Friday, July 30, 2010

Owl City

An unusual tiered owl brooch, courtesy of colleague, occasional blogger, day-dreamer and fellow brooch-lover, Keyna B.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Most Delicious Stir-fry, Like Ever

On the menu in The Villa last night was mushroom, broccoli and pork stir-fry. It was an experimental recipe and came out so well, I thought it was worth sharing.

  • Fillet of pork
  • Asian Sweet & Sour sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Fresh garlic, ginger and chillies
  • 1 onion
  • 2 punnets of mushrooms (go for different sizes like button and brown)
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Stir-fry oil (with a high burning point like peanut)
  • Asian noodles of your choice
Slice the pork and place in a dish, along with the halved and sliced onion, and a marinade mixture made of (approximate measurements, use your discretion): 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 2 teaspoons sweet & sour sauce, 60ml soy sauce, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 2 nubs crushed garlic. Allow to marinate while you slice and prepare other ingredients. Drain and save any excess marinade and fry the pork and onion mix in batches (so as to cook everything evenly and not overcrowd the wok) on a high heat. Remove and set aside. Add more oil and fry broccoli, adding the chillies and then the mushrooms with a little more sauce (you'll need more now, so mix the same ratios into whatever remained from the pork marinade). While the mushrooms fry, sweat and reduce, cook the noodles as the packet recommends (it's normally less than 10 minutes). When the liquid with the broccoli and mushrooms has reduced a little, add the spinach and let it wilt. Finally, add the pork, the rest of the marinade/sauce and the noodles. Mix and heat through. Serve and enjoy!

PS Let me know what you think of the recipe and how you would perfect/adapt the recipe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beautiful Brooches

I love, love brooches. I especially love brooches in the shape of birds and hearts – my favourite motifs. Lucky for me, I work in an office with a handful of women (we are seriously outnumbered by high-fiving, in-joke sharing, sport-talking blokes) who like brooches too. I so appreciate every brooch I spot – the often simplified, iconic shapes and patterns, the use of colour and sparkle, how it's been combined with an outfit and how every brooch usually has its own story and journey. This one is real vintage, a hand-me-down from mother to daughter, striking on a turquoise coat.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My LookBook 2: Some of My Favourite Things

Today's is one of those outfits composed of a few of my favourite accessories...
  • The colours – Red, white and navy. There's no US patriotism happening here, I just love the combination. Maybe it's a throwback from my teen years, with young, fresh-looking gorgeous Tommy Hilfiger models on my bedrooms walls. But I think it's the classic nautical theme. And I just plain love navy.
  • The stripes – I love stripes about as much as I love navy. This cardigan (nautical theme?) is one of my favourites.
  • The white shirt – Dressed up or down, there's nothing more classic or empowering than a tailored white shirt.
  • The scarf – A favourite accessory of mine, scarves are functional and stylish and I often use mine to add colour to an outfit. This one has sentimental value. It belonged to my late aunt who always looked immaculate and stylish. She wore bold, bright colours, which in my monochromatic world, I find inspiring. My sister chose it for me when she was sorting out my aunt's wardrobe after her death, because, of all the scraves, she thought this one said me. My sister, my mum and I all have one, each chosen for its appropriateness. I value the connection, to them and to my aunt.
  • The Postman belt – This vintage belt is a hand-me-down from my boyfriend. He bought it off a postman for R5 while he was at Rhodes University. I love how worn it is, I love its history and I love that it was his long before we met.
  • The ring – A gift from my boyfriend from the streets of Paris. I know, right?! We found a little jewelry shop (Metal Pontu) in the lanes, which makes interesting jewelry from recycled metals. We'd both promised ourselves – travelling on the rand – that we would only buy things we loved and classics we would keep forever and remember Paris by. We chose it together and this was his Paris for me.
  • The boots – It's such a cliche: "Invest in a good pair of boot". But these leather riding boots have been one of the most useful purchases. They've happily carried me through two seasons, on local and international streets and I love how they are wearing in. I remember the day I bought them, shopping with my mum and having buyer's remorse over the expense on my card, while we sat and had coffee. She lives far away and these boots, in a strange way, are an evocative link to her.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

For the Love of Le Creuset

There are many things I love about cooking. One of them is that I'm in control (usually, there was that time I put my lovely oven mits on a warm plate – it was off I'll have you know – and started smoking them). I'm seldom the sous chef, mostly in charge. I like to feel like I'm in control at least, and in the kitchen with the ingredients and the recipe and the ritual and the method, I can control my kingdom. And one of the satisfying things I love about cooking, is using the (sometimes nondescript) ingredients in the fridge to make something wonderful.

I went shopping on Sunday and bought what I thought were promising, practical ingredients for the week. Dependable basics that could be whipped up and adapted – stir fry ingredients or a salad, depending the mood and need. I made sure there were no risky, could-go-at-any-minute expiry dates, but everything was fresh and I knew I'd have to use them sometime this week. But it's been one of those weeks. Between deadline at work, the football and having foreign friends in town, Big Bird (The Boyfriend) and I haven't been home, let alone had time to make something from scratch, or even have a meal together. (My dinner last night consisted of biltong and Pringles, scoffed while getting ready in 20 minutes, and promptly followed by far too much alcohol.)

This evening, I got home from work at around 10pm, feeling tired and distracted, already thinking about all I have to do tomorrow. And the next day. I'd eaten at work and The Boyfriend was at dinner with friends, so the house was quiet and dark, except for our beloved Maine Coon, Leo, who was happy to love and be loved despite being abandoned all day. I opened the fridge and like Leo, I was greeted with forlorn looks from the jilted ingredients. So after watching the surprise discovery of an episode of "Sex & the City" (a lucky find, as I don't think I would have gotten away with it if remote-hogging The Boyfriend had been home!) I decided to whip up the ingredients into something we could take to work (oh, did I mention we have a birthday party tomorrow night, so we won't be home then either). I turned off the TV and put on some big band background music and began to chop. Incidentally, that's another reason why I love cooking – all the chopping and organised prepping. Must be something to do with control, again.

The result is a French shallot and leek soup with chunky, smoky bacon and garlic, of course. But – the kernel of the story – (I do tend to go off on a tangent) I feel relaxed. The ritual, the vigorous chopping (some might have said aggressive chopping) and the crying over the onions have all distracted and settled me. I could have read, but I do that all day for my job. I could have vegetated on the couch, but I fear I would never have been able to get up again. I could have packed away our washing, but, let's face it, that wouldn't have relaxed me. The smell of cooking has made everything familiar again. The house is still empty, but it feels warmer and fuller.