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 It was outdated and I did not “enjoy” it anymore.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 a 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 stuff I see posted I have withdrawn more and more, trying to figure out a balance between doing things to be seen, and being seen doing things.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).
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.
Hot Cross Buns
I like my hot cross buns extra spicy and extra fruity, but, my big but, ( not butt ! although after all this Easter baking…) I only like raisins, sultanas, and currants. I don’t like the addition of chocolate chips, cranberries or other dried fruit. *shudders*
This is all very subjective so feel free to play around with the quantities if you do like the addition of these things * shudders again*
This recipe couldn’t be easier, just remember to follow the golden rule when working with yeast (see previous lounge post and explaination )
these were made with the help of little hands, so although the piping of the white crosses was not perfect, it was perfect enough for me 🙂
I hope you will have some fun in the kitchen with this easy and family friendly recipe!
For the buns
4 cups / 655g stone ground cake flour
2 x10 sachet instant dry yeast
¼ cup / 55g light brown caster sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon fine Himalayan salt
2 cups / 330g mixed dried fruit
300 ml full cream milk, warmed
50g butter, melted
2 ex-large Free Range Egg, lightly whisked
¼ cup lukewarm water
Warm apricot jam or marmalade
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the yeast, sugar, spices and salt.
Pour the warm milk, melted butter, and whisked eggs into the mixture and mix on low spread until mixture starts coming together.
Add the dried fruit, and knead for 10 – 12 minutes until the mixture comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball and springs back when you press it with your thumb.
If kneading by hand (kudos) the dough should become elastic and smooth, I can’t say how long this will take as I only ever use a standing mixer (sorry!)
Spray the bowl with cooking spray, return the dough to the bowl, cover and allow to stand in a warm place ( I used my warming drawer because my kitchen is very cold, and I was rather impatient, if you do this make sure the warming oven is only heated and then switched off or it can become too hot and overprove your dough) until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm x 30cm swiss roll.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it returns to original size. Divide into 12 portions and roll into balls. Place side by side in pan. Set aside in a draught-free place for 30 mins or until doubled in size.
To make flour paste, combine flour, sugar and 1/4 cup (60ml) cold water in a bowl. Spoon into a clear plastic sandwich bag and snip off 1 corner. Pipe crosses onto buns. It is easier to pipe across all the buns as opposed to one at a time.
I let my daughter do this, and although it was messy she loved “contributing”
Bake for approximately 30 mins, until golden.
Meanwhile, to make glaze, warm marmalade or apricot jam, sieve or strain so it is smooth.
Turn buns onto a wire rack. Brush buns with glaze.
Serve with butter.
hmmmmmm a family favourite
Recipe & Styling : Taryne
Photography: Who else could have taken these beautiful images ? BIG thank you to the beautiful ladies at Nestling Photography!
I totally, TOTALLY get vegetarianism, the cruelty to animals thing, reduce our carbon foot print, dietary awareness, less red meat and more plant based diets,etc.
Guys I just can’t imagine a life without cheese!
( I want to defend myself and say its Biblical to eat cheese Gen 18.8 ) The truth is cheese is almost my go to food for a snack, a meal, or just to add oomph to a salad.
I learnt a little about myself doing these recipes, and it proved an interesting experience. They were all absolutely delicious minus the cheese, and the virtuous rating was off the charts after munching my way through the salad after the shoot!
Whats your default food setting? Id love to hear :0
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.
Tomorrow is Heritage Day in South Africa. In recent years it has come to be known as Braai Day . Which ordinarily I would be the first to endorse. I love a good braai! I totally endorse the sentiment expressed by the movement in their mission statement –
“Across race, language, region and religion, we all share one common heritage. It is called many things: Chisa Nyama, Braai and Ukosa to name few. Although the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts.
We encourage all South Africans to unite around fires, share our heritage and wave our flag on 24 September every year.
We liken this initiative to annual celebrations cherished by other leading nations of the world; Thanksgiving for Americans, St Patricks Day for the Irish, Bastille Day for the French and Australia Day for Australians.
This is a noble cause, which will contribute to strengthening South Africa as a nation through this act of nation building and social cohesion. “
Yet I still feel our Heritage is so much richer and deeper than this, and extends to far more than just meat, a fire or a pot. It extends to flowers, to design, decor and even a simple bowl of breakfast porridge.
However you choose to celebrate Heritage Day tomorrow, I hope its FUN!
If you can’t stand the heat, stay out the kitchen.
Better the devil you know. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
My Granny loved these old sayings.
The advertising industry is renown for being cut throat, ( it’s even listed as one of the 10 most stressful careers, along with air traffic controllers and emergency service workers) with a high burnout rate.
And make no mistake, the magazine world is not far behind ( remember The Devil Wears Prada)
The ripple effect of such a dog eat dog environment is that in the end everyone losses. Clients change agencies, people get retrenched, lives get messed with, managers and agents manipulate or lie, editors change their minds on a whim, and food stylists are more disposable than paper towel in a fast food kitchen.
Leaving everyone a little more insecure, a little more protective, and the whole industry a lot less honorable.
Honesty, integrity, loyalty. Values my Granny ingrained in us as much as her sayings, seem as lost as some of the friendships I’ve seen discarded like kitchen scraps on the food styling compost heap.
So if getting out is not an option, how does one navigate the hot kitchen?
I’m tempted to say invest in chain mail, don’t leave your sharp knives lying around and watch your back. Which cynically true, is negative and unhelpful. Rather listen to Granny, and if Granny isn’t around then Tim Gunn. ( don’t you just love Tim ?)
“I am a stickler for good manners, and I believe that treating other people well is a lost art. In the workplace, at the dinner table, and walking down the street–we are confronted with choices on how to treat people nearly every waking moment. Over time these choices define who we are and whether we have a lot of friends and allies or none.”
― Tim Gunn, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work
Making it (food styling) Work is simple: be nice, don’t lie, don’t poach, and don’t copy.
Love, and I mean really love what you do.
Passion and Purpose are rare and very very valuable; they can’t be replicated, imitated or replaced, and they’ll keep you in the kitchen when the heat is on.
And forewarned is forearmed.
Rather than embark on mission impossible, I took the advise of my daughters kindergarden teacher and applied it to the party. When faced with disciplining issues ( which I hardly ever have because my child is an angle, ha ha ) She sagely advised, ” pick your battles, and only fight the ones you can win.”
So rather than attempt a 2 year olds party without the obligatory cupcakes I strategically applied my no sugar rule where I could. I follow a LCHF diet ( low carb, high fat ) commoningly known in South Africa as Banting. A few of my friends follow the same and I wanted the adult food to cater for them.
I made all the sauces, the lemonade and a couple of cakes using xylitol as a sugar substitute and I was thrilled at how they all turned out and tasted. I dont like the artifical taste of Stevia, and I haven’t tried Erythritol. If you’re not worried about carbs or calories, you can use sugar or honey in any of the recipes.
We made boerewors ( South African type sausage) rolls with either cauliwraps ( recipe here) or hot dog rolls ( for those not following low carb) and Im thrilled to say , judging by the “leftovers” or lack of, the food was all a success! From the coldrinks to the cake, I felt I achieved my objective to be balanced and as sugar free/ low carb as possible under the circumstances.
Now for next years party….
SUGAR FREE HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup honey or xylitol for sugar-free
1 teaspoon salt
700g tomato puree/ passata
300g tomato paste
1 tspn mixed dried herbs
Heat oil, Add onion and cook until softened.
Pour in vinegars, honey and salt.
Bring to a boil.
Add tomato puree and paste.
Bring to a boil.
Cook until reduced and sauce thickens about 15-20 minutes.
Pour into blender and blend until smooth.
Refrigerate. Makes 2 consol jars
Notes Adapted from this recipe -http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/healthier-homemade-tomato-ketchup/
SUGAR FREE BBQ SAUCE ” RECIPE” This is more of a guideline as I improvise each time I make this recipe.
1 med onion, finely chopped or minced ( I whizz in a food processor)
1 tblspn garlic, crushed
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can diet (sugar-free) Cola
1 cup sugar-free tomato sauce
3 T mustard, I used commercial whole grain mustard which does contain a small amount of sugar
1-3 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch ground cloves
Hot sauce ( optional ) see note
Boil together for 20-30 minutes, reduce until thickened
It will not be as thick or sticky as commercially made sauces
Note – I divided mixture in half and added Tobasco to one to make a spicy sauce and 1/4 cup honey to the other to make a sweeter sticky sauce
Play around with what works for you
Made approximately 2 consol jars HOMEMADE PINK LEMONADE
Serves 4 – 6
1 cup sugar or xylitol (can reduce to ¾ cup if using sweet grapefruit) or 1/2 cup honey for Paleo
1 cup water (for the sugar syrup)
1 cup lemon juice or pink grapefruit
3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)
1. Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from the fruit , enough for one cup of juice.
3 Add the juice and the sugar water to a jug. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.
If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.
Serve with ice, sliced lemons or cubes of frozen grapefruit wedges
300g Lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate
250g castor sugar/ or zylitol
6 meduim free range eggs
150g almond flour
100g coconut flour
For the ganache
200g Lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate
1/2cup/ 125ml cream
1. Line and grease a 23 cm spring form tin, preheat oven to 180oC
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler
3. In a bowl beat the butter and zylitol until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, eating between each addition. Do not be alarmed if the mixture begins to appear curdled, it will come together again when you add the chocolate
4.Slowly stir in the melted chocolate, alternating with tablespoons of almond and coconut flours.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake tin and transfer to the oven.
6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
7. Switch off oven and leave cake to cool in the oven with the door ajar.
8. Cake can be prepared a day ahead, and will keep for 5 days in an airtight container
For The Ganache
1. Melt the cream and chocolate together in a double boiler.
2. Allow to cool slightly before spreading over the cold cake.
3. Serve decorated with berries and a dusting of icing sugar.