Food Happens

I have yet to start on the various more serious articles I intend and am putting that off until my little one has arrived… In the mean time, I am very inspired by my own cooking right now, so I thought I would share.

I am by no stretch of the imagination a food blogger, so please be very forgiving of this post.

My husband and I try to make one “special” meal every month. A meal we splurge on a little bit, because food should be fun and budgets can be forgotten a little, sometimes. So, if you are willing to spend a little more for a special meal, here is this month’s winner. What I love about this meal is that it is delicious, sounds super impressive and is hardly any effort at all – probably because I cheat.

Kassler Steaks with Roast Potato, Stuffed Mushroom and Creamed Spinach (Sometimes I add glazed carrots)

Now, unless there is something very wrong with you, that should sound amazing! I get my Kassler steaks from Checkers – Smokehouse brand, I believe. They’re great and literally cook in minutes. For the mushrooms, we use either “braai mushrooms” or Portabella/Portabellini mushrooms. Basically, find big ones you like and go with those. As for the spinach, though I totally could spend the time doing this from scratch, I’m not a fan, so I cheat and buy Dr Oetker, or whatever brand of pre-made and frozen is available. As such, pretty much the most work I put into this meal is peeling and cutting potatoes – and I make my husband do that.

You will need:
Kassler steaks
Potatoes
Spinach
Feta
Mushrooms of your choice
Garlic & Herb seasoning (I use Ina Paarman)
Olive oil
Honey
Lemon Juice
Coarse salt

Start with your potatoes. Peel them and cut them in quarters. I pre-cook them in the microwave. While hubby does potato prep, I pre-heat the oven to 180C and arrange my mushrooms in a dish. Season them with Garlic & Herb, crumb tons of feta over them and drizzle with olive oil. Pop those in the oven while the potatoes are pre-cooking.

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When the potatoes are done in the microwave, I toss them with salt, arrange them in a second oven dish and drizzle them with olive oil. They go in the oven with the mushrooms. At this point, if you are making carrots, it’s a good time to get started. If not, make small talk with hubby for a few minutes or clean up your surfaces. The meat cooks very quickly and you need to waste a bit of time here.
I make my Kassler steaks in the electric frying pan, just pop them in like you would with bacon. You can use some oil (olive or coconut) or not, depending on your preference. The meat is smoked, so technically it is already done. Just make sure both sides are to your liking. When I’m happy with my meat, I pop my spinach in the microwave (5 minutes, as per package instructions). While this is going, add your honey and lemon juice to the meat – 2 tablespoons of honey to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Allow this to start caramelising, ensuring your meat is well glazed.

More or less now, your microwave should bing. This means all your food is ready. Dish up and enjoy.

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To finish off this joy of a meal, I use a second cheat – instant chocolate mousse.
In a large bowl, combine 500ml fresh cream with one pack instant chocolate pudding, beat until stiff. Blend in 1 can of condensed milk. Mix until well combined and refrigerate. That’s it.
I serve this with citrus fruit, as it is rather rich and rather sweet. The citrus breaks it up a little.

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And that is all she wrote. It looks like I spent days in the kitchen, but really, this meal takes me 30 minutes and my husband thinks I fell from heaven 🙂

As a side note – my hubby is an athlete, as such, his salt intake is considerably higher than would be deemed healthy for us regular folk, as he needs to put back what he expends on the sports field. Please use your salt wisely – it makes for crispier potatoes, but it also makes for health problems 🙂

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Lucky in love – Originally published 26 May 2015

Today I wish to sing my husband’s praises. I figure I will do so now, since I have approximately 4 months to go before I have to give birth and never have another good night’s rest again in my life and it’s all his fault…
So, basically this is about two things he has done recently, aside from the usual being supportive and working his butt off to support us financially and his usual awesomeness.
First, early last week he was telling me about a video he had watched about women discussing the things nobody had warned them about regarding pregnancy. Now, aside from the fact that he watched a video about women’s experiences of pregnancy and then told me all about it, he had given very serious thought to what the women had to say. He had also been listening to me babble on about every article, blog, open letter, column and academic paper I have read about pregnancy and parenting, since he could compare the comments in the video to things I had said.
I think mostly, we as wives assume that our husbands pretend to listen or phase out. I live on that assumption. I’m fine with it, since mostly I chatter in order to reinforce what I have learned or to solve a problem for myself, he just needs to make it look like I’m not talking to myself. (As a disclaimer, when I really need him to listen, I always have his complete and undivided attention). So, to find out that he had been listening quite intently and actually retaining the information I threw his way, was pretty great in and of itself. BUT, here’s my absolute favourite part:
I asked him what he had learned from watching the video. He turned to me, looked me in the eye and said: “I learned that you are a pretty amazing mother.” First-time-mother-to-be’s mind blown
Secondly, this past Saturday we went to our local dairy factory store. While we were standing in the queue, I stood up on my toes and gave him a quick, but loving peck. Being rather focused on us at the time, I only realised after doing it that I had done so just as a teenager was coming towards us, looking right at us. So I mumbled an apology to myself along the lines of “Sorry, kiddo, but you’ll get over it”. My husband merely hugged me close and said, “No, she’ll figure out that after you have been with someone for eight years and gone through some pretty rough things together, you hope they still want to randomly kiss you in public”. I smiled and commented on the fact that we’re pretty lucky that way. At this he turned and informed me that he had realised “again recently” how fortunate he is to have me in his life.
I tend to think he could have done much better, but to know that he considers himself lucky and that he thinks I’m great, is a wonderful gift, every time.
And another disclaimer: Relationships are work, marriages are a lot of work. It’s not always moonlight and roses and romance and cuteness. Most of life together is exactly that: LIFE together. That means he doesn’t replace the toilet paper and I leave my shoes everywhere. It means dishes and bills and laundry and money worries and work stress and sleepless nights and colds and broken valuables and disagreements. But with the right person, as with the right job, work really doesn’t feel like work. When you talk and you handle the little issues as they crop up and you really deal with what the issue ACTUALLY is, instead of arguing about the fact the cats aren’t fed when you’re worried about money, that makes a world of difference. No secrets aside from birthday/Christmas/surprise gifts, no lies. When you can manage all that, even shopping for cheddar cheese and strawberry milk can remind you how very much you love the person at your side.

Things you missed (An open letter to the father who left too soon and made peace too late, written a year after his death) – Originally published 22 May 2015

There are so many things you should have seen and experienced. And for so many reasons, you missed them. So here they are (not that you can read any more or ever even knew that I had a blog, but hey-ho).

You never saw me go to university and put all those things you used to teach me in the veld to use as foundation for my studies.
You never got to see me work out that my original major choice didn’t work for me, exactly or see me throw myself into Biology, because I loved it.
You never got to stand by me when I realised I wouldn’t be able to complete my course due to financial constraints and would have to find a full-time job and you never got to see the disappointment on lecturers faces when they found out later that I’d given up my studies for survival, because I’d actually made an impression. And you’ll never see me graduate next year.
You never saw me find a job and leave home and strike out on my own. I took to it quite well and because you raised a curious and practical daughter, I didn’t stop learning and adapting. And you never saw me leave that job for a better one and learn new skills.
You didn’t see me build a home, my way. You never met my first pet, who made it a home and gave me solace when things didn’t go the way I had hoped.
You never got to see me change from an independent, confident teenager to a timid, cowed young woman as the result of a bad relationship. And you never got to see me pull myself together and fight back and reclaim my life. You never got to see me walk away from what was bad for me. And you never got to see me grow into a strong, wilful, independent woman who is a full partner to a good man.
You never saw me dance. And I was good, very good. And you really should have seen me. You never got to see me fight to get to the point where I could say that and you never saw me blossom as a result.
You never got to see my engagement ring or walk me down the aisle or see me smile at the man who chose to build a life with me. Worse, you never got to know him. And that is a terrible loss for you.
You never got to meet my second cat or my first dog. You never got to see my family grow from just me to a husband and wife, two cats and a dog. You never got to see me do things right. You never got to see me build a home with a family and values and a solid foundation. You never got to see me smile sincerely as an adult and you never got to see me laugh at all, sincerely or not.
You never got to hear me say I’m pregnant for the first time. And you never got to comfort me a month later when my entire world collapsed in the space of 30 seconds.And you never got to see my tentative joy at the second positive pregnancy test. You never got to see my baby’s heartbeat on a sonar photo or try to figure out what all the various statistics meant. You never got a call telling you that she’s a girl and doing well or photo updates in your inbox. You’ll never get to hold your grandchild or know her name. You’ll never show her why it’s called Rooikrans or explain to her how her eyes work or rattle off Latin names for everything as you walk together.
Worst of all, you never got to make things right. We both missed that. But I learned from you and our little girl will never walk alone. The man you never got to meet is the type of man I wish you were, or that I wish you had stayed and he is becoming the father you should have remained.
And I wish you were here to see it.

It’s the little things – Original post 9 March 2015

So often you see the poster or picture that says “Life is made of moments” or “It’s the small things that make it worth while”. And a part of you knows that’s true, but mostly, you just keep scrolling and don’t take note of what that means.
So I want to take a moment to reflect on the little things that make it worth opening my eyes in the morning.
The five minutes between my alarm going off and my actually getting up when both my husband and I are still sleepy and he lets me wriggle into his arms and just lie there snug and safe.
My cats running to greet me when I get home, each with their own brand of affection.
The look on my dog’s face when she realises I’m home. Even though hubby works from home and has been there all day, she is so excited to see her human and I feel so wanted.
When my husband casually makes air kisses at me while he’s playing games and I’m vegging on the couch. He’s totally engrossed in fighting some enemy or other, but he still remembers to remind me that he loves me.
Falling asleep on the couch to the sounds of whatever game is being played this month (Diablo III and Fallout New Vegas, for the record)
The way McGyver prowls the bedroom until I settle for the night, so he can crawl onto my chest and fall asleep purring, warm and content.
That smile. That boyish smile of complete indulgence and enjoyment. The one he smiles when the cats do something silly and endearing or when he is up to absolutely no good.
When he sometimes looks at me and those ice blue eyes go soft and he says something like “I love your smile”.
Being able to be completely inappropriate around my friends.
Sitting on the front step with the cats and the dog around, all co-existing peacefully.
Being able, everyday, to touch the ones I love most, whether that means kissing my husband, holding my cats or stroking my dog. Everyday, I get to reach out my hand and touch them, and that is awesome.
There’s obviously more, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

A Brief Introduction

I am a South African woman living the reality of all that entails.

I am about to embark on the journey of motherhood, but have always felt that womanhood comes first. To my mind, if you can not be a strong woman, you can not stand strong as a mother. To that end, this blog is aimed more at women, than mothers, but as with all such things, the two will cross paths.

To best describe and explain myself and this blog name, I am both a tomboy and a total girl. I grew up barefoot in the Klein Karoo and my first pet was a Jersey bull calf. I love science and math and the Marvel Universe. I immerse myself in nature and a little known sport called Ultimate and surround myself with engineers, mathematicians, software developers and biologists. Any way you look at it, there is mayhem and you could probably find a few mutants, too.

My main aim, at this point in time, is to provide practical advice on matters that seem to be plaguing SA women in the circles I move in. These will include a series on legal matters, such as reporting a missing person, steps and resources for abused women, rape crisis procedure and your rights depending on your partnership (marriage, civil union, common law, etc.). I will also try to address matters such as travelling with children and the new laws, planning functions, searching for schools and any other issues that pop up during the course of my online meanderings.

Interspersed with all this practicality, there will be reposts of pieces from my private blog. These are mostly stream of consciousness musings about life and I will only be posting what I feel is positive and decently written – I sometimes have little tantrums and nobody needs to read those.

My first few posts will be such reposts, as this will give you an idea of who I am, but also, because my baby is due in the next few days and I am not truly focusing on interviews and setting this blog up properly just yet. BUT I will get there, I promise.