Thursday, 30 July 2009
Sunday, 07 June 2009
Days days ahead of planning, chopping, baking, shopping lists and the best part of all - choosing books. I had an awesome time spending a morning at Exclusive Books choosing a nice little stalagmite of books to persue. I had already checked out the Booker prize lists for the past few years and had a few ideas of what I wanted. How odd though, as much of a bookworm that I am, it was the first time I had really indulged in buying books. And it was lovely.
The evening was lovely, luckily the cold weather held off and we could enjoy ourselves outside. I kept the food pretty simple, not to detract from the books of course. So to start it was 101 Cookbooks Vegetarian Split Pea soup, with Martha Stewart's Mac & Cheese to follow and finishing off with a slightly burnt Sour Cream Coffee Cake from Nectar & Light.
Of my books put forward, these were chosen:
An American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld
6 Suspects - Vikas Swarup
Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
Happy Reading until next month!
Monday, 30 March 2009
This is the thought that ran laps up and down my mind as I walked up and down the Pavillion shopping centre searching for falafel balls. The tone of this mantra ranged from pride-filled declaration (9 ½ months pregnant and hosting book club! Yes!) to joking at the absurdity of it all (Come on! 9 ½ months pregnant and hosting book club? What was I thinking?!) and then later, through the lump in my throat, as I stood in the third shopping centre of the day, still without the falafel balls, I could but whimper, in a completely and utterly depressed tone, “Please, I’m 9 ½ months pregnant and hosting book club, I need help, I just need to find falafel balls”.
That was me on the phone to the guy who makes the falafel after I tracked down 1 little measly tub of 12 balls at the Everfresh in Cowie Road (newly renamed Problem Mkize). He tried to help but couldn’t so in the end I just decided to get various balls resembling falafel which would fit in a pita along with hummus, tahini and Israeli salad. So much for a simple meal plan.
After all that I abandoned the idea of whipping up my own home-made halvah ice-cream and just went with a tub of Nestle’s best for dessert instead. I still have all the ingredients in my fridge apart from the halvah, which I have managed to work my way through. Anyone for 2 tubs of fresh cream?
Once I was home, with my shoes off and an old mix CD playing through the DVD speakers, I felt much better. In fact, I found the chopping of ingredients for the salad and the soup rather therapeutic. Until I realized that half the ingredients bought from Pick ‘n Pay were rotten and all that chopping therapy went down the drain. Luckily my hubby picked up the bits and pieces on his way home from work and by the time the girls arrived the table was set with candles, the new books were laid out enticingly and a 3 course dinner sat waiting in the wings. I could have made a little effort with my own appearance, but I only realized that after everyone left and I caught a shocking glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Needless to say, I didn’t go into labour and the evening was a great success. We have four new books in circulation and all were quick to find homes for the month. While I look forward to hearing the reviews, I may have to skip next month’s book club because I will have a brand new baby to care for and I have now learnt the lesson about making over-ambitious commitments when it’s not just myself I’m looking out for anymore…
Thursday, 26 March 2009
If you're looking for a no-brainer, you're in the right place.
In fact... You're not just in the right place. You've actually just bought a house there and you're probably the mayor of the town!
I didn't know that a book about sex could be this boring.
If you're gonna write about smut, GIVE US SOME SMUT DAMMIT! The badly written constant teasing that something juicy is on the next page drove me mad.
Noodle, is it too late for a refund from the bookstore? Hehehe...
Don't feel bad, though! I've wasted many a good cent on books I thought would be incredible, but they weren't. When you spend as much as we do on the actual price of books, wouldn't it be great if there was some guarantee that the book would deliver every time?
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Ok, so now about dinner... I must say that when the decision was made to change to each others' houses for book club, I was a little nervous. I am a perfectionist in the kitchen and really was not sure how I would ever be able to serve up a 3 course tasty meal, in-style and in-time.
The menu is always key, the simpler the better. I tend to over complicate things, that can be done in a much easier way. This time round, I went for a simple menu that was easy to pull together and obviously vegetarian all the way.
Starters - Steamed asparagus with homemade balsamic, honey and mustard sauce dribbled over them – yummy, so easy and totally healthy.
Mains – Brinjal, pesto & mozzarella stacks. These caused me some panic. Once I had prepared them I decided to place them in the warmer drawer till the clubbers arrived, when I checked on them the mozzarella had melted so much that the perfect stacks were now nothing more then leaning towers of pizza. It’s amazing what a little wooden stick can do – “the toothpick” came to the rescue.
Dessert - Chocolate file pastry cigars with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries.
These really turn heads at dinner parties, as they look so professional but so easy to make. Grab some filo pastry, take one sheet, measure to the size of chocolate piece you are going to be using (the mini top decks are the bomb) then place the chocolate on the edge of the filo and roll up like a spring roll remembering to fold in the sides. Seal with milk. These are really delicious – one prefect bite - warm melted chocolate oozing from the crispy pastry, textures are intertwining harmoniously and then cold contrasting ice cream creates the perfect finishing touch – a real highlight!!!
The evening went so well, drinks flowing, dogs licking feet and of course great books, great company and great conversation.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Maybe we should start with the changes we've made this year...
Instead of our usual "hostess picks a restaurant and everyone meets there on the first Wednesday of the month", we've decided to try hosting book club at our homes. And to start things off, we held the first book club of this year at my place...
The new rules:
Everyone brings R50 and whatever they're drinking to the hostess' place and she provides a simple dinner and buys as many books as she'd like to throw in that month.
Those who choose not to host at home can do the restaurant thing, but they then don't receive the R50 per person from the others, seeing as everyone will be paying for their dinners at the restaurant. Easy!
As far as sticking to the budget: I would say I was pretty much bang on. I did go over by about R100, but there were a few ingredients that I'll use up later on my own, like the bottle of mayo that I didn't use in its entirety. Things like that... Also, being the first one of the year, I wanted to be a little extravagant and make it special. MY choice!
So girls as the Guinea Pig for this new format, I would say that it CAN be done on R400 (R50 per person)! Easy.
Also, if you consider that as the hostess you'll only be spending FIFTY RAND A MONTH for the next SEVEN MONTHS (when the others take their turn to cook), I was HAPPY to splurge a little. I used to spend anything between R300 to R500 a month before. This way is MUCH cheaper.
As far as effort goes: I did it all in a couple of hours! I'm sure we all know a simple, mainly vegetarian, cost cutting week-day dish that everyone will devour after a long day at work. If you're tired and don't feel like cooking, just order R400 worth of pizza! If you don't want to make a starter, a chip 'n dip would be fine!
I'm a real Nigella-Wannabe who loves cooking so that's what I did... YOU don't have to! It's completely up to you.
Well, on the morning... I was so excited about cooking dinner for everyone and seeing the gang that I was up at 4.30am, tidying up my place and doing a little food prep. I wanted everything to be fresh, so I didn't do too much that morning. I decided to rather come home from work an hour earlier and get things done then.
Chili mayo dip
Wraps filled with...
Oven roasted veggies
Banana Tart Tartin
And that's what the main course looked like... The pic doesn't do it any justice! My crappy cell phone camera made everything yellow! But anyway:
The potato wedges and dessert weren't around long enough to be photographed... :P
The STUNNING Russel Hobbs hand held blender that the girls got me as a house-warming gift made short work of the hummus. The 2 cans of chickpeas were blitzed in less than 5 minutes... SERIOUSLY!
Thanks, girls. (xox)
When you have the right tools, cooking is EASY! Blunt knives and not enough mixing bowls will put ANYONE off...
Everyone made it except for Sach... :(
We really missed you, Sach, and I hope little Brogan gets better soon.
The big boozers of the evening were:
The non-boozers of the evening were:
And the new boozer of the evening was:
Apart from a stack of dishes and the straightening up of a few chairs, I'd say my place got off dead easy! And even though there were lots of little elements that had to be made in order to create our own wraps, it was very VERY easy throwing the evening together! I'm looking forward to my next dinner party with the girls already. I don't think I'm going to wait the 8 months until it's my turn to host again. I won't last that long! I have a ton of recipes I want to try on you chickies!
And seeing as it was such a hit, I've decided to share the recipe for my dessert. When you guys see how easy it is, you'll want to make it when you're entertaining too! It's an easy Old Faithful that I depend on for something yum but simple when people come over.
I also really like the hot-cold combination in desserts so this one is right up my alley!
Bananas About Book Club
(8 Dainty Servings)
- A couple of hours before, take a roll of store bought puff pastry out the freezer to thaw.
- About 45mins before you want to serve dessert, turn the oven onto 220C.
- An a (±A4 sized) dish, place about 4TBSP of butter and half a cup of golden syrup. Melt in the oven for a couple of minutes.
- While the syrup/butter are melting, slice 6 medium bananas into long vertical strips. (I got 3 strips per banana.)
- Take the dish out the oven place the bananas in (rolling them in the syrup), sprinkle over a pinch of cinnamon.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake for ±15 minutes. (The bananas should START to go golden brown.)
- Take the dish out the oven, cover the bananas with the sheet of puff pastry and return to the oven for ±15-20minutes. It's done when the puff pastry is golden and the bananas have caramelised.
- Slice into portions and serve HOT with a scoop of your favourite ice cream.
FIVE ingredients and not even 5 minutes prep time... Perfect for the Busy Domestic Goddess!
Lor, you're next. Can't wait!