Om te bak

Van ek hier aangekom het, is ek al lus om iets te bak, iets besonder, liplek lekker en onvergeetlik, en verlede week het ek dit uiteindelik gedoen. Ek het vroeg al op die resep afgekom en dit gehou. Selfs ‘n vriend in Pretoria oortuig om die resep uit te toets.

Met dit ingedagte het ek die inkopies gaan koop, en met die eerste inkopie uitstappie alles gekry behalwe koeksoda, wat uitverkoop was. Ek moet se, ek het lank gesoek na die kakao, want dit was langs die koffie en nie tussen die versiersuiker en sjokolade smeer soos ek gewoond is nie.

Met die eerste poging het ek ‘n sjokolade bokskoek gebak, sommer om die gas oond uit te toets en te sien hoe dinge werk.

En toe eendag is ek vroeer die middag by die huis en sidaar, ek kry die kans om hierdie koek te probeer.

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Behalwe vir ‘n paar verstellings in die bestanddele in die resep is dit eintlik ‘n baie basiese sjokolade koek, maar daai verstellings maak ‘n reuse verskil. Suurroom kan waarskynlik met karringmelk vervang word as jy makliker karringmelk in die hande kan kry (ek kan nie, moes beskuit bak met jogurt) en die mengsel van botter en olie is nogal ‘n goeie truuk, want dit maak die koek meer klam, maar gee die ryk oordadigheid wat mens met botter kry.

Iets wat ‘n goeie meevaller is, is die koek is so dat ek dit geheel en al sonder elektriese klitser kon bak (maar ek het ‘n reuse whisk.) Miskien sal ek ‘n klitser aanskaf, maar aan die ander kant is dit ‘n goeie kans om my innerlike kos godin tevrede te stel met ‘n bietjie hand klits. Die geheim is glo om uit jou elmboog te klits, nie jou pols nie. Te oordeel aan die hoeveelheid meel op die vloer en toonbank moet ek dalk in ‘n groter mengbak bele…

Die geheim van hierdie heerlikheid is die versiering. Mens maak ‘n gewone botterversiersel en dan verander dit in hemelse sjokolade fudge as jy gesmelte sjokolade byroer.

So lief as wat ek is vir koek eet, is die genot vir my meer in die bak daarvan, so ek was bly toe ek ‘n geleentheid kry om dit na ‘n kollega se house warming saam te neem. Kyk, die storie is ryk en daar het BAIE oorgebly, maar die res van die mense was baie bly toe ek die volgende dag die res van die koek saamneem werk toe.

So wat is in die bak? Vir my gaan dit om die terapie, die fyn lyn tussen kuns en wetenskap waar die bestanddele saamkom om iets heeltemal anders te vorm. Vir die wag en loer deur die oond se deur om te kyk hoe dit rys. Ja, selfs vir die skoonmaak na die tyd. Mense wat my ken weet ek is nie mal oor skoonmaak nie, maar as ek bak maak ek altyd skoon, voor en na die tyd. Dis deel van die proses.  En so word ‘n huis ‘n woning, ‘n plek waarheen ek kan tuiskom, en kaalvoet koningin wees in my eie kombuis!

 

NS: As jy belangstel om meer te lees oor my nuutste avontuur, gaan loer gerus hier.

The day I danced with batman

The other day I danced with batman, but that’s not how the story starts.

It was the day our office moved to a new location. The new office is definitely a step up, the location is better, as is the building and the office has sufficient space. For the first time in a while we do not have to practice salsa to get from one end of the room, past all the chairs, just to get to your own desk. The new office even includes a view of the mountains!

The lifts in our building gets rather busy during the lunch hour, and we decided to earn our lunch by taking the stairs. When we got to the cafeteria floor however, we were unable to exit the staircase, and we called a friend to open from the inside, but it turns out the staircase opens straight into the kitchen and is only accessible during an emergency. Lesson learnt…

I left the office on the 5pm bus to make it to the weekly Spanish lesson. Some days I think the more I learn the less I know, but I guess that’s true in every thing.

After the lesson I made my way to the first installment of the “salsa club,” a salsa lesson set up by one of the guys in the wider team. We were about 30 min late, it would seem we did not miss much, as the first hour of the class is a fitness dance class, similar to Zumba. The instructor was an energetic guy with an afro, baggies and a batman t-shirt. After the “warm up/zumba” we finally managed to learn some salsa moves. I am not sure if I can say “I can salsa”, but I CAN count funny: Un, dos, tres….. Cinco, seis, seinta…

It was a long day, but full of adventure and a bit of Latin Spirit!

Some memories of Vietnam

It is still Thursday in Peru, so I thought I would do a #throwback to my recent trip in Vietnam

It was probably the best holiday I have been on, to date, to be very honest! That’s saying something because if there is something I love it is a good holiday. Part of the charm was the impulsiveness. Over lunch a friend (who happens to be related to me, I know, right) mentioned he is going to Vietnam and I simply invited myself along. A bit of planning and a bit of dreaming followed over wine filled lunches and dinners, and we decided to book this tour with G-Adventures.

A few friends recommended them before, and I am glad we used them because it was worth every minute. It continues on to Cambodia and I wish I had known this, because the pictures from the friends we made on the tour was amazing. All the more reason to visit again, I guess.

Hannoi, where we started, is a very busy city, a lot of old world charm and a great introduction to the charm of Vietnam. We had egg coffee, some good street food and got our first taste of scooter filled traffic.

 

Our next stop, Ha Long Bay,  was basically like something out of a fairy-tale, you expect dragons and ghost ships to arrive any moment.. One moment we were still leaving the harbour, and the next moment the sandstone cliffs rise out of the water in its full magnificence. I might have taken a million pictures, but nothing quite captures the majesty of the place. At first I was disappointed because there wasn’t a lot of blue sky, but the misty feeling sort of contributed to the magical feeling of the place.

 

 

Hue has a bit of the old Chinese culture, with a forbidden city and everything, and we visited the tomb of one of the kings and a beautiful Buddhist temple on a mountain.

 

My favourite by far was Hoi An. It is called the lantern city, and the old town has lanterns that line the tops of the streets. The old town is littered with little coffee shops and bars, and just something different. The town is known for their tailor made clothes, made there for very reasonable prices and even shoes!

 

We went on a bicycle tour one day to visit some of the surrounding areas, and we were privileged to see some farmlands that is still worked in traditional methods. A special moment was meeting an old couple who have been married 74 years, and they are still living on their patch of farmland. That is #goals right there!

 

Vietnamese food is so good. I did a cooking class in Hoi An, and I totally fell in love with the Vietnamese food. It is so different from anything I know, so its near impossible to explain. I should have taken more pictures, but to be honest, I probably ate it before thinking of taking pics. One thing I dearly miss (aside from pho and spring rolls and and and) is mango smoothies!

From Hoi An we went to Ho Chi Minh City (the old Saigon) and that was also an experience. There we got to see a bit more of the history surrounding the war and we took a trip to the Mekong Delta, where they produce the most amazing fresh fruits and things. It was definitely the best end to a most amazing trip.

 

Lima Food

A fact I recently discovered, although it shouldn’t be news to me, is that I am, in fact, a foodie. It is no surprise then that I am amazed and enchanted by the food Lima has to offer. So amazed in fact that it I decided to do an entire blog post dedicated to it. Warning: It may contain pictures of food.

 

As previously mentioned, I visited a market and I wasn’t disappointed. I have yet to visit the fish market, but I heard good things, and I have enjoyed it’s “fruits” at my first and hopefully not last seafood barbecue.

Although, not all fish around here gets cooked. Lima is well known for it’s Cerviche, a type of fish dish where the fish is marinated in a citrus based sauce until it is chemically cooked in the juice. This is served many ways, but when we ordered it, it was served with fried fish (chicharrón) or with rice and seafood (arroz con mariscos)

The portions are massive, a medium dish can easily be shared between 4 people. Shared meals are actually very common here and a lot of the locals order to share.

Over the weekend we went to a restaurant and had what felt like a gazillion course meal. We had fried octopus, fried sardines, cerviche, roast pork rib and roast beef with beans. On the side we had chips, sweet potatoes, potatoes and some guys even tried the pepper (spoiler alert, it was hot).

To top it off I shared a dessert with some friends. This is something that I see all over and I have to say, they seem to have perfected the art of the caramel creme.

Some days we need some normal, home cooked food. Aside from actually cooking it myself, we we do have the option of the shop around the corner, La Cocina. This is one of the more regular spots, where they have one item on the menu each day, take it or leave it.

It often starts with a soup or a salad, followed by a main course and fruit or jelly for dessert.

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This doesn’t mean they don’t serve interesting food. One of the most interesting things I had was a cross between a shepherds pie and a cornish. Meat covered in mashed potato and fried. Served with rice, because carbs on carbs is the thing here. I am not really sure if the pictures do the flavours justice, but it was amazing.

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Another favourite is spaghetti and chicken. Nothing fancy, just hearty and satisfying. The pasta sauce is not unlike bolognaise, but also quite peruvian.

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There are many little things that are distinctly peruvian. Dulce de leche is a kind of caramel, a bit like Caramel Treat, but different. I think it is served in pastries, and yesterday my bread lady on the corner (see #limalife) had a croissant with the goodness in.

Something else that surprises me is the massive corn, as you may have noticed in the pictures above (in the salad and the cerviche.) I had to try this for myself and cooked it at home. Surprisingly it is soft and tasty, despite the huge kernels. I ate it with butter and cheese, on recommendation from my colleague.

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This is only a snapshot of what this country has to offer food wise. Don’t be surprised if you see a bit more about food in future…

#limalife

This city has something of everything, every other day I get surprised by something new.

The buildings are bold and full of colour. Sometimes they are even accessorized with a VW bus!

Even the Starbucks around the corner has a bright character and looks out on a park where people take their dogs for a walk and a treat. The coffee in the picture was made at home, because I did not know about the Starbucks before stumbling across it!

Speaking of treats, I found that in the morning there is a friendly lady with a wagon that sells fresh bread rolls. On Sunday she even had some croissants!

Over the weekend I visited one of the local markets, Mercado de Surquillo. It’s a piece of culture on its own, as it has a selection of different types of food and things, from spices, seeds, nuts, Quinoa, chicken, fish, meats, vegetables, purple corn, cakes, juice etc.

One of the strangest things I’ve come across was a party for dogs who are dressed up in fancy clothes. It seems like owners of little dogs get the pups all dressed up and then hang out in the park. Like a Perro Comicon!

A place of my own

I finally moved into my own place, a massive apartment in the seaside suburb of Miraflores in Lima.

On my first night I went for a walkabout, to get a feel for the area, and get some supplies.

At first I walked down to the beach. The idea was to watch the sunset, but to be honest I started a conversation with a perro (dog) and sort of missed it.

A lot of people have dogs and take it to the park down the street from me to get a bit of outside air, and there is even an enclosure where the bigger dogs can run free.

I did however see a beautiful sky to frame the lighthouse, and I am fortunate to live in such a beautiful area.

After that I ventured on towards a grocery shop I know about. However on my way I hear a scuffle ahead and look up. Two guys are in a hold, one apparently jumped out of his car to fight the other, most likely about the girl. I waited at a safe distance to see what was happening, but luckily the police came and broke up the fight soon enough.

I stumbled across an artisanal bakery and found some lovely rolls and then finally strolled over to the grocery shop for the basics. Finally I got to have a simple dinner of bread and butter on my first night in Miraflores

A little more Lima

Lima is a city of contrasts and wonder. Another week has gone by and I feel like I am starting to see more sides of the city.

It has everything from glass buildings to unfinished brick and concrete structures, and in between houses that speak of another era all together.

One thing it has a lot of, is chuches. Mostly catholic, but there are others in between, although the ones I’ve been too aren’t quite as picturesque as these

In the more well to do areas there are wonderful parks, with beautiful gardens and trees.

In San Isidro there is a park with olive trees as old as 400 years. Some of them were apparently planted by the settlers way back when. The park is now a national heritage site, and it is visited by young and old.

Along the seaside, in Miraflores, there are also some really popular parks, and it is very lovely to stroll down there to take in a bit of the beauty and feel the sea breeze.

The city is built on top of a cliff side, so when someone says they’re going “down to the beach”, they literally mean it.

The position on the coast probably creates an upwards wind, or something, because on a clear Saturday the sky is filled with paragliders.

On less clear days, it can be quite foggy, but luckily there’s a lighthouse to show the way.

Sunshine or not, the weather is really hot and humid. Hopefully I will adjust to it, but it seemed like it was so hot even the cats melted.

Aside from the AMAZING food I haven’t been immersed in the local culture much, but I have been able to see glimpses.

A very popular football team stayed in our hotel during the week, and their fans decided to gather outside and cheer them on. At first I saw the people gathering in the park and wasn’t sure if it was for a protest, as I couldn’t read the banners. Then they came to the entrance of the hotel and started singing songs and I realized it was a happy gathering. Some guys even brought along their drums for the songs. They are really big on football it seems.

Life over here is definitely an adventure. I will post some more pictures here, and if you want, follow my on Instagram @mcharlottesmith.

Lima – first impressions

I tried my first surfing lesson on Saturday, it was quite fun, although the beach consists of rocks and the “shop” is basically a 3×3 m canopy, so it is a bit of an adjustment. Everyone says there aren’t any sharks, but my question is “what are the sharks scared of, perhaps I should be scared too?”

It’s a city of old and new, from old Volksie busses to brand new cars, and the buildings too.

There are beautiful well kept parks all over, and even more around the popular tourist areas. These pretty benches are in Miraflores.

The parks even have drinking fountains for dogs!

Every now and then I stumble across a beautifully coloured house with a massive succulent, it’s so pretty, like something out of this world!

As the ocean is to the west, there is no shortage of beautiful sunsets.

Around the corner from work is a little cafeteria where you can eat the meal of the day, or a salad. The food is great, and it’s good to share a table with colleagues and friends and get to know each other.

Larcomar is a “mall” that is cut into the cliffs facing the ocean, with restaurants, fancy shops and views for days.

‘n Storie in ‘n paar skoene

Ek is vreeslik lief vir skoene, al dra ek nie regtig stilettos nie. Ek het gister ‘n nuwe paar skoene ontvang wat ek gekoop het, “one of a kind”, handgemaakte, plat skoene. Ek het ook deur ons hele kantoor geloop en vir al my vriendinne gaan wys hoe oulik is my skoene.

Jare gelede het ek al gedink om te skryf oor die belang van elke paar skoene in my lewe. Elke paar vertel ‘n storie van iets waarvan ek hou, iets wat deel is van wat my storie is.

Hieronder volg ‘n uittreksel van ‘n paar betekenisvolle skoene in my lewe.

Vellies – Ek het nou al ‘n paar stelle handgemaakte vellies. Dis my elke dag skoene, gemaklik genoeg om mee te LOOP, netjies genoeg om by my werksklere te dra en funky genoeg om bietjie iets anders as gewoon te wees.

Site skoene – So nou en dan moet ek vir werk site toe gaan. Dis dan wanneer ek my grys en pienk site skoene aantrek, saam met my harde hoed en high-vis baadjie is dit deel van die uniform wat se “hierdie stadsmeisie kan ook haar hande vuil maak”

Fietsry skoene – Daai cleats wat so in mens se fiets inclip. Ek ry nie op die oomblik genoeg fiets om myself ‘n fietsryer te noem nie, maar ek het al BAIE kilometers getrap en so nou en dan gestap – as die opdraend te styl is of as ek ‘n pap wiel kry. Tog is fietsry (of mountain bike) om presies te wees vir my soos wat ek my voorstel hoe dit is om te vlieg. Dis ‘n manier om die natuur te ervaar, en om te sien hoe ek iets doen wat ek nog nooit moontlik geag het nie.

Rotsklim skoene – Hulle voel bietjie afgeskeep, my pienk rotsklim skoene. Maar hulle wag daar vir my, vir wanneer ek weer die kant van ‘n klimmuur in ‘n gym, of dalk eendag buite wil gaan aandurf. Dis nog een van daai goed wat ek myself mee verbaas het.

Gym tekkies – Nou daar is ‘n paar skoene wat hulle sous werd is! Soggens as ek opstaan is dit in my oefen klere en gym tekkies, reg vir my daaglikse sessie van stres hantering en sommer net lekkerkry.

Hardloop tekkies – Ja, ek het ‘n paar van hulle ook. Nie dat ek ‘n kranige hardloper is nie, maar soms probeer ek darem. Dis ook hierdie skoene waarmee ek gaan toer het, kilometers en kilometers gestap het in vreemde lande om nuwe dinge te verken.

Ballet skoene – ‘n herinnering van die dae toe ek gedans het. Om ballet skoene aan te trek laat my sommer anders voel. Grasieus, soos ‘n swaan.

Koor skoene – Daar is ‘n paar spesiale vereistes aan ‘n goeie paar koor skoene. Hulle moet mooi lyk op ‘n verhoog, met toe tone (sodat die gehoor nie ‘n klomp wit tone sien nie) en gemaklik genoeg wees om vir ure in te kan staan.

Hakskoene – Jip, ek het darem ‘n paar van hulle ook. Ek dra hulle nie gereeld nie, en ook nie lank nie, maar soms moet mens jou lipstick aansit, jou mooi rokkie aantrek, en hakskoene aantrek en bietjie Cinderella speel!