Top places to visit in Paris

Eiffel tower in Paris at night with lights

I’ve always imagined that Paris is a place where dreams could come true. The first time I visited Paris I knew I was right.

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Pasta Salad with Avocado

Bacon and Avocado Pasta

In South Africa I’ve been very privileged to grow up in a house where my parents bought avocados by the case. Once the short avocado season has hit, the race was on to see how many of these beautiful fruits we could stuff into our faces. We ate them with anything and everything and, best of all, we never grew tired of them!

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Eating our way through Vienna

Rosnovskyundco Restaurant

If there is one thing in life that I truly love, then it is the art of good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be great (although I’m not opposed to that!). Sometimes it is the simple dishes that you remember the most.

The Hubby and I spent a day and a half in Vienna on a short little weekend break. Not only did we walk for miles on end, we also ensured that we consumed way more calories than what was needed to sustain life…

Here’s a little taste of our adventurous weekend:

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Beautiful Butterflies in Vienna

Our day-and-a-half Viennese whirlwind adventure has taken a not so unexpected turn when we came across a beautifully preserved greenhouse just a stone’s throw from Hofburg Palace.

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Sticky Pork Ribs

Homemade Pork Ribs

Whenever I hear the word Summer, I can hear the sizzling sounds of meat cooking on the fire. I smell the alluring smoke from the braai that brings the promise of a good plate of food when I come to dine al fresco in my back garden in the late midday sun. The clinging of ice cubes invite you to come closer as it sing their happy song in a glistening pitcher of homemade Pimms.

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A Viennese Adventure

If you have been following my blog, you will know that our long anticipated, romantic weekend away have been washed out by more rain than a good English Summer!

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A taste of Vienna

Kunsthistorisches Museum

It has been weeks’ worth of planning.  All I wanted was the most romantic weekend away in one of the most romanticised cities in the world.  It is therefore only logical that it is pouring outside.  How truly disappointing!

Nevertheless, we are determined to make the most of this beautiful city! So here we go…

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Homemade Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

The Hubby and I wanted to do something together in the kitchen. We’ve always loved M&S’ Bramley Apple hot cross buns and we’ve searched for quite some time for the right recipe. Until we found Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns.

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Planning a weekend city break to Vienna

I’ve always been a romantic at heart.  Besides Paris, I’ve always imagined 18th Century Vienna as one of the most romantic cities on earth.  

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It is time to make time

Sometimes it feels as if life is just racing by.  You know, when you start on a Monday and all you see is just one big blurry flash of light. Before you can get your head around the all that is happening during the week it is Friday once again.  Obviously, the weekends are way too short.  Before you know it, the vicious blurry cycle starts all over again.

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Rocket Salad

Rocket Salad

Spring is here! The days are getting longer and flowers are starting to bud. The excitement of the nearing BBQ season is almost tangible as everyone around me seems to get increasingly more happy as the days grow longer.

I absolutely love serving salads as part of our dinner in the evening, however, I do like to keep things interesting as I would hate for it to become just another side-dish that have to be consumed just because it is healthy.

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Potato Salad with Candied Bacon bits

Potato and Candied Bacon salad

When all things spoke the potato said, ‘set me warm, dig me warm, eat me warm, that’s all i want.’

I couldn’t agree more with this age-old Irish proverb! Who doesn’t love a great dish that comes from the most humblest of origins: the potato.

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6 Things I loved in South Africa

Giant avocados!

You often see these extreme health and safety picture meme’s with the caption ‘Only in Africa’ (Read: Only in Africa) and truth be told some of these (if not all) are very true.  On the other hand there are times when the South Africans are totally ingenious and I’ve identified 6 things I truly love about South Africa.

 

Wet Wipes for your shopping trolley

You read correctly. Nearby my parents’ home is a really big Checkers Hyper (Sort of like a Tesco Extra) and at the entrance you pick up your shopping trolley.  As you enter the store there is a Wet Wipe station where you can take a Wet Wipe and wipe the trolley’s handle bar before continuing into the store.  I thought that was a truly ingenious brainwave for germophobes like me!

 

Butcheries

For the carnivores out there:  you haven’t seen a butchery until you’ve seen a truly South African butchery.  They have sections for everything: a rump section, sirloin section, a boerewors section, a cocktail sausage section, a ribs section, the list goes on.

For me, the most favourite part of these butcheries are the fact that they have massive crates of mince and whole pieces of different cuts at the counter and you can ask the butcher to cut you a piece or weigh out an exact amount.  You can even buy whole, half or quarters of carcasses and get the meat processed exactly how you want it.

Vegetables

Vegetables in South Africa are just insane.  It is not strange to see a guy with a bakkieload (pick up truck) of tomatoes selling it by the crate-full.  The same goes for anything that is in season: oranges, naartjies, avocados.  And don’t think you just buy one or two pieces of fruit; they come by the case!

Oh, and they’re huge too! In fact, farmers struggle to sell things like cabbages since they are so big that people don’t buy them…

Giant avocados!

 

Personalised Corner Shops

In South Africa, if you live in a relatively small town you seem to know everybody.  The same goes for the local corner shop.  They do everything!  Apart from the usual sweets/bread/milk, they take it one step further by baking their own bread!  They make fish and chip take aways, they sell emergency supplies like firewood, gas and ice and last, but not least they bake fresh pancakes, vetkoek and make boerewors rolls.

Independent Coffee Shops

In the UK drinking coffee is part of your morning ritual.  Stop at Starbucks/Costa/Nero and pick up your cup of Joe.

(Read: The Perfect Cuppa)

In South Africa you will find that independent coffee shops is part of the culture.  Starbucks only recently opened a branch in Sandton in Johannesburg, but thus far it has not spilled down to the rest of the country as people love their independent coffee shops full of character!  Each little shop has its own little USP, the thing that makes them different from all the other coffee shops in town.

Each coffee shop is a true experience!

(Read: Coffee Shop Gems in NorthWest, South Africa)

Job creation

The one thing I can say about South Africans is that most are not lazy to work, but jobs are very hard to come by as unemployment is really high.  Their ingenuity to create a job for a breadwinner to bring the bacon to the table is truly remarkable.

I’ve seen people creating ornaments out of beads and wire, carving animals out of wood and selling them next to the road.  People even sell fresh fruit and vegetables next to the road.  I’ve seen people whose sole job is to wave a flag to indicate the start of road works.  There are even petrol attendants that not only fill up your vehicle, but wash your windows, check your water and oil levels and pump your tires whilst you wait!

One of the very best ideas is a Tuisnywerheid; a rented shop where home bakers and crafters can sell their products to the local community.  They will bake cakes, biscuits, milk tarts, koeksisters and other yummy goodies and the shop owner will sell this on their behalf.  Depending on the rules of the shop you can also sell your homemade handbags, tea cosies,  pot warmers etc.

Handmade wire figurines

 

Do you have unique everyday things where you live that foreigners might find out of their ordinary? Let me know in the comments below!

Freshly baked bread

Is there anything more comforting than having the rich smell of freshly baked bread waft through the house?

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Coffee Shop Gems in North West, South Africa

Green Leaves, Hartbeespoort, Coffee shop

The hubby and I have spent the Summer holidays visiting family in South Africa.

I love the fact that there are very few coffee chains in South Africa.  People make a living by trying to be more unique that the next person down the road.  The result? Gems!

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My top six eateries in London

Oscar Wilde said:

The man who can dominate a London dinner table can dominate the world.

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Minty potato salad

Minted potato salad

I once posed a question to my students: What would you do if potatoes become extinct? Read More

Watermelon, feta and mint salad

Watermelon, feta and mint salad

With summer time I’m always on the prowl for something that is light, but tasty at the same time. With an abundance of mint in our garden it is inevitable that I have to incorporate it into my cooking. Read More

Sweetcorn Fritters

Sweetcorn Fritters

Growing up my mother always woke up super early.  Even on a Saturday.  Some Saturdays we were lucky enough to be spoilt with these little sweetcorn fritters for breakfast.  Mieliekoekies!

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Balsamic Bean Salad

Balsamic Green Bean Salad

Summer time is salad time.  The fresher the better!

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Homemade burgers

Homemade burgers

It is that time of year when everyone thinks: ‘Let’s have a BBQ!’  To me, there is a massive difference between a braai and a BBQ.   Read More

Peppermint crisp fridge tart

When I was little my mum always made a massive spread for my birthday each year.  One of my favourites was Peppermint Crisp tart.

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The Ultimate Potato Salad

My Ultimate potato salad

There are a few staples that you will always find at a South African braai: pap, sous, greek salad, garlic bread and potato salad.  This is my ultimate potato salad recipe.  Even my German friend loves this and we all know that Germans know a thing or two about a great potato salad!

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Cocktails and Ice Cream

Cocktails and Ice Cream

The sun is shining.  BBQ’s are lit.  Cocktails and ice creams are at the order of the day!  I thought it wise to let my nails reflect that spirit also.

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Spectacular tulips at Keukenhof

Tulips and daffodils in Keukenhof, Holland

Wow!  I’m in awe.  The colours are just popping everywhere.  Every time I close my eyes I relive the endless rows and rows of perfectly formed tulips.  Delicately pushing their little petal heads towards the soft warmth of the sun.

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Black Monday

Today’s post has a bit of a somber feel to it, but I am not going to apologise for it.

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10 ways I minimise food waste every week

I used to waste. A lot. Whenever an expiry or best before date was approaching, it went straight to the bin. The biggest reason for this waste was simply because we bought too much! Since we’ve got that habit under control (read how I managed to do that in the article In for a penny, in for a pound) I realised how much I hated wasting good food. I thought I’d share with you my top ten ways to minimise food waste every week.

  1. Plan your meals

The best way to minimise waste is to plan your weekly meals. Plan for dishes that complement each other by using some of the same ingredients in different ways. For example I might make a delicious salad one evening with (amongst others) celery, carrots and onion, a classic chilli con carne the next evening that uses all three ingredients in the sofrito and a risotto the night after that using up the celery and onion as a sofrito again.

**Sofrito is a mix of lightly fried vegetables that is used as a base for different dishes.**

  1. Freeze food on the day of purchase

I love Costco’s succulent chicken breasts and great lamb cutlets. They are great for pretty much all of their meat cuts, however, there is no way we can consume 2kg of chicken breasts before they start to go off.   Therefore, I buy (also from Costco) freezing bags that will allow me to portion out the meat and put it in the freezer for future use. Just make sure you put the contents and date of purchase on the front so you can use up the oldest first.

  1. Cook in bulk

As a full time teacher I’m lucky enough to have 13 weeks’ holiday a year. (I do work during those weeks, but that is a story for a different day!) This means that during this time I cook a few freezer-friendly dishes that can be reheated from frozen on those days that I have a heavy week or late nights. Lasagnas, cottage pies and shepherds pies are great no-fuss, midweek one-pot dishes.

  1. Freeze perishables

Have you ever had half a loaf of bread left over or that last quarter of cheese or half a watermelon and you know hand on heart that you won’t be able to use it before it’s starting to harbour new life. Freeze it! Slices of bread can be frozen to pop into the toaster at a later stage. Cheese can be grated and frozen for some divine cheese toasties or glorious mac and cheese later on. Watermelon and other fruit can be frozen to be blitzed into sorbet’s and smoothies later on.

  1. Bake

Bananas are at its very best for making banana bread when they are black and soft. I often buy some extra fruit to make some baked treats like breads, cupcakes and muffins. All can be successfully frozen and enjoyed at a later stage. Frozen muffins are especially great if you pop them in the oven to reheat and enjoyed with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Homemade banana bread
Homemade banana bread
  1. Make stock

Lots of recipes call for stock and although it is very easy to use a stock cube it is rarely as nice as using a homemade stock from scratch. It is so easy to make as well. When you roast a chicken use the bones to make a lovely chicken stock or collect the peelings from your veggies during the week, freeze and when you have enough make a great veggie stock to use in soups, stews and risotto. Stock can be frozen in ice cubes for easy use in dishes like Chilli Con Carne or in greater quantities if you want to use it for soup.

  1. Soup it

Talking about soup:  My soup gets a new twist every time I make it. This is because I use up the veggies that is about to past their best before. Make it different every time by adding barley, split peas or pasta to create a very filling lunch or dinner.

  1. Fall in love with leftovers

I love leftovers! It can be so versatile. You can make sandwiches, salads, soups or croquettes the next day or it can be frozen to make a meal on a busy night.

  1. Start preserving

There are few things more delicious than sweet, sticky marmalade on thickly sliced, fresh, crusty white bread. The thing that will make it even more delicious? Homemade marmalade! Use up your fruit and veg by taking the time to preserve it. Not only does it help to reduce waste, it also makes great personal gifts.

Homemade preserves
Homemade preserves from left to right: Tomato chutney, chilli jelly, onion marmalade with balsamic vinegar.
  1. Grow your own

I adore cooking great food from scratch, but this also means that I like to use fresh herbs in my cooking. Not only can you save a fortune by growing your own herbs and vegetables, you can reduce a huge amount of waste as you only use what you need. Plus, once the season is nearing the end you can freeze the herbs by placing them in ice cubes with some olive oil ready to put some flavour into your future dishes.

I recently came across a lovely blog by The Snail of Happiness about how she grows an abundance of homegrown fruits and veggies in a small space.  I, myself, grow quite a bit and I can assure you, you don’t need a large plot of land to grow your own successfully.

You can always make some awesome homemade mojitos with your overgrown mint bush!


I hope that this list helps you as much as it helps me on a weekly basis. Let me know some of your waste-reducing tips as I would like to try them!


If you liked this list, why not check out some of my other lists:

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