Thursday, 26 May 2016

Smashed and salted potatoes

The ultimate comfort food to accompany your favourite Sunday roast on a cold, Winter's day.

Olive oil
Course salt
Fresh ground pepper
Chopped fresh garlic (a clove per every 2 potatoes)
Fresh rosemary leaves chopped fine (reserve a few sprigs per serving as garnish)
Balsamic vinegar (a tbsp for every 2 potatoes)

1. Place potatoes in a pot of cold water, add salt and bring to the boil and cook them until they are soft and slightly resist a knife. Avoid overcooking because they will get too mushy.
2. Pour olive oil onto a baking tray and spread it around evenly with a brush.
3. When the potatoes are done (about 12 minutes after boiling), strain and put them on the tray, cut the potatoes from the top into quarters – then using a large fork crush them down so they flatten a bit. Don’t mash them.
4. Drizzle the tops with olive oil (you should have slight puddles of oil when you are all done, but not a bath) and then add a heavy sprinkling of salt and fresh ground pepper, as well as some fresh rosemary, chopped garlic and a light sprinkling of balsamic vinegar.
5. Put the potatoes into a preheated oven 200ºC. Let them cook for about 35 minutes checking regularly to make sure they don’t go burn. They should come out nice and crispy.
6. Serve them with an additional sprinkle of salt and a sprig of fresh rosemary as a garnish.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How to improve your finances

Money worries are one of the main contributors to stress and problems in marriage and families. But it doesn’t have to be like that, even if you earn a minimum wage. Sometimes the solution is as easy as simply changing your mindset. Here are six ways your attitude towards money can improve your finances and your life:

Knowledge is power
To take control of your financial well-being you need to make sure you understand every aspect of where your money goes and where it comes from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get information from banks and insurance or investment salesman before you make financial decisions. No matter what you earn, there is someone who can help you manage your money.

Budget your money
Take your final income after deductions (e.g. tax) and measure it against your absolute minimum necessities. Keep track of these on a simple spreadsheet. Budget your money for expenses like rent, bond, food, clothing, electricity, water, rates etc. Paying off credit card debt and looking at options to decrease your monthly banking fees are also important for improving your finances.

Don’t buy what you don’t need

Many people struggle to determine what they need and what they want. Most individuals do not know the difference and find themselves planning for nice-to-haves and neglecting the must-haves.

Consider your lifestyle choices

Think about how your lifestyle choices affect your available money. Example: drinking and smoking are wants and not needs and they are both very expensive. Choosing to save this money will take you one step closer to improving your finances.

You can treat yourself occasionally
Treat luxuries as wants and not needs, but reward yourself occasionally. This could be as simple as a nice restaurant meal at the end of the month, a party with some friends, or a big screen TV at the end of the year. Just make sure you save your money and can really afford it.

Spend your money smartly

• Always bear in mind that paying upfront for items like public transport or school fees usually decreases their costs.
• Pay your bills on time so you aren’t charged interest.
• Having a long term plan will make it much easier to reach your financial goals.

While the tools for improving your finances are always readily available to you at banks and other financial services, changing your mindset towards money is the first step. Planning how you’re going to spend your money and sticking to that plan will go a long way in improving your finances and your quality of life.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Chickpea curry

A hearty chickpea curry will keep your family's tummies full.

Splash of olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp ginger root, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans whole tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¾ cup coconut milk
1½ tsp sugar
2 cups shredded chickn, cooked
½ cup plain yoghurt
¼ cup coriander, coarsely chopped
1 lemon

Heat the oil and butter in a pot over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, garam masala and cayenne pepper and sauté for around five minutes until the onion is softened and translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the chickpeas.
3. Bring the mixture to a summer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk and sugar and season with salt. Cook for a further five minutes.
4. Adjust seasoning as desired. Serve the curry with rice, a sprinkle of coriander and a squeeze of lemon.
TIP: For a meatier version, add some cooked, chopped chicken breast to the mixture or slice it over the top.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Life philosophies

Here's some advice on how you can create the best life for yourself:

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Marry someone you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversation skills will be most important.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you," mean it; when you say "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
5. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
6. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
7. Never laugh at anyone's dream. People who don't have dreams, don't have much.
8. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
9. In disagreements, fight fairly. NO name-calling.
10. Don't judge people by their relatives.
11. Talk slowly, but think quickly.
12. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
13. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.
14. When you realise you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
15. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Add flavour with herbs

If you're not very experienced in the kitchen then knowing which herbs to pair with which ingredients can be tricky, but it is so important for a tasty dish! Here is a quick Club guide to your most useful herbs.

Rosemary: Use stems of this herb that are 25-30cm long as skewer sticks for delicious “sosaties” or kebabs.
Great for: any kind of meat including fish and chicken and on eggs and vegetables.

Coriander: Coriander seeds are often used for pickling and the leaves are widely used in cuisines of India, Mexico, the Orient and the Caribbean.
Great for: chicken, fish, lamb and vegetables dishes.

Sweet basil: This should always be added to hot food at the last moment before serving to retain as much of the flavour as possible.
Great for: egg and vegetable dishes.

Sage: A Mediterranean herb that is best used fresh.
Great for: any dish, but not often used for fish.

Oreganum: Similar to marjoram, but not as sweet and has a more pungent flavour.
Great for: chicken, fish, lamb, eggs and vegetables.

Chives: A member of the leek and onion family, they are a good source of vitamin A.
Great for: chicken, fish, egg and vegetable dishes.

Thyme: One of the few herbs that can withstand long hours of cooking without losing its flavour. Lemon thyme compliments roast chicken in particular.
Great for: any dish, but not often used in pork dishes.

Quick tips:
• Aroma is a good indicator of quality in both fresh and dried herbs. A weak or stale aroma indicates old or less potent herbs.
• Herbs should enhance and balance, not overpower a dish’s flavours. When used with discretion, herbs can transform the taste of plain foods into something special.
• Fresh herbs should be minced, cut or torn as close to serving time as possible.
• Dried herbs are usually added early in the cooking process. For uncooked preparations, fresh herbs should be added well in advance of serving, to give them a chance to blend with the other elements of the dish.

Handling and storing herbs:
Whole spices will keep their flavour indefinitely, as long as they are kept in tightly closed containers away from heat and light. Ground spices and herbs will keep their flavour for up to a year after purchase (whether opened or unopened), as long as they were fresh when purchased and kept in closed containers in a cool place. If kept at room temperature, herbs and spices will keep for only six months. Never store herbs and spices next to or above the stove, as this will shorten their life.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Chocolate trifle

There are many ways to make trifle, but we love this mini chocolate trifle that looks great when prepared in individual glasses.

Sponge cake
Strawberry jam
Chocolate sauce
Whipped cream
Chopped up fruit – optional
Crumbled flake or grated chocolate for the top

Layer all the ingredients starting with the sponge cake at the bottom.
2. Then add a layer of jam and fruit, then the custard, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
3. Repeat this process until your glass is full. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle some chocolate over the top.
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