Thank you for voting!

Without you, our readers, there would be no Best of Zululand Readers’ Choice Awards competition for local businesses.

The winning companies are solely decided by our readers. We merely provide the platform to showcase the winners.
In September last year we asked our readers to nominate the best companies in Zululand.
Thank you for heeding our call, Zululand! A whopping total of 283 companies were nominated.
We counted the nominations to determine the top three in each category, and these we announced in January, once again asking readers to tell us which of these finalists deserved the number one spot.
We realise that voting takes time and effort. Completing a ballot paper with 116 categories is no mean feat – and we appreciate the fact that you did just that!
Thank you to each and every one of our voters for showing the interest and dedication – and yes, passion – to participate in our Best of Zululand Readers’ Choice Awards.
We are humbled and thrilled to know that we received more than 59 000 votes.
This is almost double the number of votes we received the previous year.
In appreciation we give away some amazing spot prizes. This year the prizes were:
* R1 000 cash sponsored by the Zululand Observer
* A spa package sponsored by Arabella Spa Excellence
* A R500 free play voucher courtesy of Umfolozi Hotel Casino Convention Resort
* 5GB data courtesy of Vodacom
* Spar vouchers to the value of R400 each
* KFC meal vouchers to the value of R100 each

Thank you
The Zululand Observer would like to thank all of our sponsors for taking part and the companies who supported the initiative.
We value the fantastic relationship we have forged with our local business community, and look forward to many more years of joining hands.

 

 

3 Free Car Games to Play with the Kids

Avoid the annoying question ‘are we there yet’ with games so fun, they make the journey as good as reaching the destination.

Three girls (6-8 years) sitting on rear seat of car on road trip

SCAVENGER BINGO

This fun game combines bingo with a scavenger hunt. It requires a little prep before the you leave home, but it’s lots of fun once you hit the road.

Each child needs a flat surface (a clipboard or hardcover book will do) to put on his or her lap.

Next, every child needs a bingo card (you can find free printable ones online or make one yourself) and a zip-lock bag with 16 coins inside.

As each player spies an item listed on their card, they must cover the corresponding picture with a coin.

Just as with regular bingo, the first player to cover all the squares in a straight line, wins!

 

WE’RE GOING ON A PICNIC

This alphabet-based memory game is great for kids, ages five and up. You don’t need any materials and this game can be played with as few as two players, but is a lot more fun when the whole car joins in.

The first players starts by saying, ‘We’re going on a picnic and I’m bringing…’ followed by something that begins with ‘A’, like apples.

The second player repeats what the first person said and adds something that begins with ‘B’. So it may sound something like ‘We’re going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples and bananas.’

This carries on with the rest of the alphabet. If someone forgets an item, they are out.

The winner is the last player able to recite all the items on the list.

 

THE ANIMAL NAME GAME

This works best for children aged six and up.

The game starts when one person in the car names an animal, then each person (in order) has to name another animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named.

No animals can be repeated.

If you have older children in the car, try mix up the themes and introduce TV shows, cities or even pop singers.

 

 

Easy-peasy banana pancakes

Need an activity for the kids during the school holidays? Why not turn breakfast into the event of the day? These two-ingredient pancakes are so simple, you could leave the kids to make them on their own!

  • All you need is 1 medium banana and 2 large eggs.
  • Peel the banana and then cut it up into several chunks in a bowl before using a dinner fork to mash the banana until it gets a pudding-like consistency.
  • Whisk the eggs together until the yolks and whites are completely combined.
  • Stir the eggs into the banana mix.
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  • Pop 2 tablespoons of the batter onto the pan and cook for 1 minute.

*Disclaimer, we can promise a whole lot of tasty fun but we can’t no promise no mushy banana mess in the kitchen!

5 Ways to prep your home for a show day

  1. Repaint the walls in neutral colours

As much as you love your burgundy red wall, it might put off potential buyers. Painting your walls in neutral tans and whites will allow viewers to focus on the space and not individual décor.

 

  1. Pay attention to smells

Be careful what you cook on the morning of a show day. Bacon might taste delicious, but the smell will linger and the last thing you want is for your home to smell like a fast food restaurant.

 

  1. Hide personal items

Prospective buyers are going to be picturing themselves living in your home, but personal pictures or notes on the fridge can make that a little tricky.

 

 

Photo: http://uglyhousephotos.com

 

  1. Let there be light

Open up all your windows and blinds to let natural light flow in. If you have any darker rooms, switching on a few standing lamps and table lights will make the world of difference. Brighter rooms immediately feel bigger and more inviting.

 

Photo: lightmynest.com

 

  1. Close the toilet!

When it comes to photographing or showing your home, you’ll be surprised how much this little trick can make a difference.

 

  1. Remove bulky furniture

Oversized furniture can make your space look smaller and this is not the way to attract potential buyers. Make sure the only furniture you keep in your space is both functional and in scale with the rest of the room.

 

 

 

Talking rugby

Super Rugby season is with us, and whether you’re a Bull, a Lion, a Cheetah or a Shark, make rugby time family time this season and score all round!

 

 

Proudly South African

Whatever Super Rugby team you’re supporting, sport your true sporting heart on your sleeve – or your grill – with this 100% South African braai marinade:

1 cup All Gold tomato sauce

50ml Maggie Worcestershire Sauce

50ml Mrs Ball’s chutney

1T Aromat

1T vinegar

1 can Stoney ginger beer

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

Mix all the ingredients. Marinade the meat for 3-4 hours before you braai. Great with chicken, ribs, lamb and steak.

Recipe via showme.co.za

 

A ball worth a ‘try’

 

Trade in your usual bowl of biltong and chips for this easy, but different snack. We’re talking about Dutch meatballs, otherwise known as bitterballen.

Melt 3 tsp butter in a large saucepan.

Stir in 3 tbs sifted all-purpose flour and gradually add half a cup beef broth while you bring to a boil. Cook and stir for a minute until it thickens.

Add 1 beef top sirloin steak, chopped and pressed into balls, 1/4 cup minced parsley and cook for another 2 – 5 minutes until meat is done.

Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg and a pinch of pepper.

Dip each meatball into a bowl of bread crumbs and then into a mixture of 2 eggs, 1 tsp milk and 1 tsp canola oil – and then dip them back in the breadcrumbs.

Fry meatballs, a few at a time, for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown on all sides and drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with mustard.

*Recipe adapted from www.tasteofhome.com. Image sourced from Wikipedia on Creative Commons.

 

Snack attack

Entertaining guests and the game’s too exciting to stay in the kitchen?

Prep your popcorn before and dazzle your guests with these tasty takes on the old faithful.

 

Chocolate & coconut popcorn

Image and recipe courtesy saltycanary.com

Large bowl freshly popped popcorn

½ tsp coconut oil

½ cup chocolate chips

½ cup sweetened coconut flakes

½ cup plain coconut flakes

½ tsp sea salt to taste

  • Spread all the coconut flakes in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake at 180°C for 7-12 minutes until browned to your liking.
  • Melt the chocolate with ½ tsp of coconut oil on a very low heat in the microwave.
  • Spread the popcorn out on a layer of wax paper on a baking pan and drizzle with chocolate, sprinkle with coconut flakes and add a dash of sea salt.
  • Let the chocolate harden, then add to bowls and enjoy!

 

Sweet & spicy wasabi popcorn

Image and recipe courtesy kitchenconfidante.com

Large bowl freshly popped popcorn

1 t brown sugar
1 t salt
1 t wasabi powder, sifted
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

  • Stir the sugar, salt, wasabi powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  • Toss this mixture along with melted butter over freshly popped corn.
  • Enjoy while toasty!

 

Rosemary parmesan popcorn

Image and recipe fivehearthome.com

Large bowl freshly popped popcorn

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Place one sprig rosemary and smashed garlic clove in the bottom of a small saucepan. Pour olive oil on top and set on stove over low heat. Stir in garlic salt and black pepper to taste. Heat until very warm but not simmering.
  • Turn off heat and allow to sit.
  • Pull leaves from second sprig of rosemary and finely mince. Set aside.
  • Remove rosemary sprig and garlic clove from the warmed olive oil. Drizzle olive oil mixture over popcorn and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle popcorn with grated parmesan, the minced rosemary and additional garlic salt and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

Salted peanut butter caramel corn with bacon

Image and recipe courtesy thepioneerwoman.com

Large bowl freshly popped popcorn

½ cup coconut oil

2/3 cup corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup honey roasted peanuts

4 slices cooked bacon, chopped small

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 120°C and prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large pan add oil, corn syrup, peanut butter, sugar and kosher salt. Bring to a simmer and stir to combine. Let caramel simmer for 6–7 minutes over medium heat.
  • In a tiny bowl, mix together baking soda and vanilla until smooth. Add mixture to the caramel and stir to combine until it foams up. Turn heat off and pour popcorn into the caramel. Stir to mix and coat the popcorn.
  • Transfer popcorn to the prepared sheet pan and spread it out evenly. Bake popcorn for 15 minutes and then, using a spatula, mix it around. Bake it for another 15 minutes until golden and crispy.
  • Let the popcorn cool completely and then break up into chunks. Mix in the honey-roasted peanuts and bacon pieces.

 

Party tricks

Get your team in a winning mood with these two clever catering ideas. Adapt the look with eats and treats in your team’s colours.

Image courtesy Catch My Party

Sweet victory

Round off festivities with further big game flair.

Use ready-made choc cupcakes and pipe on some lacing.

Dip strawberries in melted choc. Allow to cool and pipe away!

The ultimate guide to a clutter free home

As the weather turns cooler, there’s no doubt we’ll all be opting to hibernate indoors rather than participate in our usual social gatherings, but what could be worse than lazing about in unwanted clutter?

In fact, the idea of returning home to a messy space can cause unwanted stress and quite frankly, none of us need that extra cortisol.

Boost your vitality and wellness by clearing out the things you don’t need with these simple steps:

Storage, storage, storage…

Image: neatfreak.co.za

Achieving the perfect winter wardrobe is as simple as packing things away. Unless you have a dream vacation to the Bahamas planned, you’re not going to need any bikinis or kaftan cover-ups any time soon.

Along with your summer sandals, linen shorts and strappy blouses, pop them into plastic containers, boxes or even vacuumed pack bags – include an anti-mothball sachet for good measure – and store them at the top of your closet, under your bed or in the attic until we encounter the warmer months again.

Switch up the smell

New scents can be a lovely way to welcome the new season. Bring in deeper smells with bergamot, cinnamon and sandalwood candles. Swapping peach and cream flowers for purple and deep reds (oh, how we love the Protea!) will also make your home feel cosier.

 

App-solutions

There are tons of apps out there to help you get better control of your home. One we love in particular is Gumtree, which allows you to sell unwanted items. Out with the old, in with the cash.

Kitchen precision

It’s a little gross to think about, but we all have a few items past their sell by dates in our fridges and pantries. Check your cupboards for tins and packets, your freezer for items that have been in there longer than three or four months and even your bar for old, unwanted booze.

Bedroom bliss

Sure, guests might not be visiting your bedroom, but don’t neglect this room, as it should be the perfect sanctuary for you to retire in at the end of the day. A closet cleanout is the obvious task, but don’t forget to get rid of junk that’s gathered up in your nightstand. Papers, old magazines, unused electronics (and all their chargers) should all be purged too!

Handyman Stan

Whether it’s fixing up glitches and hitches, or starting a whole new DIY project, the good news is that while one can outsource almost anything these days, doing it yourself also has huge value. Either way, you win!

BEST OF ZULULAND: DIY /  HOME IMPROVEMENT

Back to basics – the must-haves of a well-stocked toolbox

When it comes to shopping for tools, don’t be fooled by smooth-looking ‘professional kits’. Unless they are produced by a very reputable brand, they’ll probably look better than they’ll work. Here’s a list of basic start-up requirements that will go a long way towards meeting your toolbox needs (source: privateproperty.co.za):

  • Claw hammer: Choose a hammer with a solid handle that is securely set into the hammer head – look for a good fibreglass or strong metal setting. A solid wooden, heavy tubular steel or firm fibreglass handle is recommended. Stay away from lightweight wooden or flimsy tubular steel handles, as these often separate from the hammer head. Make sure the hammer has a good claw too, as this allows you to do much more with the tool. Check guarantee and warranty periods on the brands that interest you.
  • Screwdrivers: You’ll need six screwdrivers for most of your woodwork and DIY, so spend some time selecting six of the best and you’ll probably never have to buy a screwdriver again. Rule of thumb when selecting screwdrivers: buy a reputable brand that comes with a good guarantee. Screwdrivers manufactured in lower grade metals tend to get damaged tips very quickly. Make sure the screwdriver handles are comfortable and offer a good grip – slim handles are usually harder to work with, and short handles offer less leverage.
  • You’ll need: Phillips (or star) no.00 – for most remote controls and children’s toys; Phillips (or star) no.1 – for hinges and general household fittings; ELS 3.5 x 75 – for plug tops and electrical fittings; ELS 4 x 100 – the general dogsbody of screwdrivers; ELS 4 x 150 – the extra length of this tool allows access to difficult, hard-to-reach places; ELS 6 x 100 – use the bigger tip of the No 6 to avoid ruining soft screw-heads or the tips of smaller screwdrivers. The extra width also allows for added leverage in tight situations.
  • Pliers: As with screwdrivers, buy a reputable brand and a comfortable handle. You’ll need: 200mm combination – grips and cuts, invaluable when you need to undo something small; 150 mm diagonal – for the bigger jobs.
  • Tape measure: Choose a tape measure that is at least 19 mm wide and 5 m in length. They stay firm instead of flopping when they are held out, making measuring a lot easier. They also don’t whip back too quickly when they are rewound.
  • Spirit level: A good spirit level will have three measures to accommodate horizontal, vertical and diagonal measuring. Always check that all three offer correct readings in the shop before purchase. It is advisable to buy a longer (800cm plus) spirit level as this facilitates more accurate readings. Remember when buying a spirit level that wood warps over time, especially in humid climates.
  • A utility or Stanley knife: A vital and useful part of every tool kit. Originally produced by Stanley – from where they got their name – this brand still offers top quality knives. Buy a knife with a retractable blade, and always retract it after use – the blades are very sharp and can give deep cuts if accidentally touched or dropped.
  • Toolbox – A good quality plastic 40 cm toolbox will give you all the space you need to store the above-mentioned tools. Choose a box with extra trays and compartments on top to keep all the nuts and bolts that accumulate and check the quality of the joints and clasps when choosing.

Handy household tricks that anyone can DIY!

Have some fun and get your home in order with these smart moves.

Disguise it

A hinged painting is the perfect place to hide the alarm pad…

Display it

Wine racks make great towel holders.

Image via Via Lucida

 

Protect it

Foam noodles in your garage can save your car door – and wall.

Image courtesy C Murphy

 

Contain it

Use tissue boxes to keep plastic bags organised.

Image via Via Lucida

 

Hang it

Use a paper towel holder to store rubbish bag rolls.

Image via Via Lucida

 

The Handyman talks – 10 secrets you too should know

  1. Use a rubber band for stripped screws.
Via gettinby.wordpress.com
  1. Glue a magnet to the bottom of your hammer so you don’t have to hold your nails in your mouth.
  1. Save your fingertips by holding the nail with pliers as you hammer.
Photos courtesy Andrew Snavely
  1. Scrape both sides of a flat screwdriver on a piece of chalk to keep it from slipping off the screw as you tighten it.
Photo courtesy Dave White
  1. When it comes to paint brushes and rollers you get what you pay for.

  1. Fold tin foil over the edge of a paint or glue tin before using it to keep the tin’s edge clean – it’ll be easier to close and prevent hardening.
  1. Wrap some masking tape around the lower part of the brush handle to prevent paint from dripping onto your hands when you’re painting overhead.
  1. When sawing a plank of wood, mark the four sides and give a 2mm deep cut on each side to keep the blade aligned and straight.
  1. Never stand above the third highest step on a ladder.
  1. Clean dirty, oily or greasy hands by rubbing them with used coffee grounds – it has an absorbent and abrasive effect.

 

Project Cool Down

With our year-round sunny climate an outdoor shower is a huge value-add to many South African homes, and can be used not just around a pool area or beach access, but to add allure to a main or guest bathroom.

The simplest outdoor shower involves nothing more than hooking up a hosepipe connection to an outdoor tap (or asking your plumber to install one) but that’s just the beginning. Add an attractive showerhead and you’ve taken it another step. Think flooring, walling, roofing and the options are endless. Here’s some inspiration…

 

Before you take that shower

Image courtesy maricamckeel.com

Pre-building tips from Bathroom Bizarre (bathroom.co.za)

Location

  • Where the outdoor shower is built is one of the most crucial aspects for a successful end result. First off, it should be somewhere that gets direct sunlight – this is not only because it makes the showering experience so much more pleasant, but direct sunlight also ensures that the area dries out properly after use, preventing rot, scum, mould and moss formation.
  • Privacy is also an important aspect – the shower’s location should provide enough privacy without blocking the natural outdoor vistas. Well-placed screens of a desired height are always a great option. Also, if the house is double storey or flanked by a house that is double story with windows that look down onto the outdoor shower area, consider installing a louvered roof that allows a view of the sky, but minimises the possibility of anybody peeping.
  • Take careful note of the orientation of the area and plan it so that it makes the best of the outdoor view on offer. Also, bear in mind that placing a shower in an area where there is already plumbing close by will save time, effort and expense on the plumbing.

Construction materials

  • Select materials that are able to weather exposure to the elements, but not detract from the natural beauty of the area in question. Materials such as wood, stone, metal or tile are the most popular choices. Wood is a very trendy choice but being outdoors it will need regular maintenance. Faux wood tiles are a great alternative – they look just like the real thing but are far more durable and need no maintenance. Their wood-like grain texture ensures that they aren’t slippery when wet.
  • Natural stone is another admired, but pricey, choice. Faux stone tiles or mosaics that look just like the real thing are available and come in at a fraction of the cost. Metal is also stunning, but remember that it needs to be specially treated or it will rust. Concrete is another popular choice – it is comparatively affordable, requires no maintenance, and blends in seamlessly with nature.

Plumbing and drainage

  • Plumbing and drainage is similar to that of indoor showers. In fact, outdoor plumbing connections and practices should mirror indoor plumbing codes and systems. The only major difference is that for an outdoor shower, you should install shut-off and drain valves that enable the water to be turned off during the cold winter months. For inland locations, this will prevent the water in the pipes from freezing and damaging the plumbing and fittings. Also, a solid concrete shower floor is a must – resin shower trays will crack and warp over time due to exposure to the elements.
  • Traditionally, outdoor showers that were near to a pool usually just drained into the ground or through a bed of stone. However, this was because shower products weren’t used and the water was clear. With a permanent outdoor shower, soaps and shampoos will be used and the runoff will be grey water. This means that the drainage should be connected to the home’s main drainage outlet or grey water system. Also, it is best to direct loose drainage away from a home’s foundations to avoid any unwanted damp problems and away from any surrounding plants that could be killed by the grey water.

Amenities

  • It’s important not to forget the little things as these will really help turn this space into a luxury outdoor showering retreat. Consider a dry changing area adjacent to the shower area for changing and drying off. This space can also be used to store towels, a laundry hamper and various items needed in the shower. It is therefore important that this area is covered and protected from the rain.
  • It is also a good idea to include a bench or seat for use while changing, or as a place to keep clothing or towels off the ground. And of course, the inclusion of the usual accessories such as towel rails, robe hooks, soap holders and shower caddies will help make this area as functional as it is beautiful. When it comes to bathroom accessories, choose items that won’t rust – glass and stainless steel are the best materials for outdoor applications.

 

Alfresco dining

Take it outside

Serve it outdoors and drink in a little fresh air, open space and a slower pace of life.

 

BEST OUTDOOR DINING: Porky’s

 

Chef Reuben Riffle and Robertsons have just the nibbles:

 

Mid-Summer Lunch Salad

Image and recipe courtesy Reuben Riffle and www.robertsons.co.za

For the dressing:

  • 175 ml natural yogurt
  • 5 ml Robertsons Crushed Garlic
  • 15 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 15 ml water
  • Robertsons Atlantic Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients together, season and set aside.

For the vegetables:

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml Robertsons Crushed Chillies
  • 2 corn on the cob
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • A few vine cherry tomatoes

Combine oil and Robertsons Crushed Chillies. Rub mixture over corn.

Cook on a very hot griddle pan until charred on all sides.

Remove and in the same pan, char-grill asparagus for a few minutes on each side, set aside, then grill tomatoes. Cut corn kernels off cooled cob.

For the spiced chicken:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 5 ml Robertsons Ground Cumin
  • 5 ml Robertsons Paprika
  • 4 large chicken breast fillets

Mix oil and spices together, brush over chicken fillets cook in same pan as the vegetables for about 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Remove chicken from heat, rest and slice.

Arrange all ingredients (including 1 red onion half and 1 packed mixed salad leaves) on a platter.

Season and drizzle with yogurt dressing.

 

Tuna cakes with yogurt sauce

Image and recipe courtesy Reuben Riffle and www.robertsons.co.za

 

  • 500 g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 425 g tuna in spring water, drained
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon rind finely grated, juiced
  • 5 ml Robertsons Parsley
  • 5 ml Robertsons Lemon Pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 85 ml fat free natural yogurt
  • 3 ml Robertsons Crushed Garlic
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • 80 g baby salad leaves

Boil the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes or until just tender when tested with a skewer. Drain well.

Return the potato to the hot saucepan and shake over low heat for 1-2 minutes to dry.

Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.

Flake the tuna and add sweet potato, onion, lemon rind, parsley and pepper. Stir to combine.

Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and shape each into a patty. Place on a tray lined with baking paper, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes. This allows patties to firm up.

Preheat oven and a flat baking tray to 200°C.

Place the patties onto a sheet of baking paper and lightly spray both sides with olive oil. Slide patties (still on the paper) onto the hot tray and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Combine the yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and garlic in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Combine the cucumber and salad leaves and pile onto serving plates. Serve with the patties and yogurt sauce.

 

Show some love

Get your outdoor living area fit for lazy living with Hertex’s In The Open collection of rugs, suitable for both the indoors and out. Easy to clean and UV protected to prevent colour fading, the Terrace, Portico, Plaza and Esplanade designs resemble faded traditional patterns, feel great and look even better.

Up your al fresco dining game

A picnic packing checklist to take your next picnic to the next level

  • Choose casual foods that can be eaten without utensils
  • Pack everything in lightweight resealable containers.
  • Keep everything chilled with refreezable ice packs.
  • Take a cool box of ice too, for drinks.
  • Don’t forget the kid-friendly drinks, as well as the adult beverages.
  • Don’t forget condiments such as salt, pepper, sauces and mustards. Where you can, collect a few small jars that you can use for these as permanent accessories in your picnic basket.
  • You’ll need cups, plates, glasses and cutlery – as well as serving utensils. Decide whether to invest in lightweight reusable picnic services, or whether to go for paper and bin them when you’re done.
  • Cutting board, cheese board, cutting knife, cheese knife, corkscrew/bottle opener and napkins.
  • Bags for litter, dirty dishes, moist wipes, paper towels.
  • Blanket, insect repellent, sunscreen, ball and picnic basket.

Buzz off

Keep flies away with this ridiculously easy trick

Take a few glasses of water, pop a few coins in the bottom of each, spread around the food. Flies, it is believed, think the coins are compound eyes of much bigger bugs, and stay out of reach.

 

Ditch the itch

Smother your body in lavender essential oil. Not only do mozzies not like the smell, but it soothes any bites when they’ve got to you before you got to them!

 

Outdoor 2017

Seven trends you need to know – compliments of soukop.co.za

Natural materials

After years of minimalist and geometric dominance in décor, design and landscape design, an older fashioned, organic, free form, DIY look is creeping back. Think softer lines, free form decks, swing seating, tactile and natural materials such as wood and stone and winding paths.

Photo courtesy Scott Shigley

Colour Blocking

Colour blocking – the use of discrete blocks of colour – is trending in outdoor living spaces. It’s used to frame or highlight a particular area, feature or plants. Think a dash of colour on a wall framing a row of pot plants or an outdoor sofa. It’s very inexpensive to do – try a lick of paint, a solid colour outdoor rug, or outdoor curtains will create the effect.

Hyper-localism

Just as locally sourced products continue to trend in many industries, landscape designers are finding that requests for endemic plants are increasing. Endemics (native to a very local ecosystem) make huge sense as the effects of climate change continue to make an impact.

 

Lawn Reborn

As large, manicured lawns continue to suffer the effects of water shortages, and get frowns from those concerned about chemical fertilisers and pest control, lawn-like alternatives such as grass mixes that don’t need to be mowed are growing in popularity. Lawns are getting smaller too, with faux grass being in high demand for play and pet areas.

Photo courtesy Tait Moring

 

Mix and Match

While a few years ago, people would choose a style and stick to it, a mix of old and new is trending in garden spaces. No longer about being modern or traditional, it’s now about how artfully you blend the two in your outdoor space.

Play Spaces

Playing is no longer just for the kids, adults are commissioning play spaces too – think bocce and other game courts, dining areas, fireplaces and hammocks. And for the kids, it’s spaces that encourage imaginative play – places they can create, build and dig rather than climb on a man-made structure.

Photo courtesy Barbara Ries

 

Dwarf Shrubs

As garden sizes get smaller (due to water shortages and increases in built areas) so the demand for evergreens and dwarf varieties is increasing. The horticulture industry is fast developing plants that fit – so keep a look out for great new dwarf varieties and interesting new ground covers and fillers.

Photo courtesy Land Morphology

 

 

Top of Form

Travelling with children

Kids become bored, anxious and restless very quickly when it comes to travel. Smooth those holiday travel blues by being prepped before you depart.

Here’s how:

  • Get there early. Flying? Be well prepared, get there early so you can breeze though the formalities and spend quality time with your children before take-off.
  • Don’t leave packing until the last minute.
  • Include toys and games to keep the kids busy.
  • Pop in a few surprises to be whipped out when things get stressful.
  • Keep everyone’s travel documents in one place and include a pen.
  • Use the travel time as an opportunity to engage with your offspring. Whether it’s driving or flying, have a few appropriate games lined up – they can be as simple as ‘I Spy’, ‘Twenty Questions’ or number plate spotting. Award prizes at stages in the journey for good behaviour, spotting famous landmarks, noticing interesting things and so on.
  • Stop for breaks. It’s not always a race to get there – enjoy the trip, let the kids stretch their legs and do something fun en route.
  • Let everyone go wild taking photos on their favourite device, creating memories they can share with family and friends.
  • Make sure everyone wears a seat belt.
  • Have a refreshments box at hand and a plastic bag for the litter.
  • Pack a pillow or two for the kids to sleep on.

Pack an emergency bag containing wet wipes, tissues, change of clothes and, most importantly, a sealable plastic bag, especially when travelling with young children.

Useful links:

Zululand’s Best Bed & Breakfast

Zululand’s Best Game Lodge

Zululand’s Best Car Service Centre

Zululand’s Best Vehicle Hire

Escape town

The Easter holidays are upon us – make sure you get a bit of down time by planning your escape now.

Nine great travel tips – in no particular order

  • Take travel insurance

Bookings through credit cards usually offer generous travel insurance, as do many private insurance and medical aid schemes. Check out, before you go, what insurance you do have and, if necessary, top it up.

  • Pack less stuff

You don’t need half the stuff you think you do to travel anywhere. Pack it all and then halve it. This leaves you able to move and, more importantly, able to shop when you hit your destination!

  • Back up everything

Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, Visas, driver’s licence, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency. That goes for your photos too – back them up just in case.

  • Pack a scarf

As all the world’s most seasoned travellers say, go nowhere without a generous scarf. Use it to protect yourself from the cold, the sun, use it as a sarong, a towel, bedspread, picnic blanket, tablecloth… – you get it!

  • Take lots of photos

You’ll possibly only see these places and meet these people once in your lifetime. The ultimate souvenir, photos are easy to share and they don’t take up space in your luggage.

  • Smile and say hello

Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Initiate contact. Make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too – a fast way to make new friends.

  • Slow down

Don’t try to cram six countries into six weeks of travel or eight museums into four days. The good stuff happens when you really take the time to explore and you learn about activities that aren’t in your guidebook and meet people who are eager to show you around. The very best travel experiences seldom happen within the first few days of arriving – wind down and spend more time in fewer places.

  • Eat local food

Think you already know what Chinese food tastes like?  You’ll be surprised. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask locals for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front.

  • Say yes often

Be impulsive and say yes when someone randomly invites you to meet their family, try a new activity, or explore a place you didn’t know existed. It’s these unexpected and unplanned situations that add spice to your travels and always turn into the best stories later. Accept the kindness of strangers when you travel — you’ll have plenty of opportunities.

 

Useful links:

Zululand’s Best Bed & Breakfast

Zululand’s Best Game Lodge

Zululand’s Best Car Service Centre

Zululand’s Best Vehicle Hire

Rise and shine

Breakfast isn’t just about kick-starting you day – whether you spend it with family, a partner or alone – it’s also a great time to cultivate and maintain friendships.

Make a conscious effort to schedule an early breakfast with a colleague or client, or get together with a group of parents once you’ve done the morning school run.

Love at first bite

Like it or not (and we love it!), experts maintain that the best way to start your day is with a good dose of oily fish. Salmon being the number one choice. The proteins in the fish help maintain steady blood sugar levels (which are vital for many things, including weight loss and the prevention of wrinkles, inflammation and cancer) and the omega oils help sharpen our brains.

Here are five ways to fall in love fast:

Avocado and Salmon Low-Carb Breakfast

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avos

smoked salmon

soft goat cheese

olive oil

lemon

sea salt

  • Cut the avos in half and remove the seeds.
  • Mix the salmon and cheese and put inside the avos.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and serve with salt, pepper and a squeeze or lemon

Smoked salmon and poached egg

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eggs

smoked salmon

Rocket leaves

  • Poach the eggs as you like them.
  • Top each with some rocket, then add the salmon.
  • Finish with a twist of black pepper.

Smoked Salmon & Dill Breakfast Hash

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Image courtesy chowhound.com

 

cooked diced potatoes

olive oil

chopped onion

minced garlic

salt

black pepper

shredded smoked salmon

chopped fresh dill

  • Fry onions until they start to brown.
  • Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the cooked potatoes and stir until they are brown.
  • Stir in the smoked salmon and fresh dill.
  • Serve immediately.

Salmon scrambled eggs

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Image courtesy madamenoire.com

 

eggs

salmon

milk

butter/oil

  • Scramble your eggs as usual until softly set and slightly runny in places.
  • Remove from the heat and leave for a few seconds to finish cooking.
  • Give a final stir and add some smoked salmon.

Apricot and lemon glazed salmon

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Image: foodcount.com

 

4T olive oil

1t Dijon mustard

80 grams apricot preserves

3T apple cider vinegar

3T lemon juice

4 salmon fillets

  • Blend marinade ingredients.
  • Pour the marinade over the salmon, coating evenly. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Microwave salmon for 1-2 minutes and serve immediately.

Breaking up with bread?

Once upon a time it was our best friend. But for many of us gluten free fans, the days of French toast or a few slices of rye smothered in peanut butter are over. That doesn’t mean breakfast has to be boring though, and this simple but genius kind-to-your-waist recipe proves it.

The bang-on trend Buddha bowl

Protein-rich quinoa is at the top of our hot foodie finds list this year. Bring 2 cups of water to boil, add a cup of quinoa and simmer for about 15 minutes. Fry up some chickpeas with your choice of herbs and spices while you wait. Then chuck the lot into a bowl and add some spinach leaves and a few slices of avo.

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Image: wellandfull.com

 

Go on, make your own!

After doing this you may be tempted to never buy yogurt again. Making your own is easier than cooking, you can create your own blends AND you get the benefits of digestion, improved immunity and lessened food allergies by making natural yogurt with good bacteria pro-biotics.

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Image and recipe courtesy lifeisazoobiscuit.com

 

Makes 1 litre yogurt

1 litre of fresh full cream milk
60 ml natural yogurt with live AB cultures

Bring the milk to 80°C or until bubbles form around the edges of your pot. Stir the milk occasionally. Remove pot from heat and let it cool to 43 °C or when you can stick your finger in for 10 seconds. Stir in yogurt and cover the pot with a lid. Wrap the pot with a large towel and let it sit for 6-12 hours in a hot spot until yogurt is thick and tangy. The longer it sits, the thicker and tangier it will become. Spoon into sterilized containers and refrigerate.

Use yogurt from this batch as the starter for your next batch.

Move over cornflakes…

Make your own toasted muesli in a flash – and still get them to school on time! (The secret of course is to do the muesli in big batches and store it in an airtight container.)

Toasted Muesli

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Image and recipe courtesy tandysinclair.com

 

300g rolled oats

75g sunflower seeds

75g pumpkin seeds

25g lin seeds

170g nuts, roughly chopped

45g desiccated coconut

50g cacao nibs

20g wheat germ

80mls canola oil

250g honey

90g raisins

60g cranberries

75g dried fruit, thinly sliced

35g goji berries

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Grease a baking tin and place the oats, seeds, nuts, coconut, cacao nibs and wheat germ into the tin
  • Put the oil and honey into a small pan and heat until the honey melts
  • Mix into the ingredients in the tin
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and mix
  • Bake for another 15 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and add the rest of the ingredients
  • Lower the oven temperature to 40°C
  • Bake for 1 hour
  • Remove and leave to cool
  • Store in an airtight container

Take these…

While we may not all be Banting fans, Tim Noakes has changed how many of us feel about carbs. (Hellooo instant guilt!) The good news is these seed crackers taste great, are carb-clever, full of the oils that we need and a doddle to make!

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Image and recipe courtesy thebantingchef.co.za

 

200g      sunflower seeds

100g      sesame seeds

60g        flax seed

2 T          psyllium husk

1 t          Himalayan salt

500ml    water

Rosemary, oregano or cayenne pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 160C.
  • Mix together all the ingredients, including the water, together and leave for 10 minutes to gel.
  • Prepare a baking tray with baking paper, or silicone sheet and grease with coconut oil.
  • Spread the mixture out thinly on the tray or sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and score in sizes for crackers.
  • Put them back into the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes. Keep rotating and checking them.
  • Remove them, break them apart and allow them to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Egg-stacy

Baked eggs – in a flash…

Perfect for lazy weekend breakfasts or a weekday rush, these baked eggs, prepared in a muffin tray, serve 6 and cut the work (and washing) in half! Let people pick and choose their own fillings too, for extra yum…

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Image courtesy www.bhg.com

 

Canola oil

6 – 12 eggs

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 180° Lightly grease a 6-cup muffin tray (or go big with a 12 cup tin and double the number of eggs).
  • Pop the chosen fillings to the muffin cups.
  • Crack one to two eggs on top of each (depending on cup size) and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 8 to 15 minutes, or until done to your liking.
  • Serve immediately.

Feisty fillings – six of the best

  • Spinach, cheese and ham
  • Tomato, balsamic vinegar and basil
  • Salmon, cream cheese and chives
  • Butter beans, chorizo and spinach
  • Bacon and avo
  • Bacon and mushroom

Get extra smart and wrap a slice of bacon or ham around the inside of each muffin cup before adding any other ingredients to form little egg baskets when cooked!

Ooh-la-la!

Give your crab a French twist – with an omelette that’ll turn heads.

Crab brekkie omelette

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Image: fishisthedish.co.uk

 

170g can crab meat in brine, drained

3 eggs, beaten

2 t sunflower oil

30g sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

Chopped fresh herbs, to garnish

  • Season the eggs with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Heat the oil in an omelette pan or non-stick frying pan. Pour in the eggs and cook for a few seconds, until the bottom of the omelette is lightly set. Push the set parts of the omelette into the uncooked centre of the omelette. Continue like this until the egg has just set but the omelette is still soft in the centre.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, top with the crab meat, sundried tomatoes and chillies (if using).
    Place under a pre-heated grill until the omelette is fully cooked and serve garnished with the herbs.

Kid-zone

We all know the importance of sending kids (and adults) off with a good breakfast. Help prevent sugar crashes, load them with important nutrients and have them licking their lips – here’s how…

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Image and tips courtesy edublox.co.za

Oatmeal

Oatmeal provides complex carbohydrates and fibre. Complex carbohydrates won’t make your kids sleepy in class because they burn slowly, giving them a continuous, steady source of energy until lunch.

In addition, oatmeal contains beta-glucan, which lowers cholesterol. Oatmeal is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and folate.

Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein, good cholesterol, and various nutrients like lutein, B vitamins, and iodine.

Research shows that eating eggs and spinach can increase your reflexes and that consuming eggs with raw vegetables increases your antioxidant absorption.

Almond butter

Almond butter is a clean source of protein, much like eggs. It’s also rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. It has less saturated fat than peanut butter and goes well with all things peanut butter does.

Blueberry pancakes

Blueberries are packed with many nutrients, including vitamin C. Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, have a low glycaemic index, (helping prevent sugar crashes) and help improve memory and motor skills.

Be prepared in case of emergency

The kids are back at school and it’s admin time for the year ahead.

One thing you really shouldn’t shirk is your family’s medical needs for the next 12 months.

Now’s the time to resolve outstanding 2016 medical aid issues, tweak your coverage going forward and consider top-ups such as gap cover plans that cover outstanding hospital costs and dread diseases.

It’s also a good time to get your first aid line-up sorted so that should there be an emergency, you’re as prepared as you can be.

 

Essential first aid box contents

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Image: theoutdoorland.com
  • 2 absorbent compress dressings
  • Pack of adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • Aspirin
  • 1 space blanket
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of non-latex gloves
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • 2 roller bandages
  • Pack of sterile gauze pads
  • Thermometer
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Eye shield or pad
  • Duct tape
  • Safety pins
  • Soap/hand sanitiser
  • Small, waterproof flashlight or headlamp
  • Waterproof matches
  • First aid instruction booklet

 

Quick first aid rules
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Image: wantitall.co.za
  • Keep a first aid kit at home and in your vehicles.
  • Know where kits are kept at your place of work.
  • Teach children old enough to understand where kits are kept.
  • Prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways.
  • Check your first-aid kits every so often to make sure torch batteries work and to replace supplies that have expired or been used up.

 

 Medications at home
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Image: helpusell-properties.com

While most of us, fortunately, aren’t faced with medical emergencies on a daily basis, keeping a home supply of basic medication is hugely handy. Top up this general list with your own more specific requirements.

  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Calamine lotion
  • Anti-diarrhoea medication
  • Laxative
  • Rehydrate
  • Antacids
  • Antihistamine
  • Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Cough and cold medications

 

Nodnummer-telefon

What to do if a person is choking

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Image: netcare.911

Choking happens when someone’s airway suddenly gets blocked, either fully or partly, so they can’t breathe.

Mild choking: encourage them to cough

If the airway is only partly blocked, the person will usually be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe. They will usually be able to clear the blockage themselves.

Severe choking: back blows and abdominal thrusts

Where choking is severe, the person will not be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe. Without help, they will eventually become unconscious.

To help an adult or child over one year

  • Stand behind the person and slightly to one side.
  • Support their chest with one hand.
  • Lean the person forward so that the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
  • Give up to five sharp blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. (The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist).
  • Check if the blockage has cleared.
  • If not, give up to five abdominal thrusts:

Stand behind the person who is choking. Place your arms around their waist and bend them forward. Clench one fist and place it right above their belly button. Put the other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat this movement up to five times.

NB: Don’t give abdominal thrusts to babies under one year old or to pregnant women.

  • If the person’s airway is still blocked after trying back blows and abdominal thrusts, get help immediately. Call your closest medical emergency number and tell the operator the person is choking.
  • Continue with the cycles of five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until help arrives.
  • If the person loses consciousness and they’re not breathing, begin cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with chest compressions.
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Image: netcare.911

If a baby is choking

  • Lie the baby face down across or along your lap, with their head lower than their bottom.
  • Support the baby’s head from underneath by placing your thumb on one side of their jaw and one or two fingers on the other side. This is to make sure their airway is open.
  • Be careful not to press on the neck or the soft skin under the lower jaw.
  • Give up to five firm slaps to the baby’s back between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. (The heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist.)
  • Pause between each blow to see if the blockage has cleared. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage, as you may push it further in.
  • If the airway is still blocked, start with chest thrusts.

Chest thrusts for babies under one year old

  • Lie the baby face up along your arm, and lay your arm along or across your lap to support it.
  • Support the back of the baby’s head by cupping the lower part of your hand.
  • Find the breastbone and place two fingers on the lower half of it.
  • Give five sharp chest thrusts (pushes) with your fingers, compressing the chest by about a third of its depth.
  • Check whether the blockage has cleared. Do not poke your fingers into the baby’s mouth unless you can see and reach the blockage, as you may push it further in.

If the baby’s airway is still blocked after three cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts, call your closest emergency service and tell them the baby is choking. Don’t leave the baby.

Continue with the cycles of back slaps and chest thrusts until help arrives. If the baby stops breathing, start CPR.

 

What to do if a person is drowning

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Image: health-e.org.za
  • Get help if you can do this without leaving the person.
  • Take the person out of the water.
  • Turn them onto their side to drain any water.
  • Check to see whether the person is breathing.
  • Take their pulse if you can’t tell.
  • If there is no pulse after 10 seconds, start CPR and chest compressions.
  • Continue with a cycle of 30 compressions and two breaths until the person starts breathing or emergency help arrives.

 

What to do if a person gets burnt

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Image: healthytalks.com
  • Stop the burning immediately
  • Put out the fire or stop the person’s contact with hot liquid, steam, or other material.
  • Help the person to ‘stop, drop and roll’ to smother the flames.
  • Remove any smouldering material from the person.
  • Remove any hot or burned clothing. If clothing sticks to the skin, cut or tear around it.
  • Remove constrictive clothing Immediately. Take off jewellery, belts and tight clothing. Burns can swell quickly.

Then take the following steps:

For minor burns

  1. Cool it down

Hold the burned skin under cool (not cold) running water or immerse in cool water for about 10 minutes until the pain subsides.

Use compresses if running water isn’t available.

  1. Protect the wound

Cover the wound with sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.

Do not apply butter or ointments, which can cause infection!

  1. Treat the pain

Give over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen.

For severe burns

  1. Stop the burning

Immerse the area in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. Use compresses if running water isn’t available. Don’t apply ice – it can lower the body temperature and cause further damage.

Don’t break blisters or apply butter or ointments, which can cause infection.

  1. Protect the wound

Cover it loosely with sterile, non-stick bandage and secure in place with gauze or tape.

  1. Prevent shock

Lay the person flat and elevate his/her feet about 30cm.

Elevate the burn area above heart level, if possible.

Cover the person with a coat or blanket.

  1. Go to the emergency room

The hospital will be able to test the treat the burn wound appropriately.

 

Be prepared
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Image: fmrsa.co.za
  • Enrol on a first aid course and learn CPR. The more you know the more you can help.
  • Always carry an antihistamine. If someone with you has a sudden reaction to a bee sting or a food, an antihistamine on hand can save a life.
  • Carry a few assorted plasters in your wallet or purse. Whether it’s a blister or a cut, you’ll be pleased you have one.

 

Alternative medical practices

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With many alternative medical practices being older than conventional or standard medicine, and many stemming from different cultures and countries, it is no surprise that they are respected and used worldwide, and that many boast huge success.

A vastly diverse field that encompasses many different forms of therapies that include diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, as well as hypnosis, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture and the use of herbs and oils, alternative medical practices can be used alongside or in place of traditional medical treatments.

The choice is highly personal and ultimately, if it works, we say use it!

Here are some of the most common alternative practices and what they aim to treat:

Acupuncture

The best-known form of acupuncture consists of penetrating the skin with thin needles controlled by a practitioner or electrical stimulation. The needles are used to specific points in the body in the treatment of chronic pain, muscular discomfort, illness and depression.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils (concentrated extracts from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants) to promote healing. The oils can be inhaled, massaged into the skin or occasionally taken by mouth, and each has a specific purpose.

Ayurvedic medicine

Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine use a variety of techniques, including herbs, massage and specialised diets, with the intent of balancing the body, mind and spirit to promote overall wellness.

Balneotherapy

Also known as hydrotherapy, balneotherapy involves the use of water for therapeutic purposes. It’s based on the idea that water benefits the skin and might treat a range of conditions from acne to pain, swelling and anxiety. Practitioners use mudpacks, douches and wraps in their treatments.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback techniques allow people to control bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily—such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and skin temperature—in order to improve conditions including high blood pressure, headaches and chronic pain. Patients work with a biofeedback therapist to learn these relaxation techniques and mental exercises. In initial sessions, electrodes are attached to the skin to measure bodily states, but eventually the techniques can be practiced without a therapist or equipment.

Chiropractic

Chiropractic focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, including pain in the back, neck, joints, arms, legs and head. The most common procedure performed by chiropractors is ‘spinal manipulation’ or ‘adjustment’, which is intended to restore mobility and loosen the muscles, allowing tissues to heal and pain to resolve.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy functions in much the same way as a vaccine: It’s based on the principle of treating ‘like with like’, meaning a substance that causes adverse reactions when taken in large doses can be used—in small amounts—to treat those same symptoms. Homeopaths gather extensive background information on patients before prescribing a highly diluted substance to jumpstart the body’s natural systems of healing.

Reflexology

Reflexology involves applying pressure to specific areas on the feet, hands, or ears. The theory is that these points correspond to different body organs and systems and that stimulating them is believed to positively affect these organs and a person’s overall health.

Reiki

Reiki is a form of energy healing based on the idea that ‘life force energy’ flows through everyone’s body. According to this philosophy, sickness and stress are indications that life force energy is low, while energy, health and happiness signify a strong life force. In a Reiki session, a practitioner seeks to ‘transfer’ life energy to the client by placing their hands lightly on the client’s body or a slight distance away from the body. The purpose is to promote relaxation, speed healing, reduce pain and generally improve the client’s wellbeing.

Brilliant burgers

Admit it! You’re still on holiday – well almost.

The kids still are, and there’s not that much to do at work. Better still, the festive rush has rushed by and many feel this is the time of year they actually get to relax a bit.

Now that the Christmas catering is over for another 12 months, now’s the time to catch your breath and actually smell the charcoal while you’re having that braai. And what better thing to braai, when you’re half on holiday, than an easy peasy burger!

Make a (burger) impression

Jamie’s Cracking Burger

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Photo: www.jamieoliver.com

 

  • 12 cream crackers
  • 8 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 500 g quality minced beef
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • olive oil

Wrap the crackers in a tea towel, smash til fine, tip into a large bowl.

Add chopped parsley, mustard and minced beef.

Crack the egg into the bowl, add a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper.

Mix well, and shape into patties.

 

 

Middle Eastern burger

  • 500g ground lamb
  • 500 g ground beef
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t sweet paprika
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 t cayenne

Combine all ingredients and shape into patties. Serve with a cucumber & yogurt sauce.

 

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Three burger patties that aren’t meat

Every minute spent reading is another minute you could be enjoying a mouthful of delicious guilt and meat free goodness with these super speedy recipes:

  1. Portobello mushrooms are the steak of the vegetable world. Just fry ‘em up and top with corn, peas, garlic, and basil.
  2. Make a batch of falafels by blending together 1 tin chickpeas, 1 t chilli powder, 2 T flour, 1 t olive oil, a few leaves of basil 2 t basil. Scoop the mix out with your hands and separate into four or five equally sized balls. Flatten into patties and fry until both sides are crispy and golden brown.
  3. Mix 1 can of red kidney beans, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 minced clove of garlic, two cups diced spinach or kale together. Fry for about five minutes and transfer to food processor or blender and pulse while adding 3T teriyaki sauce, your choice of herbs and spices and 1 cup buckwheat or oatmeal. Press into golf ball size balls and then flatten into patties to fry, 2-3 minutes per side until browned and heated through.

 

The best burger flavour pairings

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If you love burgers as much as we do, you could probably eat them every day of the week without getting bored, especially with all of these weird but wonderful burger topping pairings to experiment with…

A few almond flakes and apple slices are a great way to sweeten the deal no matter what meaty goodness you’re biting down on. Use melted chocolate and sage to whip up a burger so delectable you won’t even need desert.

Get saucy with a dollop of Greek yogurt (it’s best with red meats) and a few slices of cucumber for added freshness. Load up on Beta Carotene and add some lemon and honey fried carrot slices to your burger.

Take a tropical approach with fried banana and coconut shavings. Get adventurous with cinnamon and peanut butter which goes great with ostrich meat, or flaunt your fancy food style with a strawberry and brie on chicken creation! How daring are you willing to get in the kitchen?

 

Hey, hot stuff!

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Here’s a fiery homemade jalapeño hot sauce recipe to set your soul alight. All you have to do is combine 1 t vegetable oil, 20 fresh sliced jalapeño peppers, 3 cloves minced garlic, and ½ cup minced onion and a pinch of salt.

Sauté for 4 minutes and then add two cups of water and cook for 20 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Purée in food processor until smooth while adding 1 cup distilled white vinegar. Then pour into a sterilised jar with a tight lid.

This sauce will keep for 6 months when stored in the refrigerator.

 

Sauce in seconds

  • Blue cheese mayo

Crumble 50g blue cheese in a bowl, then fold in 3 T mayonnaise.

  • Chipotle feta

Crumble 100g feta cheese in a bowl then mix in 2 T chipotle paste. Mash with a fork until well combined.

  •  Tarragon special sauce

Combine 1/2 small bunch fresh tarragon, chopped, 1 T white wine vinegar, 1 small finely chopped shallot and 75g mayonnaise.

  •  Frenchie

Combine 2 T Dijon mustard with 4 T crème fraiche. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Source: www.bbcgoodfood.com)

 

Making better burgers

Thought burgers couldn’t get better? So did we, until we clocked these hot tips from The Burger Lab, courtesy J. Kenji López-Alt.

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Grind your own beef

Buying store-bought ground beef is a second best. You’re never quite sure when it was ground, what part of the cow it came from, or even how many different cows are in the package. Not to freshness issues, rough handling, and tight shrink-wrap packaging that can lead to leaden patties. Grind your own beef, and not only do you control everything from the meat blend, to the grind size, to the fat content, but even better, you get to tell people that you grind your own beef. Instant street cred.

Keep everything really cold

Until your burgers are fully formed, heat is their mortal enemy. Warm fat is soft and pliable, and tends to stick to your hands and work surfaces. And if that fat’s on your hands, then it ain’t in the burger.

Season liberally

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This is what a well-seasoned patty looks like.

No matter how carefully you select your meat blend, without salt and pepper, your burgers will be dull. Freshly ground black pepper from whole peppercorns is a must.

Do not salt beef until patties are formed

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An unsalted vs. salted patty

Salt starts affecting meat the moment it comes in contact with it. It dissolves muscle proteins, which subsequently cross-link and draw out moisture turning your burgers from moist and tender to sausage-like and springy and adversely affecting the exterior texture of your patties. The effect is dramatic.

The best time to season your burgers is within minutes of the time they gonna hit the grill or griddle.

Flip your burger as often as you’d like

An oft-flipped burger cooks more evenly. Flipping your burger repeatedly (as often as once every 15 seconds) encourages faster, more even internal cooking, shaving off as much as 1/3 of your grill time.

Don’t futz with your meat

Working the meat unduly will cause proteins to cross-link with each other. Despite outward appearances, ground meat is not dead. From the moment you lay your hands on it, it is changing dynamically, reacting to every knead, every sprinkle of salt, and every change in temperature. Working the meat unduly will cause proteins to cross-link with each other like tiny strips of velcro, making your finished burgers denser and tighter with fewer nooks and crannies for cheese and sauce catching.

Be a purist

Adding ingredients like onions, herbs, eggs, breadcrumbs, anything to your ground meat not only forces you to over-handle the mix, but it instantly relegates your burgers into the “meatloaf sandwich” category. If you absolutely must add stuff to your burgers—and with a good, well-selected meat blend, there’s really no need to—mix it with the cubes of beef prior to grinding (but don’t add the salt yet!), so that it can be evenly distributed without the need to overwork the beef afterward.

New Year, new you

Nothing tastes as good as getting in shape feels

Come early January, most of us are carrying a little more ‘left over festive cheer’ than we’d like, and are ready to turn to ‘new leaf’ thoughts with the energy they require.

Besides helping you look and feel better, exercise has many, many health benefits. Experts often recommend a ‘bouquet’ of exercise types – working different muscle groups and having different effects of the body – not just because the ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, but also because if you’re injured or unable to perform one type of exercise for some reason (often simply weather!) you have others to fall back on.

As we’re all different (different bodies, different health requirements, different lifestyles and different timetables, and yup, do check with an expert if you have any health concerns about a particular exercise type) it’s always best to work out an exercise bouquet that best suits you. ‘

For January, we’ve put together a few healthy ideas. The rest, as they say, is up to you.

Sign up for gym

gym
Photo: www.playbuzz.com

A gym encourages you to do a balanced programme that includes both aerobic and strength training exercises. These together have been found to improve cholesterol levels in the blood and lower blood pressure, helping prevent cardiovascular diseases and strokes. Gym has also been found to regulate levels of insulin in the blood, lowering the risk if some types of cancer.

Similarly, gym workouts that include weight lifting, squats, aerobics, and running help strengthen bones and surrounding tissues, which help fight osteoporosis and improve muscle strength and joint mobility, balance and flexibility.

Find support and motivation

While some people really enjoy exercise; others find it a chore. At a gym you’ll find yourself surrounded by other people who provide incentive. After a few sessions you’ll most likely find your rhythm and not want to stay away!

Destress and get happy

Just about all forms of exercise help relieve stress, as the physical activity boosts the brain’s production of endorphins, which makes us feel better physically and have a brighter emotional outlook. Exercise tends to reduce tension in both the body and the mind, improving ones mood and the quality of ones sleep.

Sample the variety

One of the big advantages of a gym over a home gym is the wide variety of machines, weights, facilities and classes allowing you to try new exercises and vary your routine. You also, very often, have pros on tap, to help advise you on routines and techniques.

Boost your self-confidence

Not only will you probably be looking better but most likely you’ll be feeling better about yourself too and therefore more confident when meeting others.

Great for grey matter and energy

Many studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise has a positive effect on your brain power, improving decision making, thinking, memory and learning. Exercise and physical activity also deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helping your heart and lungs work more efficiently, which gives you more energy.

Helps control addiction

The cause of addiction is a nasty little beast called dopamine, or ‘reward chemical’ that the brain releases in response to any form of pleasure such as drugs, alcohol or food. Exercise sessions can often distract the addict by making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term) making kicking the habit all that much easier.

 

Heads up to yoga

yoga
Photo: www.wisegeek.com

An ancient Indian tradition, Yoga is considered a way to unite the body and the mind. It’s not only an effective way to achieve mental peace and spiritual awareness, but also a great way to exercise the body and keep fit.

Yoga has a wide range of poses with varying levels of difficulty, to suit the abilities and fitness requirements of different individuals. Yoga exercises not only improve overall health, and reduce stress, it can be used to cure specific ailments and manage chronic medical conditions as each yoga pose (asana) targets a different part of the body.

There are a number of different types of yoga – a good instructor should be able to run through these with you and help you with the different aspects of yoga exercises such as proper alignment, breathing techniques and posture benefits.

Increases strength, agility and flexibility

Many sports will give you strength. Others will give you more agility, but few practices will increase strength, agility, and flexibility all at once.

Enhances memory & cognitive functioning

Partly due to the increase in oxygen circulation but also due to the meditation involved, yoga is known to increase cognitive functioning, memory capacity, and levels of concentration.

Body weight normalises

Yoga gently normalises body weight by restoring hormonal balance in the body.

Naturally reduces pain

Yoga is often used to effectively reduce pain in many ailment including fibromyalgia, arthritis and migraine headaches.

Increases respiratory efficiency and blood pressure

Yoga teaches breathing techniques that increase lung capacity which has numerous physical and health benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Yoga has been shown to be very effective in treating hypertension.

Enhances mental health

Yoga offers many psychological benefits, among them an improved overall mood and sense of well-being, more connectedness with others, lower depressive states, less hostility towards self and others, less anxiety, increased feelings of self-actualisation and increased motivation.

You can do it anywhere

You can do yoga almost anywhere. You don’t need anything (except perhaps a yoga mat, but even that isn’t essential).

 

Hands up for Pilates

pilates
Photo: www.onespace.com

Since the early 20th century, when Joseph Pilates created this physical fitness regimen, Pilates has become a popular activity among exercise enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. It offers physical and mental benefits, without taking a toll on the body. Quality of movement in Pilates is valued over quantity of repetitions. Proper breathing is essential, and helping execute movements with maximum power and efficiency and reducing stress.

A refreshing mind-body workout

By emphasising proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and concentration on smooth, flowing movement, you become acutely in tune with your body and how to control its movement.

Develop a strong core – flat abdominals and a strong back

Pilates exercises develop a strong ‘core’, or centre of the body. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle.

Gain long, lean muscles, flexibility and even conditioning

Pilates elongates and strengthens muscles, improving elasticity and joint mobility, claiming that a body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured. Similarly Pilates works all the muscles in the body, creating even conditioning, a reason many sports teams combine Pilates with their particular training.

It’s gentle

Many exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. Pilates is so safe it is used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries.

And challenging

Pilates is extremely flexible and modifications to exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginner to advanced.

 

Set out for a run

run
Photo: www.makeupandfitness.com

Running helps burn calories which can contribute to weight loss and reducing the risk of osteoporosis and complications related to joint pressure. Running can also strengthen and stabilise ligaments in the body, making you less susceptible to sprains.

Running helps work out the quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, calf muscles, glutes and the hip flexors. Because running is a high-impact workout, you’ll burn more calories and engage your cardiovascular system.

Research has shown that running can also decrease the risk of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and breast, uterine and bowel cancer. Since running releases endorphins, additional benefits include improved mental health, physical self-perception and self-esteem; additionally, it can relieve depression.

Hot tip – Run on empty

Studies have shown that running before you eat (especially before breakfast – in a fasted state) can actually help you burn more fat. However, if you’re doing a long, strenuous workout, you may need to replenish your glycogen stores mid-way to prevent having a poor workout – interestingly, when done during the workout it doesn’t interfere with the enhanced fat loss. Tip: a cup of black coffee is believed to lead to greater fat loss as it stimulates the metabolism.

Walking it off

For those who can’t run, a walk is a great option too. Gentler on the joints, walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It can also alleviate high blood pressure and improve blood sugar levels. A brisk walk every day contributes to overall fitness by burning calories, improving muscle strength and tone and working the cardiovascular system. Walking also releases endorphins that improve the mood and helps increase concentration levels. Because of its low impact, walking is one of the safest forms of physical activity.

* Check out https://www.facebook.com/RichardsBayparkrun/ for info on how to take part in a Parkrun, a free, weekly 5km timed run.

 

Cheers to good health

They always sound delicious on the menu, but we tend to neglect them back home. Get super smooth with these health drinks that will have you coming back for seconds.

Mango Smoothie

mango
Photo: www.prevention.com

Serves 1

¼ c mango cubes
¼ c mashed ripe avocado
½ c mango juice
¼ c vanilla yogurt
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 T sugar/honey
6 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Garnish with sliced mango or strawberry if desired.

Tip: For extra protein, add 2 scoops of protein powder, such as whey protein.

 

Blueberry Smoothie

blueberry
Photo: www.prevention.com

Serves 1

1/2 c skim milk

1/2 c plain yoghurt
1 c frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 T cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil

Honey to taste

Combine milk, yoghurt and blueberries in blender, and blend for 1 minute. Transfer to glass, and stir in flaxseed oil. Add honey to taste.

 

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

banana
Photo: www.seventeen.com

Serves 1

½ c fat-free milk
½ c fat-free plain yogurt
2 T peanut butter
¼ very ripe banana
1 T honey
4 ice cubes

Combine ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve.

 

Kale & Pear Juice

kale
Photo: www.fitliv.tv

Serves 1

2 stalks kale

1 cup spinach

1 pear

½ lime

3 stalks celery

½ cucumber

Add one tablespoon of Organic Coconut Oil for additional health benefits.

Get the party started

Whatever kind of party you’re having, nibbles are more or less a must-have. Serve them early to help line those stomachs and your friends will love you even more.

 

Say cheese

a say cheese
Photo: Ten22 Studio

An array of paired cheeses served on standing stylish forks, styled by The TomKat Studio.

 

Ricotta Crostini

b ricotta

Photo: HonestlyYum

Slice loaves of French bread into 2cm slices. Toast in oven. Once they have cooled a bit, slather them with ricotta and garnish with a selection of combinations below – or your own.

  • hardboiled egg and chives
  • cucumbers, mint and dill
  • smoked salmon and dill
  • leeks caramelized in butter
  • strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar
  • extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest and sea salt
  • radishes and sea salt
  • smoked salmon and dill
  • blueberries and honey
  • cucumbers, mint and dill
  • hazelnuts and apricot jam
  • tomatoes and basil pesto


Bacon-Wrapped Apricots with Sage

c bacon
Photo: Con Poulos

24 small fresh sage leaves

24 large dried apricots

8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thirds

2 tablespoons maple syrup

toothpicks, for serving

Heat oven to 180°C. Place a sage leaf on each apricot, wrap with a piece of bacon, and place seam-side down on a baking sheet.

Bake until the bacon is beginning to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Remove from oven and brush with the syrup. Serve with toothpicks.

 

Pears with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

d pears
Photo: Mikkel Vang

3 pears each cut into 8 wedges

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup rocket

Block blue cheese, cut into small pieces

100 mg thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

In a large bowl, toss the pears and lemon juice.

Layer a slice of pear, a rocket leaf and a piece of cheese on a piece of prosciutto and roll up.

 

Something a little more substantial

Because you just may need it later on… Two quick dishes you can serve straight from the pan.

Gnocchi with sundried tomatoes and white beans

e gnocci

Photo and recipe: www.sweetpeasandsaffron.com

500g gnocchi

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

¼-1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

⅓ cup sundried tomatoes, diced

4 cups loosely packed spinach

540ml white beans, drained and rinsed

Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat.

Add the gnocchi and separate them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and slightly crispy.

Remove from pan.

Add the mushrooms, and cook for 3 or so minutes until soft (add additional olive oil if needed). Return the gnocchi to the pan and add the sundried tomatoes, spinach and white beans. Stir until spinach is wilted and everything is heated through.

Add additional salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Penne Arrabiata with Mozzarella and Chorizo

f penne
Photo and recipe: www.kitchensanctuary.com

500g penne pasta

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1T olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

200g chorizo, sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 T tomato puree

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

1 t dried thyme – or 3 stalks of fresh thyme

1 heaped tsp of dried chilli flakes (to taste)

1 t sugar

1 ball mozzarella (approx 250g)

3 T finely grated parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

2 T chopped fresh chives

Cook pasta until al dente.

In a large pan, heat oil, fry garlic, onion and peppers until soft. Add chorizo and cook for a further few minutes until it starts to darken. Now add garlic, tomato puree, and after a minute add canned tomatoes, thyme, chilli flakes and sugar. Bring it to a gentle bubble and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the drained pasta into the sauce when ready to serve. Stir in the mozzarella chunks, heat for a further minute and then turn off the heat. Sprinkle with a little parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and some chopped chives.

 

Get the party going

Families that play together stay together!

Shoot
– a point-and-shoot camera with a flash and a self-timer. Ideally use a cheap one.
– a bunch of friends

Set the self-timer and the game begins. Each player must hold the camera at arm’s length and point it at themselves very briefly (like a selfie), before passing it on to their left. Keep going, until eventually the camera goes off with a flash of light, and much laughter. Check out the shot before starting again. Great for FB and for sharing.

g shoot
Photo: wpengine.netdna-cdn.com

 

Nightcap

h nightcap
Photo and recipe: deliciuoslyyum.com

Perfect partner to a late night coffee – slices of naartjie dunked in chocolate… with sea salt sprinkled on top.

5 naartjies, in segments

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate,

sea salt or coarse salt

1 tsp butter

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate slowly. Add teaspoon of butter.

Dip each naartjie segment halfway into the melted chocolate and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and repeat until all slices are evenly coated and sprinkled with salt. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until chocolate has hardened.

 

Morning after SOS – how to feel human again

Indulged a bit more than you intended too perhaps? Too late to cry over spilt milk, but before the milk is completely spilt, the golden rule:

Have a glass of water between every glass of alcohol, and have a jug of water before going to bed.

If that didn’t help quite enough, here are a few more ways to make 1 Jan a good one.

  • Water
  • Sprite
  • Bananas and Pretzels
  • Coffee and an Aspirin
  • Greasy Grub

Party tricks

While some of us may be planning a trad New Year’s party, there are many who’d love something a little different. We loved these ideas from Marie Claire on not-so-typical streamers-and-sparklers shindigs.

One Last Hurrah

1 hurray
Getty Design by Jennifer Chalet

 

Many among us use the New Year as an excuse to sign up for gym memberships, start diets and throw out our cigarettes. Take the sting out of New Year’s resolutions by throwing a One Last Hurrah party where guests — you guessed it — get to indulge in their vices before diving into next year. Make sure to ask your friends what their resolutions are so you can plan accordingly, AKA get all the cakes and fried foods your hearts’ desire. (Plus, alcohol. Obviously.)

 

A Black and White Ball

2 black
Getty Design by Jennifer Chalet

Truman Capote’s infamous 1966 Black and White Ball is recognized as having been the party of the century, so what could be better inspiration for your own fête? Capote’s venue was the Grand Ballroom at the Plaza (#casual), but while you may not be able to rent out an actual ballroom, that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate the party. Copy Capote and have guests wear black and white clothing with masks, only to be removed at midnight. At Capote’s soiree, women were also encouraged to carry fans, but carrying a fan means one less hand for holding a drink, so…this rule is more flexible.

 

Glitter Party

3 glitter
Getty Design by Jennifer Chalet

New Year’s Eve is all about adoring yourself with the shiniest clothing and accessories possible, so it only makes sense that glitter and NYE should be combined in a full-out glitter party. Have guests dress in as many sequins as possible and hand out glitter-covered and bedazzled hats, sunglasses, and bow ties as party favours. The best part: Glitter decorations are super easy to DIY. The amazing photos of your party will be well worth the headache of trying to clean up all that glitter afterwards.

 

Midnight in Paris

4 midnight
Getty Design by Jennifer Chalet

First of all, if you haven’t seen the excellent movie, do so immediately. Once that’s done, you can start planning your Midnight in Paris party, with the actual theme of Paris in the 1920s. Sure, you’ve probably been to a dozen Gatsby-themed parties in the last few years, but the Parisian angle keeps this one fresh. Guests will dress accordingly and you can serve the most popular drinks of the day (mostly gin-based), crank some jazz, and try your hand at the Charleston.

 

Out-With-the-Old Party

5 out with old
Getty Design by Betsy Farrell

If your idea of a great New Year’s Eve get-together is more about relaxation and good company than staying up at an all-hours event, take the ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mantra literally and arrange a relaxing spa party for your girlfriends. You can get in some exfoliation, set up a nail bar, and recharge while you enjoy comfort food and marathon Gilmore Girls.

(Source: www.marieclaire.com)

Tipples and toasts

The New Year is almost here, and that said it’s time to get into the spirit of things and polish up those party tricks. Cocktails are a great way of easing into the evening – and expressing a little creativity as you do it. We have no doubt you’ll have some specials up your sleeve, but here are a few extra just for fun.

 

The Mojito

mojito
Photo: www.bigoven.com

The traditional Cuban highball, a mojito is one of Cuba’s oldest cocktails and one of the world’s favourites.

60 ml white rum

1 lime/60 ml lime juice

1 tsp powdered sugar

4 mint leaves

club soda

crushed ice

Muddle the mint with the sugar and lime juice in a long glass. Add ice (preferably crushed), then rum and stir. Top off with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.

 

Candy Cane Cocktail

candy cane
Photo: www.colonywinemarket.com

Not only does a Candy Cane Cocktail look festive, but it tastes festive too with hints of Christmas stocking peppermint candy!

1 T crushed soft peppermint candy

40 ml vodka

20 ml brandy OR Kahlúa

splash of white crème de menthe

30 ml cream

Crushed ice

Peppermint stick for garnish

Mint sprig for garnish

Combine the vodka and crushed peppermint.  Stir to dissolve.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir and garnish.

 

Elderflower Cooler

 elderflower
Photo: www.turntablekitchen.com

40 ml gin

20 ml St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur

20 ml dry vermouth

20 ml lemon juice

1 bar spoon honey syrup (1 part honey : 1 part boiling water — let cool)

Optional absinthe rinse

Cucumber garnish

Add all liquids to cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake until chilled, approximately 15 seconds. If you’re a fan of absinthe, rinse the glass with it. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a long slice of the cucumber lengthwise. Place the garnish around the outside of the glass. Fill the glass with ice and add cocktail mixture.

 

Whiskey Sour

 whiskey sour
Photo: liquor.s3.amazonaws.com

The lemon in this whisky recipe rounds off the alcohol and gives it an edgy sharpness. Simple and sophisticated

2 parts bourbon

1 part lemon juice

½ part sugar syrup

½ part egg white

Cubed ice

To garnish: 1 cherry and an orange slice

Put ice and all of the ingredients into a shaker and shake hard for about 20 seconds to chill the liquid really well. Strain the mix into a glass filled with ice and garnish with the cherry and orange slice.

 

Blue Lagoon

Blue lagoon
Photo: www.liveinstyle.com

Blue Lagoon is a popular summer cocktail featuring blue Curaçao. One variation adds a dash of lime cordial to the mix. Another variation with a dash of raspberry cordial is known as a ‘Fruit tingle’.

1 part Blue Curacao

1 part Vodka

4 parts Lemon juice

Pour vodka and blue curacao in a shaker with ice, shake well & strain into ice filled highball glass, top with lemonade, garnish and serve.

Shop ’til you drop

Last minute

The countdown is on, and despite all your promises to yourself, this year, like every other year before, you find yourself doing the mall trawl along with a thousand other equally disappointed (in themselves) last minute shoppers. If you’re like us, you’re wondering – as you wipe the December heat from your brow – why you don’t feel more like they seem to feel in the movies – hand in hand, snowflakes falling, a little gentle window shopping and out pops that perfect gift just in time. Dream on!

We do have some tips though for when the going gets tough.

Go online

From yuppiechef to takealot to amazon, and everything in between, there is a world out of there of gifts just waiting to be purchased in cyberspace, that will be delivered to your (or their) doorstep, and best of all, you can shop in your slippers. Sit down for an hour and see what you find!

Dial up a subscription

There are loads of subscription opportunities too – from gardening to sport, to travel, to health, to décor, there’s a mag for almost everyone. Buy a copy of the mag, get the subscription sorted, then wrap it up and gift it on the day, along with 12 more thoughtful gestures during the year. You don’t need to stick to mag subscription either, think wine of the month clubs, coffee of the month clubs and more.

Check into… a book store

Like magazines, there’s a book for everyone. From just released children’s books to traditional favourites, cookbooks, travel, photography, hobbies, local history, self-help, business books to glossy coffee table books or a good old settle-down-with-me novel, with a pinch of thought you can almost certainly do an entire Christmas shop in one store. Have a coffee break while you are browsing, and get them wrapped at the same time too!

Give an experience

Maybe it’s a wine tour, a dinner for two, a date night, a massage or a facial. For something more exciting try an extreme experience for that someone special or for a whole group of you – think zip-lining, a balloon ride, shark diving, bungee jumping, or good old fashioned fun – tickets to a concert, show, theatre or the movies.

 Tick list

Panic starting to set in? Before it does, get your tick list in order and do what you need to do. For useful advice, we love Amy Wilk’s blog, 7 Survival Tips for Last Minute Gift Shopping in the Huffington Post

  1. Never let them see you sweat.

Take a deep breath, get your list together and get prepared. The trick to successful last minute shopping is to relax, stick to your list, and above all; don’t panic.

  1. Shop online if possible.

A number of merchants offer rush processing and overnight shipping so you still have time to have your gifts delivered if you are careful. Be sure to check shipping deadlines and processing times before you place your order, however.

  1. Think outside the box.

There are thousands of gifts that you can print right from your home computer. Think about things like gift of the month clubs, experience gifts and other types of memberships or gift certificates. While your recipient will still receive an actual gift later, at least you will have something to put under the tree for now.

  1. Take advantage of merchant’s extended holiday hours.

Many stores open early or stay open late during the holiday season to make their products more accessible to busy shoppers.

Look out for special notices displayed at your local shopping malls, or advertisements that appear in the local media. For example, Richards Bay’s Boardwalk Inkwazi, has indicated that it will be open from 9am to 7pm from December 19 to 22, and doors will remain open until 8pm on December 23. The Sanlam Centre in Empangeni will be open every day until 23 December from 8am to 6pm. On December 24, it will close shop at 5pm.

  1. Don’t shop until you drop.

Take plenty of time to rest, get something to eat or drink and gather your thoughts. While it is true that you are limited on time, if you overdo it chances are you will overspend or settle for gifts you normally would not have purchased.

  1. Consider DIY this holiday season.

There is still plenty of time to gather a few supplies and create your own last minute Christmas gifts. If you can’t think of a single homemade idea, consider purchasing inexpensive containers and creating your own gift baskets with things like bath and body supplies, candles, movies and treats, or a variety of puzzles and games.

  1. Consider making a charitable donation in the name of your loved one this Christmas instead of purchasing a material gift.

So many of us get frustrated with the commercialisation of Christmas that a charitable donation is a refreshing gift that brings back the true meaning of Christmas.

Bag it

There’s no denying that when it comes to wrapping, gift bags are a whole lot quicker and easier than conventional wrapping paper. In general though, they cost quite a bit more too. Settle down (or get your kids to settle down) to making a stash of DIY gift bags out of newspaper – your gifts will turn heads and save budget.

Bag it

Here’s what you need:

Heres what you need

  • First and last page of a newspaper section (essentially two layers of newsprint – best if they’re all one sheet)
  • Tape
  • String or ribbon

STEP 1

Lay the newspaper out horizontally (as seen above), but with the part that you want facing out on the front of the bag face down and on the left.

Fold the paper in 2cm from the right.

Step 1

STEP 2

Fold the left side over so it overlaps 1cm over the folded piece and tape it along the edge there. Press down to crease the fold on the left.

Step 2

STEP 3

Shift the top layer of the folded newspaper (two sheets) over 3cm to the right and make a crease on both sides.

Step 3

STEP 4

Now shift the top layer back to the center, and then over 3cm to the left. Make another crease on each side, so you have three creases on each side.

Step 4

STEP 5

Fold the bottom (both layers) up about 6cm and crease.

Step 5

STEP 6

Separate the two layers of the folded bottom section and make a triangle with the left side, like this:

Step 6

Repeat on the right side.

Step 6-2

STEP 7

Fold the top of the bottom section down, so the corner of the fold lines up with the innermost crease on each side of the paper (hard to see here, but there is a crease just to the left of the word “Wisconsin” that the corner of the fold lines up with).

Step 7

STEP 8

Fold the bottom up to match, and tape it all along the line where the two folds meet.

Step 8

STEP 9

Open it up, and you’ve got a paper bag. If needed, add reinforcement to the bottom by cutting a rectangle of thin cardboard (like from an empty cereal box) and placing it in the bottom of the bag. Add handles with two pieces of ribbon, either tied in a loop through two hole punches on each side, or simply taped to the inside.

Step 9

Via Alison Sherwood of the Journal Sentinel

Looking gorgeous!

Haircare with a pinch of salt

Has the change of season done a doozy on those locks of yours? Try Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion Oil and Salt Spray to get soft, sea-tossed waves with sheen and tousled texture thanks to the sea mineral complex it contains. It’s perfect for those who need extra conditioning and it contains UV filters to guard against the drying effects of the sun. Unfortunately, this top-secret beauty quick-fix can be quite hard to find, but a little birdie told us you can buy it at Want It All, one of our favourite online shops.

Here are some summer hair tips from Joelene of Salon Jolie:

 1. Avoid hot water when showering, because hot water will make your hair dry and brittle as it strips protective oils from your hair. The water temperature should be just a bit warmer than your body temperature.

2. For shiny soft hair, prepare a mixture of 1 cup of your daily conditioner and 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Apply this mixture evenly on your wet hair. Leave in for 30 minutes and wash it off thoroughly. This mixture will close down your hair’s cuticle and give your hair that amazing shine.

3. Protect your hair before you dive into the pool. Pools can do great damage to your hair as it contains harsh chemicals. Simply apply a little conditioner to your hair before you swim.

4. Tight is NO NO. To prevent breakage due to brittle hair, avoid using hair bands and do not tie your hair too tightly.

5. Trim your hair regularly. Get your hair trimmed at least every six weeks to eliminate dry, split ends.

Turn up the heat

Red, orange and coral are hot hues for summer. Our favourite way to wear them? On our lips and nails of course! From bashful to bold, there is a multitude of shades to play with … though bright is just so much fun! Top of our list: Morgan Taylor’s Manga Round With Me, R134, an eye-catching coral for nails, and Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Envy Hi-Lustre lipstick in Drop Dead Red, R395, a fiery statement-maker! PS. For A-list inspiration, check out these pics of Alexa Chung, Jessica Alba and Jennifer Lawrence … Which shade would you choose?

                    

Two easy ways to beach proof your skin and hair

Don’t let sun, sea and sand ruin your summer look. With these quick tips, you can keep your skin and hair in tip top shape, no matter how many times you hit the beach or pool.

  1. Hydrate – and yes, that means drinking water. Lots of it, especially if you sweat! It also means hydrating your skin from the outside in by showering post-pool or sea with a moisturising body wash, and then slathering on moisturiser (preferably unscented as the sun can make skin sensitive). Make sure you condition your locks after swimming too – use a wide-tooth comb to brush the product through and allow your hair to dry natural after rinsing if possible.
  2. Protect – There’s no denying a golden glow is gorgeous, but sunburn isn’t cool or clever. Make sure you pack SPF and reapply it regularly. Choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide to reduce grease and opt for a natural brand such as Oh-Lief or Badger if you’re conscious of chemical toxins. Don’t forget to protect your lips too. It goes without saying that a hat (wide-brimmed or cap) counts as a must-have accessory, while an SPF hair spray is a nice add on. (Avoid nasty knots by swimming with your hair in a braid – it’ll keep frizz at bay too).

Fish and chips!

It may have started out a very British dish, but here at home, fish and chips is definitely one of our favourites – especially when it’s enjoyed with a sea view at sunset. And if it’s served in newspaper with a side of mushy peas, even better! No matter where you are this season – at home or on holiday – this easy recipe from Jamie Oliver via the Food Network will hit the spot! It takes less than 25 minutes to make and serves four people.

Ingredients

For the chips:

2 litres vegetable oil

950g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chips

For the batter:

1 cup plain flour

1 cup beer

2 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks

Salt (and pepper), to season

4 fillets (approx. 250g) fish fillets, such as cod, haddock or hake (from sustainable sources)
Method:

Pour all the vegetable oil into a deep pan or deep-fat fryer and heat to 160C. Blanch the potatoes in the oil until soft, but not coloured, about 4 minutes. Remove and drain. Mix together the flour and beer, then fold in the egg whites. Turn up the heat of the oil to about 180C. Dip the fish in the batter and fry for a few minutes with the chips until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with your choice of sides…

TIP: For a lighter, more waistline-friendly version, oven-bake your fish and chips rather. Try this flour-free fish batter from BBC Good Food that comprises egg and seasoning only – you’ll need one large egg, separated, for every 2 fish fillets… Whisk the egg yolk with lemon zest, lemon thyme, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold the yolk into the white, then dip the fish into the mixture and bake at 200C for 15 to 20 minutes until brown.

If you’re thinking of rather opting for a sit down meal at a restaurant, there’s always Ocean Basket or John Dory’s at Boardwalk Inkwazi Mall serving delicious fish and chips and so much more!
M is for (moreish) mushy peas!

 

Yes, there are more sophisticated side dishes, but we’re not about to forego the chance to tuck into mushy peas with our fish and chips! This minty version from Jamie Oliver (him, again!) is a cinch to make and tastes delish…

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

1 handful fresh mint, leaves picked

500g frozen peas

2 large knobs butter

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, mint and peas. Cover and leave for a few minutes to steam. Mash with a potato masher. You can do this with a food processor as well, just pulse it until smooth. When it’s done, add the butter and season very carefully, to taste.

Carb-conscious chip alternatives

 

Trying to keep your carb consumption in check? These potato-free chip alternatives are a tasty substitute that go well with fish…

Crispy courgette chips

Pic and recipe via Delicious Magazine.

Ingredients:

225g courgettes

1½ tbsp plain flour

vegetable oil, for deep frying

2 tbsp finely grated Grana Padano cheese

Method:

  1. Slice the courgettes into 3mm thick x 7cm long chips. Put the flour in a bowl and beat in 50ml water to make a smooth, thick batter the consistency of soured cream.
  2. Half-fill a deep saucepan with oil. Place over a high heat until it reaches 180C (or until a cube of bread turns brown in 1 minute). Drop half the courgette chips into the batter and turn to coat. Using a fish slice, lift the courgette chips out of the batter and allow the excess to drip off.
  3. Carefully drop the courgette pieces into the hot oil and cook for about 1 – 2 minutes, until golden.
  4. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Toss with the cheese when still hot and add a good grinding of black pepper. Repeat with the remaining courgettes and serve immediately.

Skinny carrot fries

Pic and recipe via BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

500g carrots

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp finely chopped tarragon

a little black pepper

Method:

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut carrots into ‘fries’, about 1cm thick, and mix with cornflour and a little black pepper. Toss with vegetable oil, spread in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment, and bake for 40-45 mins, turning halfway. Mix a little salt with tarragon and toss through the cooked fries.

Sweet Potato Chips

Pic and recipe via the Independent

 Ingredients

3 large sweet potatoes

¼ cup coconut oil

1-2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

1-2 tbsp spice such as smoked paprika, or chilli flakes

Method

Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges. Put in a bowl and toss with melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and spices. Place in a hot oven and bake for 20 minutes

DIY newspaper cones

        

Forget plates. This summer we’re serving our fish and chips in DIY newspaper cones for a fun, laidback feel. Here’s to make your own… Cut a piece of non-stick baking paper into a 20 x 30cm rectangle. Repeat with a piece of newspaper or brown paper. Place the two on top of each other, loosely roll into a cone and seal with sticky tape. Fill the cone with fish and chips and a freshly cut lemon wedge for squeezing. Carry them out to guests on a wooden board and don’t forget to have salt, pepper, tartare sauce (for traditionalists) and serviettes handy!

Feeling a little lazy? Max Fish & Chips make a mean deep fried hake fillet and has a wide variety on their menu to choose from!

Best wines to enjoy with fish and chips

When pairing wine with seafood, the general rule is the more delicate the fish, the lighter the wine. In the case of fish and chips however, when things like batter, tartare sauce and mushy peas come into play, you’d be wise to follow these tips from PlusWine (try their website for all kinds of fab food and wine advice)…

  1. A great fish and chips wine pairing requires a bubbly, medium-bodied wine – good examples are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chablis and Chenin Blanc.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc – the white wine lover’s variety of choice – loves seafood. It is versatile and provides ample zest and fruity flavours (a safe choice!)
  3. If you’re in the mood for something refreshing, Chardonnay can add complexity without overpowering the meal.
  4. South African Chenin Blanc is “unbelievably adaptable” and provides a solid mix of sweet and spicy so it works well with most seafood dishes.

How to buy the best fish

Image via ChefSteps

Too shy to visit a fish deli because you don’t know how to tell delicious from dodgy? Read on…

Whole fresh fish
• Look for tightly adhering scales, bright, clear eyes and firm, taut flesh that springs back when you press it (note: slippery skin is fine, slimy is not!).
• The brighter the gills the fresher the fish, so aim for ones with a cherry-red hue, not brown.

  • The tail should be moist and flat, not ragged and brittle.
  • Saltwater fish should smell like brine, while freshwater fish should smell like a clean pond.

Fresh fillets
• When buying white-fleshed fish such as cod and halibut, choose translucent-looking fillets with a pinkish tint. Darker fish like salmon or tuna should be vibrant in colour and have no cracks, breaks or gaps between the layers (in fact, the latter rule applies to all fish fillets!).

  • Make sure the flesh is wet and glossy, not dry or sticky.
  • If the fish is wrapped, there should be no water in the packaging.

Frozen fish
• Look for shiny, rock-hard frozen fish with no white freezer-burn spots, frost, or ice crystals. Ideally, you want to select packages from the back or bottom of the freezer as these have had less exposure to light.
• Make sure the packages are well-sealed and less than three months old.

  • Remember to thaw fish slowly in the fridge.

Adcan Marine in Meerensee provide some of the freshest seafood around! Visit them these holidays for a taste of freshness!

3 reasons to eat fish right now

 

Fish is often overlooked in favour of red meat and chicken, but it’s one of the best, nutrient-dense foods we can eat. Great for the body, great for the brain, here are three reasons to include it in your diet right now…

  • Fish is an excellent source of protein – as good as red meat in many cases, except it’s lower in fat, easier to digest and kinder on the arteries.
  • It is also a good source of B vitamins, especially niacin, B12 and B6, while fatty fish (think tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel) provide valuable vitamins A and D, and in some cases, even calcium. Saltwater fish also contains minerals, including iron, iodine, phosphorous and selenium.
  • More importantly, fish is crammed full of omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to improved cardiovascular health and better brain function. They’ve also been shown to lower rates of depression and inflammation in the body (rheumatoid arthritis sufferers take note).

To reap the benefits, eat fish two to three times a week. Stick to local, sustainable varieties (see http://wwfsassi.co.za/) and avoid or minimise those with a high mercury content such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

NOT A FAN OF FISH AND CHIPS? Here’s a collection of new cook books with recipes to please absolutely everybody. Great gifts for foodies this Christmas.

Lacking culinary inspiration? Here are nine new, cool cookbooks to get you into the kitchen…

Our cookbook of the month … heck, the year … has to be A Year of Seasonal Dishes. This collection of recipes from Food and Home Entertaining has seasonal recipes for every month on the year. Gorgeous, glorious recipes … like potato-and-prosciutto tart; grilled aubergine with mozzarella, mint and pomegranate rubies; white bean and baby-marrow burgers with cashew mayo and a sport salad. For the more glutinous (yip, that’s us) there’s a Mile-high chocolate-brownie flapjack stack with pretzel brittle and peanut-butter sauce. Good grief! For hot summer summer, make watermelon and vodka ices, or the rose, pink pepper and Champagne slush, which is without a doubt the prettiest cocktail we’ve ever seen. Human and Rousseau, around R350

As a child, Jackie Cameron was taught to make biscuits by her grandmothers and her love of food was born. In Baking with Jackie Cameron, you’ll find a few of her grandmother’s tried and tested recipes along with those to which she has given her own twist. Baked treats range from easy-peasy lavender and jam-drop biscuits through some interesting breads and on to the most yummy savoury treats like twice-baked Gorgonzola souffle and trout quiche. And when it comes to the sweet stuff your taste buds will shout ‘hooray’. Think red wine pear puff tarts with caramel sauce; orange custard puddings and apple, pecan nut and cinnamon cake. Sigh! Penguin, R290.

Obviously Jamie needs no introduction. Super Food – Family Classics is Jamie Oliver’s collection of much-loved classic, comfort food … with a healthy, super-food twist. So there may be porridge, but it’s chocolate (yum) with Greek yoghurt and fresh seasonal fruit. There are a handful of ways to make the simple boiled egg more interesting, 18 (yes, 18!) ways with avo on rye, fab wholewheat pasta dishes and loads of fish dishes served with vitamin-loaded veggies. There are also tips for fussy eaters and heathy eating habits. Michael Joseph, R395.

Although born in the USA, Ana Patuleia Ortins learned her love of Portuguese food from her immigrant parents. In Authentic Portuguese Cooking she explores dishes not only from mainland Portugal, but also from the islands of the Azores and Madeira, with a couple of nods to Mozambique. There’s St Michael Island-style spicy beef steaks and mushroom-stuffed pork with pomegranate sauce very different veggie creations – even braised goat. There are chicken and salt cod dishes galore, yummy breads, luscious sweet treats and some amazing sauces and marinades. Page Street Publishing, R420.

‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ … but not in the case of Valentina Rice’s Recipes From Many Kitchens. The author scoured the UK to find the most talented producers making the most innovative food, who have generously shared their expertise. Among the more than 80 recipes you’ll find a decadent French breakfast menu, a Southern summer picnic), and an English tea. The recipes swing round the world via India, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico and various Asian countries. Can’t wait to give some of these dishes a try. Page Street Publishing, around R489.

If you enjoy food, but are a hesitant cook, salads are a good way to start. After all, it’s impossible to burn lettuce! Healthy eating enthusiast Chantal Lascaris spent 10 years or so creating new and interesting salads. Her book, All Sorts of Salads, is the delectable result. She combines fennel and radishes; watermelon and feta; figs, pancetta and Roquefort … all with delicious abandon. Using fillet steak, crayfish, pork, sashimi and chicken she covers the entire gamut of tempting edibles. She even offers a breakfast salad for heaven’s sake! And when it comes to sweet treats, how about champagne granita with fruit blinis or Christmas ice cream with nectarine purée? Oh my! The final touch is a mouth-watering selection of dressings. Struik Lifestyle, R236.

Nothing beats home cooking, but the reality is that we are often pressed for time. The collection of easy and affordable recipes in The Cookbook, compiled by Your Family, provides for all tastes … from comforting soups and stews to the best-dressed pasta, from chicken masterpieces to fish favourites. There are one-dish wonders and meals you can whip up in less than 30 minutes, perfect for busy moms on school nights! Whether you want to celebrate a special occasion or are looking for midweek dessert, you’ll find it here. Human & Rousseau, R275.

There has been plenty of controversy about the low-carb, high fat diet – aka the Banting or the Tim Noakes diet – but more and more scientific evidence supports it. However, giving up that chocolate cake is hard! In The Banting Baker – Low Carb High Fat Treats, Catherine Speedie takes care of the problem … in seriously scrumptious style. Pressing various nuts, seeds and spices into service, she dishes up pizzas, muffins, snacks, breads, cookies and cakes … think fresh lime cheesecake tart, apple and cranberry upside-down cake and zucchini, cashew and mushroom loaf. There’s also loads of useful extra info. Jacana, R280.

Packed with a huge variety of fruits and flavours, Carol Beckerman’s 500 Green & Detox Juices is the only compendium of detox recipes you’ll ever need. From filling breakfasts and summer treats to kids’ parties, and even a green apple martini, the only problem you might have is making up your mind what to choose. We fancy the orange and strawberry with cashew milk as well as the redcurrant and peach. Struik, R140.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking turkey!

Pic via www.jamieoliver.com

Time to get organised!

Christmas is just over six weeks’ away and if you like being organised as we do (hands up all Type As!), now is the ideal time to turn your attention to your festive menu. Butchers and delis are already accepting orders, so if turkey is on your wish list, act soon to avoid disappointment. Ideally, you want to buy organic – or free range at the very least – and collect your meat about two days before Christmas so that it’s still fresh.

A good butcher will help you choose the right sized bird for your bash, but if you’re shopping solo at the supermarket, this rough guide will help you:

  • 3kg serves 6 to 7
  • 4kg serves 8 to 10
  • 5kg serves 10 to 12
  • 6kg serves 12 to 14
  • 7kg serves 14 to 16
  • 8kg serves 16 to 18
  • 9kg serves 18 to 20

The best turkeys are not necessarily blemish free, so rather focus on how the bird feels when you touch it (supple is good) and whether the skin is dry or wet (according to Jamie Oliver, the former is best as it means the bird has been hung and dry-plucked, resulting in a superior taste).

Going the frozen route? No problem, just remember to leave ample time before cooking for the bird to thaw … and then to roast it carefully so that the meat doesn’t dry out (the one downside to choosing turkey over chicken!).

We love this simple advice to preparing and roasting turkeys, found on the Jamie Oliver website (hey, if it’s good enough for Jamie…).

PREPARING YOUR TURKEY

Take your turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before you intend to put it in the oven. This way, your oven will have plenty of time to preheat, and you’ll get less shrinkage. Remember, there’s no need to wash a turkey – any bacteria will be killed during cooking.

Before you pop it in the oven, check for giblets (the gizzard, heart, liver or other small organs). They’re usually supplied in an oven-safe plastic bag and are sometimes in the cavity of the bird, so remember to remove them before cooking. They might look a bit weird, but don’t throw them away – they’ll add great flavour to your gravy!

COOKING YOUR TURKEY

Make a note of the weight of your turkey and the suggested cooking time if you buy your bird online or from a butcher. Supermarket turkeys should be clearly labelled to make this easy.

Calculate your cooking time using the weight as a guide, but don’t forget: your turkey will need to come out of the oven an hour before carving to rest and get lovely and flavoursome.

  • 3kg (6.6lb) – 1¾ hours
  • 4kg(8.8lb) – 2 hours
  • 5kg (11lb) – 2¼ hours
  • 6kg (13.2lb) – 2½ hours
  • 7-8kg (15.5lb – 17.7lb) – 3 hours
  • 9-11kg (19.8lb – 24.2lb) – 3¼ hours

Roast the turkey for the required time, or until the juices run clear from the thickest part of the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer.

Using a thermometer, check that the internal temperature of the turkey is at least 70ºC. If you have a dry-plucked, dry-aged, excellent quality bird, you can cook it to 65ºC.

Then leave to rest, carve, and enjoy.

If you’re not keen on turkey, but still want a traditional Christmas meal, chicken, duck and roast beef are all excellent alternatives. Again, choose the best quality you can afford and take your time when preparing it. A little love (and patience) goes a long way in enhancing the flavour of a dish. And which cook doesn’t want her guests coming back for more…


Taking the task outside … turkey on a Weber braai!

Holiday entertaining wouldn’t feel right – in South Africa at least – without some sort of braai, so why not cook your turkey (or chicken or beef roast) outside on the Weber? It’s one more way to celebrate summer and lends a lovely, relaxed air to the task. (It also keeps your oven free for other dishes – useful if you’re preparing multiple dishes to feed the masses!)

We love this step-by-step recipe found on the Yuppiechef website – in fact, we love everything there … check out their latest kitchen aids and tableware, everything from bamboo utensils and hand-cast aluminium pans to gorgeous glass decanters … Our list to Santa just got longer!

Ingredients (serves 8–10):

6 onions, sliced into thick chunks
1 turkey, approx 4 kg
100g butter
handful thyme leaves

stuffing of your choice – here are two brilliant stuffing recipes
500ml ginger beer, cider or beer

salt and pepper
8 – 12 slices prosciutto or parma ham
fresh herbs, to serve

 

For the salsa:
2 avocados, peeled and finely chopped
1 papaya, peeled and finely chopped
juice of 3 limes
1 chilli, de-seeded and chopped – add to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds (white or black)
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 bunch mint, roughly chopped

Tools:

Weber
2 large disposable Weber trays
2 bags briquettes
Weber Chimney Starter (works a treat but it’s not essential)
poultry lifters
meat thermometer

  1. To make the salsa, mix all the salsa ingredients together and season to taste. Leave in the fridge, covered, whilst you start cooking the turkey.
  2. To prepare the bird, remove from packaging, rinse under water and pat dry with paper towel. Spread the thickly sliced onions over one of the disposable trays and place the bird on top. Loosen the skin over the breast with your fingers, stuff the butter under the skin and tuck in a few thyme leaves.
  3. Now fill your turkey with your choice of stuffing. Here are two tasty stuffing recipes to try.

  1. Once stuffed, tie the ankles together. Pour the cider over the bird and season.

  1. Cover the breast of the turkey with parma ham or prosciutto.

  1. Cover the bird with tinfoil and secure the edges tightly to the Weber tray. At this point, you can leave the bird in the fridge overnight if you wish to cook it the following day.
  2.  If you have a fire starter, fill it to the brim with charcoal and burn until the coals are slightly ashy. You will need toset up your Weber for indirect cookingwhich means placing your coals in two piles opposite each other on the charcoal grate.
  3. Carefully place a large disposable tray in the middle of the grid (in between the charcoal piles) and fill about halfway with water. This will help to maintain the temperature of the fire and Weber. Put the cooking grate in place, close the lid and let the coals burn down to a low heat. Keep the vents open.
  4. Place the turkey in the centre of the cooking grate. Position the pan so that the turkey legs face the Weber handles and the tray is sitting in between the 2 charcoal piles. Cook the turkey over a low heat (approximately 150ºC), with the lid on, for 1 hour.

  1. After half an hour, place 20 briquettes in the fire starter to get hot for your ‘refueling’ of the turkey coals. If you have another braai of sorts, you can also use this to get your briquettes ready.
  2. After another half an hour (it’s been 1 hour since your turkey went on), add the 20 briquettes using long handled tongs. Check the water in the disposable tray and top up if necessary.
  3. After another half an hour, repeat the briquette lighting process.
  4. After another half hour, open the foil and baste the turkey with the juice. Once again, add the other briquettes
  5. Continue to cook for another hour to brown the top. If you have a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature. When it is 80ºC at the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) and 75ºC in the breast, the turkey is done.

TIP: The cooking time will vary between 2.5-3.5 hours. A 3.8kg stuffed bird takes about 3 hours at 150 -160ºC. Remember, cooking a bird with stuffing will increase cooking time slightly.

  1. Remove the turkey from the Weber and place on a large wooden board. Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes – best have a beer whilst you wait.

Looking for the perfect, succulent, fresh turkey to stuff this festive season? Spar (The Town Square), has some of the freshest birds around! There’s also Cambridge Foods, Food Lovers Market, Bluff meat supplies, Chester, as well as Gwayelani offering great value for money on your perfect turkey. Talk about turkey!

D is for dressing / Pass the gravy please / Sauce it up!

No self-respecting Christmas turkey would ever make an appearance without gravy (considered an essential part of the meal, along with roast potatoes!) so don’t forget to include it on your ‘must make’ list. This simple recipe, from the brilliant BBC Good Food website, uses white wine for a pale, light gravy, but can also be made using red wine or Port for a richer feel.

Easy Christmas gravy

Ingredients (serves 8):

1 tbsp flour

200ml white wine or red wine

600ml chicken stock

Method:

Pour away any excess fat from the turkey roasting tin but keep any onion halves used in cooking. Set the tin over a medium heat, then sprinkle over the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 2 mins, turning the onion over in the mixture to extract the flavour. Slowly stir in the wine and stock, adding any juices from the resting turkey. Bring to the boil, scraping the bits from the bottom, then simmer over a low heat for 15 mins. Sieve and season before serving alongside your Christmas turkey.

Cranberry sauce is another traditional favourite which pairs beautifully with roast cuts of pork or poultry. Fresh or frozen cranberries are hard to come by, so rather than stress, why not try Woolworths’ delectable cranberry sauce, R36.95 per 150g jar, or their cranberry and port sauce, R39.95 per 200g sachet. Both are delicious with camembert and brie too, so can serve double duty with the cheeseboard.

woolies2

Sensational side dishes

We’re mildly obsessed with side dishes and love to offer (and eat!) a variety of options with our choice of Christmas meat. Roast potatoes, honey glazed carrots, and cauliflower and broccoli cheese are all festive-season favourites, as are creamy potato bake and Brussel sprouts (try them sautéed in olive oil with pancetta and rosemary, then toss with pine nuts and serve warm). Ah-mazing roasted vegetables, braised greens with garlic and lemon, and (guilt-free) olive oil-roasted cauliflower are also utterly moreish!

In the heat of summer however, our best sides are salads – especially those with a twist. You can expect the easy kale, quinoa and roasted beet salad with marinated feta recipe below to be a crowd-pleasing hit, ditto the vegetable tagine salad (both fantastic meal options for non-meat eating guests). Other classy Christmas sides include the other recipe here: elegant asparagus and green beans with hazelnut and cranberry dressing. Hungry, anyone?

Kale, quinoa and roasted beet salad with marinated feta

Pic and recipe via www.taste.com.au

Ingredients (serves 4)

­­­­­­­­16 (about 350g) baby carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved lengthwise if large

12 (about 300g) baby beetroot, trimmed, peeled, halved (or quartered if large)

2 red onion, peeled, cut into thin wedges

1 cup (about 190g) quinoa, rinsed and drained

150g kale, trimmed, leaves shredded

2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1.5 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon honey

60g marinated feta in oil, drained, crumbled

Pink Himalayan salt flakes, to season

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place the carrots, beetroot and onion on a prepared tray, spray with olive oil. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until vegetables are golden and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, place quinoa and 500ml (2 cups) water in a medium saucepan, bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until water has evaporated and quinoa is al dente. Stir through kale until just wilted.
  3. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and pine nuts. Whisk the oil, vinegar, orange juice and honey together in a small bowl. Add to quinoa and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Serve topped with the crumbled marinated feta.

Vegetable tagine salad

Pic and recipe via www.taste.com.au

Ingredients (serves 6)

1/2 butternut or pumpkin (around 300g), peeled, chopped into 2cm pieces

1 carrot, sliced 2cm thick

1 zucchini, sliced 2cm thick

400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained

2 tablespoons Moroccan seasoning

1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil

1 cup (200g) couscous

1.5 cups (375ml) vegetable stock, heated

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, thinly sliced

½ bunch mint, leaves picked

½ bunch coriander, leaves picked

2 tablespoons flaked almonds, toasted

170g tub tzatziki

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin, carrot and zucchini with the chickpeas, Moroccan seasoning and 2 tablespoons oil. Stir well so the vegetables are evenly coated in the oil and spices, and season. Arrange in a single layer on the baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until golden and just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl. Pour over the hot stock, cover with plastic wrap and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork to separate. Whisk together the lemon juice and zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
  4. Stir the dressing into the couscous. Gently toss the roasted vegetables, cherry tomatoes, onion, mint and coriander with the couscous.
  5. Spoon the salad onto plates and sprinkle over the toasted almonds. Serve with the tzatziki.

 Asparagus and green beans with hazelnut and cranberry dressing

Pics and recipe via www.taste.com.au

Ingredients (serves 8)

3 bunches asparagus, trimmed

500g green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons olive oil

120g dry-roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method:

  1. Cook asparagus and beans separately in a large saucepan of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until bright green. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Remove to a large platter. Toss gently to combine.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add hazelnuts, cranberries and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until hazelnuts are heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and parsley.
  3. Place asparagus and beans on a platter. Spoon over dressing. Serve.

Food for the day after…

Christmas leftovers are inevitable, but that certainly doesn’t mean you need to eat the same meal twice! With just a little imagination and a few extra ingredients, you can quickly whip up delicious, nutritious fare for Boxing Day.

Obvious options include turkey burgers and roast beef wraps, served with a simple side salad and sweet potato fries (if the latter is not too much effort!). Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with a homemade Christmas pizza featuring your favourite festive meat and veg, ham pasta or a fresh turkey risotto dish. When the time rolls around, we’re definitely going to try the Moroccan turkey salad below (and possibly substitute turkey with leftover beef or chicken), as well as the chicken (or turkey), kale and sprout stir-fry. Any remaining desserts such as Christmas pud will be crumbled and stirred into slightly soft vanilla ice cream, then popped back into the freezer until we’re ready to serve it with flaked almonds, dark chocolate nibs and a drizzle of hot cranberry sauce or maple syrup. Roll on the holidays!

Moroccan turkey salad

Pic and recipe via www.bbcgoodfood.com

 

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 pitta bread

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 diced aubergine

1 tablespoon harissa

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

500g leftover turkey, shredded

Method:

Tear the pitta into pieces and fry in the olive oil until crisp. Tip into a bowl, then fry the aubergine for 10 mins until soft. Add to the pitta with the harissa, tomatoes, turkey and rocket. Toss well. Scatter over pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.

Chicken, kale and sprout stir-fry (a light, wholesome way to get in extra Brussel sprouts!)

Pic and recipe via www.bbcgoodfood.com

Ingredients (serves 2)

100g soba noodles

100g shredded curly kale

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 lean chicken breasts, or the equivalent in leftover roast chicken (skin removed), sliced into thin strips

25g piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks

1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced

handful Brussel sprouts, cut into quarters

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine or white wine vinegar

zest and juice of 1 lime

Method:

  1. Cook the noodles following pack instructions, then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a large wok or frying pan and add the kale along with a good splash of water and cook for 1-2 mins until wilted, with a little bite remaining, then cool under running water to keep the colour.
  2. Add half the oil and cook the chicken strips until browned, then remove and set aside. Heat the remaining oil and fry the ginger, pepper and sprouts until softened a little. return the chicken and kale and add the noodles.
  3. Tip in the soy, rice wine and lime zest and juice along with enough water to create a sauce that clings to the ingredients. Serve immediately.

 

When the sushi craving hits!

Ahhh, there’s something so refreshing about sushi! And if you’re a lover of it, you know when that craving hits, you have to satisfy it! Whether you’re a professional with chop sticks, or suck at it, sushi is one charming dish.

Here in Zululand with warm weather all year round, sushi and a glass (or two) of wine goes down nicely. We’re also lucky to have a few sushi hot spots around. So in no particular order, here are some of the best places to flex your chop sticks:

Porky’s Seafood & Steakhouse

They’ve been around for years, and are known for their great sushi. We love their bean curd and well just about everything on their sushi menu. Look out for their half-price sushi special on Wednesdays!

Richards Bay Waterfront

Nam-Jai Fusion Asian

What’s not to love about this place! The atmosphere and food is spot on, and their sushi? Simply sensational! There’s no better way to spend your Thursday than indulging in their sushi for only R35 a portion!

Richards Bay Waterfront

The Outpost Bar & Restaurant

Tuesdays are sushi days at the Outpost Restaurant & Bar. Their sushi is an absolute treat, and you’ll simply love every single serving of it. Take advantage of their half-price sushi on Tuesdays!

Richards Bay Country Club

Khrua Thai Food

This place is a hidden gem! Watch them make your sushi order right in front of you! With fresh ingredients and their authentic flare for sushi making, you have to give their sushi a try!

Meerensee Mall

Mtunzini Natures Way Backpackers

Okay! If you don’t do regular sushi, these guys have their very own in-house sushi specialty! Rainbow roll – chicken and avo, biltong maki, bacon rose and chicken maki strips! Sounds interesting?

Mtunzini

Flavours Bar & Restaurant

Another sushi spot that has the potential to turn any non-sushi lover into one! They’re quite the creative bunch when it comes sushi making and should be on your list of sushi spots to visit! Thursday is half-price sushi at Flavours.

Empangeni

 

 

Cruise in style

Imagine having a bush braai under the African stars, with the backdrop of beautiful Lake Jozini and the awesome Lebombo Mountains?

The Shayamanzi luxury Houseboats is fist of its kind in South Africa, offering a magical experience!

On board the Shayamanzi Houseboat, you get to soak up the stunning scenery of the Lebombo Mountains and Pongola Game Reserve, and enjoy the calm serenity on the water or the thrill of Tiger fishing!

With the houseboat being in Zululand, we thought it would be the perfect way to end of the year!

Here you get to cruise in style! These boats are fully serviced with world-class crew, which means you can expect tantalizing food, a safe cruise, amazing fishing, game viewing and bird watching.

The dreamboats

The Shayamanz I:

Is a 25 meter by 8 meter, double pontoon houseboat, with six en-suite cabins, four crew members, two tender boats and has an eight seater Jacuzzi.

Shayamanzi II:
Is a 30 meter by 8.6 meter, double pontoon houseboat, 10 air-conditioned, en-suite cabins, six crew members, three tender boats and has a 12 seater Jacuzzi.

Contact

034 413 2299 | [email protected]

http://www.shayamanzi.co.za/contact-us/

 

Local theatre production a must see!

We love local and man do we love theatre! Zululand Observer’s newshound, Wellington Makwakwa will be showcasing his full theatre production, Death of the Emperor Shaka, in Empangeni on Friday, 4 November. We suggest you save the date as its set to be an incredible rendition of the life of King Shaka. The story highlights Shaka’s love for his mother Queen Nandi, and how her death affected him – leading to the conspiracy to assassinate the King.

Here’s five reasons you should watch this theatre production:

1. This is a locally produced and directed play – support local!

2. It’s not your typical Shaka Zulu story, but rather focuses on him as a human with feelings

3. Watch local talent shine on stage

4. Perfect opportunity to enjoy some serious local entertainment

5. It’s theatre – lights, camera, action! Need we say more!

Flaming good chicken!

How do you like your bird? Hot? Spicy? Mediterranean?

There’s a little spot at the Meerensee Mall that know how to handle their birds and believe us it’s absolutely delicious!

Kasi’s Flame Grilled Chicken has gotten it right when it comes to preparing chicken. It’s packed with flavour and the sauce infused in the flame-grilled chicken is mouth watering, which leaves you wanting more!

Flavour is one thing, but affordability is another! Their chicken certainly fits the bill, and you don’t have to fork out too much for a meal.

From burgers, wraps, to chicken and chips, there’s a meal to suit your mood, and flavour to delight your taste buds.

We love local!

Local is lekker and with Kasi’s you know you’re getting authentic flame-grilled chicken. You’d be clucking silly not to try it! Lunch anyone?

 

Top shisanyama spots to try

You’ve got to love a lekker braai!
It’s almost Braai Day, which means, it’s time to fire things up.
Try something different this Saturday and visit one of the top Shisanyama places around.
You’ll not only experience different cultures, but also indulge your taste buds!
In no particular order, here you go:

Nembulas Shisanyama
We’ve done a review on this place a while back, but thought it would be an absolute crime not to include them in our list of top Shisanyama spots! The meat is braaied to perfection and the atmosphere is amazing! Located in Esikaleni, you should consider stopping by!

Maqhude
This place is situated in Ngwelezane and is said to be hottest Shisanyama spot around! They serve up the ‘best’ pap and chutney. Here, it’s not just about the food, but the vibe is on a whole other level!

Meat Junction
You’ll get a sense of a proper sit down restaurant here. Located at the Bay Plaza in Richards Bay, you have to visit this place for their steam bread with carrots! Their secret sauce, which is lavishly drizzled on the braai vleis, is the best thing since sliced bread!

Exploring Jozini

If you’ve been on Lake Jozini, you must have felt it’s incredible vastness! It feels like a never-ending maze of opaque waters, lazily drifting away into the African sunset. But, if you’re lucky enough to catch a glorious sunny day, the lake shimmers with aqua blue, making you feel like you’re in another part of the world.

Nestled on the banks of Lake Jozini is the Jozini Tiger Lodge & Spa, with thatch roof Villas strung out at the foot of the Lembombo range. The lodge is a perfect luxury getaway in the heart of nature.

Being 4-star, you can expect superb facilities, luxury accommodation and delicious cuisine! The rim-flow swimming pool has to be one of the highlights – perfect to relax in with your favourite cocktail in hand as you marvel at the untamed beauty of its surroundings. The lush hillocks look like floating islands lavishly scattered across the waterway.

The lake is famous for its resident tiger fish, so if you’re one who loves fishing, you can throw in a line and hope to land these famous fish. However if you’re like most of the ladies at the office and enjoy a little down time, you can opt for a boat cruise on the lake, where you might even see elephants and other game from the neighbouring Hluluhwe Game Reserve. There’s also an exclusive spa, where can go into pure pamper mode with their luxury treatments.

All in all this place is an absolute hidden gem, in the heart of Zululand!

 

The House in Zululand

There is a house in Eshowe; they call ‘The House in Zululand.’ It’s an absolute beauty with a story that began almost 130 years ago! The house itself is one of several that were built between 1883 and 1888, when the British occupying force needed accommodation for officers and families.

Now 130 gorgeous summers later, the house has been renovated to be a stunning function venue, also offering accommodation. The house is surrounded by an enchanting garden, draped with indigenous trees.

A part from the manicured lawn and stunning design of the house, you’ll find the rustic Wall Room Café that serves mouth-watering food. The House in Zululand is also famous for hosting live ‘gigs’, usually a full house of locals enjoying the atmosphere and vibe.

If you’re thinking of making a stop here, consider booking in and then exploring Eshowe! We hear that the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk is on their doorstep, thriving with birdlife. You could also make a pit stop at Fort Nongqayi Museum Village, which is only 5 minutes away.

 

Have your say – cast your nominations!

Zululand has so much to offer! Which is why it comes as no surprise that we’re passionate about the people and of course the businesses that thrive here. We’re also proud to announce that our annual Readers’ Choice Awards is back, ready to crown new ‘best of’ titles to  the deserving winners.

Zululand Observer’s Reader’s Choice Awards is the only local platform that allows you to vote for the best businesses around, giving you the opportunity to have a say. The awards has been running for the past seven years, all with the aim of giving credit to those businesses that are making their mark among the locals. And guess what? It’s your turn to have your say! Help us get this competition started by nominating your worthy contenders for each specific category. Entry forms are available inside the ZO Monday edition. Happy nominating Zululanders!

Rustic culinary ‘jol’ at the beach

Interested in a rustic culinary ‘jol’ at the beach? Then you need to pop in at the Prawn Shak cosily situated on the stunning Amatikulu beach for a unique beach restaurant experience.

Here you can enjoy a lazy Sunday lunch – a seven-course feast to be precise – while admiring the breath-taking views. In these beautiful surroundings it is not just about eating, but rather savouring each course at leisure in an environment of bonhomie.

As soon as you arrive you are offered their signature caipirinha cocktail and taken to the really cool Rusta Bar, where you get to be a kid again if you want by relaxing on the swings.

The food is cooked over an open fire, which is probably one of the reasons why it tastes so good. Lunch is served buffet style, course after course, throughout the afternoon.

The idea here is to unwind and switch to ‘relaxation’ mode. It’s about enjoying your food with family and friends instead of merely eating and rushing off! Halfway through the seven course you are taken for a stroll on the beach – which is great for working off the mini prawn curry bunnies and ‘inspiring’ your appetite again.

Definitely worth the visit, especially if you’re a shellfish lover, like most of us at the office!

Want more info?

Contact 084 7376493 | email [email protected]

 

5 ways to motivate yourself on a Monday

Hello Monday! We’re glad you could join us (that’s what we’ve being saying out aloud at the office this morning, in an effort to get rid of any blueness!)

Monday may not be the favourite day of the week for many, but for some it is a fresh new start to a new opportunity. To help make Monday a little bearable, we’ve put together a list of things to do, that will motivate you a little.

1. But first coffee – yes coffee! Kick start your Monday morning with a delicious cup of coffee. If you’re not a coffee person, tea will also do the trick.

2. Pen to paper – plan your day. Make a to-do-list of everything that needs to be done today. When you tick each one off, you will have a feeling of accomplishment, inspiring you to go forth into the work world and conquer!

3. Drink water – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you just yawned, please wake up from your chair, drink a glass of water and get some fresh air! Water can help give your kick back.

4. Think weekend – think happy thoughts, like weekend and start preparing for it! Plan your weekend activities on a Monday, and you will feel a little more motivated

5. Leave negativity at the door – chin up, shoulders back and take on Monday with full force. Stay positive and you will attract a positively happy energy to get you through this thing we call Monday!

 

Best burgers in town!

What makes a good burger? Is it the size, the patty, the condiments, the bun – oh, and what about the fries?

It is probably a combination of all of the above and, of course, the pleasure of biting into a burger that oozes with all those delicious burger juices dripping down the sides of your hands. We love a good burger over the weekend, so we thought we’d share with you some of the best burgers in town!

Elephant & I (Boardwalk Richards Bay)

They serve up some of the most delicious burgers around. Try their blue cheese and bacon burger with french fries or french salad. It’s quite a mean burger, so think about ordering this ‘bad boy’ when you’re starving. Prices: 180g – R99 and 100g – R73

Forage Bistro (Mtunzini, next to Lavendar Lane)

The Mongolian Beef Burgers with sweet potato fries are sensational. The homemade patty is flavoursome and each bite makes you want more. Also a pretty good-sized burger and at R55, it’s worth every cent!

The Outpost Bar & Restaurant (Meerensee Country Club)

They’ve only recently introduced their Tower Burger, and believe us, the taste sensation equal its good looks. It has the basics that make for a great burger and we love the fries! The burger comes with fries at R59.

Chane Cheese Farm (On R618 towards St Lucia

Here you’ll find the mother of all burgers! Let’s just start off by saying that these burgers are gigantic. The patties are homemade, which makes it so good. This is topped with double cheese, bacon and all the ‘frills’. You have to try this burger. You’re paying R75 for exceptional taste

Pretty ‘flutters’ at the eShowe Butterfly Dome

When last have you spotted a butterfly?

These pretty little ‘flutterers’ are becoming more of a rarity these days, and that’s why a trip to the eShowe Butterfly Dome will be so worth it!

The dome is part of the Butterfly Route, the first of its kind in South Africa.

It’s located on the outskirts of eShowe in the historical Fort Nongqayi complex.

Here, you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of colourful indigenous butterfly species.

This butterfly haven is a lush environmental space where indigenous insect fauna are protected. Walk in and feel like you’ve been transported to different world!

In addition to the dome, there is an interpretation room, small indigenous nursery and breeding facilities.

Want to know more about these colourful winged attractions? The experts have a wealth of knowledge and you’ll enjoy having conversations with them.

It’s perfect for a family outing, and a stop at the Adam’s Outpost for a lunch afterwards will be the cherry on the top for this trip.

Bookings are required for guided tours. Contact them on 035 4749650.

Entry fee

R35 (adults)

R25 (children)

 

Why we love St Lucia

The little town St Lucia packs a big punch – and by that we mean there’s plenty to do and see!

Even though it’s right at our doorstep, as soon as you reach the town you feel as if you’ve escaped to a little beach town on the other side of South Africa.

So why do we love this place?

It’s part of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, South Africa’s first heritage site, which makes it pretty darn special!

There are more hippos and crocs here than anywhere in the world – yikes!

You can enjoy some amazing beach days here and Catalina Bay has the most beautiful sunsets.

  • There are gorgeous hiking trails to explore
  • Horse riding on the beach? Why not?
  • Turtle tracking in the night – a must!
  • Whale watching. What, you mean there’s more?
  • Authentic restaurants cooking up some delicious meals
  • Flea market with local handmade products

The little town makes you feel like a holidaymaker

Deciding to make a trip there? Here are a few numbers that will come in handy:

Whale watching cruise – 035 5901259

Turtle tracking – 035 5901127

Horse riding – 083 7927899

Hippo cruise – 035 5901162

Crocodile centre – 035 5901386

Putt putt fun

The best way to get through your Monday is planning your activities for the weekend ahead!

Let your hair down, blow off some steam after a hectic week and get your putter working this weekend.

Imbuvu Lodge in Richards Bay has an 18-hole putt putt course with some tricky obstacles that will provide you with hours of entertainment.

Nestled in lush forest, consider this an adventure with putter in hand. Take the kids along and turn it into a family outing.

After you’ve worked up an appetite, stop at the Reeds Restaurant situated at the water’s edge of Lake Menywa.

The restaurant offers delicious food with stunning views to match.

If you’re lucky enough you’ll get to see some hippos frolicking in the lake.

The Putt Putt course is open seven days a week.

Costs: kiddies – R25; adults – R30

It’s all in the swing. Give it a try, you’ll have a ball of a time!

 

5 wildlife photography tips

animals_with_camera_photos_08-e1440862987941

Going out on a game drive, but not sure how to capture the best possible photos of the majestic creatures?

We asked Zululand Observer’s Larry Bently to share his wildlife photography tips in an effort help novices brush up on their skills the next time they go out bundu bashing.

  1. Know your camera and understand the settings
  2. One of the most important tips – observe and get to know the behaviour of the animals. This will help you to anticipate opportunities, know what you are photographing as well as the area you’re photographing in
  3. Be alert and expect the unexpected – life in the bush can happen at lightning speed. Be prepared and have your camera set and ready
  4. Be patient. While it may appear to be a contradiction to the abobe, to get the magic shot one may have to spend ages waiting for an animal to show itself or for it to do something spectacular. Mother Nature has her own time
  5. Try not to zoom in. Also, take wide angle shots to show the animal’s habitat or other interesting features

Good luck and happy snapping!

Rice or noodles?

We’re drooling over Thai food at the office today!

Thank goodness for this little hidden gem, Khrua Thai Food, tucked away in the Meerensee Mall (next to Wimpy).

If you haven’t tried their food or sushi, you’ve been missing out!

The Thai Prawn Curry is absolutely sensational, and it’s probably because of the fresh ingredients used. It’s difficult to get Thai take-out in Zululand, and they’ve made life easy. Our taste buds are ever so grateful.

The set-up is simple, but don’t let this little restaurant fool you, as they pack in so much of flavour into every dish. Their prices are reasonable, which means you don’t have to break the bank to satisfy your Thai craving.

We suggest:

Buy spring rolls for starters, prawn curry with noodles for main and fortune cookies for desert!

Pack your picnic basket with these goodies and head over to the beach for a delicious Zululand take on Thai – with a sea view!

Contact – 076 1100527

 

Luxury safari at your doorstep

Photo credit : Christian Sperka

These chilly days has gotten us ‘crushing’ on safari game drives, with warm blankets, hot chocolate and beautiful African sunriseS.

If you’re looking for a little escape where you can indulge all your five senses – Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve provides you with a truly African experience.

Take in the sights, sounds and smells of Africa with an early or late game drive. Here you can spot the Big Five.

Thanda is also home to a rich diversity of birdlife, insects, flora and fauna, making their bush walks truly memorable. Their expert trackers give you their rendition of the bush life and help you explore the African bush.

Their luxury Spa offers heavenly massages, including signature treatments – a combination of western techniques and ancient Zulu holistic practices from tradition Zulu women – to soothe and relax).

We love:

Their tented camp spa

14 000 hectares of private bush

Their bush and breakfast experience

Delicious cuisine

Big Five

Breathtaking romantic picnics in the bush under the African sky

Luxury accommodation

Want to make reservations? Contact 035 5731899 or email [email protected]

 

The sweet life

Remember the days when school holidays meant makeshift forts, picnics outside, climbing trees and riding bikes around the neighbourbood?

With technology and the increased crime rate, school holidays now means sitting in front of the television or computer all day, binging on junk food. Never mind the fact that as a parent entertaining the kids during the school holidays can be such a mission, especially with the knowledge that as soon as boredom sets in, they’re likely to go into ‘mischievous’ mode.

Great news is that there is a safe entertainment haven for children from seven to 17 years at Sugar Bay Holiday Camp, considered one of South Africa’s best adventure camp.

Situated in the beautiful village of Zinkwazi, where sugar cane meets the warm Indian Ocean, the holiday camp has private access to the Zinkwazi lagoon and waterfront.

Why we love this place for the kids:

  • Safe environment for children to have fun without becoming couch potatoes
  • A one to three staff to child ratio with 24 hour supervision, life guards and counsellors, which means your kids are in safe hands
  • There are over 100 activities to enjoy with a free choice system, which basically means your child can choose what activity he or she would like to participate in
  • The programme is based on the American summer camp model,giving your kids a different take on clean fun
  • With Zululand’s all-year summer climate, what’s not to love about outdoor fun! From beach golf, go-karting to dune jumping, Sugar Bay Holiday Camp promises to be a real ‘jol’ for the youngsters.

(We’re sitting here thinking, where’s a holiday camp for us adults?)

For more information contact – 032 485 3778 or email them on [email protected]

Getting those kinks out

What’s not to love about a good massage?

Especially when you’ve collected quite a few kinks from day-to-day stresses.

There are a few places offering spa treatments, but if you’re looking for a holistic experience, then Lavendar Lane in Mtunzini is the answer!

We think they deserve a standing ovation for growing their very own plants and flowers which are used to make their aroma therapy oils. Now that’s something worth trekking to Mtunzini for.

You got to love the various aromas that tease you as you enter and the staff are super friendly, with a magic touch of the hands to make you feel good.

They offer various spa packages – from massages to manicures and pedicures. You’ll find yourself repeating, ‘Oh I love this place!’

Spoil yourself or throw a little hint for a pamper spoil – you’ll walk out of there feeling rejuvenated and refreshed!

Find them outside Mtunzini on the R102 towards Gingindlovu, or give them a call on 083 6822584.

 

 

 

5 things for ‘out of towners’ to do

Ahh Zululand, you absolute beauty!

We have magical sunsets, beautiful beaches, indigenous forests and hiking trails and some of the best game reserves in South Africa.

But there’s more to Zululand than meets the eye. Our region is rich in culture, we’re extremely hospitable and serve up some delicious food!

If you’re an out of ‘towner’ or just a local looking for something to do, there are a few exciting things you can do to explore our beautiful region.

  1. Parkrun

Yes, we have our very own Parkrun and proud of its growing community. Get the feel of our community at the Richards Bay Parkrun every Saturday at 8am, at the Zululand Multi Sport Club. Register online at http://www.parkrun.co.za/register/

  1. Harbour highlights

There’s nothing better than a Sunday stroll along the waterfront. Take your pick from some of the locals’ favourite restaurants and stop at the famous ice cream spots to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you’re up for a little cruise, treat yourself to a boat cruise that leaves from the Richards Bay harbour.

  1. Hit the mall

If you want to do a little retail therapy while you’re on this side of the world, the Boardwalk Inkwazi Shopping Centre in Richards Bay is the place to go. You can find both local and national retail stores as well as restaurants. Contact 035 7897251.

  1. Zululand Brewery Tour

They say if you haven’t tasted a ‘Zulu Blonde’ yet, you haven’t experienced the taste of local beer! Take a tour of the Zululand Brewery and sample local beer at its finest, especially their flagship beer – Zulu Blonde. The brewery is based in eShowe. Contact them on 035 4742298 for more info.

  1. Horse Safaris

Experience the splendour of St Lucia like never before – on horseback!

Bhangazi Horse Safaris offer riding trails along the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. If you’re lucky enough, you may get to see crocs, hippos and whales during your meander. Contact 083 7927899.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for reasons to explore Ongoye Forest? Here are five

Schools out! But instead of the kids watching Natgeo Wild the entire holiday, take them out on a real forest adventure!

Ongoye Forest Reserve – situated between Mtunzini, eShowe and Empangeni – falls under the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s jurisdiction.

Looking for reasons to explore Ongoye Forest? Here are five:

  1. You don’t have to be Tarzan to explore the forest; there are experienced tour guides that can show you around.
  2. This 4 000ha reserve is home to hundreds of different bird species.
  3. Pack a picnic basket and find a perfect spot to relax and take in the natural beauty (remember to clean up afterwards).
  4. You’ll love it more than the kids (and they won’t even know it).
  5. There are some great hiking trails if the kids are not interested in birding, which offer breath-taking views of the Bay area.

If you’re thinking of staying over for the weekend, the Ongoye Forest birders camp offers comfortable and affordable accommodation.

The camp has only one unit with three bedrooms. There’s a braai area perfect for camp side stories with the kids.

Roast some marshmallows and let them enjoy the basic simplicities of life.

Rates

R150 per person per night

(Minimum charge R450)

Children under 5 years stay for free

Maximum 6 people per group (in 3 twin/double bedrooms)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keen on taking a little road trip?

There’s a quaint little restaurant just outside Mtunzini on the R102 towards Gingindlovu that serves up the best cappuccinos around! The Forage Bistro and Deli is an ideal escape and breath of fresh air.

As you walk towards the restaurant you’re instantly charmed by the fragrance of lavender and other fragrant flowers used by the neighbouring Spa, Lavender Lane.

Finding yourself in a relaxed countryside environment adds to the allure.

The food is prepared using fresh ingredients, so you can bet your ‘taste buds’ it’s packed with flavour.

Speaking about flavour, you have to believe us when we say their Mongolian beef burgers with sweet potato fries is absolutely delicious!

If you’ve joined the green juice revolution, you have to try their green juice blend. It’s healthy, yet tastes so good.

All in all, this restaurant makes you want to set up camp outside just to wake up to the smell of their special roasted coffee and daily dose of fresh, organic food.

The Zululand Trade Fair is back and bigger than ever!

It’s that one time of the year when Zululanders come together to enjoy the simple things in life – good entertainment!

This year’s line-up is pretty impressive.

From food stalls, (notoriously famous dinky doughnuts), fun fair, Red Bull Freestyle FMX, Zululand Chef of the Year competition, to live performances and beautiful noise-free firework displays – there’s something for the whole family to see and do.

Pure Venom will be there for all reptile lovers, and coffee lovers can enjoy ‘cold coffee’ at the Sea Dog stand.

Zululanders will also be treated to SAMA nominee group ‘1st Project’ – a high-octane band that uses drums to mesmerize their audience.

The two-day fair kicks off on Friday at the ZCBF show grounds, with gates opening at 9am and closing at 10pm.

Ticket prices

R80 for adults

R40 for pensioners and children under 12

Children under 2 years get in free

For more information about this year’s Trade Fair visit http://www.zululandtradefair.co.za/

Experience the Zulu culture

What if we told you that you could experience the true spirit of the Zulu culture in a three-day authentic tour? It is possible with the Zululand Eco Tour in Eshowe.

With the hustle and bustle of everyday living, being inundated with technology, notifications, messages, and emails, it would be nice to tap into the simplicity of living, by going back to rural Zululand.

From sampling traditional beer, visiting mission stations, and missionaries to sleeping over in a Zulu village, this tour will give you an understanding of the Zulu culture like no other. It’s rural Zululand meets the ‘Zulu’ Blonde.

What does the tour include?

Rural Zulu cultural life

Zulu village and marketplace

Real Zulu ceremony (except on a Thursday tour)

Visit Sangomas

Mission stations and missionaries

Upliftment projects – KwaMondi School, King Dinizulu Creche, Cunina Orphanage and Tembafunda Special School

Visit Tugela Valley, Mbongolwane Wetlands and Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk

Get to see potters and beaders at work and vegetable and medicinal plant growing projects

Take a tour through Fort Nongqayi – Zululand Historical Museum and take a look at some of John Dunn (White Chief) antique teak and mahogany furniture

Sleepover in Zulu Village for one night is optional at no extra cost

Take a look at the Vukani basket collection and beads as well as papermaking with cane leaves

Down a ‘Zulu Blonde’ draught beer after a great day in Zululand

Costs?

Packages start from R4200, which includes meals, transport and accommodation.

The only question left is, what are you waiting for?

Nembula’s Restaurant & Bar

Ready for a tour around the township?

Why not start at Nembula’s Restaurant & Bar in eSikhaleni?

If you’re looking to experience the authentic local township vibe, then it’s time you visited this place. Think of it as Soweto’s very own Sakhumzi, with a Zululand twist.

Nembula’s boasts a vibrant and lively atmosphere where you’ll find DJ’s, both local and national, spinning the decks with cool tunes that gets you tapping your feet to every beat.

Sport fans can enjoy live matches and food lovers can expect some special treats. We hear their ribs and wings combo is must (even worth the wait), and oh so sticky!

What better way to celebrate the colourful diversity of our country’s heritage than by experiencing different cultures and lifestyles?

If you’re from the city and have never been to a township before, we recommend you go on one of the local township tours.

In short, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Experience the heart of the local township
  2. Vibrant atmosphere
  3. Great food
  4. Social networking hub
  5. Feet-tapping, head-bumping music

Paintballin’

Thinking of doing something a little adventurous this weekend?

Hold on, we’re not talking about going on a Zululand relic hunt, but rather getting your adrenaline pumping from zero to 100 in 5 seconds flat!

If that’s the case, then we have a suggestion – paintballing!

Just a word of caution though – if your pain threshold is… let’s say minimal, rather sit this one out!

It’s loads of fun and can get a little competitive depending on the group of people you tag along.

As long as you have your mask on, play nicely, and remember it’s all in the name of fun, then you’re bound enjoy every single minute of your paintballin’ battle.

If you’re sold on the idea but not too sure where to go, there’s a paintball base in Alton Richards Bay – Redbase Paintball.

R125 per person gets you 100 paint balls, a mask, a gun and even a marshal to make sure you guys don’t play dirty.

It is opened 7 days a week, from 3pm onwards on a weekday and all day during the weekends.

Build your ‘army’ (only the brave will do) and go forth into the world and have some fun!

For more info call them on 081 4267620.

Amakhosi Safari Lodge

Take a trip on the wild side and relish the beauty of Zululand’s breathtaking wildlife.

In Zululand we’re blessed with the best of both worlds, bush and beach – and when it comes to the bush, there are a number of spectacular game reserves that offer royal service in the middle of nowhere!

Amakhosi Safari Lodge is one of these getaway gems. It’s five star, so be prepared to fork out a little more than your average bush getaway. It takes luxury to another level, and the simple fact that you’re surrounded by untouched wildlife, makes the experience that more magical. Here you get to indulge in fine cuisine, go on scintillating night safaris and, off course, relax in the comfort of your luxurious suite.

The safari lodge is situated on the banks of the Mkhuze River (need we say more about the amazing views?) You have the option to choose between the River Suites, Honeymoon Suites and IsiGodlo Private House.

Just when we thought it can’t get any better, we discovered that they also have a spa specialising in Africology! Imagine, panoramic views of the river while nature’s beautiful sounds and melodies calm the soul while you soak up some TLC.

Goosebumps yet? We suggest you put this down on your list of places to visit in South Africa.

Tel 073 3759743 | 034 4141157

[email protected]

5 pizza toppings that’s a must

Say the word pizza and most people instantly start craving those crusty slices of goodness – the stringy cheese, the thick or thin base and, off course, the delight in deciding your choice of favourite toppings.

In celebration of the pizza, the team at BOZ set out on a ‘pizza hunt’ at five local establishments to find five toppings that’s a must. So here we go (in no particular order):

  1. The Clay Oven

Apart from the spectacular sea view, this Mtunzini restaurant’s pizza menu should be on one’s bucket list! There are quite a number of toppings to choose from, but of all, the one with the biggest wow factor must be ‘The Works’. It literally has the works! One can choose between a standard size (R79) or large (R99).

  1. The George Hotel

The ‘town on the hill’ offers more than rich culture. The George Hotel in eShowe is known for its delicious wood oven pizzas. Locals say the best topping has to be pineapple, bacon and avo (oh, and sometimes peppadew). What’s great about their pizzas is that one can choose your very own toppings. Two toppings (R85), three toppings (R95).

  1. Chane Cheese Farm

Take a short right onto a dirt road on the R618 towards St Lucia and you’ll find a little piece of country living magic – and more top quality wood oven pizzas. Scouting the menu, what caught our eye was the ‘Hot as a mother’ listing. It received full marks for taste, but a word of caution – it is not for those who can’t handle a little ‘heat’. (R85)

  1. The Outpost Restaurant & Bar

Even if you had a disastrous round on the neighbouring golf course, you can at least regain your composure with one of the Outpost’s magnificent pizzas. Tucked away on the Richards Bay Golf Estate, this family restaurant’s pizzas are known for being packed with flavour. Try their signature pizza ‘The Outpost’. It has everything on it to make the pizza ‘el delicioso’! (R90)

  1. Porky’s Seafood & Steakhouse

What’s not to love about a pizza with mega meaty flavour? The Don Pizza at Porky’s Restaurant is a must. At R120 it’s worth every cent. Delight your taste buds with a combination of crispy crust and meaty flavour explosion. Located at the Richards Bay Waterfront.