A Hippo Love Story, Karen Paolillo

A Hippo Love Story opening line: He should not have been there.

"A Hippo Love Story"

A Hippo Love Story

This opening line resonates through the book, which is the story of how Karen and Jean-Roger Paolillo came to be in Zimbabwe and set up the Turgwe Hippo Trust to look after the local hippopotamus’s.

I found the book an OK read, with the narration rambling a bit and the thread of the story moving quite quickly. It details the horror of drought and floods, and even worse, the horror of land invasions and death by the so called war veterans of a country where my father was born.

The book costs R240 in the stores but personally I think that if you are going to spend the money, rather donate to the cause.

First published in South Africa by Penguin Books in 2014

ISBN number 978-0-14-353905-6

Paperback – 219 pages

Disclosure: I was sent the book to review by Penguin Books South Africa. I was not required to write a positive review. This post is in line with my blogging policy.

What I blogged April 19:


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Win Tickets To Parklife Cape Town

Competition now closed!

This year’s Parklife Gourmet Food and Music Festival celebrates the best things in life: great vibes, out-of-the-box culinary experiences, and of course, awesome people.

Hailed as one of Cape Town and Joburg’s favourite inner-city events, the Festival, presented by 947 and MTV, takes place in Cape Town on Saturday 2 May at the Greenpoint Cricket Oval and in Johannesburg at Marks Park, Emmarentia, on Sunday 3 May. As always, it promises to be the gastronomic and entertainment event of the year, bringing food lovers, friends, families and indie rockers together for one great day under the African sun.

2015 marks the fourth Parklife Festival and promises to be the best one yet. Doors open at 10am until 8pm. Tickets available at www.parklifefestival.co.za and start from as little R195. Kids under the age of six are free.

"Parklife Cape Town"

Parklife Cape Town

How to enter to win one of 2 Cape Town general admission tickets to Parklife, each to the value of R450

Conditions of entry:

  • Tickets will be issued by Joanne Sourvas of Shed Marketing.
  • I will not be responsible for the issuing of the tickets. I will be overseas from the 23rd of April and your tickets will be issued by the 28th of April.
  • The prize is one of 2 Cape Town general admission tickets to Parklife, each to the value of R450 and may not be exchanged for cash.
  • Entries close at midnight on the 22nd of April 2015.
  • I will choose the winners at random on the morning of the 23rd of April 2015. I will inform the winners via email.
  • Entries are open to all readers of this blog who are over 18 and who can make their own way to the event. However, you may not enter if you are an employee, friend or family of the media.
  • I will not be held responsible for non-receipt of your tickets

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this function but due to the fact that I am out of the country I will not be there. I was also asked to host a giveaway in exchange for editorial on my blog.  This post is in line with my blogging policy.

What I blogged April 17:


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Recipe For Yorkshire Puddings

I started training at a gym when I was in my last year of high school. My boyfriend introduced me to this form of exercise and since then I’ve trained as often as possible. Dave and I belong to a privately owned gym and training is as much about fitness as it is about being with like minded people. One of the youngsters who trains there works at a body studio. He invited Dave and I for a demo session and so off we went. I decided to watch what it was about while Dave did the hard work. He had to put on a lycra outfit and then a jacket was put on over that, with bands across his chest, thighs and biceps. He was hooked into an electrical impulse machine and did a few exercises. A session lasts 20 minutes and is supposed to be equivalent of 5 hours in the gym. This in no way excites me. The hard work and sense of accomplishment are taken away from you, and it’s expensive. As for hard work, Yorkshire puddings are anything but. They are simple to make and when you take the puffed up pastries out of the oven you too will feel a sense of accomplishment.

"Yorkshire Puddings"

Yorkshire Puddings

5.0 from 3 reviews
Yorkshire Puddings
Makes: 8
  • 2.5mls lard per pudding
  • 57g flour
  • 125mls milk
  • 117g eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Place the lard into a muffin tin or into dariole moulds
  2. Place the tin or moulds onto a baking tray
  3. Place the baking tray into the oven
  4. Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius
  5. Place the flour, milk and eggs into a pouring jug
  6. Beat until smooth
  7. When the oven has preheated carefully remove the baking tray from the oven
  8. Pour the batter into the tin or moulds, filling to half way
  9. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes

Click on the links for conversions and notes.

What I blogged April 16:


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Low Carb Is Lekker, Ine Reynierse

When I asked for a copy of Low Carb is Lekker to review I did not consider that it would be a book supporting the low carb high fat diet. The reason I asked for this book is that Dave and I follow a Mediterranean diet where we do not eat starchy carbohydrates at night. I am always looking for great recipes to do during the week to stick to our healthy eating regime.

"Low Carb Is Lekker"

Low Carb Is Lekker

This book is subtitled as a truly South African LCHF cookbook and I had to try and put my prejudice aside against the Banting diet when reading the book. After having studied a graduate course in nutrition I want to caution anyone against changing their eating plan to the LCHF diet without consulting their Doctor first.

"Creamy Black Pepper, Feta And Herb Dressing"

Creamy Black Pepper, Feta And Herb Dressing

Low Carb is Lekker is not a diet book according to Inè. The book begins with a very extensive introduction and a survival guide to the LCHF lifestyle. In the introduction, Inè lists the 6 personal reasons why she thinks people should change their eating habits. The LCHF diet purportedly has great results for weight loss, which was evident when Inè’s husband lost 37 kilograms following this regime. Inè has not studied nutrition and her writing is anecdotal, listing the why and how of low-carb living. I completely agree with ‘eating real food’ (quoted) but I do not agree that ‘all wheat is bad for us’ (quoted). The book has a list of foods to allow and avoid, allergy alternatives, kitchen must haves and an ingredient decoder. The section on how to read food labels refers to the LCHF diet and I would recommend that you keep this in mind if you use this as a reference to read food labels.

"Cream Of Leek And Cauliflower Soup With Salami Strips'

Cream Of Leek And Cauliflower Soup With Salami Strips

Low Carb is Lekker is a recipe book that Inè has divided into 12 sections. Some of the recipes include lekker tips and information on some of the ingredients. The book starts with breakfast recipes before moving onto finger foods and soups.The recipes in this section excited me the most and I tried the cream of leek and cauliflower soup with salami strips (p67). I was not sure how big one large head of cauliflower was so I made only two thirds of the recipe as mine was medium sized. I did not know how much water to add – the recipe calls for 7-8 cups, half being used at the beginning. I added 1 litre to start and did not add any more as the soup was quite thin. The resulting flavour was stunning. The block of cream cheese I bought weighed 250g so I took 230g (the weight given in the recipe), divided that by 4 to get what the recipe called for and rounded that amount up to 60g.

Cream of leek and cauliflower soup with salami strips - Extracted from Low Carb is Lekker by Inè Reynierse (Struik Lifestyle)

Cream of leek and cauliflower soup with salami strips – Extracted from Low Carb is Lekker by Inè Reynierse (Struik Lifestyle)

I would also like to try the sweet Italian mini meatball soup (p73). In the section on food for kids Inè starts with baby food – first foods (4-6 months), second foods (7-9 months), third foods (9-12 months) – before moving onto lunch box love and kid’s party food suggestions. Her chapter on mains include kid friendly meals and variations on some of the recipes. I thought that these recipes, as well as the ones from traditional South African meals are great and I would love to make the pickled fish (p115). I made the BBQ pork ribs (p119) which required me to follow the recipe for the Smoky BBQ basting sauce (p140). The basting sauce was not very smoky, so I would add smoked paprika to this if I were to make it again. The sauce is nice and thick with a hint of chilli which developed with cooking of the ribs.

"BBQ pork ribs - Extracted from Low Carb is Lekker by Inè Reynierse (Struik Lifestyle)"

BBQ pork ribs – Extracted from Low Carb is Lekker by Inè Reynierse (Struik Lifestyle)

As I make everything from scratch, the section on condiments and sauces would be most useful to me. Inè makes use of a can of tomato purée in her recipe for tomato sauce (p136) despite all processed foods being on the avoid list. I really liked the sound of the spicy chutney (p139) and the fragrant basting sauce (p140) and they are going on my to try list. For the purpose of this review, I made the creamy black pepper, feta and herb dressing (p145). I was not sure how much a round of feta weighed and so used what I had in the fridge. I also chose to omit the xylitol which was an optional ingredient. This quite sharp salad dressing is perfect with robust salads such as slaw.

"Creamy black pepper, feta and herb dressing - Extracted from Low Carb is Lekker by Inè Reynierse (Struik Lifestyle)"

Creamy black pepper, feta and herb dressing – Extracted from Low Carb is Lekker by Inè Reynierse (Struik Lifestyle)

The recipes under breads, rolls and pizza as well as cakes, cookies and treats are great for people on a gluten free diet, and include many variations. I will make the marshmallows (p189) using fructose, which is an ingredient that has been a part of my diet for over 20 years. In the section on desserts I think I would make melkkos (p159) which is a traditional South African pudding. Given that I have kidney stones on an infrequent basis, the kidney tonic (p198) is top of my list in the beverages chapter. Upon reading this chapter I was quite surprised to see that the recipes for buttered rum (p201), berry hot toddy (p202) and chai spiced hot toddy (p202) all included rum, as rum is high in cane sugar and all sugars and all foods with added sugar are on the avoid list.

"BBQ Pork Ribs"

BBQ Pork Ribs

I found the ingredient list to be quite repetitive and assume this is due to the short list of produce one can consume when following the LCHF diet . For people watching their carbohydrate intake, the recipes include the carbs per serving. I found that a lot of the recipes I read make use of xylitol including a recipe for creamy mayo (p139) where I would not expect any sweetener. Putting my prejudices aside, this book will serve well for ideas for meals that are low in carbohydrates. Some of the recipes include photographs which showcase the meals quite nicely. I will be publishing the recipes that I tested in the months to follow.

First published by Struik LIfestyle in 2015

ISBN number 978-1-43230-478-2

Paperback – 208 pages (including the index)

Disclosure: I was sent the book to review by Penguin Random House South Africa. I was not required to write a positive review. This post is in line with my blogging policy.

What I blogged April 15:


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Recipe For Chicken and Paneer Stir Fry

The other morning I woke up to over 100 emails in my inbox. For me this means they landed on my tablet and on my laptop. A blogger sent an email about her payment discrepancy to a group email instead of the accounts department. Firstly, I would love to be earning that kind of money and secondly, why did everyone have to hit the reply to all button? I was about to block the subject as being spam but soon realized that it was just the same email, over and over again, with a whole lot of people replying unsubscribe  or listing their blogs. I popped on over to a few of the food blogs to say ‘hi’ and I sent an email back to the sender about her obvious mistake. What was even funnier was that some people hit reply all to tell everyone not to reply to all! I am sure we all worked that part out. This stir fry is one of those dishes that will work out as it is so simple and so versatile. You don’t need to use the paneer and if you want to you can use tofu. Change the chicken for beef, or keep it vegetarian and add more of the paneer. Which ever way you look at it, this chicken and paneer stir fry is worth making. I made my own spice blend for this recipe, as part of the Daring Cooks challenge. The Kadhai Sauce is a wet spice blend, essential to this dish.

"Chicken And Paneer Kadhai"

Chicken And Paneer Kadhai

5.0 from 3 reviews
Chicken and Paneer Stir Fry
This stir fry makes use of kadhai sauce, which is extremely tasty.
  • 15mls canola oil
  • 45mls kadhai sauce
  • 5cm fresh root ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 chicken fillets, thinly sliced
  • 2 capsicums, julienned
  • 50g paneer, julienned
  • 20g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to season
  1. Place the oil into a wok and heat
  2. Add the kadhai sauce and cook until hot
  3. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute
  4. Add the chicken and seal
  5. Add the capsicums
  6. Sauté for a minute and then add the paneer
  7. Sauté for a minute and then add the coriander, lime and lemon juice
  8. Stir to combine
  9. Add salt if necessary
  10. Serve with naan

Click on the links for conversions and notes.

Blog-checking linesFor the month of April, Sawsan from Chef in disguise challenged us to spice things up by making our own spice blends from scratch

What I blogged April 14:


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Recipe For Ranch Dressing

At least once a week for the past 12 years we have eaten a meal at friends. Dave and I are not fussy salad eaters unless the salad has raw onions in it. I used to eat raw onions but as Dave does not like them I started leaving them out of salads. After a few years my palate became accustomed to this, and now I find raw onions to be quite overpowering. If they are blanched I will eat them, but if they are crunchy Dave will not eat them at all. These friends we go to love raw onions. She puts them into anything and everything. At lunch time if we eat there she puts a bowl of onions and tomatoes onto the table. At dinner she serves a salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and onions. And every time we eat there I decline to eat the salad as it has raw onions in it, and each time she asks me why I don’t eat raw onions. Some nights there will be other salads on offer, such as pickled beetroot (with raw onion), coleslaw with raw onions, potato and onion salad and even avocado and onions. So, I have started taking a salad with me when we eat there. And to make the salad more interesting, I have started using different salad dressings. I made a green salad using blanched asparagus and broccoli florets, sugar snap peas, crisp lettuce and served it with ranch dressing. I have also been making coleslaw using purple cabbage, carrots and courgettes and tossing that with my coriander and avocado dressing and Cindy’s potato salad which is boiled baby potatoes, tossed in olive oil and anchovy fillets. Last night I made a pea and bacon salad slathered with my home made mayonnaise.

Do you eat raw onions?

"Ranch Dressing"

Ranch Dressing

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe For Ranch Dressing
This salad dressing works perfectly with a green salad and if you are like me that means totally green vegetables.
  • 125mls buttermilk
  • 45mls crème fraîche
  • 15mls mayonnaise
  • 5mls fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 5mls Dijon mustard
  • 3 dashes Tabasco
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a jar and shake well to combine
  2. Store in the fridge and use as needed

Click on the links for conversions and notes.

What I blogged April 13:


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Recipe For Sugar Free Meringues

Dave and I used to go for a walk along the beach every night and then stop and have a drink at one of the local establishments facing the sea, before heading back home. But as we don’t seem to have that much time at the moment, we only go for walks on the odd occasion. However, when we are overseas this is a nightly ritual. We will sit in a piazza at a table with the locals and enjoy a drink and a few snacks, before heading back to cook dinner where ever we are staying. The other day the Western Cape recorded its highest ever temperature. Dave came home to fetch me and we drove to the beach and had a long swim. Once we had cooled down we walked to have a drink at a local restaurant. The outside tables are very popular and we were lucky enough to get one as we arrived. A couple were just leaving and so we could sit down and look out over the sea. Not 2 minutes after we arrived, an older couple arrived. They wanted to sit down and have a drink and so we invited them to share our table. They were so surprised by this offer. We got to talking, and the gentleman commented how sweet we were to make the offer. To me, it was just something that should be the norm. A drink shared with strangers can be really quite interesting. Something else sweet that made my day were these sugar free meringues. I was given a jar of Canderel spoon for spoon and as I had not paid for it I decided to experiment with making meringues. I always have left over egg whites as I make a lot of ice cream and so using the egg whites in experiments is never a problem. I was really pleased with how these turned out. I wanted to make split colour meringues but did not want to pay the exorbitant price for a special piping bag. I carefully placed the white meringue into half of the bag, and the pink into the other half and the result was perfect.

"Sugar Free Meringues"

Sugar Free Meringues

5.0 from 3 reviews
Sugar Free Meringues
These meringues make use of Canderel spoon for spoon and are as good as the ones using sugar.
  • 1 egg white
  • 10g Canderel spoon for spoon
  1. Preheat the oven to 110° Celsius
  2. Place the egg white into a stand mixer bowl
  3. Whisk until soft peaks form
  4. Add the Canderel slowly, whisking continuously until glossy and firm
  5. Pipe or spoon onto a lined baking tray
  6. Bake for 50 minutes
  7. Eat the same day

Click on the links for conversions and notes.

What I blogged April 9:


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Applying For A Visa

Sadly, as we live in a country where corruption is rife it means that our passports are easy to ‘obtain’ for illegal immigrants. People manage to flood across our borders and obtain these passports and then they are free to travel wherever a South African passport will allow them to. So, to stop the flood of more illegal immigrants into Europe, we have to get Visas when we travel. The amount of paperwork needed is immense and I have submitted enough forms to have used up an entire forest. Here are my helpful tips for when and if you ever need to apply for a Visa.

  • Read the form and all attached documents very carefully. Even if you complete a Visa form on a regular basis they change the requirements from time to time
  • Complete the form in full with your signature and date where required
  • Make sure you do not staple anything to the form – use paper clips
  • Your photograph needs to be current and do not use the same photograph for more than one application
  • In this case, less is not more! Provide as many supporting documents as possible
    • bank statements must be current i.e. up to the date of your appointment and must go back for 3 months
    • proof of financial means to support yourself whilst overseas should equal €100 per day of travel
    • remember you will need travel insurance which you can organize through your credit card provider as long as you paid for the ticket with your credit card
    • you will need proof of address which must be current
    • a letter from your employer giving you leave, with the dates specified. If you are self employed your accountant will have to give you a letter
    • proof of accommodation booked for every night you are away – use booking.com if you want to be able to cancel any bookings without penalty.
    • copy of your airline ticket and any other transport tickets getting you in and out of the country
  • Your passport must have 2 blank pages on the Visas section (the back page does not count). It must also be valid for at least 6 months from the date of return
  • Make sure you put your documents in the order requested
  • Tick the check list provided as you go along to make sure you have everything with you that you need

Hope you find these tips helpful, and enjoy your travels!

What I blogged April 8:


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Recipe For Blueberry Vinegar

Dave and I have been building our house for a decade. Dave has done as much of the work himself as he possibly can, when he has the time. In December he decided to start working on the wooden floor in our study. We did the flooring for our cottage bedroom ourselves and it was really hard work. And it was a great learning curve. Since then we have discovered you do not need as many nails as we used in the cottage, and you can hide the nails in the tongue of the flooring. Our study and walkway are about 50m². Dave bought 20m² of pine tongue and groove flooring and the installation went easier and quicker than he thought. The floor will be sanded once done, and sealed. When we did the cottage floor our roofing contractor had put us behind schedule and so we did not have time to sand and seal that floor. Now, the reason I am telling you this is because I needed to photograph my blueberry vinegar. We don’t yet have the blinds in the house, and the sunlight was affecting my photographs. So I put the vinegar on the newly laid floor and it spilt! It was only a small drop, but I nearly cried. Thankfully I managed to clear up the beautiful purple stain and you cannot see it. The sunlight was still too bright so I moved the vinegar and my infinity table into our cottage bedroom. And lo and behold I managed to spill a huge amount of the blueberry vinegar. Our old wooden floor has a massive purple stain which hopefully will come out when the floor is eventually sanded down. I am so grateful now that it has not yet been done. But, that still left me without a decent photograph. I tried making a ‘light’ box out of an old shoe box, but it was now too dark. Even though I did not manage the best ever photograph of my vinegar, I can tell you it has the most amazing blueberry taste, and of course, the most amazing purple colour!

"Blueberry Vinegar"

Blueberry Vinegar

4.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Vinegar
This stunning colour vinegar packs a punch of flavour!
  • 175g fresh blueberries
  • 250mls red wine vinegar
  1. Place the berries and vinegar into a glass bowl
  2. Muddle gently to break the skin of the berries
  3. Cover and leave in the fridge for 2 days
  4. Place the berries and vinegar into a sauce pan
  5. Bring to the boil
  6. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool
  7. Line a chinois with muslin and sieve the liquid
  8. Place into a sterilized glass bottle

Click on the links for conversions and notes.

What I blogged April 6:


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Lovestruck, Julia Llewellyn

Lovestruck opening line: They lay on Jake’s bed, breathing heavily, bodies intertwined and sweaty under the rumpled sheets.



Rosie and Jake are happy, in love and struggling financially. Introduced to one another by Rosie’s best friend who happens to be actor Jake’s agent, they have a whirlwind romance which is quickly followed by a wedding and children. Jake is an out of work actor and they live together in a small flat, without a spare penny for anything, until Jake makes it to the ‘big leagues’. He becomes a well recognized celebrity and he gives Rosie what he thinks she has always wanted, a big house, private schooling for the children, and she can be a stay at home mum. But, Rosie realizes that with all this wealth and freedom, she doesn’t really know her husband. And this new Jake is not someone she really wants to be with. Can her marriage survive fame and fortune?

The book swings from the past to the present quite seamlessly and there was only one story within the story that took me a while to follow. With that said, it was an easy, light hearted read that I can recommend.

First published by the Penguin Group in 2014

ISBN number 978-0-141-04818-5

Paperback – 416 pages

Disclosure: I was sent the book to review by Penguin Books South Africa. I was not required to write a positive review. This post is in line with my blogging policy.

What I blogged April 5:


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