Book Smash

I have a Goodreads account and this year I decided to take part in the reading challenge.

I set myself what I thought was a decent challenge of 100 books to read in 2017. And then promptly smashed through it at the end of April, so I increased it to 250 books.

Some info on my reading habits:

  • I read mostly romance, fantasy and sci-fi with some chic-lit and comedy thrown in.
  • My average book in 2016 was 232 pages.
  • My average reading time per book is 2-3 days.
  • Although on the weekend I can read 2-4 books in 2 days.
  • I read on the Kindle app on my phone (and now on my iPad since I had the screen replaced).
  • I read pretty much everywhere, at the bus stop, waiting for the rice to cook, waiting for the bath to run, in the line at the grocery store, at the park while the kids play, if I have a minute here or there I am reading.
  • I do NOT read on the bus (major motion sickness) or in the bath (major klutz).
  • I’ve been known to read right through the night and go to work without sleeping.
  • Because of my voracious reading habits I tend to use BookBub to find free or really cheap books from Amazon.
  • Even though most of my books come free, I am more than happy to purchase an entire series or other books by an author (at full price) if I enjoy the freebie.
  • I also try and leave reviews wherever I can.
  • I am part of a 7000+ member secret (or not so secret) book club on Facebook.
  • I also review books for the member authors of the above book club.

All that being said, I am going to go back to putting up book reviews on my blog so keep your eyes peeled for some interesting reads.

I’m still here. I promise.

I haven’t even opened my blog since the end of March and even then I only posted two catch up posts about Aaron and Faith.

I guess I sort of lost my writing mojo. I was happier just to read other peoples words than create my own. But the last few days I’ve found myself opening up a fresh post, getting ready to write and then closing the post.

Today, I figured that in order to get back on the horse I should just write a few words, something to get me going again.

So, hi. Here I am. Writing some words. 

Hopefully there will be some more tomorrow.

Your Favourite Things – Faith

TV programme:  You love She-Ra and He-Man.
iPhone App: You have a music app that you use to create songs on Abba’s iPad.
Meal:  As long as it involves chocolate its your favourite.
Fruit:  Apples and bananas.
Vegetable:  You love eating trees (broccoli) and clouds (cauliflower).
Breakfast:  Chocolate cereal. Duh!
Drink:  Strawberry juice.
Toy:  You love the new headphones we bought you. Now you can listen to the music you make without driving us nuts.
You love: Chocolate, your taggies and swimming (You cant wait for the pool to open for the summer).

 

Something that happened yesterday: We went to see the new Beauty and the Beast, you loved it but every time there was a scary part you grabbed my hand and put it over your eyes. You also have such a sensitive soul, you cried when the bad guy dies.

Your Favourite Things – Aaron

TV programme:  We recently finished watching the White Rabbit Project and you keep asking when the new season will be starting.
iPhone App: Clash Royale
Meal:  Pizza. I don’t think this will ever change.
Fruit:  You don’t really like fruit. Apples at a push.
Vegetable:  Fresh carrots and cucumbers.
Breakfast:  Pretty much anything, oats, cereal, toast.
Drink:  Water. My healthy child.
Toy:  When Nana was here in December she brought you a VR headset, unfortunately its not compatible with your current phone, but we will work on that.
You love: Making YouTube videos about games you are playing.

Something that happened yesterday: We went on a tiyul in the Ben Shemen Forest and you picked pine cones for me to add the my pine cone vase, you made sure every one was perfect. 

Gobble gobble gobble

Last night, while scavenging the freezer for something to make for dinner, I found a turkey breast tucked away in the back of a draw.

I forgot I had it and we haven’t had turkey in a while so there was all kinds of excitement.

Except… I always make turkey breast in a tomato and red wine sauce and that sounded boring. So I created a new recipe.

 

Sweet Chili Turkey
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 large turkey breast. Mine was skinless and boneless but it would work with skin too.
  2. 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
  3. 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon sweet chili flakes
  5. Olive oil
  6. Lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. In a pirex dish or oven proof dish with a lid, place the turkey breast skin side up if you are using one with skin.
  3. layer the onion around and on top of the turkey.
  4. Sprinkle the garlic and sweet chili over the top of the breast.
  5. Drizzle the oil and lemon juice to taste over the breast.
  6. Cover and bake for 50 minutes.
Notes
  1. If you use a breast with skin, remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes so the skin gets crispy.
  2. The turkey came out moist and delicious and the lemon juice and olive oil made a nice sauce to pour over rice or couscous.
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

Mrs Balls, eat your heart out!

So a while back I mentioned that one of the things I missed from South Africa was Mrs Balls Chutney

While you can get Mrs Balls in Israel it comes at a premium since it’s a specialty import. 

So I decided to make my own. And it’s delicious!

For some reason my recipe card add on isnt working so please excuse the ugly recipe below… I found a new recipe add on so now the recipe is all pretty!

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Fruit Chutney Recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 20 mins
 
A traditional South African fruit chutney. **The recipe requires that you leave the fruit soaking in water over night, the times below do not include the soak time*
Servings: 6 jars
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 500 g dried pears
  • 500 g dried peach
  • 500 g dried apples (I didnt have apple but I did have mango so I substituted)
  • 500 g dates
  • 500 g sultanas
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic , pressed
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon sweet chili mix
Instructions
  1. Roughly (or finely) chop all the fruit.
  2. Place in a bowl and cover with the water.
  3. Leave over night.
  4. The next day place the fruit in a large heavy bottomed pot.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot and mix well.
  6. Bring to the boil.
  7. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours.
  8. Bottle the mixture into clean glass jars while still hot.
  9. You can eat the chutney straight away but it’s better to let it mature for a few weeks (6-8 is recommended).
Recipe Notes

This time I couldn’t find any dried apple in the store so I left it out.

Basically you can add or leave out any of the fruits depending on availability or the taste you are looking for.

If you don’t have rubber sealed lids on your jars, then place some wax paper between the jar and the lid before sealing.

You can eat the chutney straight away but it’s better to let it mature for a few weeks (6-8 is recommended).

 

Winter Wonder… when it will end

Its no secret I don’t like winter. I don’t like being cold. I don’t like the icy wind. I don’t like the sideways rain.

I’m constantly cold and my neck is always sore from tensing my muscles. I haven’t been able to feel my nose or my toes for months.

I also realised a few days ago that I am looking decidedly ill. I’m pale and pasty and meh. My skin alternates between extreme dryness and over oiliness.

I’m tired of my winter clothes, wearing socks (yuck) and being bundled up in layers all the time. I feel frumpy and uninspired and just generally gross.

And just when I thought we were on our way to spring, seeing almond trees in blossom and the gorgeous wild Red Poppy Anemone in the fields, with the weather getting warmer, it all came crashing down this week.

Anemone-coronaria-2016-Zachi-Evenor

Its currently 11ºC and raining and not looking any better for the rest of the week either. This morning I not only stepped in a giant puddle when I got off the bus but an idiot driver drove past and splashed me from head to toe.

Can spring hurry the frack up? Please!

Its not just banana bread

So I mentioned that I bought a stand mixer the other day. Well, it arrived and so far I have made 2 batches of challah using the dough hook (NEVER kneading dough again!) as well as a batch of cinnamon muffins and on Friday I made an apple and banana bread/muffin recipe.

I have absolutely no idea what prompted me to add apples into the mix but I’m glad I did. They were amazing!

Apple Banana Bread
Yummy fresh apple and banana bread.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 large grated or finely chopped apples (I used 2 green and 1 red and left the skin on)
  2. 3 large ripe or overripe bananas, mashed
  3. 2 cups sugar (I used sugar replacement)
  4. 3 cups flour
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 2/3 cup of oil
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla (I didn't have so didn't add and it was absolutely fine)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and grease 2 loaf pans or like I did, 1 loaf pan and 2-3 muffin trays (12-18 muffins).
  2. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. Mix well, ensuring all the flour is incorporated.
  4. Separate batter into the desired pans and place in the oven.
  5. For loafs, bake for about 1 hour.
  6. For muffins bake for between 30 minutes and 45 minutes.
Notes
  1. The original recipe called for half a cup chopped nuts and half a cup raisins. I had neither on hand so didn't add them and the recipe came out fine. You could also add craisins or even chocolate chips to this recipe and it would be delicious.
Adapted from Food.com
Adapted from Food.com
A Bit of This A Bit of That http://gnatj.com/

Retro TV

 

What does one do in winter, when it is too cold to go outside, you don’t have a car and there is no public transport on a Saturday?

Why, one pops some corn, cuddles under a blanket with the family and watches childhood favourites on Netflix!

A while back we decided to introduce the kids to an 80’s classic, Back to the Future.

They LOVED it!

We have since watched the following two Back to the Future sequels, The Never Ending Story, The Princess Bride, Jurassic Park, A Knights Tale and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

We have also introduced the kids to such classics as He-Man, She-Ra and most recently Inspector Gadget.

I love that our kids are excited by the movies and TV shows that we enjoyed when we were their ages. And its a kick to go back and enjoy those shows again ourselves.

What are some of your favourite childhood movies and shows?

Kitchen Gadgets

Its no secret that I love cooking and baking.

I also love kitchen gadgets. From small gadgets like the all in one apple slicer & corer to the larger gadgets like mixers and blenders.

Here are a few of my favourite gadgets in no particular order:

  • Apple slicer and corer. I use this almost daily to slice apples for the kids.
  • Nespresso machine. Also gets used daily.
  • My new slow cooker. I’ve only made a few things in it and I’ve yet to leave it on during the day while I’m at work, but I really love it so far. Its made cooking for a Friday night so much less stressful.
  • My chopper/dicer. I bought this little gadget for ₪20 and its a life saver when I want to dice up veggies really quickly into small bits. It also ensures I don’t dice my fingers along with the veggies.
  • The Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker. This little hand held mortar and pestle is so much fun to use. I often find that some of the dried herbs I have are too big, and if the pieces are too big then the children complain that there are sticks in their food. This gadget grinds all the herbs in a few seconds.
  • Waffle machine. We have a small waffle machine that gets used at least once a month if not more. It makes 2 square waffles at a time so its a bit slow but Saturday night dinners are never more fun than waffle dinners.
  • Braun hand blender. We were given this nifty little gadget when we got married (almost 11 years ago) and its never let me down. I use it to mince onions and carrots and other veggies, I use the whisk attachment when I make (waffle) batters, I use the immersion blender when I make soup. Best gadget ever! 

This weekend a friend gave us a halogen air cooker which I cant wait to try out. Apparently you can do everything from a full roast meal to baking a cake in it. I’m pretty sure this is  also going to become one of my favourite gadgets.

The one thing missing from my kitchen is a stand mixer.

Seriously, you wont believe this but as I finished typing that last sentence my boss walked into our office and said “Who needs a stand mixer?” 

She had found a Kenwood Chef Classic being sold for half price on a ‘daily deal’ type site. So I have now bought myself a stand mixer!

I cannot wait for it to arrive!! 

What gadgets can you not live without? And what gadgets have you bought but never use?