Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hartford House In The Natal Midlands, South Africa

I love nature, open spaces, delicious food and gorgeous interiors! All this can be found at Hartford House in the Natal Midlands in South Africa.

At the foothills of the Kwazulu-Natal Drakensberg mountains lies Hartford Country House on Summerhill farm. It is a four and a half hour drive from Johannesburg International Airport and an hour and a half drive from Durban International Airport. The closest town to this beautiful estate is Mooi River.

The estate is the largest thoroughbred horse stud in the region.

Activities at Hartford House include walking, fishing, horse riding, photography, swimming, birding, wildlife, cuisine, spa, sport, etc.

Hartford House has fourteen incomparably-styled luxury suites which are beautifully decorated with color, style and texture!

The Ezulweni Lake Suites are situated on a picturesque trout lake.

The pool area and Wellness Center.

The restaurant has received many awards as one of the "Best Restaurants". Head chef is talented Jackie Cameron and the team is one of culinary excellence!

Hartford House is also the perfect venue for a romantic wedding. Their services include the complete co-ordination and arrangement of your wedding, the accompanying banquet, floral, photographic and make-up arrangements, the supply of marquees, etc. They have a large selection of the most beautiful and delicious wedding cakes created in their own kitchen.

...........and for those magical winter wonderland days they offer a romantic crackling log fire with some sherry to warm you up!

For more information contact the friendly staff of Hartford House at

All images by Hartford House - Tarryn Liebenberg and Annet Becker


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hot And Sunny Florida!

It is so hot and sunny here in Naples, Florida.....we have degrees in the 90's!!! My family tells me that it is snowing on the mountains in the Cape in South Africa where the World Football (Soccer) Cup is hosted. We really have the two extremes between the northern and southern hemisphere. It feels to me that hardly anything growing outside right now can survive this Florida sun and heat. My poor lavender plant couldn't survive but I will share some photographs with you this week of plants that have survived and still thrive in this humidity and heat!

Bloom where you are planted...even though you might feel you are in the fiery furnace!!

All images taken by me

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moist Chocolate Cake

This is probably the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted! I love a moist chocolate cake. I believe it is the freshly brewed coffee in this recipe that keeps the cake so moist.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
one 340g (12 oz) bag of frozen dark sweet cherries (optional)
chocolate sprinkles

chocolate frosting (I use Betty Crocker ready made rich and creamy chocolate frosting)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8 X 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. Thaw the bag of dark sweet cherries (optional).
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place one layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Add the dark sweet cherries and spread evenly on the frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle chocolate sprinkles on the top of the cake.

Brew some fresh coffee and enjoy it with this delicious chocolate cake!

All images taken by me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fried Calamari

Lately I have had such a craving for fried calamari that I went on a downtown mission to find fresh calamari. I looked through many fried calamari recipes and finally created my own recipe. I did not include a marinara sauce but have included a link to Emeril Lagasse's marinara sauce.

1 pound (16 oz) fresh or frozen squid rings
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour (I use 100% whole wheat flour)
Vegetable oil for frying (I use refined canola oil)
salt and pepper for seasoning
lemon juice of 1 to 2 lemons

Beat the eggs and mix together with the buttermilk in a bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Soak the calamari in the buttermilk mixture for about 20 minutes. Fill a large pan no more than half way with oil and heat to 375* F. Put the flour in a bowl. Remove the calamari from the buttermilk mixture and toss in the flour and coat it completely. Carefully add the calamari in batches (do not overcrowd the pan) to the hot oil and fry until the coating is crisp and golden. Remove the calamari to paper towels to drain and season with more salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon juice over the calamari.

I love lots and lots of lemon juice!

Serve it with a fresh green salad and vegetables.


All images taken by me


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