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July, 2011

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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!

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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!

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…….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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.”

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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.

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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!

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

Love as always,

Nazarina.

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