My son the chef.

For a little while now, Aaron has been wanting to cook with me.

Last week he decided that he wanted to do all the cooking without me.

So, with a little guidance in recipes and how to execute them, Aaron cooked dinner for us every night last week.

Here is what he has made so far.

  • Mashed potatoes (that he then added onto left over mince to make a cottage pie)
  • Hot dogs with fried onions
  • Chicken breasts in soy and sweet chili sauce
  • Couscous
  • Burgers
  • Spaghetti Bolognese

Tonight he is going to make mac and cheese.

There have only been a few #KitchenKlutz incidents, a scraped knuckle while peeling potatoes and burned finger tips from a hot pot handle. But that’s to be expected, he takes after his mother after all.

Photo by Paul

I’m ordering some kids cookbooks for him so he can continue to learn and explore the kitchen.

If you have any easy, kid friendly recipes you love, please feel free to share them.

Cheesecake and Berry Weekend

I’ve been craving cheesecake for over a week and even though I bought all the ingredients last week I only managed to make it this week.

It was so easy and delicious.

Easy Cheesecake with Berry Reduction
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 


Course: Dessert
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 packet plain biscuits, Petit Bur or Tennis Biscuits
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted margerine
  • 1 pinch salt
Filling
  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 splash vanilla essence
Toppinb
  • 1 package mixed berries or berries of choice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon thickening agent (corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
Crust
  1. Using a food processor (or a plastic bag and a rolling pin), break up the biscuits until they are a medium to fine powder, bigger bits are ok too.

  2. Add the sugar, salt and margarine and mix well.

  3. Prepare a round springform or pie dish and press the crumb mixture into the base, pressing it slightly up the sides.

  4. Set aside.

Filling
  1. With a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

  2. Gently pour the mixture over the crumb base.

  3. Bake in a 180C oven for 30 minutes.

  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool before adding the berry topping.

Topping
  1. While the cake is baking, add the berries, water, sugar and thickener to a pot on your stove.

  2. Mix well and bring to a rapid boil.

  3. Drop the temperature to a simmer and allow the berries to reduce by 1/3.

  4. Allow the berries to cool before pouring over the top of the cooled cheese cake.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Easy Cheesecake

3 Years

We have been living in Israel for just over three years now.

Some days it feels like yesterday and some days it feels like forever.

My Hebrew still sucks but my kids are fluent.

They are both doing well in school (with some serious encouragement) and have so many friends.

Im still at my awesome job and Paul is freelancing and being an amazing house husband (I hardly ever have to do a load of laundry myself).

We have amazing friends, Israelis and Expats.

You cant ask for anything more.

Life is good.

A taste of autumn.

After experiencing an unseasonably warm autumn in Israel, we had highs of 29C, its finally started getting cold and rainy.

What better way to spend a cold morning than baking?

I decided that cinnamon-y stewed apples were the way to go, and it just so happened we had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I also had the last of my Moir’s custard powder from SA that was begging to be used. 

Apple crumble was a go!

Hot Apple Crumble
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 


Course: Dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and diced into 2cm chunks (I used Granny Smiths, you can use any type though)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or marge
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

  2. Place the diced apple, first lot of sugar and cinnamon, and the water into a pot.

  3. Bring to the boil while stirring and then drop to a low simmer.

  4. Keep stirring until the apples have softened.

  5. Place apples and any syrup into a pie dish.

  6. To make the crumble, using your hands, mix the flour, remaining sugar, butter, and cinnamon until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

  7. Pour the flour mixture over the apples in an even layer.

  8. Bake the pie for about 30 min.

  9. Serve hot with ice cream and custard.

Your Favourite Things – Faith

TV programme:  Anything horse or unicorn related.
iPhone App: You have a number of horse games, where you raise a horse from a foal.
Meal:  Peanut butter sandwiches (this is a default because you dont like anything else).
Fruit:  Bananas.
Vegetable:  Carrots.
Breakfast:  Chocolate cereal. Duh!
Drink:  Strawberry Banana juice.
Toy:  Does the iPad count?
You love: Horses!!

 

Something that happened yesterday: We went to watch Aaron ride his new bike, you took your scooter with but spent most of the time hanging upside down off the handrail on the steps. My little monkey!

Your Favourite Things – Aaron

TV programme:  You have started watching The Orville with mom and dad. You think its pretty funny.
iPhone App: Good question, you dont really play on the iPhone so much, you prefer the computer.
Meal:  PIZZA!
Fruit:  Apples.
Vegetable:  You tried brussel sprouts the other day and liked them.
Breakfast:  Yogurt, cereal, toast.
Drink: Whatever dad is drinking.
Toy:  You still love Nerf guns and also your computer.
You love: Coding. You are doing some courses that dad has done and starting to build your own sites.

Something that happened yesterday:  You got into bed and fell asleep while waiting for me to come tuck you in. It must have been a really busy day for you. 

The Magician’s Curse – A Book Review

Title: The Magician’s Curse
Author: Linda G. Hill
Series: The Great Dagmaru
Genre: Romance, Gothic Romance, Fantasy
Stars: *****
Goodreads
Amazon

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?

Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

My Review

If you’re a fan of fantasy, intrigue and gothic romance then this is the book for you. 

The chemistry between Stephen and Herman is enough to make your Kindle start to smoke. 

And with a well rounded, and intriguing in their own right, cast of secondary characters, not a page goes by without something to catch your imagination. 

I would have loved to see more of Stephens magic but with a second book around the corner to carry on Stephen and Hermans story, I’m sure we will have plenty of opportunity for more magic.

*I reviewed this book for #TBConFB 

Got yogurt?

We did.

1.5L of Greek style yogurt.

Before it went bad I decided to look up a few recipes to use it up.

Two that stuck out were Snickerdoodle Cake and Frozen Yogurt Bark.

Both turned out delicious!

Snickerdoodle Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 


Course: Dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Greek style labour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare 2 loaf pans.

  2. In a small bowl mix most of the cinnamon and 6 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside.

  3. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.

  4. In your electric mixer (or a large bowl), cream the butter, sugar and oil on medium speed for about 1 minute.

  5. Add the eggs and mix.

  6. Add the vanilla and yogurt and mix until just combined.

  7. Add in the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined.

  8. Scoop a 6th of the batter into each loaf tin, sprinkle a thick layer of cinnamon sugar over the batter, repeat 2 more times, ending with a cinnamon sugar layer.

  9. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from the tins.

  11. Serve warm with a little butter spread on.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Betty Crocker

 

Frozen Yogurt Bark
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 10 mins
 

Got some Greek style yogurt left over? This is a really quick and easy way to use it up.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Greek Style Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey You can add more or less depending on your taste
  • 1/2 cup fillings/toppings of your choice raisins, craisins, nuts, marshmallows, frozen berries, fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam heated until runny
Instructions
  1. Mix the yogurt and the honey until well combined.

  2. Add in any fillings you want.

  3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or tin foil.

  4. Pour the yogurt onto the baking sheet. Thickness depends on you.

  5. Add desired toppings.

  6. Drizzle the strawberry jam over the top.

  7. Freeze for no less than 4 hours.

  8. Remove from freezer and break into pieces.

  9. Store in a sealed container in the freezer.

Mindfulness

Yesterday, a friend gently reminded me that our words become our truth.

The more we say something, be it negative or positive, the more those words, that thought, becomes reality.

I was irritated with someone and I called them stupid. She reminded me that people make mistakes and that there can be miscommunication from both sides and that even though I was annoyed it didn’t make this person stupid. 

She was right. The more I called this person stupid, the more annoyed I got and the more inclined I was to view anything to do with them in a negative light.

The fact is this person is not stupid, they do not deserve to be thought of that way and I was not only doing them a disservice but myself as well. I am not generally a negative person. I tend to see the best in people but now I was only seeing the negative.

From now I will remember to take a moment, deal with the issue for what it is, and not let my thoughts and especially my words become negative and toxic.

 

My words are my truth and my truth is positivity.

Live long and prosper.

About a year ago we adopted Spock.  Our first Israeli pet.

In retrospect we should have called him Flash. He is super fast, never sits still for a moment and eats everything in site.

He is also the sweetest little rodent ever. He never bites, unless you wake him up and is happy to climb on your hands and run around exploring.

This is how he likes to sleep, all smooshed in the corner with his nose in the air

Last Friday I noticed he had a lump at the top of his hind leg. It didn’t seem to be bothering him too much, he was still running on his wheel and eating and drinking, so I wasn’t too concerned about getting him to the vet until Sunday (by the time I noticed it all the vets were closed and they are not open on a Saturday so we had to wait).

On Sunday I asked a colleague to help me call the local vet who deals with rodents and make an appointment, except it turns out she is on maternity leave and her replacement doesn’t deal with rodents.

They referred us to two other vets, both of them quite far away for someone who doesn’t have a car. The one would require a taxi to get to and the other would require a 30 minute bus ride.

We called the one that was on a bus route and made an appointment for that night. Except then my bus didn’t arrive and I had to cancel the appointment and then it turns out the vet that deals with rodents only works one night a week and if I wanted to take Spock to them it would  have to be during the morning.

So the next morning we called the vet that needed a taxi to get to and they do deal with rodents just not with rodents that have lumps on their legs. 

So in the end I convinced Paul (who really doesn’t like rodents) to take him to the vet this morning.

Apparently the lump is something that older hamsters tend to get. Turns out that even though the pet store told us Spock was only a month old he was actually closer to a year old when we got him. The vet said that looking at his teeth, the loss of hair on his legs (they are almost bald) and the presence of the lump indicate he is closer to 2 years old now. And at two years old, she doesn’t recommend biopsy or an operation to remove the lump as long as he is not in pain.

While Paul had him at the vet they noticed his one eye was not open properly and they think there is an infection so they gave us drops to put in 4 times a day. I can see this being akin to bathing a cat.

So, in a nutshell, the hamster is OK and my husband is amazing for taking him to the vet for me (and for taking him back this Thursday for his follow up).