great-uncle’s house. In the bathroom, there was a round object; a round tuit to be precise. If you never seem to get things done, you now know what you are missing.

Sushi

Ok, so this post was supposed to be posted before the last one. I thought I had, but I guess I had only gotten as far as uploading pictures…….

Well, a couple weeks ago I decided to attempt making sushi. For the record, I could count on one hand the few times I’ve eaten sushi. The first time I tried it was at the market a couple years ago. Then I had it a couple months ago from a sushi place downtown..and just a couple days ago for my birthday.  But my sushi making came before that, so it doesn’t even count in this case… In any case, my exposure to sushi has been very limited. I think I only found out what it was a couple years ago, and I’ve never actually tried anything with raw fish …  This time, I made a simple vegetarian version.

Sushi is actually a very broad term, including many different variations on sticky rice with other ingredient(s). There are many different names for the varieties, but what I made was just the western “California style” roll. I made some ” Uramaki”  style, which means the nori is on the inside of the rice roll, surrounding the veggies, and some the traditional way, with the nori on the outside.

First, I gathered ingredients…I bought nori sheets, avocado and rice from my work. I took several shortcuts..I didn’t use actual sticky rice; I just used short grain white rice and made it moister than normal. I didn’t have a sushi mat either; I made do with a bamboo placemat with saran wrap on top.

My sushi..ok, so they arent professional, but I thought they turned out pretty good considering it was my first attempt at making sushi 🙂

They were really simple to make. I toasted the nori over the element on the stove (being careful not to touch the element) for a few seconds until it turned green.  I made the rice by adding a bit of vinegar and sugar after the rice was cooked. Then I spread a thin layer of rice on top of the sheet, leaving 2 inches at the bottom and one inch at the top uncovered. I then placed a line of julienned avocado, carrot and cucumber (the carrot and cucumber was steamed for a minute or two first) down the middle. Carefully, I rolled everything up. It wasn’t hard actually. The roll was sealed by wetting the remaining inch of nori and sticking it down.  This completed the roll; and the only thing left was  to cut it. Each roll makes 6 pieces, and so beginning in the middle, it was cut using a knife dipped in water and vinegar. Then each piece was cut into thirds.

My first couple rolls of sushi, displayed in the steamer I used for the veggies.

Ta-da! My first attempt at sushi was finished!

One usually eats this sushi with wasabi sauce, soya sauce and pickled ginger. I only had tamari to eat with it, but it was still delicious…   They tasted almost as good as the other sushi I’ve had, but I think i put too much rice; the rolls were a bit too fat. I now know that you are supposed to eat each piece in one bite (with chopsticks).