Happiness is…

On our very first trip to Portugal I remember in my granny’s village a little truck that would drive by every morning.  Everyone in the neighborhood would come running out to where the baker stopped and it was like a mini party, lots of talking and gesturing and bread buying.  And then everyone would disappear back inside and I guess there wouldn’t be much conversation going on because they would all eating bread with butter and cheese.

Some pão com queijo and a good cup of coffee with milk.  Even the children ate the same thing (the coffee was not as strong) but breakfast was the same for everyone.

Nostalgia….for me thinking about this. I was reminded of this special time at a bread baking course.  Something really different, unusual and maybe strange for some, but it was something I have been wanting to do for some time.  And with a little nudge from my friend and we both signed up for a full day of bread baking. Listening to the process of bread making, bakers formula and the science behind it; just took me back to that little bread truck.

I never feel full or satisfied until I’ve had that little piece of bread.  For me bread is a main meal, it’s satisfying on its own and with a little butter or jam or a piece of cheese it’s a whole feast.

Learning to make real artisanal bread just brought back so many good feelings and emotions.  Like watching my granddad eating, he used to have a good piece for breakfast and dip it in a huge bowl of sweet coffee with milk, at dinner time it was a huge bowl of soup and bread.  The pieces were broken off with his hands, not cut.  He sat close to the radio listening to the news….I can picture it in my mind when I look at this beautiful loaf I made, I see him and it takes me back to such special memories. It’s a wonderful feeling.



Real love, time, patience, loving hands and watching something grow and voila – a perfect old-fashioned artisan bread.

It’s no wonder God is identified as the bread of life in the bible. (John 6:35)

Some say warm bread feels like a hug, I know it smells like love when it comes out of the oven.  For me happiness is a piece of real bread in your hand ♥


PS: Gluten is such a bummer, I know – but actually artisan bread is easier to digest, because the enzymes have had time to begin breaking down the gluten in the flour while fermenting. And you can take time to savour it too, it tastes better than shop bought. Shop bought is what’s bad for us. 


Christmas Tradition #4

In December 2012 I shared some of our food, typically eaten or devoured at Christmas time 😀

the Algarve fig cake – Christmas Tradition #1 and the Aniseed  cookies – Christmas Tradition #2 and then my favorite the King’s crown cake – Christmas Tradition #3

And so for 2015 my sister-in-law is visiting from Portugal and she made these here at home….

Christmas tradition #4 typically from Algarve, south of Portugal (that’s where my hubby is from) this is one of their regional sweets. Ground almonds and sugar and a paste is formed (this is similar to – but it is not marzipan)

fine almond flour

fine almond flour

sugar and water in pearl stage

sugar and water in pearl stage

add sugar to almond

add sugar to almonds

make little balls with almond paste and fill with 'soft eggs'

make little balls with almond paste and fill with ‘soft eggs’

and then form little fruits leave overnight

and then form little fruits
leave overnight

and the final result is this ….


Little bit of food coloring, paint your fruits and voila you have almond cookies

It looks easy enough but it’s not. It’s not too complicated either but you need some ‘talent’ to make these fruits and not mess the filling.  I made three shapes, one carrot and one fig and the third one went in my mouth because the filling was too much, it was oozing out of the carrot shape and I licked it and realised that’s not a lekker thing to do to the food your guests are going to eat. 😛 So I just ate it – no evidence of bad shape was left

Delicious for once a year only! Something my dad used to say about these makes me laugh every time I see them….Today, 9 years ago he passed away…we still miss him at the Christmas dinner ♥

Warm Sweet Potatoes

Winter is here and all I want to eat at this time of the year is soup and curries.

A while back my friend shared a delicious green bean salad with me. I love it, it’s fresh and crunchy and has a generous sprinkle of almonds – just perfect for summer.

Now I have made this for winter – using green beans (some people call them string beans) and sweet potato. Something warm and yummy for the winter months.


Cook the sweet potatoes (cut in small pieces) first as they take little longer and then add the beans, so they are still left a bit crunchy. Add a little bit of salt.

Put in your serving dish and squeeze one whole juicy lemon. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Add a large amount of sunflower seeds. Why large? Casue I ♥ love ♥ sunflower seeds. These little seeds are gifts from the beautiful sunflower – they are very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. High in vitamin E, very high in phosphorus and potassium. Good source of calcium and magnesium. They just yum so add lots of them to this dish.

And enjoy served warm with lentil bake or bobotie!

Delicious. Low GI. Perfect for Sabbath lunch or mother’s day lunch 🙂 coming up this Sunday in SA….if you feel like cooking

My diet fight

I’ve been fighting with my self lately; fighting and looking for a diet. Oh my word there are so many!! I have tried a few crazy things in my life. But I’m at a point now that I can’t just go into what others are doing. Firstly I’m vegetarian. Not all those high protein crazy diets are suitable for vegetarians. Cause when they go high protein it’s all meat, fish and eggs – not legumes, veggies, fruits and nuts.

It’s unbelievable how others around me lose weight like I lose my mind. Quickly! Effortlessly! It’s unbelievable how so many intelligent people still ask me where I get my protein from; when I say I can’t go on one of those high protein diets. I wonder if they have read up on the dangers of all that animal protein….hmm, no they haven’t read it, and they certainly havent seen this —


Anyway my point is I’ve been driving myself insane and ‘beating’ myself about it. When the answer is right on my finger tips. It’s been there all the time. I’m not a un healthy bad eater, sure I like to eat chocolate and I grab a packet of chips once in a while. But other than some bad snacking I am a healthy eater. I like my veggies and fruit, I only cook brown rice and whole wheat pasta and only eat brown bread….

So where must I make my changes?

  • More fruit, more veggies, more water
  • More, lots and lots more exercise
  • Delete dairy and eggs and much as possible

I will figure it out and probably add a few more things to my very small list. For now I’m happy with my own self discovery and with my choices.

The best thing is that yesterday in church my dear friend and pastor read this —

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. _Romans 12:1-2

His sermon was around these two verses. I was emotional, that message was for me, I left with puffy eyes. #Blessed.

Ah even in church I received the answer to my diet fight 🙂 There are few inspirational people, books and web sites I’ve found that are just perfect for me. So for now it’s time to study and to put into practice one day at a time.

Christmas Tradition # 3

With my sister and sister-in-law immigrating, also with dad gone we are so few now, and although there have been many changes over the last Christmases (missing tree) not a lot has changed around the dinner table (except for some sad moments) the food traditions have remained the same, they have stayed and lived on for years…..

I don’t like cooking, don’t care much about the kitchen but if I’m baking then the kitchen is a happy place. This was my mom or sister-in-law’s job a few years ago, now it is my duty to bake the Christmas cake.

Bolo Rei or King’s Cake or King’s Crown (not sure what they calling it now-days) -everyone in our family loves this, my mom used to bake for orders and for us at home, she moaned a lot too about the work involved and the expense of the cake. It is a lot of work with all the resting periods and allowing the cake mixture to rest, fold in fruits and rest again and grow. You basically spend the whole day in the kitchen and you’re left with 3 cakes, that’s it! So if the family is huge and you want more cakes, then it’s another one or two days in the kitchen. This is nothing like the English fruit cake or mince pies, a light delicious cake with a bit of fruit, lots of pine nuts and pretty glazed fruit to decorate. It is my favorite.bolo rei

Christmas Tradition # 3 this is my Bolo Rei

1 kg of flour

250 g of margarine

300 g of sugar

6 eggs + 6 egg yolks

200 ml of milk (2 dcl)

Pinch of salt

1 active yeast cube

Dried and crystallised fruit and nuts


Crumble the yeast in a bit of warm water and add 250 g of flour and mix well. Let it rest and double up in size.


Generously sprinkle the dried fruit with good port wine and let it just sit and get happy

Mix the flour, sugar, margarine and add the eggs and milk and knead this well together. Add the yeast mixture to this and work the dough with your hands. Add another two handfuls of flour and let it rest in a warm room and double up in size. Room has to be warm, draft-free. Wrap it up in warm blanket.

Carefully mix in the fruit and knead with hands, it’s messy, be patient. You might need more flour for dusting. Make and shape the 3 ring cakes (a circle). Some people roll dough and add fruits and roll it up, I just mix mine as is. Decorate with fruits (candied pear, candied fig, pineapple, pine nuts, pecans) on the outside let the cakes rest and grow once more.  Sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake in pre-heated oven.

While warm brush with fruit jelly (smooth peach jam + bit of water and boiled in sauce pan) just to make it shiny. Add a little more icing sugar if needed. I always add the food glitter for the festive happy look.

It’s Yum! Enjoy! 😀

Now there’s a beautiful reason for the shape of the cake, it is supposed to represent the crown of the three wise men, the beautiful fruits are the jewels on the crown. The gifts of gold, myrrh and incense are represented in the cake as the ‘gold’ in the colour of the cake, the fruits are the myrrh and the incense is that beautiful smell of the cake baking. Traditionally the cake used to be baked with a small silver charm or gift inside. If you receive the slice with that charm then it is your turn to return the favour and bake the cake for next year.Picture1

I looked in old boxes and secret places in my room and found two charms for my cakes, so someone owes me a cake next year *I wonder who?*

With a story like that, which is as old as the hills, you must know the cake is divine and the process of baking it is worthwhile, it will teach you patience every time you check on the resting dough and need to wait a little longer, it will teach you love for you must have loads of love to go through this process, and it will teach you faith, you need to build on faith to complete anything in life. Those are my three gifts to you – patience, love and faith.

Merry Christmas

PS: Maybe with the patience comes a part of reading the recipe carefully and not forgetting to add the milk — oh no huge mistake!!

bolo rei1