Thursday, October 27, 2005

Life without Chocolate

Some friends of mine, no names mentioned, have decided to give up chocolate. They are so serious about it that they have placed money (actually stuff) on it. I think it has been 3 weeks so far... A degree of stubbornness is required and they have both tried to tempt the other in order to win... Chocolate body paint has been mentioned...A lot! All I have to say is good for them. I haven't managed to give up any of my vices and I seem to be picking up more as time goes by!

Just because I have a rather sadistic sense of humor here is my best ever recipe for chocolate brownies... Better than body paint I swear!

Orgasmic Chocolate Brownies

350g dark chocolate
250g butter
2 tsp coffee powder dissolved in water
3 eggs
225g castor sugar
75g self raising flour
5ml vanilla essence
175g hazelnuts (or other, pecan work nicely)
150g white chocolate (chopped)

Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in the microwave (about 2 minutes) with the coffee. Whisk the eggs (no need to go too wild just break them up a bit). Add the castor sugar and whisk until mixed. Add the flour and vanilla essence. Mix in the melted chocolate, white chocolate chips and nuts and pour into a well greased tin (approx 22cm square tin). Cook for 30 minutes at 180deg C or until firm. Allow to cool and I mean cold here. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Getting old

So I held my first dinner party as a single on Saturday. I can happily report that it was a great success. I was speaking to some of my work mates the other day and the baby of the group asked if life was more boring as you get older. The answer from the grannies of the group (that includes me) was a resounding "no"! We did agree that the desire to go out clubbing was severely subdued with age. But Caroline, one of the other grannies, said that as you get older you get more sophisticated at living it up. Her comment was that now when we have dinner parties everyone arrives with at least two bottles of wine because we have learnt the hard way that one just isn't enough! This pretty much summed up my Saturday night dinner party.

The other thing about getting older is that, probably as a result of all the wine, our bodies are a little more fragile than they were when we were 18. So catering to a wine drinking, decrepit crowd means "dietary requirements". I take all the blame here as I can't quite get my mind around the attitude that if they don't like it they can leave it. And it makes a great excuse for not making dessert when you are feeling VERY lazy!

Anyway, the long and the short of this is that I finally settled on making roast chicken and nice fresh veggies. So here is an easy lazy recipe for roast chicken pieces.

Lazy Chicken

chicken pieces (as many as you need to feed the folks, allow at least 2 per person)
cloves of garlic
2 lemons
handful of thyme
black pepper
2 cups of chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 180deg C. Arrange the chicken pieces on a deep baking tray. Peel the garlic and place in the baking tray. Grate the zest of the lemons over the chicken and squeeze the juice into the baking tray. Sprinkle all the other ingredients over the chicken, place in the oven and bake until the chicken is brown and cooked through. The stock makes a kind of gravy. Serve with baked potatoes and salad for the low fat option.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Biltong and boerewors

I spent the weekend at my high school reunion in Pretoria. My first impression of Pretoria in October was "wow, what a beautiful place to live". The jacarandas were as beautiful as I have ever seen them. All the gardens are beyond compare. I spent a happy day catching up with old friends and looking around the school. It was very affirming to see that everyone looks just the same. There appear to be two camps. Those that have married and had children and feel obliged to tell everyone just how happy they are and those of us that are unmarried/childless/single/sick of our original careers/all of the above. I was worried that I would be the only one...

We had a rather pedestrian lunch in the school hall. Starter of bread rolls and pates (chicken liver, cheese and biltong). Followed by a buffet style main of roast lamb, chicken pie, potato salad, bean salad and green salad. Topped off with fruit salad, ice cream and meringues. There was something about this menu that reminded me of my childhood. I found it very comforting.

So here is the Great PGHS recipe that we have all been waiting for....

Biltong Pate (a true south African original made my way)

100g finely ground biltong
250g cream cheese
5ml cumin, ground
5ml coriander, ground
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Place in serving bowl and serve with fresh bread. Very Pretoria!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I have spent the last few days trying to fight off a bout of the flu. Not funny stuff! Sadly missing work despite life threatening illness is considered a terrible weakness so no lazing in bed for me. It comes as no huge surprise to me that my last few weeks of hectic partying have come back to haunt me. But I have been trying every herbal and hardcore cure I can and I think I am on the mend. The girls at work are all fighting off the same thing and here is our tried and tested recipe for restoring ginger tea.

one knob of ginger
1 lemon
honey to taste

Grate the ginger into a large pot and cover with boiling water. (I use the microplane grater as it grates very finely and without too much washing up but a normal grater will do) Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the juice of a lemon and honey to taste. Strain and serve. Al really likes this cold like a kind of ginger beer. If you are in need of a hot toddy just add a tot of brandy. But beware this has quite a kick. I make a large batch and store it in the fridge and just heat a cup in the micro when I am in need. On the whole this recipe makes one feel wonderfully virtuous and Caroline insists that it makes her skin incredibly soft, not to mention that ginger is shown to improve the immune system and kill off various viruses...