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Sunflower sprouts, pine nuts, roasted tomatoes, dried fruits & a sour fig dressing.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

How to make food soar! How to make soap whimsical!

There is a certain question that almost invariably comes up at my gatherings of friends at the dinner table, “What besides gastronomy and saponification make you tick?” My answer, even though not etched in stone, but almost always is, “Cooking is after all, just an ephemeral art, just as soon as you create a delicious dish, it is consumed within no time & is gone, so I would always  want for my sweetie and I to rather love life deliciously in more ways than one,  ( so to answer the question, Romance!”

I swear,  I could just as easily survive on love alone!),  share life’s pleasures with others and to always laugh at our idiosyncrasies!  There is just no room for disconsolation in our life.

Sunflower sprout salad with a sour fig dressing

Everything I do is always with my Mom in mind, she could take any mundane dish & magically make it so delicious! There was magic in that lady’s hands!

Organic baby sunflower sprouts, roasted yellow & red cherry tomatoes ( from our garden), reconstituted dried fruit & toasted pine nuts with a sour fig dressing, also a bathroom makeover is on the agenda today.

I bought the sunflower greens from Paradise Farms in Redvale, Colorado. The sunflower sprouts are nutty & crispy,  so pairs exceptionally well with the rest of the ingredients in my recipe.

See my garden here!

salad-580-sour-fig

salad-sunfl-sourfig580

I received some dried sour figs from a friend in Cape Town, South Africa, so I thought that a sour fig vinaigrette would be perfect for this crisp salad with all its tasty textures! Sour figs were my Mom’s favorite & her family would always make a sour fig” konfyt” ( I would eat loads of this),  but I decided to be a bit more innovative & make a kick-ass dressing out of them to coat this delicious salad. If you want to know more about these succulent & tart fruits just read HERE & also HERE. These wrinkled brown sour figs are a Cape Malay favorite!

Recipe: Please use organic ingredients when possible!

  • 3 X 5oz Organic baby sunflower sprouts or substitute baby spinach, if you cannot find them!
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts with a little of my home-made spice mix or  smoked paprika in your case & kosher salt, just do this in a hot pan on the stove top, let cool.
  • 1/2 cup reconstituted dried fruit, viz…dried apples, apricots, prunes & pears. Just soak in boiling H2O to make it supple  & then cut into small pieces
  • 1 lb roasted cherry, yellow & red tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half,  place all on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with olive oil & kosher salt & roast @ 250 degrees for an hour, cool & set aside. Garden grown is by far the superior & our garden is no exception!

Sour Fig dressing:  ( Dit is my wending vir ‘n Suid Afrikaanse suurvye slaai sous)

  • 1 lb sour figs/ I guess you can subst. regular figs here but it will not be the same! Scratch that!…..It will definitely,  not be the same! Simply because the figs are sweet & these sour figs have a tart pulp that makes your taste buds, prematurely salivate while squeezing the pulp into your mouth!
  • wild, unfiltered & raw honey
  • pinch kosher salt/ or sea salt
  • stick cinnamon
  • vanilla bean, scrape using the seeds & the bean too
  • Brown rice vinegar or Aged Balsamic, I cook with both
  • Grape seed oil or safflower oil here, would not do extra virgin o. o. here, too overpowering in this instance!
  • my home-made spice, this toasted mix has elements of sweet & savory in it (optional)

First wash the sour figs. Soak the dry wrinkled or ( even the freshly picked),  sour figs in boiling H2O (about 1 & 1/2 cups of H2o) just to soften. Do not discard this soaking liquid but do strain it! Remove the figs & squeeze out the delicious sour pulp from each  into a small saucepan, (painstaking to say the least), but so freakin worth it! Add 2 or more T of wild organic honey, depending on the amount of sweetness you would like, 1 stick cinnamon & vanilla, a little kosher salt, a little bit of the soaking liquid, ( 1/2 cup),  and cook for about 15-20 mins until this liquid has reduced in volume & is concentrated. Add 1-2 T of the vinegar you could even use  malt v. to the mixture & cook further for 2 mins. I normally add a little bit of my home-made spice to give it that extra kick. Last but not least add the remainder of the cooled, strained soaking liquid & cook for another 5 mins.  Cool this liquid & pour into a jar with  2 T oil, 1 more T of the vinegar, pinch of salt to taste & more cold water if this liquid is too thick, shake like the dickens  & you are done!  Decant into a glass jar with cinnamon & vanilla.

You know what happens next…..just toss all these crisp greens with all the roasted & toasted nuts & fruits & drizzle with the star of this recipe, the SOUR FIG dressing & enjoy! Trust me you will!

“Lekker light” in more ways than one!!

What I did was,  serve the salad in tiny bowls with the dressing on the bottom of the bowl & then just had  everyone toss their own salad, so it was like a tasty surprise.

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Guest Bathroom

This  guest bathroom took 9 months in the making……It was like conceiving & giving birth to a son! Yes, my husband took 9 months to revamp this eye sore & by Jove he is still not done yet!  He does all the renovations on our home by himself with no help. He is truly, the creative genius in our family!!! After you read below, you too will agree!

Before.…the original 70′s style when we bought the house….out dated & so yesterday! It was dislike at first sight!

old-bathroom-2

…….Ta Da! enter the luxurious spa bath…….., be sure to pick up your jaw on the way in! The transformation is stupendous! He actually outlined the pattern on the wall & on the floor first, before laying the tiles…a step that saves you lots of stone tile in the end.

bath7

……….complete with a tub & more jets, your sore  a.. can handle! LOL!

bath3

I requested little hidden nooks for all my nik naks, ask & thou shalt receive, even if it does mean that you will definitely be getting the silent treatment for a day or two or vice versa when the request was met with a reverberating He..  NO! In this instance, a good old pouting helps!

He! he! I always get my way. Anyway, let’s be realistic the little Paris nik nak has to go & make way for shampoos & other bathroom accoutrements. I do have more shelves on the side for the girly crap.

bath5

I love how the light just “spills ” over  the walls! I also requested the river rock  inlay that surrounds the perimeter of the bathroom. I painted this vivid picture in my mind & my husband solely obliged, but not without the added bullsh…..that follows a renovation!

bath1

The faucets & all the other fixtures boast that same bronze hue! My husband struggled a bit with the stone that frames the mirror but in the end with his temper in check, finally achieved this fabulous result. Sweetie, let me put it in writing here now……“I am sorry for giving you all that crap while you were trying to get this project done, but you must admit my nagging or should I say seemingly reasonable requests, kept your creative juices flowing & you magically made them come to life!

When a referred Turkish stone quarrier, now a dear friend, learned  that I shared the same religion & that I was into “decent cookery”, he simply gave us the Limestone (counter-top)  for free in exchange for some computer help from my husband & decent grub from me. Life has all  sorts of perks.

bath2

Yep, the old crapper is gone, who would not want to park their rear here now & enjoy the view!

bath4

This  sweet, little floor register below will keep us, ( or rather our guests), warm during the winter! This bathroom looks better than the other renovated bathrooms in our home! Hence the proverbial saying,” you get better with age.”

bath6

This bathroom is upstairs just off a dark hallway, so now I really want him to install a skylight to bring in some natural light, what do you think?

I love making new soaps for my guests, especially for the kids…I really do not mind when they take them home!

naz-nemo-soap590Hope you are all keeping your cool!

Love,

Nazarina.

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Pina colada thumbprints, Easter & sea soaps & more!

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Greetings!

How to make desserts soar! How to make soap fun!

Pina colada thumbprints – some with coconut ganache & some with chocolate; also Easter soaps & aquatic & terrestrial soaps

Summer is here, and I am stagnant no more!

My hands are almost automatically drawn to making a myriad of things but lately my mind seems to be tangled in a web of a creative confusion. I seem to find myself there more often than not and even though this bothers me, I have no time to ponder the cause because usually, life gets in the way. A friend once said that multitasking and fatigue can do this to a vibrant brain and implored me to step away from it all. I did comply for a little while, thinking that I was free at last from baking, soap making & photographing, yet strangely enough,  my soul kept hankering for that unnecessary trepidation that goes into the art of making things from scratch. So here I am again, purely driven by  the persuasive powers of a  zealous nature to create & making people smile! Lord knows, how long this will last, yet I always say that imagination is only limited by a blurry vision and consistency best be a recourse for the unimaginative!


This segment is for the South Africans…..

Ek was net fokken lui en my familie het op my senuwees gewerk! Som tye will ek vir hulle ‘n warme paar klappe gee vir aand ete!…en “call it quits.” Gelukkig kan my familie nie Afrikaans verstaan nie he! he!

______________________________________________________

Pina colada , chocolate ganache thumbprints

Dessicated coconut, ( I cannot bake with no other), thumbprints filled with a dark chocolate ganache & garnished with a toasted coconut flake. I made these for a dear friend’s baby shower including all the soaps below! This recipe is so different to that of my other thumbprints!

nazarpinacolada590

Pina colada thumbprints filled with a coconut white chocolate ganache, made with coconut cream & garnished with a maraschino cherry. Who knew what freeze-dried pineapple powder & coconut extract would do to hike up the ego of these absolutely scrumptious coconut shortbread beauties?

……  like  Freddie would say, (‘n Suid Afrikaner wat ek in Miami ontmoet het) sal se, dit is nie lekker nie, dit is moer se lekker!

pinacolada590

I love the unexpected twists & turns in this recipe, it made the diners at this baby shower wish for more! They all wanted to know, how I achieved this delicately balanced recipe & not at all sweet to boot!

pinacolada-choc590

____________________________________________________________


My hand-made soaps for curious little munchkins

Chocolate brown bunnies & cheeky chicks….Easter essentials for tiny tots. These were a bit cumbersome to make…..not an easy project but with a little perseverance, I achieved the final images conjured in my imagination.

easter-soaps-bunny-600

Luminous soaps, slippery sea critters basking on the boardwalk. I had to buy the “sea sand” from a craft store for the decoration on the tables for the baby shower….Is this not pitiful? Where is the ocean when I need it?

sea-soaps600

Soapy Aquatic ” monsters” & terrestrial critters that hide in your bath-tub. I found these rather inexpensive molds, not for soap- molding at all, but used them anyway! I am glad that I am making a little guy, named Cooper,  so happy at bath time!

animal-soap580

Remembering

This post is especially for you Auntie Fatie & all of my aunts & uncles, (in Cape Town, South Africa), & most of all our dearly departed…….

I sincerely miss those days when we were all together….joyous & loud for all to hear,  but then again, we are extremely lucky with all those beautiful memories that Mamma, Boeyah, Grandmother Galiema, my Mom, uncle Omar, uncle Toyer, uncle Yusuf, (a magnificent artist in his own right)  have given us the pleasure to savor! Their creativity was mesmerizing!

To Uncle Mitch who is still wowing people in his part of the world! Are you not glad that you took what may have seemed as woodworking abuse by Boeyah, to a now revered pastime & a means of income? To Uncle Issie who taught us that loyalty toward family takes precedence over everything else!  To Tietie, with her delectable twists and turns in food & making any unsuspecting diner wish for more of what they thought, they disliked! To Auntie Mona, for that entrepreneurial spirit & teaching us to explore the “other side” of the world! I am happy to report that “this other side of the world” is what I now call home!

Because of Uncle Omar & you, Auntie F, I can still make huge additions mentally just by looking at numbers, this I learned by working in your store on the week-ends & much later in my Mom’s store.  Both you & my Mom taught me the beauty  & the love for fabric among countless other things…..my Mom, who could turn any rag into a robe fit for a runway… & what can I say about my Grandmother J, she was one of a kind, she is still making sure that up to this day, I am making her craft proud, her confectioneries were insane!!! I know in my heart of hearts that she helps me every step of the way through this satisfying journey of  tasty cookery!

To my Grandmother G, who with great ease, made vats of tangy mango pickle & delicious home-made fizzy ginger beer & from whom I take after in looks and mannerisms! I have yet to master the art of ginger beer…..I shall soon!

Auntie F, I still remember the time when you showed me off in a sari when I was twelve! I loved those scrumptious,  baked turmeric colored potatoes you made in the oven….& now of course I make them for my family , friends & acquaintances  all over world & not without the beautiful memory that goes with them. My friends thank you’ll! There are just not enough accolades in the world to commemorate what you all have instilled within us. I miss those dearly departed! I am because of what they made me to be!!  I thank God every day, that I had such caring elders who embraced life with so much passion & making this, sometimes unattractive world, so appealing!

_______________________________________________________________

Hope you guys are having a spectacular summer! Will post a recipe soon!

Love as always,

Nazarina.

_____________________________________________________________

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Easter eggs & bunnies, a bunny napkin fold & a giveaway!!

Monday, April 5th, 2010

My old blog www.giddygastronome.blogspot.com

How to make soap whimsical!

A zero calorie post LOL!

See details of the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post! I think you will love this giveaway!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter  week-end. I wanted to post this yesterday but could not make it, so hope you will still enjoy and a happy Easter Monday to ya! Actually, Easter Monday, in many countries, is considered part of the celebration of Easter and many stores are closed for business!

If you have followed my blog in the past, then you know by now that I make my own soaps as well!  As usual, I was busy  making Easter goodies for the B & B and making these egg and bunny soaps kept me very busy. These had to go in all of the bathrooms for the guests and they got to take them all home ! So naturally none of the guests wanted to use them because they wanted to take them home untarnished ha! ha!

We have two more ski week-ends & then the slopes will be closing down for this winter. Normally during the summer, it is a winding down of tourists visiting the mountains here in Colorado, but trust me the flora and fauna are breathtaking as well.

A few speckled eggs as well! ( The speckled hens are amiss, but who cares as long as the bunnies are hanging around)!

I made the “speckled” eggs by dipping an old tooth brush in  plant based dye and flicked the toothbrush with my finger over some of the eggs. I used several rod iron garden pedestals to display the soaps.

“Just because we are speckled, we are no different to the rest & definitely deserve a spot in the nest, in fact our shells are a lot tougher!” LOL!

bunny550giddy p10

The kids loved the ceramic bunny which held the eggs in its tummy. I had to buy 10 of these ceramic bunnies, filled with my  soap & wrapped in cellophane for the guests. Some of the fragrances I used were,… lily of the valley, sweet pea, honeysuckle, “Irish spring type”, lavender, green apple, pineapple…etc and not to leave out the males, I used “Polo designer fragrance.”

bunny-&-egg-soaps-580

These bunny napkin folds looked real pretty on the dinner table! I shall try to post some of the dishes I made  in a future post. I think a sense of whimsy and attention to detail stimulate the senses and would make any meal memorable! Don’t you think it rather ridiculous that the guests refused to wipe  their hands with these napkins?

Bunnies to me are the epitome of spring, so this napkin fold is not only for Easter, but will work for any spring decor!

bunny-napk580

How to fold the bunny napkin

Use thin fabric & I think the brighter the napkin the better but for this table setting, I used a creamy colored napkin.

  • Spray starch on a square napkin
  • Iron the napkin
  • Fold upper & lower edges toward center
  • Iron flat again
  • Bring bottom edge up to top edge thus folding napk. in half
  • Fold right side of napkin up form the center point so that the folded edge is vertical
  • Fold the layers of the top right corner diagonally down to center
  • Repeat these steps to the left side as well to form a diamond shape
  • Fold right hand upper edge down to the vertical center line and do the same with the left side
  • Hold the pleats in place and fold the bottom point up behind the “2 ears” ( this forms a triangle)
  • Take the right corner, roll over to the left  “ear” at the back of the head and tuck it into the base pocket on the left side
  • Turn napkin around and open the “face” of the bunny

A giveaway! (I shall mail this anywhere!) I shall announce the winner on Sunday!

Leave me a comment and I shall mail you a  basket of different handmade soaps and bath salts & face towels. Do not fret if you are not the lucky winner this time because from time to time I shall have another giveaway, so more chances of winning! BTW, check my side panel on the bottom for more of my soap designs and on my old  blog here ! My soaps are made from shea & mango butters, olive oil and goats milk. I use different essential oils and fragrances as well & they do not contain alcohol that would dry out your skin! This will be a random drawing, so anyone could be the winner!

Much love,

Nazarina.

Monday 12th The winner of this spa basket is Jo literally in the moment! Sorry guys, I could not get to this blog yesterday, I was super busy and exhausted,  so please forgive me! I shall have more cool giveaways soon!!! I had one of the guests write out all your names on pieces of paper, shuffled it all up and she withdrew the above winner!

It is my b/day today , so we are going out to celebrate!

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Thoughtful and beautiful Father’s day gifts!

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Welcome to my new home! I am still trying to update this site so please bear with me!  I need to bring all of you, my followers,  as well!  In the meanwhile, please enjoy this post.

Happy Father’s day to all the papas out there!  May your day be filled with barbecues, stretching out on the sofa watching the game and simply doing nothing at all. But wait…..Is that not what you do anyway?

However, before we can start this barbecue, the grill still needs cleaning since the last time. So does this mean that we have to clean it first or are you going to do it? Don’t worry dad, we definitely do not expect you to do it. This day is all about you and we shall stay true to the premise of Father’s day! I am sure this scenario “only happens in our house”.  Ha! ha! I know, I  am being  facetious!

speed-soap1


I made this “speed boat” soap  ( weighs 6oz)  from goats milk, cocoa and shea  butters and I think my papa is going to smell oceany  fresh  in a very good way!  I added a little “polo” fragrance as well for a manly aroma. I have already featured this soap but the detail on this bar is much better! Believe me, this bar is a bit testy to make. The cigar box too is handcrafted with love, a perfect container to package all the soaps and face towels. In fact that is how I roll, make everything with the recipient in mind!

My dad has enough aloe plants in his garden, enough to save everybody on the planet skin’s  dilemmas  so I decided to make him several  aloe bars as well. I don’t know whether he is going to dig this one because it is a little on the “girlie’ side but  I believe that every man has to get in touch with their feminine side occasionally! Here,  too,  the detail on the soap took me several hours! It contains aloe,  goats milk,  essential oils and butters, sunflower fragrance and rose oils.

Making a dozen handmade  soaps, packaged in a handcrafted cigar box  is truly a beautiful endeavor! Go on,  spoil the old man just a little!

aloe-vera-bar-350

Enjoy!

Nazarina A

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Moving from here

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