Monday, May 30, 2011

waste not, want not

Throwing away food makes me physically ill.  I’ve always hated the waste and loss of money, but after traveling to so many developing countries it truly makes me sick to throw away what so many would literally kill for.   I’m a huge advocate of leftovers and if the Wife can’t handle one more day of whatever it is I’ve made- I freeze it.

Thursday I realized I had some veggies that would probably spoil before I had a chance to use them the following week.  All I could think about was the cleaning lady, who likely lives in a township (think: house made of whatever scraps of metal or cardboard they can find and rocks holding their roof on),  coming in to take out our garbage and finding all that wasted food.  Disgusted at the mere thought I decided to make a soup…


I roughly chopped up everything from the fridge that was on its last leg- a couple carrots, some cabbage, and a good bunch of green beans.  I sautéed a diced onion in a little evoo, threw in the veggies and tossed them around a bit before adding chicken stock.  They don’t have chicken stock in a can here so no fat-free versions, only bouillon cubes, which I had left over from a dinner.

I have only bought fresh herbs and those were all gone, so I was a little worried about the flavor.  I threw in a clove of garlic and then after remembering I had some chopped green chilies, added in a good teaspoon for some heat. Simmer until veggies are tender.

I divided it up in containers to freeze for future lunches.  I could have added some pasta noodles and it would have been hearty enough for a dinner.





I’m sure my future children will appreciate your prayers.  I’m obviously going to be taking the “children starving in Africa” bit to a whole new level.

farm fresh

While at Spier Winery we dined at their restaurant 8. We had tried to go for lunch on Saturday but they had closed early. After the guy telling us that every vegetable, herb and meat came directly from their farm we were determined to eat there on Sunday and waited for about an hour to snag a table.

It was a delicious little Sunday dinner.

Fresh bread and olive oil (loved this plating!)…


A gift from the chef- sweet pumpkin soup…


Chicken pie with puff pastry (think chicken and dumpling with no dumplings)…



and I went with the roasted chicken and vegetables…


Of course we had already done a tasting at the winery and were able to choose two perfect pairings-chenin blanc for me and a gamay rose for the wife…

we love the pours in south africa!

We used her head as a reference as to how big these pours were. Huge.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

lots of grub, little calories

I live my life in a constant state of “vacation mode”.  Living in different places constantly means new food to try and even when you try to make be good and make healthy choices- you never really know what you’re getting.  “Oh, I’ll have the veggies instead of fries.”  Good job until those veggies come to the table glistening from all the glorious butter they were cooked in.

Needless to say, each time I check off another country on my map I end up moving down another hole on my belt loop.  Not good.

So, with having an apartment we can finally know what we’re putting in our bodies and ensure it won’t make any bigger than when we got here.

We had some yummy braised chicken and cabbage at the B&B in Nelspruit along with a feast of veggies…


Because I’m a creature of habit and can eat the same thing over and over and over and over and…well, you get the point, I decided to take inspiration from the meal.

I loved the chicken with the tangy cabbage, but no way was I deboning a whole bird and I needed to skip the skin to avoid fat/calories.  The veggies served were all delicious, but I wanted to keep it simple and avoid the heavy cream and butter.

I didn’t grow up eating cabbage because my grandmother didn’t like it.  She didn’t’ cook it which meant I never learned to make it or appreciate it for that matter.  I now love it!

I made this recipe up, but it turned out to be pretty good.  I highly recommend doing it in a slow-cooker though to keep the chicken nice and moist.

1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and salt/pepper to taste a large head of shredded cabbage. I sautéed for a few minutes over medium high heat so I could fit it in my baking dish.


I couldn’t find red at my store, but I think it would be much prettier. 

Brown 4 chicken breast and lay on top of cabbage.  Since I was covering this dish to keep the chicken moist from the cabbage steam I wanted to brown it although this is totally not necessary.  I just don’t like the look of  an all white chicken breast.  Again, if I’d had a crock pot handy I would have totally used it.   I cooked mine for about 45 minutes covered with foil at 375.


For sides I did fresh green beans…


Trim off ends and just throw in a pot of water and boil to your desired consistency.   I added a little chicken stock (I had some leftover from the cabbage) and some garlic for a little flavor.

I also found some sweet corn!!!


Guys, sweet corn is not common.  You leave the U.S. and you’re going to find plenty of corn, but rarely will it be sweet.  Latin America killed me with their huge ears of roasted corn they’d be selling everywhere.  I’d be so excited to get one and each time bite into a mouth of grainy, not sweet grossness.  WTH?!

This corn was so fresh and so sweet you have no need for butter or even salt for that matter.  Oh. so. good.


Monday, May 23, 2011

dinner in the bush

We had an awesome dinner in the bush on our safari weekend. The torch light was not conducive for pics, but I will say I am now a HUGE fan of ostrich and of malva pudding. I plan on making that pudding very soon so stay tuned for the recipe.

I also finally found a way to like pap, a thick porridge-esque maize substance, that is a staple down here. I’ve always found it ridiculously bland and too thick for my liking, but our chef told us to eat it with the spicy tomato, onion and bean mixture called chakalaka. Delicious.


Woman cooking pap over hot coals.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

hold the beef

I’m so not a vegetarian.  I may have even been known to pressure one certain friend who is a vegetarian to go back to eating meat with promises of not being so cold all the time that she has to use blankets at the beach.  I’m all for being an omnivore.

However, I am one who cares about the earth.  You can read all about the shocking effects we could have on our earth if we all just stopped eating meat one day a week- here.  It is insane how much good could come of it. 

So I’m now committed to skipping meat at least 1 day or more a week. 

My first meatless dish was a baked butternut pasta. We had some pumpkin lasagna in Australia so I created something similar while keeping the calories and fat low.

Half a smallish butternut squash and place face down on a sprayed baking sheet.  Roast for about 45 minutes or until tender.  Then mash the heck out of it and salt to taste.


Homemade pasta sauce is so freaking easy- 1 onion diced, 2 cans of diced tomatoes or 4 large fresh tomatoes diced, fresh garlic, basil, oregano (I throw the herbs in whole instead of chopping), salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup red or white wine- caramelize the onions in a tiny bit of evoo, add the garlic for about a minute (burnt garlic = bitter awfulness), deglaze the pan with the wine. then just add the rest and simmer until thick.  I usually add a tiny pinch of sugar to mellow the acidity of the tomatoes- a little trick a chef taught me a million years ago.  This is my basis for tons of different sauces- add meat, chunky veggies or red chilies…the variations are endless. I doubled my recipe for this dish.


While that’s simmering, prepare some whole wheat pasta. I used penne so layering wasn’t really a good option so I threw the sauce, pasta, squash and the majority of one small container of low fat ricotta in a huge bowl and gently mixed.  Then throw that in a sprayed casserole dish and top with remaining ricotta and a handful or so of parm…


Bake at 375 until bubbly and golden brown…


This made like 12 servings which I fed to friends, us over two nights and froze the remaining. Thanks to my grandmother,  I only know how to cook for an army. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

thank you mr. penguin

This guy is like a macked-out version of a Snoopy snow cone machine (which I owned and LOVED)…


He lived at the ramen house, but I think it is actually Korean.  If you ever see him you should get one of his tasty cold delights. 

I got the green tea…


It is like cotton candy ice cream- so light and fluffy it melts upon contact with your mouth.  It’s also like 1/10 the fat and calories of ice cream.  I need to find one of these bad boys and bring him home!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Okay, I know they have location restaurants in both San Fran and NYC so if you are fan of ramen or you’ve never tasted the gloriousness that is a piping hot bowl of delicious noodles and live in either cities- you need to go there.

Pablo and I ate ramen like 5 or 6 times while he was in Sydney. I miss Japan (although technically ramen comes from China) and I miss Ajisen Noodle House!! Can someone PLEASE find me a good ramen house in Atlanta before we get home?!?

Spicy ramen, oh how I miss thee …


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

violet crumble

L told us we needed to try it and thank goodness she did!  I loved the light airy honeycomb and could have actually done without the chocolate.  I’m going to be on a mission to find golden syrup when I return to the States so I can start making this…


Saturday, May 7, 2011


Not exactly corn dog batter, but I like the idea of these fried shrimp on a skewer. Perfect  for a party since you get easy pickup instead of greasy hands on my sofa…


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

it wasn’t me (this time)

While in Melbourne Jules decided to give kangaroo another shot and went with a kanga-burger at the Portland Hotel restaurant and microbrewery…


Kangaroo reminds me a lot of venison.  It’s gamey and very lean.  Many Aussies have told us it has no fat at all. 

I went with my new favorite fish, barramundi…


At this point I’m fish and chipped out, but couldn’t resist getting it since I had a rich and nutty porter from their microbrewery to go with it…


It was almost like being back in Ireland.  Almost.

Hunter Valley


We’ve been big fans of the Australian Shiraz for a while and can’t get enough of the New Zealand’s Marlborough region’s Sauvignon Blanc. Needless to say we were pretty excited about our trip up to the Hunter Valley wine region.

The Hunter Valley is home to only a couple of large wineries but dozens and dozens of small boutique wineries selling almost exclusively from their own cellars. It was great tasting all these little treasures that you can’t get anywhere else in the world (or really anywhere else in Oz for that matter)…


I love visiting wineries for two reasons- 1. drinking your way through the day is always a good time and 2. I love all the great things you learn from the wine makers. I always come away knowing a little bit more about what I’m drinking, why I like it and how to enjoy it more with food.

The wineries in Hunter Valley have some insanely knowledgeable staff members that really made the day just that much more enjoyable for me.

I came away with a new love for Semillon both the dry and sweet versions, but not the overtly citrusy ones.

I learned that our palates put together the flavor of wine like pieces of a puzzle and each sip allows us to taste it more completely. Hello- that is why the first sip is never that great and the wine seems to get better and better. It is actually tasting better and not, as one of our sassier hosts said, “ just because your getting pissed”.

Best of all I learned a new pairing secret- spicy food + sweet whites = heaven!