My month with Gordon

Gordon Ramsay is my chef hero!  I think the reason for this is because his philosophy appears to be the fact that good, tasty, healthy food can be simple and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In February I was gifted his Ultimate Cookery Course cook book.

The Ultimate Cookery Course
One of the best gifts I have received. Gordon Ramsay’s The Ultimate Cookery Course

Being kosher, recipes are often a problem when they are in a celebrity chef’s cook book. I have to substitute a lot of ingredients or the equivalent is unavailable and I have to try and make my own. Also these recipes tend to be long and complicated; it is easier to make up my own.

A client had told me about the TV show and that there was a cookery book out with the recipes shown on the show. I was so excited until I priced the book here. There was a special on Amazon, but they don’t deliver books to South Africa. A very kind soul heard my discussion on the books and how I had seen a few episodes and would love to try them.

Next thing you know I am in possession of the cookery book!

For the month of March I made one recipe a week from the book.  I am not being paid to review the book or promote it. I will tell you now that I will be making more recipes from the book! Each one I tried was successful even with having to make the necessary changes for dietary requirements.

Stuffed Chicken

Two carcasses picked clean! I double the recipe for stuffed chicken as there were 7 for dinner. I made two large chickens with stuffing. The stuffing recipe was easy to make.  Even with the two adaptions I needed to make, the chicken was amazing. Everyone cleared their plates and went back for more.

Beef Wellington

I messed that recipe up quite well and it was still a hit! Firstly I defrosted the wrong meat and ended up with 10 pieces of rib eye steak. I planned the meal for a Wednesday. I needed liver pate (we call it chopped liver) and the kosher butchers’ only have this available on Thursday night. Then I made the mushroom duxelle with ordinary button mushrooms as I couldn’t find wild mushrooms. For pancetta I used lamb maken.  I called the new recipe Beef Waterloo.

The recipe made 10 huge Wellingtons.  We ate for 2 days and even with the meat being slightly over cooked on the second day, it was still delicious.

While the maken didn’t have the same flavor of pancetta, the fat kept the beef moist. The duxelle worked out well and was very tasty too.

I do admit I will probably only do this again next year as it took me 3 hours to make.

Beef Wellington
Renamed Beef Waterloo. 10 Delicious servings

Sea Bream with Tomato and Herb Salsa

I substituted the Bream with Silverfish and I trusted the fishmonger when he said they were the same. My family are not big fish eaters. This dish was amazing and the family has agreed that I can make it again.

I have since started cooking all fish the way Gordon teaches in his show and the improvement is amazing. Fish is still not the most popular protein in my house, unless it is tinned tuna.

Gnocchi

I doubled the recipe and it wasn’t enough! I do think I need to invest in a ricer for this one. Gnocchi is quick and relatively easy to make.

Gnocchi
It may not look good, but the taste was phenomenal

I have made gnocchi before and even though it was nice, it was quite stodgy. This time the gnocchi were almost perfect, light and flavourful, and the one or two lumps didn’t deter anyone and I had to go back and make a second batch.

I now have new recipes to add to my recipe bank and a whole lot more to try.

Who is your favourite celebrity chef and why? What recipes have you made of theirs? Continue reading My month with Gordon

Dinner Theme Meal Planning

One of the tricks that has got me through meal planners block, is theme nights.

I don’t mean elaborate themes, I just mean creating a template for yourself that will make meal planning, in all aspects, a little less stressful.

What is a theme?

A theme is whatever idea you want it to be. Some of the examples I have used are:

Countries of the world

Jewish dishes from around the world

I love Africa

Cooking shows I love

 

Success and failure

Some were harder to follow than others. For example, the dinner from Russia was a total disaster! Vareniki- I don’t know what I did wrong, but they were totally inedible.

Varineky
Vareniki- a russian dumpling, ravioli type meal, this was an epic fail

Others, like my cashew nut chicken, are such a hit that they now appear on my meal plan once a month.

Cashew nut chicken
Chicken and cashew nut stir fry, a hit

The homemade pasta that I learned to make from watching MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay were another rebounding success.

Homemade pasta
The first successful batch of pasta

How to decide

Using current trends to create themes is another easy method. Meat free Monday, Banting and LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) recipes are another method. You don’t have to follow the diets themselves, just some of recipes that your family might enjoy.

A basic template can actually be used when changing lifestyle eating habits to control your food choices.

Meal Plan
My monthly meal plan

Creating a template for your plans can sometimes be difficult and other times quick and easy. However, once created, the actual meal planning time is cut almost in half. Monthly Menu Planner and Shopping List

Decide what night you will be eating which type of meal. Here is a basic example of a template.

Monday- Meat Free

Tuesday- Mince (any kind)

Wednesday- Fish

Thursday – Chicken

Friday – Red Meat

Saturday – eat out

Sunday – pizza

Weekly menu planner and shopping list

Love it or hate it

Whether you love cooking or hate it, whether you are a contender for MasterChef, or you can barely boil water, what a template allows you to do is cook within your preference.

I am one of those people who love cooking. I am also a pretty good cook and love to try new recipes. Thankfully I have a family who like to eat and aren’t too fussy about their food choices.

I use meat free Mondays to make mac and cheese, tuna or vegetable lasagne’s and often to experiment with vegan recipes.

For mince night, I have a standard set of about 10 recipes, some more involved than others, which range from Chilli Con Carne to Sloppy Joes, Taco’s, Bolognaise, Cottage Pie, Shepard’s Pie, Mince Pie, Meatballs, Meatloaf and a few others.

For fish night, I have a few standards that I dare not alter too much. Haddock and Spaghetti, Hake and Basil Pesto, Grilled Fish and Chips, Crumbed Fish Cakes and Crumbed Fillets. There are a few more but I don’t make them often as they are either too expensive or the majority of my family don’t eat it.

Chicken night is another favourite meal and I can use this to try out new recipes.

Red meat night could mean stews or roasts and is another time where I can play with recipes.

As you can see my family are definite carnivores. Saturday and Sunday nights, we eat whatever is going. In a house full of teenagers this means they are mostly all out on Saturday night and we pretty much scrounge in the fridge for left overs or we have eggs or I will make pizza for supper. Sometime it is simply soup and toast.

Find freedom from the stove

Your template does not restrict you, it actually allows you to play around. You don’t need to follow a recipe either. If you know that tonight is mince night, you can take your meat out the freezer, come home and make whatever you want.

Another advantage is, if you have a whole lot of recipes you like, you can plot them for a month or more into your chosen nights.

Why not give it a try and see how easy meal planning can be?

Meal planning and a sorted life

How does meal planning fit in with get sorted?

New habits

We’re getting sorted is all about clearing out the junk however, one of the most important ways to prevent the clutter from returning is to develop new habits.

This week we look at meal planning, this topic is one of my favourites. I have an entire blog about it. I offer online support on the topic. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/booking-form/

My monthly meal plan

Try this little exercise, write down everything you think you need to buy for your next 7 meals. Now go and look in your kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and the cupboards. What was on your list that you already have? Did you have more than one? Are there things that you had forgotten you even have?

This is part of my grocery cupboard all tidied up

Meal planning is about more than just knowing what is in your cupboard, it is about saving money, saving time and saving your sanity.

Take control

Planning your meals in advance is about taking control of another aspect of our homes and lives.

You don’t need a recipe book to meal plan, it is not set in stone.

What to cook?

Next week we will be sorting through our recipe books. Meal planning will give you a better way to know what cook books you want to keep close at hand, which ones you want out of the way and which you will be getting rid of?

Recipe books
Only recipe books I use are on this shelf and in my kitchen for easy access

An important part of meal planning is knowing what the family enjoys eating. If you don’t think meal planning is for you, why not try something simple? Take a piece of paper and write down everything you know your family loves to eat. You now have the start of your voyage into meal planning.

Organised meals

The most organised space in my house is my kitchen. Meal planning also renewed my love of cooking.

Gone are the days of coming home tired, opening a cupboard or fridge looking inside and closing it, then putting pasta on the stove, because it is easy and I am too tired to think or I forgot to take something out the freezer.

Now, even though I still often come home tired, meat is ready to cook because I took it out in the morning to defrost. I didn’t have to think about supper, my thinking was done when I had energy and put the meal on the menu.

There are still days where I look at the meal plan and think, ‘I don’t feel like this today’ and we land up with pasta of some type.

I am more likely to cook what has been defrosted than not as I don’t want to waste it and let it go off, so the family is eating much healthier Take out more than once a month is not in my budget.

Do you meal plan or do you wing it?

Everybody does it!

I know I do it and my mother does it! In fact, I think most people do it when they are planning big events like birthday parties, year end functions, just about any event where you will have 10 or more people in attendance. Restaurants do it or they go out of business!

even restaurants do it!
even restaurants do it!

I am so excited. This Sunday is the first Menu Planning Workshop! Everything is coming together nicely. The venue is a little larger than I remembered it but still, it’s going to be a great morning.

workshop

Search through the internet and you find that just about every diet known, gives you a ‘quick start’ meal plan or a ‘7 day’ meal plan. If you are a calorie counter, you need to plan your calorie intake for the day. If you are on weigh less or weight watchers, you need to plan your exchanges.

All diets use meal planning
All diets use meal planning

In Sunday’s workshop I will be sharing with everyone how easy it is to do this.

When I started planning this workshop, I asked this question on a few Facebook groups. Why do people not meal or menu plan and the number one response was that it was difficult to meal plan if you have fussy eaters. While I can’t tell you how to cure fussy eaters, I do have some great tips that will work well in reducing this problem.

Menu planning has made a difference to my budget and to my waistline. My kids are often excited when they see something listed on the weekly menu and they look forward to that night.

I recently wrote that I had not done a big shop in 6 weeks. It is now 7 weeks and I have only been able to do this because of menu planning.

6 weeks since my last shop
7 weeks since my last shop

Menu plan must also be flexible and I will be sharing ideas on how to make this work for you as well as being able to incorporate specials that come up, either at the vegetable stores, or from your butcher.

Bulk specials
Bulk specials

If you are the kind of person who would like to cook in bulk and freeze, then menu planning is going to be your new best friend.

If you love cooking, menu planning is a great way to incorporate learning new recipes and introducing them to your family.

For working moms, menu planning is the best way to plan your time and decide on slow cooker recipes so that dinner is ready when you get home. Or, if you prefer, plan something that will only take a few minutes to put together.

Menu plans are great for Stay at home or working moms
Menu plans are great for Stay at home or working moms

For stay at home moms, menu planning will help you get ready for dinner because you will be able to use your in- between times to do some food prep. When it is time for dinner you can throw this fantastic meal together in minutes (no one needs to know it took the whole day)!

I have always liked the idea of meal and menu planning but 6 months ago it became a passion for me and one I can’t wait to share with everyone!

Looking forward to Sunday morning and I have some great tools that are part of the workshop.

The workshop will be held in the Club House at Elphin Lodge, 222 Modderfontein Road, Lyndhurst. (opposite the National Health Laboratories)

Menu Planning Workshop

On the evening of the 2 November 2105

I am hosting a 2 hour workshop, to help you learn to plan your weekly and monthly menus.
Includes tips on planning for diets, fussy eaters and medical conditions such as diabetes.
Seating is limited, and booking is essential.
Cost is R 350.00 per person
Tea will be served
19:30-21:30
To book: email: admin@kasheringyourlife.co.za

Venue: Elphin Lodge clubhouse, 222 Modderfontein Road, Modderfontein.

Looking forward to sharing my experiences with everyone.

Who are you?

Once again I am on assignment, to improve my blogging skills and make your reading experience better.

 

Assignment number 4 was to write a blog to our ideal reader and include a new element. We needed to identify who this reader was.

 

My ideal readers are people like me. It is for every South African who wants to make their lives a little less stressful.

party snack food

I enjoy cooking, so I follow a lot of cooking blogs and Facebook groups on cooking. My house needs organising, so I follow blogs and pages on those topics. I need to save money, spend less and eat healthily, so I follow blogs and pages on saving and losing weight. Yet with all these blogs I struggle.

lounge

Most recipes have to be adapted from Imperial (US) to Metric, (almost all the rest of the world). Sometimes it was just too much work, and if I feel that way then so do a lot of others. The ingredients are also not the same, Shallots are spring onions, Kale is spinach and spinach is baby spinach, the list goes on.

winter vs summer

Organising my house, while the blogs talk about getting ready for summer vacation, I am looking for hats and scarves. They’re cleaning out the basement and the Attic, I am not sure I have ever seen either in a South African home. We do Xmas in summer so no snowmen for us. Independence Day is not in July it’s in September and called Heritage Day or National Braai (barbecue) Day!

braai day

Saving money by using your coupons? We don’t really have that here. We have Pick n Pay which offer smart shopper points and coupons only if you are over 65 and only for a Hypermarket, Vitality and momentum points to be earned at Pick n Pay (Vitality is at Woolworths too). Ezee coupons, which are the app for Checkers, that almost no one knows about and Groupon, which doesn’t apply to groceries and neither does Takealot.com.

smart shopper card

I believe Amazon finally has started delivering to South Africa. Do any South Africans know what Swagbucks are?

swag bucks

Costco, Walmart, Asda, Ikea? Who are they? We have Makro (which I believe is part of Walmart the group), Cash and Carry (but I don’t know anyone who has been there recently and then I think we are done with superstores. Hypermarket, Hyperama, Game are the next big sized store.

Walmart  Makro

OLX is similar to Craigslist, eBay is popular, but South Africans who use online markets are not the majority. Almost nobody has heard of Etsy.

Our schools start at 7:45, our jobs at 8:30, a large majority of middle and upper class families have domestic workers, either part time or full time, whether the mom is a stay at home or not.

6 am

This is the South African lifestyle; it is different from the rest of the world. This is why I felt I needed to write a blog just for us.

 

I do add a Jewish element to the blog as this is who I am, so all my recipes follow kosher food laws and never mix milk and meat in the same dish. I will write about upcoming Jewish holidays, but I will also write about non Jewish holidays.

shabbat

To see what I like follow this link to my pins on Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/adiesdesigns/moms-helpers/

 

I really hope that people like me, ordinary South Africans looking to make their lives simpler, find my blog useful and join me in my journey to ordering my chaos.

All images straight from Google.

Do you know me?

This is a long blog post. I felt that it was necessary to reintroduce myself to everyone. I wrote and published the first Kasheringyourlife blog on the 28 June 2015 and already 5 weeks later I have over 180 followers (thank you all). I read a blog about blogging and in it they said that people need to know why I am doing this blog and why they should read it. So this is my story.

I started a journey a while ago (10 years ago) and I haven’t got very far.

bead room
My very messy beading area

My house is a mess and every TV show or blog or self-help book about hoarders and clutter says that your environment reflects your feelings and affects your home life.

This is true, when I looked at the mess my house had become, with one room totally uninhabitable, I knew it was time to get pro-active and start cleaning. Coming home was depressing.

Also we were struggling financially. We are a family of 6 and we keep strictly kosher, which is expensive, and then the kids were all in private Jewish day schools.  I am a nurse and I don’t earn a big salary.  We are in debt and have been for years (our own fault). We needed to fix this and we are still working on it.

There were a few problems with putting my plan into action.

I worked long hours, leaving home at 6am and getting home at 5pm or later. Then I went back to studying and my hours changed once more. Class was once a week, so on those days I left home at 6am and got home at 5pm and still had to do homework. On the days I didn’t study, I had to work, as the hospital was sponsoring part of my tuition. I am a nurse so the shifts are 12 hours (7 -7)  and 3 days a week I would leave home at 6am as you need to be at work 15 minutes before shift change for patient handover, and return after 8pm (not everybody arrives on time for handover). I worked every 2nd Sunday.

shabbat
Friday night, Shabbat ingredients

Saturday, in the Jewish religion, is Sabbath and no work is done on that day. The Sabbath actually begins on Friday night at sunset until Saturday night after sunset. I know for some of you this will be hard to believe but we don’t use electricity on that day, so no cooking and everything must be done before Sabbath starts. If you want a hot lunch for Saturday, you can use a slow cooker and keep an urn on for tea or coffee.  No cell phones and no fixed lines. No shopping and no cars. You walk to Synagogue (Jewish Church), then walk home for lunch or out to friends for lunch.

cell
Jews don’t use cell phones or other electronics on Shabbat

Due to the time I left every morning, my husband was responsible for getting everyone to school.  My domestic was responsible for all the cooking. She is a competent cook but almost every meal was pasta. On my days off I was just too tired to do anything, plus I still needed to study.  My mother and mother-in-law luckily do all the fetching from school.

car pool
Lift schemes to get everyone home from school

I have 4 children (1 boy – AYB is 18, 3 girls ZSB is 17, LBB is 13 and AYB is 11) plus a husband who has a full time job and a part time job at the Synagogue.  My house has just kept getting more and more full. My house wasn’t and isn’t dirty.  I have a domestic worker but she cannot be expected to know what papers to keep and what to throw away, so the clutter builds.

I love to read and I love the internet, so I started reading blogs on household management, decluttering, organising.  I watched TV programs on cleaning, I bought books on cleaning and I drew up detailed cleaning schedules for myself and my domestic help. Even the lady who does the washing and ironing got a schedule.

schedule
Having a cleaning schedule is an important aspect of housekeeping

Now, with any job, no matter what position you hold, most of us, if we don’t have a deadline or a supervisor watching, get lazy or only do half a job and that’s what happened here. I was too tired to check if the domestic had followed the schedule and after a while she stopped. Me? Well, I didn’t even get started.

All these books and blogs I read, and shows I watched,are for people in America and England but there is nothing for South Africa. Our lives here, in this amazingly diverse country, are very different to those of people overseas. I could find lots on cooking and a few articles on home finance and budgeting, mostly from financial institutions. This wasn’t working.

self help
A lot of research went before the start of this blog

I now have a new job. I work 8:30 to 5pm around the corner from where I live. For the first time since 2008, I can take my kids to school in the morning and I am home to cook supper at night.

We eat a lot less pasta! I enjoy cooking and from some amazing blogs I have learned to plan a monthly menu, I do my shopping based on this and I am starting to see the savings.  I am even losing weight! YAY!

loose weight
Weight loss and getting healthy is easier with menu planning

I have reinstituted my cleaning schedule and I am clearing out the junk. I am throwing away the broken, the damaged and obsolete, giving to charity and selling some things. Slowly but surely it is getting done.

I would love to have feedback from people who read my posts, or try the recipes I put out. I would really appreciate anybody who has implemented their own cleaning schedules, or started menu planning, to share your successes and failures with us.

I am hoping that by this time next year the blog will have grown and my house will be less messy and I will have the credentials to feature professionals that align with this blog. In this blog I want to cover mainly household management, budgeting and share recipes and tips for your kitchen and occasionally, write about Jewish Life.