Words Crush Wednesday: Charlotte Brontë Edition & Dragon’s Loyalty Award

dragon-award

Today is Words Crush Wednesday and a few weeks ago, Lisa nominated me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award, given to loyal fans/commenters. Thank you so much, Lisa! I decided to parlay the two (I never get to use that word!) and give a quote about enthusiasm, because the people I’m nominating have it in spades and it’s evident in their every blog post.

Here’s the deal for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award:

  1. Thank the giver and link their blog to your post.
  2. Pass the award on to other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  3. Give 7 facts about yourself.

Here’s some stuff about me:

  1. I can read upside down. This comes in handy when I’m chilling like a bat.
  2. I taught myself how to cook. Thanks, Google!
  3. If I don’t read in bed every night, I feel noticeably less calm the next day.
  4. I laugh a lot (mainly at myself). In my opinion and experience, a good sense of humour is one of the most important tools for getting through the tough times, and enjoying the good times. What is a good time without laughter? Well, that and wine.
  5. I don’t know what ‘cold-pressed’ means. Don’t judge, but do leave the answer in the comments section.
  6. I get really amused (and moderately annoyed) when people use the word ‘irregardless’. No. Just no. I’d like to say that I won’t judge you if you do this but um…
  7. I usually enjoy the process of cooking slightly more than eating the results, especially when I’m trying out a new recipe. The same can’t be said for baking which is why it only happens once a month, sometimes twice a month, but my husband wouldn’t know this because I’m really good at cleaning up.

I’m nominating these very awesome people, who have wonderful, admirable enthusiasm for what they blog, and thus inspire me every day:

Quotation-Charlotte-Bronte-enthusiasm-Meetville-Quotes-205314

Credit: Google Images/meetville.com

 

Savoury Mince with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Green Peppers

Savoury mince is one of those things that tends to ping on my ‘boring’ radar, but when made with the right ingredients, as well as a good balance of herbs, it’s something that will keep you coming back. It’s easy and versatile too, and I appreciate those qualities in a recipe. Serve it with rice, potatoes or pasta, which you can cook while the mince is simmering, and the whole thing will take you less that forty minutes!

Savoury Mince with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Green Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 35-40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Savoury mince ingredients 1 2Ingredients:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400g chopped mushrooms
  • 2 chopped green (bell) peppers
  • 1 sachet (50g) tomato paste
  • 1 sachet (or cube) low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Savoury mince 3 2
1. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil on medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and green (bell) peppers, and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the juices in the pan.

 

Savoury mince 10 2

2. In the vegetable juices, simmer the mince for 2 minutes until partially browned. Add the tomato paste and simmer for a further 8 minutes.

 

 

Savoury mince 8 2

3. Re-add the vegetables to the mince. Drizzle in the Worcester sauce and sprinkle in the oregano, parsley, black pepper and beef stock. Stir thoroughly and simmer uncovered on medium-low for 15 – 20 minutes until it’s thickened. Serve with potatoes, pasta, in tortillas or, my preference, wild rice. This is also great for the kiddies and keeps well for a couple of days.

 

 

 

Words Crush Wednesday – Mark Twain Edition

When pondering this week’s Words Crush Wednesday there was one thing that repeatedly crept into my mind: bravery and courage. There are various types – physical, emotional, often both, and what made me keep coming back to this theme was something absolutely extraordinary that happened in Jeffreys Bay over the weekend. Jeffreys Bay, or J-Bay, is a small town in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. Famed for its incredible beauty and equally impressive waves, the annual J-Bay Open is a surfing competition that attracts the best of the best on an international level.

While taking to the waves, pro surfer Mick Fanning experienced something that can only be described as miraculous. He beat up a great white shark. No, really, it happened, and it was caught on live TV. The shark approached him and as it was about to attack, he hit it in the back. Like a boss. He escaped without a single scratch or tooth mark. Incredible. This is a very obvious and literal interpretation of bravery and courage, but you don’t have to literally fight one of the world’s greatest predators in order to be brave and confront danger fearlessly, or to be courageous and take on an overwhelming task whilst feeling fearful. It’s often understated, thus it goes unnoticed. There is courage within all of us, whether we’re aware of it or not. Single parents are deeply courageous, firefighters running into a burning building, brave. There is a firefighter within all of us, but sometimes we need a gentle, or in the case of Mick Fanning, massive reminder that you don’t have to be a Goliath in order to beat up a shark.

As a side note: the shark is reportedly still in shock after being beaten up by an Aussie and is receiving counselling, but is believed to make a full recovery.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain

Mick Fanning

Image courtesy of dbvnews.com

Words Crush Wednesday – Oprah Winfrey Edition

The past few months have been busy, challenging and rewarding. Much is happening, both great and kind of sucky. A lot of people around me are going through some difficult times. It’s interesting to observe the difference between those who cope and apply pragmatism as opposed to those who complain relentlessly and immerse themselves in the problem. A few months down the line, the former have moved forward and overcome their obstacles while the latter are in the exact same position. It’s difficult, when the chips are down and there is a bombardment of various issues, to remain positive and cheerful. The thing is once you realise what you’re capable of and just how strong you are, you’re instantly better equipped to cope. Everyone has challenges, heartache, problems and such but the difference is how you deal with it and what you do with those experiences. This brings me to this week’s Words Crush Wednesday, courtesy of The Oracle herself, Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah quote

Image courtesy of Google Images

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

It’s the third installment of Monthly Mystery Munchies with myself and Ann at Grubbs n Critters. This month I chose lemons/limes, thyme and coriander as our ingredients. I really enjoyed playing around with these ingredients and pairing them with others. The recipe that won is lamb, saag (spinach) and aloo (potato) curry. I never say ‘no’ to curry and lamb is the ideal meat for this. Naturally I added potatoes because in my mind, curry without potatoes is like… summer without blue skies, mojitos without mint (I just recoiled), Bono without his sunglasses – unexpected, disappointing and unnatural.

Ann made spiced chicken with saffron, thyme and lemon gravy. Okay, lemon gravy? I’m all in. Saffron? What a treat! Check it out, it’s droolicious. She added other interesting and complimentary ingredients and you can see this is a winner.

I too added a plethora of other ingredients – veggies, spices and herbs, and finally got the balance right. What one needs to keep in mind when using so many ingredients is that balance is key – especially with spices. They shouldn’t be overpowering because that can ruin the dish in one easy step. They should all work well together to create the ideal blend. From fragrant coriander (cilantro) to succulent lamb to the bite of the chillies, this comes together beautifully! This meal contains many superfoods and superspices (yep, that’s a thing), so not only is it delicious, tasty and fragrant but ridiculously healthy too! Here we go:

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1kg lamb knuckles, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 4 leeks, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, sliced (I always keep the seeds in)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 500g baby tomatoes, halved (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
  • 250g spinach, chopped
  • 1kg potatoes, halved
  • Vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Lamb Saag and Aloo 3 21. In a large pan, heat up the olive oil and fry the lamb on medium low until browned. You might have to do this in batches. Fry for ± 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside. Fry the leeks in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chillies, garlic, ginger and cardamom and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, spinach, thyme and remaining spices and simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 5 22. Add the lamb and potatoes, pour in 250ml vegetable stock and bring to a boil with the lid on. Uncover and simmer for 1 hour, pouring in the lime juice during the last 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 7 23. If you have the time, let the curry stand for a few hours. Garnish with coriander, however much you like (we like a lot!). Curry is always better when it stands for a while so this is the perfect dish to cook the day before.

 

Words Crush Wednesday – Nelson Mandela Love Wins Edition

This is huge. Huuuge. The United States of America has finally legalised same-sex marriage unilaterally. It’s been met with some opposition, but mainly celebration as all Americans are now able to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is probably the only time I’ll say this on my blog: for once, South Africa was way ahead of the States, legalising same-sex marriage back in 2006.

The thing is that America is a superpower and the world at large tends to significantly take notice of what they do. Being South African, it seems we have a higher tolerance for diversity, having so many vastly different and recognised religions, races, languages, you name it. I know what it’s like to be in a minority group. Here, in my beautiful country, I am part of one because of the colour of my skin. However, I can gladly say that I don’t know what it’s like to not be accepted just because this is how I was born. You see, it’s not your fault that you’re different and don’t fit into the neat mould of what’s commonly accepted as ‘normal’. No one wants to be different, to the extent where there are laws preventing them from fulfilling their basic human rights. It’s not the same as having multiple piercings and dying your hair every colour of the rainbow. Sure, that’s different in relation to the norm, but there are no laws against what colour your hair should be, how you dress, the music you listen to. Perhaps if this fits you, you’re considered quirky but certainly not abominable.

I can’t imagine someone telling me that my desire to commit to the person I love is wrong. That I can’t achieve that because, shudder, what will people think and the Bible says such and such about it. What exactly is the issue with same-sex marriage that freaks people out so badly? Here’s my confusion – if it’s immoral for two people in a relationship to live together in the carnal way because that’s living in sin, but they’re not allowed to get married because that’s also sinful, then what are they supposed to do? How exactly do they solve their dilemma? If it’s so wrong, so morally repugnant, and the reasoning is because in Leviticus verse whatever, it says so, then why isn’t divorce illegal? There is such hypocrisy about it. Whether it’s a dude marrying another dude, or two women, or two heterosexual people, live and let live.

I am deeply appreciative of the tolerance we South Africans have for people who are different to us. We can’t escape it, it’s all around us, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Tata Madiba was all about acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness. He was the living embodiment of what he preached. He led by example and actioned his words – no empty promises, no hot air because it sounded good. We would all do well to learn from a man who was punished and tortured for what he believed in, that he dared to take a stand against those persecuting him for the colour of his skin and because he wanted equal rights for all. That brings me to this week’s Words Crush Wednesday. One love, people, one love.

Gay Pride Flag 1

Photo credit of flag: Google Images/Huffingtonpost.com Words: Eat, Play, Clove

Baked Crumbed Potato Balls

Crumbed potato balls 5 2I love potatoes. Everyone does. Even if they’re on a health kick and say they prefer cauliflower mash (shudder). They’re lying or in denial. The Husband is obsessed with mashed potatoes. I, on the other hand, prefer them roasted. I get bored of plain ol’ mash. There’s nothing wrong with it but I enjoy variety. Enter this recipe. Because the potatoes aren’t enough (when are they ever not enough?) I added cheese, formed balls and crumbed. Clearly that still wasn’t good enough so I drizzled butter over them and baked. I was pressed for time and didn’t fancy the idea of standing in the kitchen frying them while my guests were at the dinner table so I baked them. Try this. It’s easy, creamy, crispy and cheesy.

Baked Crumbed Potato Balls

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients for the mashed potatoes:
2kg potatoes, peeled and boiled
100g butter
⅓ cup milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients for the potato balls:
2kg mashed potatoes (see mash recipe below)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
75ml milk
100g corn flake crumbs
100g melted butter

Directions for the mash: 

Peel and boil the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes in the microwave. Drain and mash. Add the butter and stir. Pour in the milk and sour cream, mix well and mash again. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Give it one last good stir. It’s easier to work with the mash if it’s cold, so refrigerate it for an hour.

Directions for the potato balls:

Crumbed potato balls 1 21. Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Once the mash has cooled, add the grated cheese and mix well, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Put two heaped tablespoons of mash in your hand and form into balls.

 

Crumbed potato balls 3 22. Mix the eggs in a bowl and add the milk. Stir to combine. Put the bread crumbs in a separate dish. Dip the potato balls into the egg mixture on all sides and roll in the bread crumbs, covering the whole ball. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the mash.

 

 

Crumbed potato balls 4 23. Put the balls into a large dish, heat the butter and drizzle over them. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve fresh and hot. No one likes cold balls.