Thursday, April 28, 2011

The year 1497....

Vasco Da Gama set out to round the Cape of Good Hope for one reason - find a sea route to India. The spices of the East were desired and men would kill for them eventually!

Today Superman and I had a date with a difference and headed to the Bo Kaap into the Cape Malay area of Cape Town in search of our own spices. Atlas Trading Company is a place we used to visit alot when we were newly engaged and wedded about 23 years ago. Back then the spices were in cotton bags all over the shop and the rich fragrant smells pummeled your senses. Today the smells are still there, but the shop is more orderly - sadly :-(

Nestled below the towering Table Mountain, surrounded by the smells and fragrances of incense, the sounds of my Cape you can hear another language as people call out the names of Malay spices....Jeera, Leaf Masala, Kasoori Methi, Whole Bariship, Star Anise, Curry Patta (curry leaves) and more.
As soon as we got home we started a chicken curry, dhal, Indian tomato paste and fragrant rice for dinner. Perfect for a cold winter evening.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Journey to health through food.

It's been 9 years since we began a journey to understand how food impacts our health. I thought our journey would encourage others so I am sharing it today.

9 years ago when our 4th baby was born we decided that we would not immunise him. The other children's immunisations were ever completed due to different circumstances for instance our 2nd child had 5 ops in his first 18 months and on an already compromised immune system, we could not load more.

Shiitake mushroom, bacon and sage risotto

But when our littlest one was born we had investigated immunizations more thoroughly and made a quality decision not to do any. This then left us with the repsonsibility to make sure that our family's immune systems were strong to fight what the environment may throw at us.

A dear friend at the time, let's call her "Doc" introduced us to The Natural Way by Mary Anne Shearer. So for 2 years we followed her every word, did the food combining thing, ate raw, low or almost no animal protein and felt really good. Our health improved dramatically and our baby grew strong and healthy. Of all 4 children, he is the one who has been the healthiest. He has never had antibiotics and gets over a cold in a flash.

Like all things, there are grey times, and there was a time when we changed cities that things took a dip and we headed back to more conventional eating but kept up a lot of raw eating and organic food as far as we were able.

Chickens on the lay - 14 eggs this week.

Fast forward a few years ago when my Superman was diagnozed with Type 2 Diabetes and high cholestrol. We have been told many things about this "disease" from it being a lifestyle disease to it being a precursor to full blown diabetes.

Either way we sought the counsel of a dietician and she put him onto an eating plan of no wheat, no dairy, no beef, no pork, no sugar and a whole host of food supplements.

He ate like this for 3 months and went onto cholestrol medication and when have bloods taken again we found that his sugars were under control again and cholestrol lower. In 2008 - at the height of this time - we started our garden. I feel like this was when we truly started learning about food and health.

Fresh salad greens, buffalo mozzarella and basalmic reduction

Last year he started showing side effects from the cholestrol meds and we decided it was time to see if we could do without them again and after a weening off process we put him onto a natural product - Red Rice Yeast. At the same time we continued our self study of food, health and disease.

Please understand that I did not set out to purposefully study this - I truly believe the Our Loving Father in heaven led us on a journey starting 9 years ago and we are still being led by Him. But the time we decided to bring homegrown organic vegetables into our lifestyle, we seem to have taken leaps and bounds into new things. Like my herbal journey (even though I do not have time to post on that blog - I am still learning!).

I met with Johan Jacobs from Go Natural in December to learn from him too. If there is a story to be told, then Johan's is one to listen too! There were two immediate changes he recommended - water and grains. This was when we bought our distiller and mill and haven't looked back on those choices.

Baked breakfast oatmeal

I also bought the book "Nourishing Traditions" and continue to learn from that. And then most recently I stumbled onto GNOWFGLINS and the learning continues.

This year I have watched two family members struggle with the horrific disease of breast cancer which makes me even more determined to stay on this path with the Lord leading us all the way. A quote that hit home last year: "the multiple maladies caused by bad eating are taking a dire toll on our health - most tragically for our kids, who are predicted to be this country's [USA] first generation to ahve a shorter life expectancy than their parents." Barbara Kingsolver (Animal Vegetable Miracle)

So while this is a long post, and not really a HOW TO one, I do hope my testimony - however vague - will encourage others to "keep on keeping on" and to take those little steps each month, year or season to improve your health through the food you put into your body. For now our philosophy is simple - the closer to the way God made it the better or if I can quote a friend: "If it comes in a can or packet - don't eat it!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sock knitting....oh yeah...oh yeah!

I have been overwhelmed with the thought of sock making for almost a year but I just know that I want to learn to do it. The book recommended to me has been set aside for later - it will be used but I do need to start easier!

I turned to Youtube and found a series of videos by Staci from and decided to buy her very easiest sock pattern. My gran used to make bed socks for us as kids, so I have decided that these chunky socks are going to be our bed socks for winter.

I think that after knitting 6 pairs I should be ready to move onto shoe socks and use my beautiful sock wool I bought last year from Nuturing Fibres.

Today I sat in the sun in my veggie garden after watching the first tutorial and churned out 1 inch of cuff. It took this long for me to stop feeling like and uncoordinated Edward Scissor Hands :-)

Now I am getting really excited as my visual learner needs are being fulfilled step by step with Staci's excellent tutorials.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Remembering Monty

Monty has been with us for 12.5 years...she passed away today.

May you be in the place where the cats run slow and birds fly low, little one.

Show me a Doberman,
I'll cut him to size.
I'll tear him to pieces
In front of your eyes.

I'm cocksure and bossy
The King of the Patch
Bring on your Alsations,
It won't be a match.

I'm a dirty street fighter,
My language is foul.
I'll fight to the death,
Never throw in the towel.

Don't step near my missus,
Don't push me too far,
Get right off my pavement
Take your hands off my car.

And when she's alone,
I'll sit on her knee,
She'll know she's quite safe,
Relying on me.

Don't walk by my lorry,
When I'm at a show.
When I'm guarding my ponies,
I'm lethal to know.

I'll follow a fox
To the depths of his lair,
But I like creature comforts...
Get out of my chair!

I won't walk or heel
Or sit when I'm told,
But I'm loving, protective,
Brave, loyal, and bold.

My life's full of moments,
Importance and bustle.
I know I'm the greatest...

I'm called a JACK RUSSELL!

Author Unknown

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winter is for.....

Stews, pies and puddings...oh yeah!

I can feel winter in the air in the morning and evening and we even had our first light rain today.

Last night I made a delicious Daube of Beef and Olive Baguette (for mopping up the gravy) from Harvest.

I used our olives we cured last autumn. I still have loads of them and must start using them up.

The bread dough has more olive oil than normal bread. Once risen I split the dough into two and pushed them into rectangles. Topped with pitted halved olives and some rosemary, rolled up into a sausage, brushed with egg and baked until golden. I gave one to my neighbour and she gave it the thumbs up!

Tonight I made a yummy steak pie and finished the meal with Gordon Ramsey's plum crumble...from his book "Cooking For Friends" (thanks Cath :-))

The crumble is just sugar, flour and butter rubbed in. He also adds 100g of ground almonds to the crumble mixture. But it's the plums that were so delicious...Gordon has you stew them whole in a bit of water for 10 mins. Drain and cool, then simply break them up with your fingers and take the pip out. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon zest and place in a greased oven dish. Then sprinkle the crumble mixture over and bake until the plum juice oozes through the crumble layer.

Superman's son said a pudding like this isn't complete without custard so he made a double portion of custard to go over...I must say it was a delicious decadent dinner.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Using once used skills again.

I used to sew all my children's clothes when they were babies and into the toddler years. By the time my 3rd child was a toddler I had a busy home business and a 4th on the way and sewing was put aside.

Time just didn't allow for the sourcing of materials and making patterns and the sewing of the garment. Other things took priority.

I have for sometime now felt a stirring to get sewing again. I know that this is linked to the growing sewing interests of my younger daughter. At the beginning of the year I got my machines serviced and went material shopping.

I figured that I would buy for winter clothing...I am aware of how much time I actually do have and it would take me this long to get my ducks in a row. A few weekends ago I copied the pattern off a pair of lounge pants I bought for my son in the UK and then adapted it for each child's particular leg length and hips.

Here is the first pair of PJ pants for winter.

I used a drawstring for the waist, but I think I will go with elastic for the others.

Feeling quite chuffed with myself for getting it done... :-) What do you think? Now its back to knitting socks! Oh my!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Socks and growth....

This morning I took my coffee out to the veggie garden and sat on an overturned bucket in the sun while the chickens were out. We can only let them out with supervision now as all the seedlings need a few more weeks of chicken free growing.

I took my new book to read...recommended by a reader of this blog...Twisted Sisters Sock Book.

My eyes delight in the socks that they knitted, but I must say I am just terribly nervous to start this new skill. Part of the issue is time and the other niggling thing is getting my sluggish brain to kick into gear. I see all those abbreviations and my heart sinks. I'll get there, I am sure, hopefully before winter hits!

While I was sitting out there I had the sprinkler running around the pond area and the lovely sound of our Clicking River Frogs kept me company.

I also noticed all the growth happening...while we are not eating much from the garden besides salads and herbs at the moment, there is a promise of lots to come.

Turnip leaves growing strong and green...

About 6 or 7 loofahs taking shape...

Broad Beans...can taste them already!

Asparagus...we can cut next spring for the first time! A long wait, but worth it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Most quotes from and most photos by Jessica.

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well ... For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. (John Ortberg)

Life is not an emergency. (Anne Voskamp)

The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it. ~Author Unknown

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward. ~Spanish Proverb

Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. ~Richard Carlson

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~Milan Kundera

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. ~Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris

Friday, April 8, 2011

On my mind....apples.

GONE PICKING............ Be back Sunday. This is a Friday photo feature started by Rhonda-Jean at Down to Earth.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday in the garden

Next weekend we are going away to an apple farm so we had to get all our planting done. This meant cleaning out the last 3 beds...goodbye tomato stragglers, cucumber plants, rocket, corn stalks and hello potatoes!

We got some lovely spuds this time...must be at least 15kgs of the beauties.

Flower girl didn't want the pulled up marigolds to be put on the compost so she found somewhere to plant them.

Lucky played jungle dog...then came for cuddles.

We planted out our seedlings that we started in newspaper pots about 4 weeks ago. I hope they do well. We planted about 60 brassicas - red and white cabbage, loads of broccoli, purple cauliflower, Romenesco cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts.

Along with the beets, chard, peas, broad beans and salads we have planted we are almost full to the brim here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Adventures in bread making

The last two weeks have seen me trying to implement some new bread making habits. I made 4 loaves of bread a couple of weeks back and froze them, but as Lois predicted, it just isn't the same. The bread is good to toast, that's all.

So it was back to the drawing board... I do have a bread machine, but it is old and tempremental so now I use it only for mixing and rising cycles, never to bake. I used the country white recipe from the book that came with the machine and it gives me a delicious rich white loaf. I bake two in the oven at a time. One is for lunch the other is kept for toast the next day.

If we eat bread for breakfast I don't like to serve bread again at lunch and will then do baked potatoes, rice or another carb for lunch.

This is my white loaf recipe:

Into the bread machine add 300ml milk, 1.5 t salt, 1.5 T butter, 4 cups bread flour, 2 T sugar, 1 pkt dry yeast. Set to dough cycle. When it bleeps put the dough into a loaf tin and cover, allow to rise again while the oven heats up. After about 15 minutes bake for 30 mins or less.

I then took that recipe and looked at how I could make it a really nutritious loaf of bread. My elder daughter is about to head into exams and I am mindful of the fact that she needs extra Omega 3 at the moment. The anwser came in Macadamia Nut Oil and Chia Seeds, both high in Omega 3. We use both raw on salads or the seeds on our porridge, but I used them in this bread recipe too and it was delicious.

Into my bread machine:
300ml warm distilled water
1.5 t Himilayan Crystal Salt
2 T Macadamia Nut Oil
2 cups white bread flour
2 cups freshly ground spelt flour
2 T raw honey
2 T Chia Seeds
1 pkt yeast

Set to dough cycle and cook as above when it beeps. This is superb with soups, great with egg mayo & sprouts, or simply with butter!

The second loaf also toasts well and is scrumptious with avo for lunch!

Friday, April 1, 2011

On my mind...

Today I am mindful of the power price hike. For South African's who buy directly from Eskom this comes into effect today. It will affect us on 1st June as we buy from the municipality. We try to save on electricity usage as much as we can. But we are a large family, we run a business (with 3 staff members), I bake LOTS, we do not have solar or wind we need to think of more ways to reduce power usage at home...I am taking ideas....anyone?!? On my mind is a Friday photo feature started by Rhonda at Down To Earth.