Tag Archives: food

This Years Homemade Christmas Gift – Red Onion Marmalade

I know what you’re thinking… most delicious homemade christmas gift, you were thinking of my fudge recipe were you not? Well, you were close, but this year, I branched out and decided to make something savoury (ish – depending on if adding 1/4 cup of sugar to anything can be considered savoury).

We try in our family, to include the homemade element over Christmas, for personal and somewhat anti-consumerism-Christmassy reasons – so I’m super pumped to have this all made up, in my fridge and ready to throw on a cheese plate.

Red Onion Marmalade. Yum guys. Yum.

This pressie has been made and has been/will be distributed to parents, in-laws and teachers alike. And it’s easy and so very, very delicious.

I tried a few recipes, and this one is by far my best (thanks to All Recipes):


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt to taste

Tip: Genius Debbie remembered she had a slicing attachment on her food processor, and so no onion-tears for me. Boom.


Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onions and sugar in hot oil until onions start to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Stir red wine and balsamic vinegar into onion mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes more. Season with salt.


All you need are some jars (I get mine from Bonpak), and some brown paper (PNA/MerryPak) and some twine/string. I attached a little card with a note and onion marmalade ingredients. How cute, and HOW simple?

What is your fave homemade treat?

R3000 Challenge: Pauper to Princess 

I promise I had this weeks meals planned.
With my R40 left, my meal plan was as follows:

Basil, cherry tom and chicken pasta,

Roast Chicken with veg,

Toasted sarmies with leftover roast chicken and cheese,

Soup (with whatever Food Lovers veg are on their mad Wednesday special).

And then this.

A gift.

You know when you settle for second best and then out of nowhere you land up hitting the bulls eye? Accepting that humble vulnerable spot, only be be bumped unexpectedly to first place?

That was us. Today. I’d counted the apples and pears for lunchboxes, gone 2 days with no milk in my coffee, eaten the crusts of my boys’ leftover peanut butter sandwiches (okay not really), but I was crawling apprehensively towards the finish line, nervous.

But it takes a village, and it seems my humble public meekness around our food budget brought out some of the most wonderful and generous acts of said village. Today we received THREE days worth of Day to Day meals (not even two as seen in the text above) as well as home-reared free range eggs, biscuits, dried fruit snacks AND jelly tots for the kids.

This evening we had steak, tomorrow we’ll be smacking our lips with smoked chicken and the next day pork chops. Fresh, healthy, local, nutritious family meals, when I was absolutely mentally prepared for (and content with) leftovers on toasted sarmies.

I sit here, on my bed, writing this, STUFFED. And grateful. While it may seem like I’ve been carried across the finish line (and maybe I have), there is a deeper lesson I’ve taken away from today. It’s that people are awesome. Share your journey – the hardships, the struggles, the challenges, the achievements. Be vulnerable. Accept gifts, give gifts, share. Share life, share food, share tears, joy, conversation, thoughts, ideas, generosity, abundance, privilege, concern, love.

Marcelle. You’re a great example of someone who shares. Thank you x

R3000 Challenge: What we’ve been eating…

All you faithful readers – you’re keeping me going this month. There is so much accountability and interest in this 3k challenge, I’m so inspired. And whether we make it or not – lessons have already been learnt which have been so good for me.

For eg: Yesterday I popped into Checkers (a spare minute away from my kids) and I did a quick price check on some regular items. Some were more expensive, some were less. Saffas reading this, Checkers confuses me. Either way – I left with milk sachets, ginger, lemon (my winter drink of choice/necessity) and Bovril (for R39.90 the cheapest I’ve seen it). Total spent at Checkers R93.77.

Here are some tips and trick and what I’ve been eating:

I’ve fed my sweet tooth with the (massive) block of fondant that has been sitting in the freezer for over 2 years. I kid you not. It was taking up room, and with no spare budget for chocolate, ice cream, cookie dough etc. this was it. I’m glad to not have to relocate it after each new frozen food shop.

The boys have not had cracker bread this month. A quick simple snack – but at R21+ a box. Not this month. Also the juice boxes we spoke of? None of that either.

I’m limiting us to 1 big bulk bag of coffee beans and 1 tub of hot chocolate per month. That way we need to ration it all. Self control.

All in all, I’m much less impulsive in my shopping. Much less. We are not living on bread and butter (quite yet), but because I really don’t know what the end of the month will look like, I question my needs vs. wants.

This past Friday was Market Day at my Good Food Club. As I arrived to fetch my goodies, I saw this: a special. It is hard for me to refuse a special.

Yes friends, this is TOP quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil at such a good price. And I refused. Because it would’ve been too much for the budget. See my self control?

Saturday we scored huge. After a crazy busy morning with play dates and builders, we dropped everything (in my brother-in-law’s hands) to attended my cousins funeral. Hubby and I had barely eaten all day, so grabbed a handful of post-memorial snacks. Hungry again and on our way home, our brother and sister-in-law invited us to the Spur. We don’t frequent the Spur, but they had promised their kids a Spur treat and (super generously) offered money towards our bill. (How amazing!) My first thought was “for suuuure!” and my second was “oh wait, this is going to eat in the budget hard“. Pondering the situation we found ourselves in, hubby kept telling me to – quote – “tell your readers, we’ll take it from the Building Budget”. Pah, as if there is a building budget. 

So, because I feel so committed to you all and this challenge my conclusion, “right, it has to come out the 3k budget”. I was prepared to take the hit. Hospitality, remember? Long story short, our super generous family covered the whole bill, so Saturday was covered. Mahala.

Tips and tricks: find old sugary treats to keep you going and hint at family members to take you out.


Breakfast: Good ol’ fashion Jungle Oats, with a splash of milk and drizzle of honey. I have 3.5 kg’s of honey from my Good Food Club (paid for by this months budget). Brea has fancy yoghurt with some fruit and I usually have 7 cups of coffee. Or 1 cup, heated 7 times.

Lunch: My girlfriend and I joke about deconstructed meals.”I had a deconstructed fruit salad” she’ll say – when she means she had an apple, pear and orange, for eg. Ha. So I usually take a handful of paleo friendly goodies to work. First prize is always leftover dinner, otherwise I’ll grab some boiled eggs, butternut and avo, apple, carrot and cucumber sticks, cherry toms, banana etc.

Boys lunches: Always, a sandwich, cut up apple and cheery tomatoes. Their snacks are either raisins, dried mango (when on sale at my GFC), dates, sometimes nuts, boiled eggs, cut up cucumber, fruit etc. And water. All fresh. No prepackaged snacks.

Afternoon snack: Anything I can find in the fridge, tea (and fondant). Often fruit.


  • We’ve made 2 massive batches of soup and frozen them in jars (I buy glass jars from Bonpak).
  • We’ve had cheese, tomato and basil (home grown) toasted sarmies.
  • We’ve had chicken and cheese quesadillas with homemade salsa.
  • I cooked 500g of mince and added almost anything I could think of to beef if up (carrots, mushrooms, peppers, 2 cans tomatoes, and lots of lentils). I also divided the mince into jars and have frozen them for quick meals.
  • We’ve had cous cous with chicken (1 chicken breast), butternut, mint, feta and toasted almonds.
  • We’ve had chicken sausage (Elgin) on roasted sweet potato and rosemary chips.
  • Last night we had the pre-cooked frozen mince over sweet pot mash. Yum.

Soup recipes here: Sweet Pot & Bacon Soup and Roasted Butternut and Rosemary. 

Here was my initial meal plan idea – before this challenge was official. Friday night is movie night in our house so, hence the popcorn.

And as we stand, I’ve spent R1171.93 (EXCLUDING my Good Food Club food which should come in at around R1000ish). So I’m sitting on just under R2200.

How you doing? 🙂

R3000 Challenge: Where we shop, and how… kinda

You’re back! Nice to have you here… if you missed the intro, you can read it here.

Let’s start off with a few general thoughts. Follow me will you? These will come through again and again as we tiptoe through this month on our teeny tiny budget.

Firstly: I LOVE food! I LOOOOOOVE goood food; the flavours, textures and how communal it is. How creative it is, how delicate and bold, how it can inspire, fuel, satisfy and be enjoyed in so many ways. So this is exceptional and intentional and not long term. It’s intended to open our eyes and have us think a little more about our usual grocery-buying habits. Here we go…

I think, in general, we can eat less. Eat when hungry, and not spontaneously. I shop the sales, ALWAYS, esp at Woolies. I try not buy more than we need (something I put into practice intentionally today as I’m so often loading my trolley with 5 cans of tomatoes when I could easily do with only 2 or 3, or say 6 slabs of chocolate when I only need, well… less than that). The less you have the less you consume. Choose your purchases well, and buy different goods at different shops. It’s a pain I know, but if I can do it with 3 small kids, so can you. Food is very often a ‘you get what you pay for’ situation – so keep that in mind. Sometimes paying more for something is necessary and important, sometimes not.

Let me share how we usually do things around here. I generally shop at my local Good Food Club, Pick n Pay, Woolies, and our Elgin Free Range Chicken store.

I start the month at my Good Food Club: (Sorry, I know you don’t all have a Good Food Club – it’s buying direct from the farmer. Often cheaper-ish, sometimes not, but the quality of the food is way up there.)

Here I get 2 large trays of free range eggs, and hormone free cheese, butter and yoghurt. I usually buy dates and raisins (kid snacks), meat, olive oil, wine (but not this month!), honey, natural nut butters, bio wheat flour and some household goodies such as eco washing power/dishwashing liquid etc.

Next I shop at PnP for things such as:

Bread (for kids lunchboxes; hubby makes our own bread with the bio flour from our GFC), milk (usually in sachets unless the bottles are on special). Things such as some fruit and veg (see Woolies list below), wraps, cans of tomatoes and tomatoes paste, sauces, sandwich spreads, balsamic vinegar, spices, oats (our designated winter breakfast), and usually chocolates and treats (but not this month!) etc.

Then I hit up Woolies:

I’ve actually found that many Woolworths items (BARRING their pre-made, deli or specialty foods) are cheaper than PnP (and Checkers). At Woolies I buy almost all their specials – ALWAYS cherry tomatoes (my kids eat them like sweets) and apples (I can’t handle bruised floury ones I usually end up with from PnP). I get the lettuce packs (unless my garden is thriving) and COFFEE BEANS. I always buy the silver Organic bag – but alas, the budget is calling me toward the dark roast Italian beans at R40 less. The yoghurt tubs are often buy 3 for price of 2 and I prefer their yoghurt to PnP. At Woolies I buy the 4 huge bags of vegetables for R125 deal. I know PnP is cheaper but I can’t find large bags of sweet potatoes at PnP for the same deal. So I usually buy 2 x huge bags of sweet pot and 2 x huge bags of butternut – those are my BASE STARCHY VEGETABLES for most meals.

Elgin Free Range Chicken: I buy chicken breasts, whole chickens and their chicken sausage. It’s cheap.

A couple guidelines to our month of cheap. There are certain things I CAN NOT live without/will not compromise on:

Decent coffee beans, hormone free meats (for the most part), free range eggs, real butter, apples from Woolworths and avocados.

Restrictions: This month I have HAD to cut out chocolate/snacks (hubby and I LOOOVE chocolate), and… wine. I know. Sigh. Wine and chocolate will only appear should I have leftover cash (I’m not holding my breath).

We are also NOT eating out, or getting take out (unless it’s genuinely cheaper than cooking something). If you track spontaneous buying, you’ll be amazed at how much food is bought spontaneously. No coffees or nibbles on the go. Thanks to Discovery, I’ll still be able to grab a weekly Vida or Kauai – mahala.

Baking this month will be considered a luxury. Baking uses a ton of butter which is expensive, and all sorts of deliciousness which adds up FAST. But let’s remember, we’re not on diet, we’re saving money. And by not baking, my body will thank me later.

Hospitality Clause: There is always a hospitality clause. Hospitality always trumps a diet/budget/restrictions. People matter more.

Drinks: We don’t ever drink carbonated bevvies, unless it’s tonic for gin or Appletizer on special occasions. We are water, coffee (GOOD COFFEE) and wine people. Sometimes tea. The only time I buy juice is when I buy box juices for picnics or outings with the kids. Sorry kids – it’s water this month.

With no wine this month, cheaper coffee beans and water from the Newlands Brewery Spring means I’ve already saved around R550. Boom.

Next post: what we’re ACTUALLY eating…

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

The perks of growing up means you start to think about things that matter. Like brunch. How underrated is brunch? Brunch means you can wake up later (admittedly not right now), it be okay for you to be on your 3rd coffee; brunch often comes with friends, and it’s totally acceptable to have either savoury and sweet.

Brunch, as we have learned, is one of the best meals of the day. And thanks to our foodie Aussie friend, we were introduced to this recipe which is one of the best things you might ever taste. Ever. Don’t be put off by its high maintenance. Invite some friends over and put them to work in the kitchen – community at its best.

A sure fire way to start your weekend off RIGHT. Very, very right.

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast (I’ll give credit to the one who opened our eyes to good, honest, community building food – Claire Perini).

What you need:

  • Loaf (or 2 or 3) of unsliced bread – an oval shaped loaf (cut into thick sliced, and then lengthways and then slit in the middle for stuffing).
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sprinkle cinnamon
  • Large tub of strawberries (you can also use nectarines, raspberries or blueberries) but strawberries are in season in SA…

  • Tub of double thick plain yoghurt (full cream preferably, and organic if you wish to add some kind of healthy something to this recipe)
  • Toasted sliced almonds
  • Maple syrup (the good kind, not the fake stuff)
  • Bacon (optional – and always so good with maple syrup – yummmmmm)


Preheat the oven to 180C. Slice fruit and stuff those little bad boys into the bread (not too full though). Whisk all the other ingredients together. On medium heat butter the pan, dip the stuffed bread into the egg mixture and fry on each side (turning once only, it doesn’t need to be completely cooked as it will cook a bit more in the oven). Popsy pop in the oven to crispy crisp it up for about 10 mins.

And you’re done. Please make this recipe. It’s a taste sensation. 

Image credit: justataste.com, homemadehooplah.com. 


Banana Chips, and how they can save your Life.

My sister-in-law totally shows me up. She is like the most intentional mom I know, and I know a lot of them. She is so down to earth (so you can’t hate her) makes EVERYTHING from scratch, is like super creative with her kids, all the while being a patient wife (me, not so much) and super calm mother (again, I don’t make that list). She’s constantly calm. How? I don’t know.

And while being awesome, her and my hubby’s brother bought my husband a biltong maker one Christmas. Because, of course, it makes so much more than just biltong. It dehydrates just about anything and so your options are endless. As I type this, I can hear it humming next to me dehydrating slices of banana.

We got through 6 weeks traveling from Vancouver, to New Zealand, to Australia and then finally Cape Town thanks to BANANA CHIPS. Banana chips saved our lives. Banana chips were the then-toddlers premium choice of snack and would do anything for them. You know how you’re all like “hubby, have you packed the dummy?” before you leave the house with a baby? Replace ‘dummy’ with ‘banana chips’ and that was us.

All hail the Banana Chip. It saved us. It saved us on airplanes (that alone means it should receive some kind of Nobel Peace Prize), and in people-movers traveling across the south island of New Zealand. It saved us in supermarkets, on boat trips, during half marathons and when mom and dad just needed.a.break. That crispy little yellow (gold) ray of light was our go to.

And I know what you might be thinking… banana chips… gross. And maybe (if you’re grabbing them from the bulk bin at your local grocery store). But not if you make them yourselves. Ohhhhh no. Delicious, and (somewhat) healthy, and cheap, and e-a-s-y, and don’t forget – top quality bribery tool.



What you need: bananas. (No additives!)

IF you have a food dehydrator:

Slice the bananas and place them on the dehydrators shelves/wracks. Pop them in and turn your dehydrator on. Leave them around 12 hours, and when you have a moment, take them out, flip them over and put them back in for another 6-8-ish hrs (all depends on how thick you cut your banana). Be careful when flipping them as they can still be soft underneath and can break.

IF YOU DON’T have a food dehydrator:

Pre-heat your oven to 120C and line your slices of banana on parchment paper. Pop them in the oven for 30min. Take them out and flip them over. They can be a little tricky to flip, but you can do it. Use a thin blade to get under them if need be.

Once they are all tuned over pop them back into the oven and allow them to dry for another 30 minutes. When the time is up, take them out of the oven and set aside to cool. Your chips will still be drying out slightly when you take them out from the oven.

After 10 or 15 minutes you are ready to have a taste. I usually store mine in an air tight mason jar in the grocery cupboard. Done.

Now go for it and throw yourself this lifeline.

Picture credits: www.thecarameljar.com, www.recipeshubs.com.

Oh good, more chocolate

Right, so we all know I’m (somewhat) addicted to sugar and I’ve done my UTMOST to hide this from my children. But it’s Easter, and we all know what that means. Clay can sure recite the story of Jesus and ‘Judith’ to whoever wishes to listen but as soon as those flashy, crinkly, bright foil covered chocolate anythings come near his body, it’s tickets.

If only I had enough energy to make time in my quiet, calm, relaxing afternoons with my boys to collectively and joyfully make our own homemade chocolate in moulds with no spilling, no screaming and no one burning each other. But alas, we don’t, so, having bought possibly the most winning present EVER for the kids for Christmas last year (our ZOKU instant pop maker), I thought I would try my hand at some healthy quick pops this year for Easter and try avoid the chocolate as much as possible. My kids can sense sugar a mile away so I certainly wont be winning entirely.

I found this awesome recipe for Healthy Easter Egg Breakfast Popsicles. Check them out!

Popsicles 1
So, here’s what you need:


  • 500g yoghurt*
  • handful granola/muesli
  • handful blueberries
  • handful raspberries (… any berries really…)
    (*you can use different types of store bought yoghurt (flavoured/plain/greek), or make your own homemade yoghurt using your Wonderbag).


  • Egg shaped silicone mould or muffin cups (I’ll use my quick pop maker I think, although these egg shaped silicone moulds are too cute!)
  • lollipop or cake pop sticks


Place a small dollop of yoghurt into each egg in your silicone mould/quick pop maker, filling each egg to about a third.  Push chunks of granola into the yoghurt, then add a few raspberries and blueberries to each egg too.

Place a lolly stick into each compartment, laying it down as flat as possible.

Fill each egg to the top with yoghurt, making sure it covers all of the fruit and the lolly stick.

Popsicles 2

Place mould in the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight, until the eggs are frozen through and solid.  Once frozen, pop out of the moulds, leave the popsicles on a plate at room temperature for a couple of minutes to soften a little then serve immediately.

Yeeeuuuum. Healthy Easter 101.

What I’m eating this evening

This recipe just popped at the bottom of the latest Yuppiechef mail out and it looked so delicious I couldn’t help myself but drool over the recipe and scribble it down and pin it that minute. (Check out my alternatives to make it a little more paleo-y).

I love these, no fuss, throw it all together and pop-it-in-the-oven recipes. And this one looks goooood – too good not to share. So thank you to Yuppiechef and Lisa Grey.

Coconut and Lemongrass Chicken Bake



Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 45 min | Serves 4

8 free range chicken pieces, bone on (usually I don’t love chicken on the bone, but I’m making the exception here. Also, use the bones to make your own chicken stock in your Wonderbag).
250 g/1 cup coconut cream
1 lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
1 small red chilli, thinly sliced (go easy on the chilli if serving to your kids).
1 lime, cut into rounds
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soya sauce
Salt and black pepper to season
250 g egg noodles (go with cauliflower rice if you’re going paleo).
200 g mange tout (also known as snap peas for us less fancy)

…and a bunch of coriander. We always need coriander.



1. Preheat the oven to 180°c.
2. Place the chicken pieces into an oven-proof casserole dish (something similar to the Yuppiechef Rectangular Baker). Top with coconut cream, lemongrass, chilli and lime rounds. Drizzle over the honey and soya sauce and season. (I’d squeeze some extra lime in too – love lime). 


4. Bake for 45 minutes, until the chicken is golden and cooked through.
5. Five minutes before the chicken comes out of the oven, prepare the noodles and snap peas. Place the noodles into a glass bowl, pour over boiling water and set aside for 3–4 minutes. Drain. Blanch the mange tout/snap peas in salted boiling water.


Pour yourself a glass of wine, call the family to the table and serve. (Yes please!)



Right, so I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I don’t think I can stuff it up – I’ll let you know how it goes. Who doesn’t love Asian flavours, lemongrass, coriander, coconut milk… yummmmm.


All pics and recipe: www.yuppiechef.com

Traditional Homemade Christmas Mince Pies 

From as early as I can remember, Christmas time tasted like homemade mince pies. Mom made the best! I struggle to buy them from the shops because it’s just not the same… I also love life-rhythms and traditions and this one is tops!

So, here’s the recipe: 

Now to be fair – I do buy the fruit mince from the shops, it’s the pie pastry I make myself (see my great-grandmothers recipe for the real deal fruit mince below).

Christmas Mince Pie Pastry


225g flour
150g butter
1T ground almonds
1T castor sugar
1T water
Pinch salt


Put everything in the blender, and then once it’s all mixed together and pastry-looking, divide in two, wrap the balls in cling wrap and refrigerate.

Use one ball at a time. Roll the pastry on a floury surface and cut out the shapes. We use a squiggly edged circle for the base and a 8 pointed stard for the top. Put the bases in your cupcake tin and spoon in the fruit mince. Lightly beat an egg and submerge the top star shape in the egg mixture and pop it on top.

Put these in the oven at 180 degrees for around 10-15 minutes. Once they turn a light golden brown, take them out, let them cool and sprinkle icing sugar over the top through a sieve.

Hello Christmas!

Hang on! If you want to SERIOUSLY impress your in-laws, you can make the actual fruit mince. Whaaaaaaat! I’ve never made this myself but this is my great-grandmothers recipe.

Great Granny’s Fruit Mince:


250g suet
250g peeled and cored apples
500g seedless raisins
250g currents
125g mixed peel (can buy it in a box like you do cherries)


Mix together with 250g sugar and 1t mixed spice. Rinse bottles with brandy (let it coat the bottle) and when bottling leave hollow at top for brandy.

Let me know how it goes!

Easy-Peasy Homemade Chicken Stock

When we first did Paleo (Whole30) back when I was pregnant with #2, we stuck to the rules military-style, and that included no chemicals in any-thing. So we had to make our own stock. What?

Making your own stock is awesome, super rewarding and easy-peasy. And it is delicious. In fact, after we learnt about it we stopped buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts so we had extra bones to use, and by doing so, saved some money at the same time (boneless meat is often more expensive).

So here’s how you do it:

Cook a roast chicken. This is my go-to recipe and I love love love it. It’s a throw-together rustic version of a roast chicken. Invite some friends over, and enjoy your dinner with some good wine and laughter. Pick as much meat off the carcass as you can, gobble it all up or save whatever you have left over for chicken mayo toasties, salad toppings etc.

Jamie Oliver Roast Chicken

Then take the carcass and pop it in a pot and pour about 3L-4L of water over it. Now you get creative… Was there a mushy lemon in the carcass cavity? Throw that in the water. Cut up a couple carrots, an onion or two, a couple sticks of celery, salt, pepper and some herbs (bay leaves, parsley, thyme etc.) from your garden. Basically any veggies (flavours) you have lying around, chuck them in.

Bring it to the boil for around 20min. Then (my favourite bit), pop it in your Wonderbag. Overnight. At end of cooking time, open bag, check temperature immediately to be certain stock measures 60° C/140° F or higher. Strain the liquid through a sieve and throw the veggie bits in your compost. For maximum flavor use the back of large spoon to press as much liquid as possible from meat, bones and veggies. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and pop your delicious flavoursome liquid it in the freezer. Done!

(If you don’t have a Wonderbag, you can let it simmer gently for around 30min. Check on it and then turn it down and let it cook on low for another hour or so – just don’t forget about it).

Chemical, MSG, nonsense-free stock. Yum.

Picture Credit: everydaygoodthinking.com