Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lazy Sunday Morning Polenta Frittata

I don't know if chefs have ever tried this or if it will make their hair stand on end, but this was just the breakfast we needed today. It started out as "oops, nothing to eat for breakfast" and became "this is something we can do again!".

After the end of 4 weeks of renovations with another 3 to go we have finally got our dining room back. The whole family jumped in yesterday and sealed the kitchen walls and painted the dining room. We were given a painting a couple years ago that I have never really felt fitted our cottage...but...well, it was one of a triplet that each son got and it couldn't just be stored in the garage.

I am not really one for abstract art, much more of a naturalist, so I have looked past it for many years. With the new color scheme we have chosen of moroccan browns, orange and teal it now fits perfectly. The room was so cozy and warm with the new wall colours.

We can see the end of the project now as once the tile grouting is done tomorrow and the builders snag list attended too, we have one week to wait until the installation of the new units and appliances.

Very exciting indeed and reason to live like campers for a little longer methinks!
 So after working hard all the day before, we knew this morning would be slow...and this polenta "frittata" turned out to be just the comfort food we needed.

Make polenta according to instructions (1 cup polenta to 2 cups water, salt, bring to boil, stir).

While that is cooking beat up three eggs with salt, pepper and oregano.

Also fry up onion, garlic, salami (can be bacon or breakfast sausage), cherry tomatoes. Add 1/2cup of cubed feta at the end.

Mix the egg mix into the polenta and add to the pan with the onion. Quickly mix together.

Smooth over the top and add shavings of parmesan. Place the lid on the pan and let cook on low heat for 20 mins or so.

Serve and top with your favourite "poison".


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

5th Urban Homestead South Africa anniversary

It was June 2008 that we decided to grow some veggies. There are some readers of the blog who watched form the beginnings as we jumped in with both feet and consistently added to our growing space by converting the whole garden to veggie growing.

We added chicken, compost heaps, womeries. We went horizontal and vertical and hanging space. We made ponds and wild life areas...we added more chickens and frogs.

We started cooking from scratch, learning to preserve, bake bread, make stocks, made jams, used home made cleaners, knitting socks, dish clothes and more.

2008, 2009 and 2010 were characterised by learning skills, huge demands on us all to keep up with the garden and animals.

Pond beginning stages

Then my back gave in...

Debilitating back pain characterised 2011....everything slowed down but the children and Superman picked up the slack for me. I directed, they did. Thank you my precious Ones.

2012 brought many added responsibilities to our home supporting other people in different ways, a desire to spend more time in fellowship with other Christian believers and in Bible study.

Our eldest started preparing for her final year of homeschooling and our sons tennis interests picked up and across the board the perspective started to change from one out there to in here.

Survival characterised 2012. Finding out what were truly our priorities. Letting things go that were not emergencies and just dealing with those things that had an eternal perspective.

Converting veggie bed back to container garden
What we didn't stop was cooking good wholesome meals (even with no kitchen for the last 4 weeks!) , caring for our chickens and making home made cleaners.

Beginning 2013 we decided to reduce our growing space as two areas are in shade for most of winter and to relieve the pressure to keep them planted up.

We also met a homeless man who we were prompted to help by the Holy Spirit. He has become a blessing to us in many ways and God has truly restored his life, his family, his home and his occupation.
Chickens on the way to their new home

But as we ministered to him he made himself available to work everyday of April and May in our garden.

Ricardo has been our saving grace in the garden and is now full time employed but his son will take over his work here soon.

The retirement village

We also decided to send 5 of our chickens off to retirement at the farm we originally got them from. They were so sweet sitting looking out the window of the Landy on the way to their new home.

So this year has been a time of downscaling and priority assessment and while it is not so exciting in terms of listing all the things we have done and achieved it is a true reflection of where we are a family and I think it is important to be truthful with you readers.

So there you have it...another year has gone by!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wild mushrooms - a seasonal habit

Escaping the chaos at home I took a very indulgent friend with me to go and collect some wild mushrooms in the Tokai Aboretum. It is always best to go 2 - 3 days after rain, anything longer than that and they get mushy and mouldy quite quickly.

The river is always a delight in this season and crossing it is always a game of whose more agile than you! The kids always make it first :)

The kids spread out in the top plantation to look for the right ones after I had shown them what to look for.

Treasure under the pine needles

I made a simple mushrooms on toast for breakfast buy frying them in butter, garlic, thyme and then adding a cup of white wine. I put this on toast and add a good helping of crumbled feta...


Monday, June 10, 2013

A girl makes a plan...

As we start our 3rd week of renovations I must admit to finding myself a little rattled...but surviving. We have now "lost" the dining room space for the "camp kitchen" due to the rain causing havoc with our new floor tiles which will be laid this week. The tiles are now being stored in the dining room and all cooking, eating and storage space is in the lounge.

This was the start of today....

The power in the house is on and off all today as the electrician re-routes circuits so meals have nowhere to be prepared two slow cookers (which, by the way, have become my BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE!) are now inside Superman's office which is on a separate electrical board.

My first slow cooker was given to me as a newly engaged girl of 19 and has worked for me over the last 24 years. Just before we started renovations I bought another one to see us through this time and it will eventually go to my eldest daughter for when she starts her home.

Over the last few weeks the slow cooker has made soups, stews, pot roasts and even a delicious lasagne. Today one of them is baking potatoes and the other is slowly cooking some beef rump which will be shredded and used as a topping.

Just so you do not think I am a real domestic wonder worker...these are all recipes from my new favourite blog - Budget Bytes.

Beth is a single girl but she cooks for a couple of days at once and it makes her portions perfect for our family. They are not only slow cooker recipes - although these are "must-trys"- there are all my favourite cuisines from Mexican to Asian.

In fact her meals are so quick and easy we used three of her recipes today:

Southwest Breakfast Scramble

Hearty Quesadillas

And tonights beef filled potatoes.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The renovation of a cottage kitchen

In my 24 years as a homemaker I have lived in 8 different homes. Each home has been special in a different way, some more than others as the memories that were made there were sometimes good, sometimes bad.

When we moved back to Cape Town after a second 2 year stint in Johannesburg, we moved into this little cottage in the Southern Suburbs. It offered us what we needed but besides for fixing up the bathrooms which were in a shocking state and putting some paint on the walls, we didn't do much else. Well, I suppose we did give the garden a big overhaul 5 years ago! :)

Our kitchen has been getting progressively worse and worse to a point now where the cupboards are falling off the hinges, the counter tops near water rotting and worse! Time for a gutting and renovation. We have been planning this for many months, I have been stashing away ideas on Pinterest, getting the advice from a close friend who is a born designer and considering the budget over and over again.

This past Monday saw the beginning of the project which will continue over the next 6 weeks. the first 3 days were pretty grim as the builders had the jack hammer going making the new entrance into the kitchen, getting rid of the 4 layers of floor tiles!!! and bashing out windows.

The camping kitchen
This simmered down to the happy babble of workers voices as they bricked and plastered and has kept our youngest busy with real life learning. Each day he tells me new words he has learnt in Afrikaans, how to mix cement, how to chip off old cement from bricks to be reused and more. The girls have hidden in their rooms with the cats appearing to help with meals, cooked camp out style in the lounge.

As we are completely out a kitchen for 6 weeks, we set up kitchen in the lounge with the microwave, two plate cooker, slow cooker, toaster, kettle and bread machine. Soups and stews it is in this wet June weather. On good weather days, Superman has braaied (BBQ) for us. And besides for the dust that covers every surface, we are quite content with our makeshift kitchen.

The rest of the house is like a dump with boxes stacked high holding all the kitchen things, but we can do this...I know we can as we keep our eyes on the end goal. Here are some pictures of the week's work:

This all has to be covered while they work and even then the dust seems to get under the black plastic...everything has to be washed before using or eating.
Gutted - decidedly nervous smile on the project managers face!

The stove used to stand on the left which is now the new entrance. 
The big opening on the left is bricked up to make a pantry

The pantry now looking from the back kitchen door.
Here are two design drawings to give you an idea of what the end product will be. The non water surfaces are going to be wood, water surfaces granite, hand made terracotta tiles for the floor, baskets for some drawers (made by the Blind Society) and new appliances bought by a hard bargaining Superman.

Two fridges! We are so tired of scratching in overflowing fridges!

Entrance to the left. Blank wall ahead goes to laundry. Wont be using black counter chairs!
So that's week down - five to go!