diy: correspondence

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In a world of texts and emails and instagram, sometimes real live paper invitations are a pleasure (anachronism?) to receive. No grown ass woman can be bothered on a regular basis but sometimes on occasions like Thanksgiving or P’s 30th it is fun to make it special and exercise your inner creative.

Supplies:
Watercolor paint/stamp/ink friendly blank cards and envelope
Watercolor paint
Stamps & ink
wax seal & sealing wax
optional: paper to line the envelope.

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diy: washi tape + wooden picnic utensils

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We’re going away for P’s birthday to the countryside with friends and I wanted to do a special dinner without having to schlep actual plates and utensils but still have a fancypants time- solution: washi tape + wooden utensils.

Method:

Cover the handle of your wooden utensils with washi tape. Flip over, and then using scissors trim the excess (this is better than taping them to the sides, they will not stick). I had some fabric tape so I tried that on the knives, too.

Voila!

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the cake trials of 2013: salted caramel buttercream

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A while ago I had the most delicious salted caramel buttercream cake at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I wanted to recreate it for P’s 30th and since caramel is infamously difficult to make I’ve done a couple trials, and come to a conclusion: buy your caramel from the baking aisle!

saffron-infused gin cocktail

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

I used my saffron infused gin to make this delicious drink for a girls’ night last week.

In a martini shaker, mix: ice, 6 ml of rose water, a muddled 1/2 lemon grass stick, 10ml of lemon juice, a dash of Anugstura Bitters and 50ml of saffron infused gin. Pour over a couple cubes of ice and a lemon grass stick for garnish. If you want add a little tonic or soda water if you’re in the mood for bubbles.

Enjoy!

Green Bean Soup, with chevre and pimente

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Making yummy food and sharing it with our friends is a popular past time among the residents of our humble abode. We usually end up entertaining at least once a week, and that’s when I THANK GOD for our helper who toils mightily against the spoils of our dinner parties so that we don’t have to. This week I made a green bean soup that’s yummy enough to remind me of  spring and a lovely green.

Instead of my usual pictures I used some Photoshop actions to give them the look of Instagram pictures. I also had some fun with the Text function. It’s becoming apparent to me that I need to invest in some fonts because Desdemona and American Typewriter are becoming a bit tired.

Right. Back to the recipe:

Ingredients for 8 people (first course):

900 grams green beans, topped and tailed

Water enough to cover the beans, to parboil them

a touch of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4-6 garlic cloves, chopped

2.5 litres vegetable broth

Chives, 2 tblspoons, chopped and more for garnish

1 cup greek yogurt

Juice of 2 lemons

Pimente pepper, for garnish

Chevre, a dollop for each bowl

Salt and pepper, to taste

 First parboil the green beans for 5 minutes in rapidly boiling water with enough water to cover them, then strain. At the bottom of a big soup pot with a little olive oil, sautee the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the broth and green beans and chives and bring water to a boil. The water may not cover the green beans now. After a a few minutes, using an immersion blender, puree the green beans (that are underwater) , which  eventually will allow for all of the green beans to be under water and eventually disappear. At this point, check the consistency of the soup. Is it too thick? Add some water. Is it thin? Let water boil and reduce. Add greek yogurt, and lemon juice and let soup continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Check the salt and spice levels, adding garlic and salt as needed. Serve with a dollop of chevre, pimente pepper and chopped chives for garnish.

Spring Rolls

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

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Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

As part of my pan-asian dinner party featuring pho bo, I also made some spring rolls. Spring rolls are easy (though repetitive) to make and you are free to experiment with whatever tantalizes your palate.

You will need:

Rice paper

Fillings:

Rice vermicelli, 2 oz per 8 you want to make

Shrimp (I used three halves per roll)

Avocado, cut into small slices

Cucumbers, julienned

Thai basil, cilantro, mint chopped

Lettuce

A few dabs of sriracha sauce

Cook rice vermicelli according to directions on package, then rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Fill a bowl with warm water, and dip each rice paper in prior to using. Lay desired filling in the middle of the rice paper. Fold over the two sections next to the short sides of your filling rectangle. Role the other two sides, starting from one and rolling over the filling section all the way to the end. You’ll get better the more you make. Here is a video on how to properly roll one. In the beginning mine were loose and lumpy, and by the end they were smooth and compact.

Dipping Sauces:

Sriracha, straight from the bottle

Peanut sauce from Honest Cooking:

1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter

1 tblspn hoisin

2 tblespn water

1 tspn sriracha

Mix together ingredients thoroughly in a bowl, adding water or sriracha as needed.