Today is a public holiday in South Africa called Heritage Day, and I love it! I especially love the way businesses and schools have embraced this “new” holiday, encouraging learners and employees to dress in cultural attire and hold functions and events to celebrate the day in whatever way is relevant to them.
The Department of Arts and Culture describes Heritage Day on its website as a day that, ” recognizes and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF COMMEMORATING HERITAGE MONTH AND HERITAGE DAY
To celebrate South Africa`s cultural heritage;
To recognise the role of cultural and heritage institutions in the preservation and educating our nation about South Africa’s rich heritage.
To promote access of South Africa’s cultural and heritage institutions.
To create a platform for communities to showcase different aspects of South Africa’s diverse heritage;
To ensure that heritage landscapes of all cultural groups is not suppressed, threatened but celebrated
To continue with a national process of uniting all South Africans as people of one nation irrespective of race, creed, and orientation
To contribute to the education of the South African youth with a special emphasis on arts, culture and heritage learning area;
To help bridge the intergenerational gap in the transmission of indigenous knowledge, skills and techniques “
I”ll never buy a birthday cake, I will always make it ( hahahahah more on my unrealistic expectations in another post )
I’ll never drink green tea…
So far I’m only scoring 1/3
In an effort to live cleaner, and eat cleaner, and reduce my coffee consumption, (not because of the coffee but the milk & diary) I started drinking green tea, albeit with a big spoon of raw honey and even holding my nose in the beginning.
And then, before you could even say Matcha, I was whisking away.
I have unashamably embraced the green stuff !
Before you say ” never” I urge you to give the recipes a try, they are a great introduction to the unique flavour of Matcha, especially the chocolate bark & the cheese cake, which is super easy. All the recipes are at the end of the post.
Special thanks to the awesome Carmen from Nestling Photography for the beautiful images.
Plan on making these ahead of time, as one of the keys elements of the recipe is that the batter rests in the fridge for 2 hours ( even overnight would be ok) These are so moreish, my family loved them !
120g butter, preferably unsalted
1 tablespoon / 15 ml Matcha green tea powder
1 cup/ 120g cake flour, plus an extra tablespoon for dusting
1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking powder
1 tablespoon / 15 ml icing sugar, sifted
2/3 cup / 133g white sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon full cream milk
Melt the butter until just melted, remove from heat and brush the molds, set aside and allow to cool completely. Dust the pans or molds with the tablespoon of flour and shake out the excess
In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients and whisk together
In another bowl whisk the eggs and milk together until lightly frothy and the eggs are broken up
Using a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Slowly add the cooled melted butter, do this in two batches making sure the batter is well blended before adding the second batch. Don’t over mix
Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
Spoon tablespoons of the batter into the prepared tins and gently smooth the top to fill the mold
Bake at 180oC for 10-12 minutes or until the edges look done and puffed and golden brown, which is difficult to tell with the green tea colour but the should spring back when lightly pressed
Remove from oven, cool on a baking tray for a couple of minutes then turn the tray upside down, give it a little tap and the madeleines should pop out.
Serve dusted with icing sugar.
MATCHA WHITE CHOCOLATE BARK with Genmaicha & dried strawberries
If you are feeling very virtuous you could use raw cocoa butter, if you do you might need to add a little honey to sweeten it. My family has a very sweet tooth, so I’m always looking for fun- semi healthy snacks and treats
200g good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tsp matcha green tea powder
2 Tbsps. genmaicha
2 tablespoons dried strawberries
1. In a double boiler or a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the chocolate and stirring gently with a spatula add the teaspoon of matcha powder. Remove from the heat.
2. Pour the chocolate mix onto a lined cookie sheet or a silicone baking mat and use a spatula to spread out. Sprinkle with the genmaicha and the strawberries and place in the freezer to set.
3. Once set, break into bite-sized pieces. Store in the fridge up to two weeks.
I blog and write infrequently.
I’m often asked why I don’t post more often, and why I don’t make better use of my blog as a marketing tool.
There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly my website, which was initially designed as a bespoke site, without a good CMS. It was outdated and I did not “enjoy” it anymore. I loved it when it was first installed, but over the years I have not known how to update it and as a result I have neglected a lot of important stuff which would have kept it current. Hopefully I have now ( finally) sorted it out, and moved over to a template theme, which I’m slowly customising as I learn and figure things out.
Secondly, the elephant in the room. Social Media.
I could post weekly, or even daily, detailing every prop I source, recipe I test, shoot I do, editorial I write, client I meet and campaign I style.
I could fill my Instagram feed with billboard pics, recipe book pics and tv commercials.
I could, but I don’t want to.
I’ve been struggling with this for a while now. Frustrated with social media and the constant, ” look at me!” stuff I see posted. I have withdrawn more and more, trying to figure out a balance between doing things to be seen, and being seen doing things. ( I would hope mine was more of the latter)
My friend Tanya Kovarsky wrote an excellent piece on a similar dilemma she has with her own blog, which eloquently expressed how I have been feeling recently.
I love her honesty, “I could write about all that I have. I could write about some of the things I don’t have. But while I’m one for gratitude, I don’t think I need to “brag” about all which I have, nor do I need to make the things I don’t have the “hero” of my story (though I probably will never stop writing about how I don’t have – and want – thinner thighs). Me too Tan ….
I don’t think I will ever have thinner thighs, or the answer to the quagmire of my place in a world of advancing technology. Thank you friends, to those of you who have stuck around whilst I wrestle this through.
So, that all being said, I’m excited to share my new look blog and this beautiful first birthday cake smash shoot I styled recently.
I’ve become a little obsessed with loaded drip cakes and sprinkles, this shoot successfully indulged both, along with all kinds of prettiness, giant gold flamingos, a magnificent chandelier, and the beautiful photography of the Nestling ladies.
I learnt to snow ski when I was 26, working in a ski resort in Colorado. I went on to live in Whistler, British Columbia for 4 years after that, and skiing daily became part of my job. Although I grew proficient at it I always felt that because I hadn’t grown up skiing, or hadn’t learnt at a very young age, I would never be as good as those that had.
When I skied difficult terrain with a friend who had grown up in the Alps, could ski backwards before she talked and had double black diamond runs named after her, she always gave me the same advise: Look Back.
I might have a moment of panic, thinking what am I doing up here? Momentarily paralyzed by fear and doubt. My friend would calmly tell me to look back, stop and look back she would say.
Sit down on my skis, which was really easy because of the extreme angle we were on, and look back up the mountain.
Look how far you have come already.
Look at the ground we’ve covered already.
Look back and appreciate what you’ve accomplished so far!
Encouraging words that always got me down. ( usually elated but secretly vowing to never ski with her again )
Encouraging words that I reflect on now as I review the past year, and my food styling career.
I never officially chose food styling as a career, if there even is such a thing as officially choosing a career, and I had no idea back then that there was such a thing as food styling.
I have chef-fy, appropriate food qualifications for what I do, but as I moved into food styling by virtue of being in the right place at the right time, and not really having any proper training other than a “figure it out attitude” and drive and passion, I always felt like the african on the ski slopes.
Proficient but never really accomplished. Often doubtful of my creativity and insecure of my talent.
What a stop me in my tracks moment it was this week when I heard my name mentioned by someone I highly esteem, and who is very respected in our industry. Someone I don’t know personally, and whom I was not aware they were even familiar with my work.
Until this week I had never took the time to actually stop and look back.
Look at how far I have come in my career. Analyise the ground covered. Milestones and goals that I have achieved.
Sit down and really look at them, acknowledge them, appreciate them, celebrate them.
I’m doing that now.
Pour a cup of coffee, sit down, and look back.
You’ve half way down the mountain baby, don’t stop now.
It will be beyond pretty, uber stylish, and oh so LoVE-ly
I’ve saved a place for you at our long table….
The SCENE: A Valentines brunch for a group of creative friends in a recently opened industrial photographic studio. The floor was covered with bark chips, LARGE trees were trucked in, and an stark industrial space was transformed into an indoor haven of beauty and softness.
The CAST: Creatives with too much inspiration to let a good opportunity for a styled shoot pass them by, and a morning of champagne and good food.
The DECOR: Take a big bow Vanessa Lewis. The un-valentines Valentines was the big idea, no cheesy red hearts, no sickly pink cupids and bows. Vanessa had a vision for something beautiful, contemporary without being cold, lovely and pretty but not cutesy. I think we pulled it off ! Isn’t the tablecloth stunning?
The lunch was a collaboration of creatives. I wanted to extend the idea of collaboration and community to the food and the table.
By setting a long table with various food items in smaller quantities and portions all down the centre of the table the guests are invited to stretch, share and participate in the brunch.
It becomes participatory as opposed to static;: the guests are interacting with each other around the food.
It’s not a passive relationship of the host dishing up a plate of food and just placing it before a guest. It’s up to the guests to engage with one another through the food. A community feel and spirit evolves through the sharing and exchanging of ideas, taste and experiences, ” I love this whole idea, it’s so relaxed , and the cake is delicious” “ohhh have you tried the fishcakes” ” no not yet, please pass them to me,” “ohh you’re right these are delicious please may I have the recipe”
I believe entertaining should be authentic, it’s easy to get caught up in the fancy decor and Masterchef recipes, but unless there are genuine relationship the food is no different from one party to the next.
Inviting guests into a space that is both beautiful and comfortable is the basis for a successful function, event or meal.
Parma ham “salad” with Grilled Artichokes, Lime and Chilli Pickled Nectarines and a scattering of micro greens
Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Saffron Mayo & Quails Eggs
Pumpernickel Triangles with Salted Radish Butter and Smoked Salmon Ribbons