Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Date Loaf

This is an incredible tasting date loaf! It was so good that I have made it twice in one week and gained a few pounds. I will work it off in the next few days. I took three recipes and modified it to perfection.

1 1/2 cups finely sliced dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup boiling water
4 teaspoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Caramel syrup:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 350* Butter a 5 x 9 inch baking pan (3 inches deep).

Sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda over the dates. Add the boiling water and mix. Add the butter and walnuts and mix. Tip: *If you have a blender it is easier to add the dates with bicarbonate of soda, boiling water, butter and walnuts  to the blender and blend on a low speed.
Mix the sugar and egg together and add to the date mixture. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the date mixture. Add the vanilla essence and mix.
Turn the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake the loaf on the middle rack of the preheated oven for one hour or until done and a testing skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the loaf.

Caramel syrup:
Slowly bring the brown sugar, cream and butter to the boil and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Turn out the date loaf onto a wire rack and slowly pour over the caramel syrup. Leave to cool before serving with some heavy whipping cream.

Enjoy every bite of this delicious sweet treat!

All images taken by me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wheat Five Grain Italian Toast With Broiled Garlic, Marmite, Cheese, Tomatoes, Olive Oil and Herbs

This recipe is delicious and my own creation! Toast a few slices of wheat, five grain italian bread. Spread it with butter and rub a clove of garlic over each slice of toast. Spread a thin layer of Marmite (optional) over each slice. Marmite is a yeast extract with a savory taste which is available in some USA supermarkets. Add slices of gouda, havarti, swiss or cheddar cheese. Add halved cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil and oregano, thyme and parsley. Season with black pepper and salt. Broil in a Euro-pro or regular oven until the cheese is melted. Enjoy it for breakfast, as a snack or light lunch!

All images taken by me

Saturday, June 18, 2011

After A Thunderstorm In Our Garden

I am aware of the fact that I am doing a series on remarkable women but I wanted to share the following images with you. I took all these photos after a thunderstorm in our garden yesterday afternoon and marvel at nature's beauty!

Raindrops on a banana leaf!

Hope you enjoyed it!

All images taken by me

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Remarkable Women ~ Part Two: My Tuscan Experience

I have met so many remarkable women. This is a series about women that are not famous or infamous, but they are hidden gems of society and deserve attention. Some of them have gone through severe trials and hardships, and still do, but they have risen above their circumstances and still see and enjoy the beauty in life. In the previous post I visited my girl friend Silvia at her Tuscan style home in Naples, Florida, USA and decided to do another post on her because I knew you would enjoy another afternoon of cappuccino and tea at her beautiful home...

Silvia made some German flower cookies and we enjoyed it with fresh strawberry and berry jam that she made.

It was wonderful relaxing and enjoying each other's company at this beautiful table ...

She has the most beautiful tea cups and it was difficult to choose a cup to drink tea out of...

It felt like we were in Tuscany with this beautiful view...

Pepper enjoying the sunlight! She is one of the sweetest and friendliest cats I have ever met...

Room with a view...

We sat at this cozy fireplace in the hot Florida summer while she put the air conditioning on cold. It was quite an experience...!

All images taken by me

Friday, April 8, 2011

Remarkable Women ~ Part One: My Tuscan Experience

I have met so many remarkable women. This is a series about women that are not famous or infamous, but they are hidden gems of society and deserve attention. Some of them have gone through severe trials and hardships, and still do, but they have risen above their circumstances and still see and enjoy the beauty in life. It was with great excitement and anticipation that I drove to my girlfriend Silvia's Tuscan style home in Naples, Florida, USA to enjoy an afternoon of tea, cappuccino, sweet treats and good company.

When I walked through the large wooden doors of her beautiful Tuscan home I was received with so much warmth and love! I immediately felt at home and when I walked into her inviting kitchen with yellow sunflowers, rich golden-mustard faux walls, wooden cabinets, and beautiful architectural details, my senses were awakened and my soul fed.

In the oven were home-made croissants. On the island was a tray set with beautiful porcelain tea cups, a fine tea pot with hand painted butterflies and a silver milk jar and sugar bowl. I couldn't help to feel special when I saw all the preparation that went into it. What a memorable  occasion it was!

Cappuccino, home-made croissants and fresh cherry jam.

Silvia went to culinary school in Germany and baked this delicious cheesecake!

We relaxed by the poolside enjoying each others company, drinking cappuccino and hot tea. When we tasted the cheesecake with cream we did not even think about the calories. We just enjoyed the moment!

One of the most important things to me in life, is how you treat people! I feel we should all treat people with respect and love. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, what matters is whether you make someone feel special and important. Silvia went out of her way to make me feel special and loved, she treated me like a queen and therefore is a hidden gem of society. When there are days when life does not go the way I planned and things are tough, I will sit back, relax and remember this special afternoon I enjoyed at her beautiful home.

All images taken by me

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Health Rusks

I just love rusks! Most of you probably won't know what a rusk is. The Wikipedia definition for a rusk is a hard, dry, biscuit or a twice baked bread. I would say it is very similar to a biscotti, but not as sweet!

We eat our rusks after we have dipped it in a cup of hot tea or coffee! Rusks can be eaten for breakfast as a late morning or afternoon snack, or even when traveling when you stop for a coffee or tea break. There are quite a selection of rusk recipes out there but this one is my favorite recipe. For years my parents bought these rusks at a home industry shop in South Africa. My dad tried his best to get the recipe from the owner but she never wanted to share the recipe with anybody. However, one day, she told my dad that she has sold her business and was leaving town. She said she would give him her recipe! Today, I have the recipe neatly filed and I treasure it. My dad has since passed away and I have such great memories of us dipping rusks in a cup of hot tea and enjoying the moment!

6 cups self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups wheat bran
3 eggs
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup raisins
four 4-oz sticks (16 OZ or 1 LB of butter)
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups of sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.  Butter a 11 x 16 inch baking pan. Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Add the wheat bran, coconut flakes, and raisins and mix.

Melt the butter and add it slowly to the mixture. Beat the eggs, buttermilk and sugar together and add to the wheat bran mixture. Mix well. Put the mixture in the baking pan and press gently to level it.

Cut into pieces before you bake it.

Bake it for 35 to 45 minutes. It should be a golden brown on top. Let it cool down and cut again and take the pieces apart. Put the pieces into two baking pans and put it in a 200*F oven to dry out. After two hours turn all the pieces around and dry out for another two hours. Let it cool down. Make some hot tea or coffee and dip the rusks in the tea or coffee. Enjoy!

All images taken by me

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bees, Honey And Tea In Our Garden!

Spring is around the corner. I noticed this week when I looked through our kitchen window how busy the bees were collecting pollen from the blossoms on our lemon and orange trees.

Honey bees, what beautiful little creatures!

Hard at work...

Sweet and healthy honey...!

Relaxing in our garden with a delicious cup of hot tea and lemon...

A yellow jacket bee on a lemon tree blossom

A honey bee on a lemon tree blossom

All images taken by me


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