We are so excited about World Book Giving Day on February the 14th that we thought we might give you a little teaser post. Over the past few years we have managed to create a number of school libraries for children in desperate need of books… And this year we have another library ready to launch, watch this spot on Tuesday 14 February, 2017.
One of the most difficult parts of our project is finding a library to help to create… I know there are millions of schools in Souther Africa in need of help. The thing is, how do I as a regular mom of a couple of kids connect with those schools. I have always relied on the help of the brilliant organisation, Biblionef, to help us select a school for our annual project. Biblionef supply books to schools and communities all over Southern Africa in their own language, as long as they fulfil certain critical criteria. They have been with us from the start of our library journey, when we first went to Lesotho.
Biblionef’s aim is to provide children from 3 to 18 years in disadvantaged areas of South Africa with new story books, thus stimulating their desire to learn and laying a solid foundation for their future. Biblionef is a registered not profit organisation and depends entirely on donations and sponsoring by businesses and private individuals. ‘We are determined to diminish the illiteracy rate by creating a love for reading. Without being able to read, many doors stay closed and people remain in a situation of poverty. We believe that children, who start enjoying books at a young age, will still be reading as adults.’ Jean Williams, Executive Director, Biblionef SA. Biblionef is now a partner of Global Giving, a non-profit organisation based in the United States that provides a global crowdfunding platform for grassroots charitable projects.
Biblionef were recently made aware of how poorly stocked the libraries are in some rural schools outside Klerksdorp. Currently, there are trained youth placed to work in these libraries, however, there are very few books that can be issued and book budgets are non-existent. With your support, we can change this. Biblionef would like to donate 100 books, but can only supply 60 from our book bank. We need your help to purchase the additional 40 books for the 25 schools. If you feel called to help them with this project then follow this link. With your donation of a few Rand/ dollars, 25 schools in rural areas of South Africa will receive a total of 100 new books!
I said I was going to blog about food all month and on the menu today is ice-cream. Let’s face it, if you are going to treat yourself then it is a good idea to make that treat count and have something fabulous. I appear to have raised a gang of ice-cream connoisseurs, yes it is genetic and they get it from their parents. We spent the past few summer months checking out the best of the rest of ice-creams all over Cape Town and the store we kept coming back to again and again… was our local, Kristen’s Kick Ass Ice Cream…
All the Details
You can find the store in Noordhoek Farm Village, open from 9-5 every single day. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you visit the team are always thrilled to see you and happy to serve you. You will have to make a decision or two or three.
There are the regular faves and then seasonal tastes flow through, all together 60 flavours… you can buy tubs to take home, or scoops and cups, and sprinkles an optional extra.
A post Park Run Scoop and all the choices…
The Back Story
It’s really quite simple, be careful what you get as a wedding gift. When Kristen received an ice-cream machine it was somewhat life changing. Battling to get a work permit, to work in her field as a trained nurse, she turned to ice-cream. Who wouldn’t. And she started churning out flavour after flavour and posting her stunning ice-cream treats on instagram. That’s where I discovered her. Anyway, one thing led to another and she was invited to open a store, not one to back down… she googled “How to Open an Ice-Cream Store” and dived in. It’s a wild ride and from making a tub a day, to tubs for dinner parties… to opening a store. The learning curve was vertical, but nothing is impossible for this E.R. Nurse… I asked her how she felt about the crazy silly summer season, that is Cape Town over New Year, and she loved it… there is no emergency she can’t handle… when stocks are low she works through the night, and when the crowds are crazy she just serves away.
Oh my, the ice cream, it’s rich and creamy and delicious. I had to ask how do they make it and so much of it, so consistently good… and her reply, “They churn it out batch for batch, using fresh, natural, seasonal ingredients.” I had to persist, and ask about the hassle factor of making endless egg custard, because that’s how we create our own ice-cream? They don’t make endless egg custard, her ice-cream has a cream cheese or marscapone base… and from there on I was hooked. Because this gal can talk about food. It’s cream cheese that carries the flavour, and the higher fat adds different layers of flavour. The mixture is made and infused in a myriad of flavours. From mint, to basil, to coffee grounds, only the best and steeped in cream. The following day the ice cream is churned…
And then churned a little more…
And then popped into the blast freezer…
From the freezer, to the storefront and the process begins again.
I went for a wander upstairs and a tour of the Kitchen… there was tons of goodness, all over the show…
And you clearly can’t do this without a team effort…
All as close to locally sourced as possible. While I was sitting there, some fresh figs wandered in… No fake flavours, no alarming additives… just genuine flavours, from beautiful looking ingredients.
And the next time I looked they were smothered in cinnamon…
When she adds treats to her ice-cream there is no holding back and everything is made from scratch: marshmallows, honeycomb, oreos… all from scratch. Not to mention cookies. I had to try one and honestly, just the cookies are to die for, slightly crunchy on the outside and squishy on the inside.
Next time you find yourself in the Deep South, traveling past Noordhoek Farm Village, do yourself a favour and drop in for an ice-cream… she is already branching out into waffles, and when I asked about hot chocolate for the winter time and all her flavours and ideas spilt out… it may have been the first time ever that I thought it might be nice if winter were to speed up a little.
Huge thank you to Kristen of Kristen’s Kick Ass Kitchen for the fabulous fun interview. This is not a sponsored blog post, I was not paid to write it and opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own.
This seems to be the season for getting lots of school done, after a couple of weeks off… everyone seems to have settled into the rhythm of school… and we are all just getting it done… so far so good!!!
Since we are blogging about food this month, let me show a media drop I received last week. It was a package from Almond Breeze, Almond Milk. They wanted to share with us a little bit about their Almond Breeze Milk. In a house with a nut allergy you might wonder why I chose to receive the products to try. 90% of us have a nut allergy but there is always that one who is different. The father person just so happens to love Almond Milk and is the perfect candidate for a little spoil.
Almond milk is good for so many things, and is a great non-dairy alternative to milk. For all our vegan friends it is a complete winner. In fact, it is fabulous just as it is in coffee. Also, I am always looking for snacks that are quick and easy to make that I can pop in the father person’s lunch box and that won’t get eaten by everybody else… so I popped over to the Almond Milk website, where I was surprised to find heaps of recipes. It is a wonderful resource with recipes for every occasion and extremely useful for when you have non-dairy or vegan friends over for a meal and your mind literally goes blank at the thought of what to create.
I quickly found some oat and apple breakfast bars and got to work. Gotta say I love recipes where you toss everything into a bowl, mix it together and you are basically done.
I popped a heap of dried fruit, apples and cranberries into the mixture as well and they turned out to be a winner. So these breakfast bars are going straight onto the list of treats to make to put into lunch boxes.
Thank you to Almond Breeze for the product drop. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and opinions expressed are, as usual, all my own.
In our year of getting things done, I am really working at getting things streamlined and sustainable around here… getting into good habits and then keeping them. In January I focused on creating good computer tactics and in February I am going to take a look at the kitchen and just getting kitchen related things organised. Yes, I do want to clean out our cupboards and clear our counters of the things we don’t use… but I also need to look at what we are cooking when… which tasks I can hand over to the kids and things we can do to make our kitchen time fun time rather than always dashing to catch up…
This, it turns out, is a bit of a “how we do it” kind of a post, I am collecting together our ideas on how we have streamline our “feeding of the many kids” situation… because if I didn’t have some sort of plan in place I would never do anything else. In fact over the recent holidays I felt like I didn’t do anything else… because somehow holidays and friends and lingering over meals for hours meant that on a lot of days… I was up making breakfast and then cleaning up to make lunch, followed by cleaning up to make supper and then cleaning up… on repeat. I don’t mind it when we are on holiday and the table is moved outdoors into a shady spot, but I could not live that week in and week out. We are certainly back into the groove of meal planning.
Getting Food Onto the Table
Eating from Scratch: We make and eat most of our food from scratch and it wouldn’t occur to us to buy convenience food, let alone take outs. That doesn’t mean we never ever eat a take out pizza, for example, but it is more like twice a year than once a week. The first question many folks ask is how do you survive without ever eating take-outs… and that’s easy enough. In the olden days when we had less than a handful of small children we were chatting with them about eating out. The conversation was about how takeouts are really bad for us and over the long term will make us really ill, and my small children being convinced of the obvious, refused to eat take-outs from that day on. Take-outs for daily nutrition are off the menu. So when my kids say they are having pizza for dinner they mean from scratch, right down to the tomato sauce. Otherwise the more processed any food is, the more expensive it becomes and the less value it has for your body. If we had to eat a product like breakfast cereal we would literally need a box a day and can you imagine trying to find a cereal that everyone liked. We choose to feed our kids food with better nutritional value for less of the cost. Time is essentially the cost here, it takes longer to prepare food from scratch, but for us, that is time well spent.
Shopping for the Se7en Thousand: We do meal plan, loosely, but most folk would imagine that with a house that serves at least thirty meals a day and actually more than that every day, that we would have a massive pantry and we would buy bulk and save. Buying bulk and saving is a bit of a misnomer, and we prefer to shop a little bit everyday. Maybe these are habits collected from our travels in Europe where we had teeny tiny apartments, and teeny tiny kitchens and we always brought fresh food on the day. Also, we do live in an urban environment, with three supermarkets within walking distance, it would be different if we lived on the far side of the outback. When our kids were smaller we did do a big monthly shop, it was easier that way, but we found ourselves heading for the store in-between big shops and just gave them up. Now that they are older, storing food for the month would be slightly ridiculous. Lets just talk about one staple, oats: we would need at least eight boxes a month, where would we keep everything else?
The father person tends to stop at the store on the way home from work, if there is anything special I need then I message him, but otherwise because we meal plan he pretty much knows what we need for dinner and what we will be eating on which day. Honestly, it would be slightly ridiculous to stock up for months in advance… where would we keep the food we needed for an extended time anyway, especially when the local store has plenty of shelves to keep our groceries for us, before we buy them anyway. That doesn’t mean we don’t take advantage of specials, we do wait for a good price on our staples before we buy them. And there are a few things that if I see them on special I do grab, but only if we are going to eat it over the next few days. We have a strict daily budget, and just can’t exceed that. Otherwise, I have to smile when friends say they are having a no spend month until they have eaten their pantry flat… because we pretty much do that constantly.
Making Ahead: There are a few things that I make and store ahead. For instance we always have jars of chunky apple sauce and roast tomato sauce in the fridge. Console jars are my friend and if I am going to make a little apple sauce then it is just as much work to make a lot of it. These sort of basics are essential to quick meals, basic muffins with chunky apple sauce, or porridge with apple sauce… or if visitors arrive, quickly create an apple pastry with apple sauce and pastry we keep in the freezer. Once every week or two I make a large pot of apple sauce. On the in-between weeks I make a large batch of roast tomato sauce that you can use as a pizza base, on pasta with herbs, in bolagnaise or lasagna, or for soup. The list is endless and we keep it in jars in our fridge.
When we were first married I cooked ahead, and then with countless small children that became impossible and it was literally survival. Meal planning helped because removing as many decisions as possible definitely lessened the time it took to prepare and get food on the table. “It’s Monday it must be pasta” is a lot easier for an exhausted mom to get through than, “It is getting close to dinner time, what should we have?” During the survival years, I didn’t cook ahead at all. But now that all our kids are of an age where they can peel and chop and grate we do tend to cook ahead.
Once a month I will make a massive mince and freeze it into meal size portions. I pop as many vegetables into this meal as I can and then I rely on kids kitchen skills to get the job done. One child peels onions and garlic, another peels carrots, another chops cabbage and another tops and tails courgettes. Everything gets chopped in the food processor (a dreamy kitchen appliance that I would rather not live without). The veggie’s get lightly fried and divided up into all our large baking dishes, the mince gets browned and added to the veggies… then a couple of cans of tomato sauce, as well as a jar or two of our own tomato sauce… and chopped garden herbs are added to the mix and it is cooked in the oven until all the flavours have mingled. Then they get divided into meal size containers and popped into the freezer and used up throughout the month.
What’s for Dinner: Dinner is pretty much set in stone around here, you can tell the days of the week by it. Mondays are always a mince dish… we defrost one of our freezer mince meals and add beans, it makes it go a lot further, and then it may be a pasta meal, or it may be turned into pies, or cottage pie or even lasagne. Tuesday is my easy day, and so it is mac’n cheese night; Wednesday is “Granny comes over for dinner day” and she likes roast potatoes and usually crumbed something and salad; Thursdays we have curry, pita breads or wraps, or experiment with a new cookbook, we are always truing something new; Fridays we make burgers; Saturdays we usually have friends over or go to friends and Sundays have to be a quick meal after church, often a pot of beans or in winter soup that was made earlier in the day.
Oats for Breakfast, not so Much: We had oats for breakfast for a number of years… day in and day out and everybody was happy… and suddenly, in the middle of last year, nobody was happy anymore. I realised that I was the only person at the table eating oats and everybody else had left the table and was making themselves something else. So we devised a meal plan for breakfast… Mondays, because Mondays are always slower after a late night, we have pancakes… everyone needs to start their week well; Tuesdays and Wednesdays we have oats, if I cook it over night in the Wonderbag and add apple and cinnamon to it, then folk will eat it; Egg on toast, and yes I will take orders… because everyone is particular about how they will eat their eggs; Fridays we make muffins the day before; Saturdays eggs on toast and Sundays, I usually make something easy the night before, because Sundays we dash out of the door to church, or we stop at the bakery and but croissants on the way to church.
That Leaves Lunch: Sorting out a lunch plan has taken forever to establish… and for ages we just relied on whoever was done with school making a pile of sandwiches. But we started to faze out sandwiches and we have been working out a couple of meals that the kids can make themselves and that they can use some of their creative flair with as well. I have discovered that having a couple of leaves for them to pick from the garden is very inspiring… you don’t have to own a farm, a few varieties of lettuce plant or spinach and let them pick and select a few leaves for their meal, and there is no end to the inspiration of fresh herbs… Meals that are working for lunch at the moment: All you can find salad (we usually have lettuce and tomatoes and anything else they can think of to add to a salad), with either tuna or boiled eggs; Imaginative coleslaws have come to the fore this summer, I don’t want my kids to like coleslaw because of the mayonnaise (I can’t make it and shop bought is full of all the wrong stuff), so we have been using a dressing of plain yogurt and a drizzle of lemon juice, they love it; crustless quiche, which is so incredibly easy… toss some spinach and bacon in a pan, swizz it around, put it in a baking dish with herbs and cheese or feta… whisk together a couple of eggs together and pour them over and pop it into a medium oven until it is set; add what you like to home made rolls or a flat bread; Chinese noodles with veggie’s; and I discovered that my kids love stew (especially if it has dumplings on top) and the father person hates it; so on our big cook day, I make a large stew at the same time and freeze that for a lunch time treat.
And I can Hear, What About Snacks: We don’t really eat snacks, there are always apples on the counter and for starving teen boys a loaf of shop bread (which is very much disdained, they all prefer home made bread). That being said, friends do snack… so there is usually popcorn they can pop or my kids love to bake if a friend is coming over, what’s not to celebrate and I am all for the occasional treat.
And the Se7en + 1th Thing…
Delicious Deserts: We tend to only eat desserts on very special occasions, and they are pretty seasonal… lots of fruity crumbles, or milk tart… both of these I make double and we have the second one for breakfast the next day. In winter it is baked apples all the way… or a baked lemon pudding. This summer we have eaten tons of roast peaches… it looks splendid and is pretty much “everything free” for all those visitors with unusual dietary requirements. Slice and take the pips out of your peaches, drizzle some honey on them and roast them in the oven until they are soft enough to put a skewer through them and they are starting to brown. We have served them with cream or ice-cream or yogurt and everybody loves them.
This week I am going to be working on the getting things done in the kitchen and will definitely get back to you with some projects next week… as we chat more about kitchen organising next week.
Previous Posts in our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series
I imagine by now most of us are starting to settle back into our year… our good intentions to live greener and relax more are either going really well or are flitting out of the window as we collapse into the regular old humdrum of life. So for those of you who would like to revive your good intentions to get up and get out there, I would like to encourage you to keep at it, small steps are better than no steps. And for those of you who would like to boost your year, let me tell you about GreenPop’s Weekends Away…
GreenPop is a volunteer based organisation in Cape Town dedicated to all things green and particularly to planting trees, thousands of them, in an effort to green our world. While our gang has been lucky enough to join them on tree planting days around town, I was lucky enough to join them for a ten day trip to Zambia a while back. I thought I was going to plant trees and had visions of digging holes in the dirt on the great plains of Africa, there was that, and tree planting but I learned so very much more. There really is so much more to planting a tree than planting a tree and we should seize the opportunity to plant them.
I learnt masses about green living and planted trees and connected and made friends in the heart of Africa. I understand not all of us can take a trip out of the country, but you can get involved by spending a weekend away with the GreenPop team during March. I have to say I love the idea of a weekend away, fun family time together in the great outdoors, and you get make friends, explore the environment and do something really worthwhile while you are there.
This isn’t just any tree planting, this is planting trees in Platbos, an ancient indigenous forest, close to the southern most tip of Africa. This forest needs protection and help in order to survive. The plan is that by planting new trees there each year, that the forest gets a fresh injection of life and can become more sustainable. You can learn more about the Platbos Forest here… and click on the image to see a video of the event…
I am definitely joining the Treevolution for the Forest Fest this year, can’t wait to plant some trees and bring the story back to our readers all over the world. If you are keen to attend either of the weekends away then click this way: The Family Festival from 10-12March 2017 and the Friend Festival 17-19 March 2017. Look at the links carefully, they will tell you all about the tickets, accommodation and food, as well as other essentials like transportation and directions. Everything you need to know is in the links… jump over to GreenPop and take a look.
Welcome to February… Just cannot believe that February is here already…
Click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out (landscape works better) and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!