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Real and honest food and work …

February 16, 2012 in Pasta & rice, Sauces & side dishes

It may not be a fashionable or a popular hype, but if you want to add value to whatever you do, keep it exclusive and real. Honest. With good intentions; even if the intentions are to market yourself. As a fellow foodster and having made very good friends in this realm, I know what goes into writing a post. I know the hours, devotion, dedication, work, schlepp, excitement, despair, costs, and passion that go into writing one single post. And I also know the expectation … and why we do it.

Some of us do it to market something (like me with our business’s website), others do it to market their service, others do it for fun, and there are at least two biggies that I know personally doing it for sheer, loving passion and sharing – they do not even have a blog or website elsewhere!

But then … then, you get a few that do it to boost an ailing ego, to get strokes, love, acceptance, fame … who knows but one can spot them a mile away (like your slip is showing, madam) because their work is usually cold, lacks passion, looks hurriedly rushed off or … as we just witnessed yesterday, simply stolen.

I know that I am making myself a target again for the poison ivys and tweets and OMGs did you read what she now says again and so on, but I did write about it before and cautioned against lifting work. And now it has happened in our very dear midst and even though the perpetrator has been eliminated (at least his blog is, which is good enough for now), some of us are probably still being robbed of our authentic, wonderful, dear work and it wil happen again and again, believe me.

Yesterday saw me gobsmacked (trust me, at my age very little manages to smack my gob!) to witness the blatant, flagrant arrogant theft of a blogger having simply just lifted recipes and images from our two biggest blogger’s blogs! His fame and adoration from readers was snuffed out by late afternoon when he removed ALL his  old content and posted an image of a sad, shamed puppy dog with an apology. Too much too late, I say! Apparently he apologised in person to the bloggers he stole from claiming he ‘did not know’. Oy, lame dog excuse! A real tragedy is when the news broke early morning,  I saw he had had about 6 600 reads to date. But by end of play yesterday, he had tallied in excess of 10 000 reads from curious peeps. Wonder how many comments there were. I made three and none of them are repeatable … anywhere!

So, dears. Let’s just please take hands and agree that we on this platform, will keep the spirit of authenticity up and keep it exclusive and classy by being vigilante about other boggers using our work without our knowledge or permission. Remember, if they just add a link, it’s wrong and even illegal - it’s an infringement of your copyright. Using your work has to be done with your prior knowledge and permission! One seldom finds copyright and intellectual property theft in books and magazines as it is a hell of a story to remove material from print media, hello!

On the internet we are sitting ducks for the preying vultures and clinging vines who are probably only yearning to pump up their fragile and hurt little egos. To them, I have a simple message: if you think badly about yourself, just consider that you may have a point, and step it up. Being authentic and humble are probably the best you that you can be and that means, when it comes to work, delivering the best work you can, as authentic as can be. (BTW, if you ‘borrow’ content and change it more than 25%, you may call it your own).

And on that note of authenticity here is an authentic Italian tomato sauce for pasta. It is not my own and I could not find the author – he or she apparently  lived in the 14th century and died more or less around that time. All records are lost so here, with my love and devotion and humbleness is one of my favourite meals on earth because it is simple and honest and real  …   (Suddenly I have a hunch I posted this before ….. oy, but I have to go so it will have to be a repeat – so sorry but the HRT patches may have to come back :-) )

Sugo al Pomodoro is a simple Italian tomato sauce. Like all classic dishes, there are many recipes around, each cook claiming her or his is the best or the original but it’s good to know that actually, there is no such thing as a ‘one and only’ recipe for anything on earth. Some sugo recipes contain carrot and celery, but I prefer the humbleness of tomatoes, onions and herbs –  with ‘simple’ being my idea of classic.

Classic Tomato Sauce for pasta

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2 or more large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 x 425 g cans chopped diced tomatoes
  • 45 ml tomato paste
  • salt, milled black pepper and sugar
  • 45 ml chopped parsley or basil
  • 500 g spaghetti
  • grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil and add the onion. Sauté until translucent then reduce heat and cook on low until the onion is soft and caramelized. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cook  uncovered until the sauce is reduced and thick. Season to taste with the salt, pepper and sugar and stir in the herbs.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta as directed on the pack. When done, drain (do not rinse), season and add a few drops of olive oil. Toss and serve with the tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 – 6

If you want to PRINT or DOWNLOAD this recipe for your records, click here for the I love cooking recipe website.

 

 

In keeping with budget meals: here’s a quickie … Alfredo A la Mama!

September 22, 2011 in Pasta & rice

A discussion took place this week about how many reads some blogs enjoy and it was mentioned that it is a sign of the times how incredibly popular budget meal posts are. Indeed they are but the subject ‘budget meals’ (and God) have always been extremely popular, ask any book store or publisher. The exact kind of discussions we have now about the cost of food my parents and their friends had when I was a small girl and that was a few lifetimes ago …!  

 

So obviously the cost of living will remain a human issue and the same discussion also turned to Italian cuisine which in its very soul, is not expensive. And for that matter, most ethnic cuisines are affordable as a lot of those cuisines were borne from the poor mamas having to feed many little mouths a few times a day. Usually the expensive items are animal products and pre-made goods so if you look at a plate of Chinese stir fry, you will see mostly starch, fresh vegetables and very little animal products in there and ditto for Spanish paellas, Italian risottos, Indian biryanis, African pap and morogo, samp and beans and so on. Somewhere along the line, I think, we let go of our roots (have we too many roots?) and adopted the American way of life with focus on fat, sugar and protein. And if we cook and eat starch (complex carbohydrates) it is mostly refined and mostly fried or embellished with animal products like eggs, cheese and cream. In many of our homes, meat is an entire course on its own … and yesterday at the butcher I fell over when I had to pay R109 per kilo for my weekend braai choppies!

 

My point? Erm … frankly, I don’t have one. LOL, that will be a welcome change for some people who resent my points of view but I think I want to say that if you consider the cost of food in our Western society and you want to cut down on your food costs, it makes sense to look at other cuisines and especially their peasant, farm-style kind of dishes. A perfect example is fresh pasta. With double standards and lots of excuses in my favour, I bought some at Woollies yesterday and it plonked in my trolley at R20 for 250 g. If I made my own it would have cost about R6, I estimate. But now we have a time issue so we buy our stuff but my case will remain strong for simple, seasonal, regional … like the poor people eat of other countries with great cuisines like Greece, India, Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and of course, everybody’s mama’s cuisine, Italian.

 

So in honour of cutting food costs, here is my cheapest recipe for pasta, using fresh pasta. And in honour of all busy moms, this is also the quickest if you choose to buy the ordinary dry pasta from a shop. You probably have your own favourite Alfredo recipe, but this plain one holds such great memories for me as my kids loved it so I am posting this one also in their honour. When they were very small I omitted the radical herbs, used plain old cheap cheddar and wait for it ….. I added a smidgen of Bovril to the butter. They loved it more than any other meal at the time and in fact my son called it Mama Alfredo not too long after he could speak full sentences. When they were a bit older and started looking less suspiciously at garlic and herbs I introduced them to old Alfredo as I knew him ….

 

And yes I know this is the third post in a row about pasta, but so what? Perhaps if we ate pasta more often, we would be healthier and richer like the famous Italian actress Sophia Lauren who apparently claimed “I owe everything to spaghetti!”

 

 

Alfredo A’ la Mama!

  

 

Visit I love Cooking for this recipe and for a Fresh Pasta recipe.

 

Fresh Pasta

 

 

 

10h05: … and while hanging for Telkom to handle an issue, I used the 57.5 minutes waiting time well and surfed my favourite blogs and then astonishingly enough I see that Jan Tripipei shared her Fettucini Alfredo recently with us and RSG listeners so Jan, this is not copying you honey! Obviously I need HRT patches … (LOL) … and if I simply remembered to check your post (you were on my mind when I wrote this one as we had that discussion, mos!) I would have done another topic for this post!! But you know that synchronicity is a thing of beauty, it really is.  And it spells good things … XXX!!

About low stats …

September 21, 2011 in Pasta & rice

Something very disappointing happened during the last shoot that once again made the crew and me aware that the urge and tendency still exist within certain people to reward low stats.

 

It is a basic fact in cooking that if you mix the right amount of roux (butter and flour paste) into hot liquid, it will thicken the liquid. And so life has a few basic facts that have become rules or yard-sticks if you will and one of them is that if you reward or praise or promote low stats (or behaviour or work) you will continue to get low stats (or behaviour or work). It’s guaranteed. And just as sure and simple is the opposite: if you reward or acknowledge high stats, you will mostly get high stats. Just as simple to understand.

 

In this day and age – in spite of us becoming very informed thanks to psycho-spiritual guides like Gary Zukav and Thomas Moore and M Scott Peck and even old Dr Phil – it remains a gobsmacking event to see some people in society, organisations and businesses still ignoring that basic human fact … and often getting away with it … for a while at least!

 

Luckily there are not many people like that in major-important areas of our lives as our spiritual and psychological gurus taught us so that the tendency to praise (and often protect!) low stats is part of a process borne from lack of sufficient self-worth from being a victim to getting into shame-and-blame-and-snub-the-achiever to praise of the unworthy … back full circle to being a victim-with-buddies in the same situation. So the majority of us just don’t do that but it IS a scary thought to think that somebody that still operates emotionally like that, may be your child’s mentor … 

 

Thank God for Oscars! And cum laude! And other rewards and awards all the way to the Nobel prize – the very acknowledgment of excellence in many sectors. Imagine the world without the basic truth and greatness to recognise value and quality in others? Imagine the world if organisations and businesses operated on the principal let’s give the loser the Oscar, the manager’s jobs, the scientists’ jobs …!? Makes you think, hey?

 

Anyway, the issue was sorted and the greatness in this situation was that the ‘victims’ seeking rewards for their low stats ended up seeing the healthy and truthful point and coming clean with it all. They stopped their blaming the real achievers and we could reward them appropriately. Afterwards the person in charge of the team understood the principle of rather telling a low-achiever in a constructive manner the truth. She understood that her way of dealing with the situation was borne from her desire to be accepted and liked and her fear that if she does not side with the losers, she will not be liked. It turned out later they were hiding the fact that their team also violated the same rule that they blamed the other team for! I felt nothing but compassion because many of us who have healthy self worth actually know the pain of low self worth … We’ve just simply learnt our own value through accepting the honesty and realness of our achievements or non achievements for better or worse. That has become our truth and in truth we grow out of our emotional prisons. 

    

On the high stats note – today I am breaking with a celebration-of-sorts regarding the next television series which will be a cookery series … and important people are coming for dinner. Being busy as a bee, I will buy the starter and the dessert and prepare a quickie I published in 1991 already but it stood the test of time: Creamy Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Pasta. When my daughter got married in 1996 Mathew Gordon of the Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant in Franschhoek cooked my recipes and we served small portions of this as a starter … minus the canned salmon and milk off course. Those ingredients are for lesser festive events! Here goes, dears, enjoy!

 

Creamy Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Pasta

 

 

 

Visit I love Cooking for the recipe.

 

Back to basics: classic, simple tomato sauce over spaghetti

September 20, 2011 in Pasta & rice

The ambiance was almost non-existing, the food great, the drinks cold and the service carefully attentive. I’ve often eaten at the Vintage India before and it’s usually a hit-and-miss potluck kinda affair when it comes to service. If you are very service-oriented and get easily annoyed or have an ulcer or prone to migraines, then it’s perhaps better to dine elsewhere but if you want to try out this eatery, it’s advisable to take the waiter’s cell number so that you may call him to your table when you need him … J

 

However, on-and-off service aside, the food remains consistently good (provided you order the popular dishes off the menu) and yesterday’s lunch with Jan reaffirmed why this restaurant in the Garden’s Centre remains my favourite curry house in Cape Town. It’s not only because of the (select) great, authentic Indian food, but because of the quiet and their immense space and the separate smoking area and their tolerance for any odd diner … above all, the privacy as there is seldom anybody there! I don’t know if a trust fund keeps them going or if they cater for the thousands of guests who attend Indian weddings to be able to pay the rent in that immense space because it’s always quiet. Clearly not everybody’s cuppa Chai tea and in fact, if you are not forewarned, the dining rooms could feel almost eerie. I prefer to look at it as calm and peaceful. Jan felt the same but she did take one look at it and with lightning-fast wit she chirped how cool it was that I booked-out the entire place for us..! And indeed, the 200-seater eatery was ours for the entire afternoon …

 

So? Go figure … instant BFF and every bit as I imagined, loving her blog as I do. In a word: authentic.

 

But today it’s back to basics and much work. So without any further ado, here is what dinner will look like in honour of all great cooks who are authentic and honest and humble: Classic Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti. I can safely say that this must have been one of the top five dinner dishes when my kids were growing up. Using this basic sauce, you can add chilli and bacon for Arrabiata sauce, or mince for Bolognese sauce or even some cream for a creamy sauce. This sauce can also be served with sausage, polenta or any bread, egg, meat, chicken or fish dish. In fact, I can probably safely say this sauce is the most popular in the world and that tomatoes are the fruit that is most eaten throughout the world every year.

 

Classic Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti

 

Click here for the recipe.

 

 

Wild rides and mighty meatballs.

August 17, 2011 in Meat, Pasta & rice

We’re barely back from our wild ride and we’re shooting again today here in my kitchen (cookery clips for the website) and then we pack again and we’re gone again yes to shoot the wild flowers and rapid rides again.

 

Whenever life is so hectic around me I think of the statement “You are the sum total of your experience,” and albeit it wise words, what strikes me time and time again when I am in a stressful situation, are my own adaptation of that philosophy: “You are experiencing the sum total of your decisions.”

 

There were many times over the last two weeks that those very words played over and over in my mind. And they were happy words of gratitude and humbleness: happy that I took the decision to see this series through regardless of the challenges and grateful that at my age I can still do the craziest, most insane, thrilling work with people who are masters of their craft and that are a third of my age. Even as we were trudging between fynbos in Elgin just after it got light one early morning, I looked at my incredible dream team crew bracing winds of 80 kms per hour and temperatures of around 3 degrees, I thought to myself: “You better be good at what you’re doing otherwise you may have to find a real job!”

 

The series – Challenge SOS (Sink or Swim) – revolves around eight schools who compete against each other for the title of the Unsinkable Outdoors Class of 2011 and after a series of extreme high octane outdoors elimination heats, the finals will see one team taking back to school with them an incredible full-state-of-the-art computer lab for their peers and those learners who come after them.  Talk about ‘playing’ it forward! Let me tell you when I was at school teenagers were not this cute or clever or kind …! Times have changed most certainly from a confidence level. These kids have bucketsful!

 

Aldene, Navorane, Tersia and Oswald from Groenberg High, Grabouw.  

 

Shannon, Camilla, Aaron and Graham from Milnerton High, Cape Town

  

We have not done any big shoot for over a year and after some traumatic personal experiences with people burduned by their egos in this time, being part again of a team of people who work long and hard and serious and fastidious and tireless and completely devoid of arrogance and ego for the pleasure and benefit of others knowing that all they get is a small, almost ilegible line entry at the end when the program titles roll (fast), was a much-needed emotional and spirtual shot in the arm for me. Anybody who is burduned by a sad and insatiable yearning to be noticed and the perpetual work it requires, should join a television crew for a few days. There were moments on that shoot that profoudly refreshed my faith in man again. Even through the hardships and tensions that popped up occasionally, I had the top-of-mind awarensss that, until my last breath, this is what I want to do: work with these people so that we can make stories come to life on a screen. It was also profoundly humbling to receive the everyday reminders that actually, we are small and insignificant and our little issues count for nothing when faced with the sheer spectacle of our nature’s beauty and its beasts.

 

 

White Shark Cage Diving, Kleinbaai (Gansbaai)

  

We literally had wild rides. From boot-camp style obstacle races to orienteering on the mountain fynbos of Elgin to shark cage diving and abseiling, we kept up with the pace of the competing teams. Those were eight teenagers from Milnerton International High School and Grabouw Groenberg High School. Awesome is too mild a word to describe the scenery and I am still thinking of a word to describe the footage. Meanwhile these images will have to do…

 

 

Abseiling Caste Rock, Kleinmond

 

Abseiling Caste Rock, Kleinmond

 

At Tri Active Lodge we had Riaan as our chef … and there was this killer veggie soup … I am still working my way to get the recipe and promise that before this shoot ends in mid-October, I will have it for us. This soup is so delicious that I saw a teenager boy who claimed he loathed veggies and soup equally much, go weak at the knees eating this soup and what’s more, going back for more and the next day ask for another helping!

 

 

 Our accommodation (base camp!) in Elgin

 

 And then, darlings, there was the mighty meatballs over spaghetti … No, chef Riaan did not give me the recipe, but I could figure it out! As usual, with a simple recipe using simple ingredients, go for the finest quality and taste you can afford. Since I can remember I have taken the lazy route and used sausage meat (good quality meat though!) for many a meatball or meatloaf. Enjoy the free time!

Sausage Meatballs over Spaghetti

 

 

Click here for the recipe.

 

 

Duck after Mama Macaroni

July 11, 2011 in Pasta & rice

Before I get to my recipe for today (it contains bacon beware meatless Monday pristas!) I want to dish up something that may not be easy to swallow: food blogging quality. So I may need to duck after I have written this, but speaking out is often a dirty job and somebody has to do it. I usually pass the interview stage and get to do the job so here goes dears …

 

First a bit of background: my daughter and I own a business that produces television shows and publishes recipe books. However, at the heart of the business is brand marketing which means whatever we do is geared at positive branding for our clients who … you’ve guessed it, market their brands. We specialise in food brands – big food brands not the local or regional salad dressing manufacturer or fruit seller. If you open your grocery cupboard and fridge/freezer, you will find at least thirty food brands in there we helped build. As a basic requirement for our jobs, we need to know brand marketing and be able to spot consumer trends – not set them, Miranda. Spot them! So we spotted that consumers spend more and more time online and we tracked this trend and realized that within a few years, digital and online is poised to become an advertising mainstay for consumer brands. Can you thus imagine our consternation and lack of understanding at the prospective clients’ negative attitudes when we approached them to buy into and become part of our website-cum-blogs? They were mostly sceptical, but more than a handful flatly stated that local food websites and blogs are not of the standard that they want their brands be associated with. They’ll wait, was the general outcome. We had to pitch our concept to almost a hundred and fifty brands before we managed to reach our target: five advertisers on our website. Those are awful stats and especially if you compare them to our other successes: usually we would pitch a concept to (say) five potential brand advertisers and at least three would buy into the concept. Those ‘other successes’ would be generating advertisers for our television shows or recipe books, of the most expensive marketing concepts to execute …! With that in mind, we could not quite understand their objection in investing a fraction of that cost into a website or a blog.

 

Now, several months into writing this blog, and spending most of my time on spotting the trends in this realm of ours, I get it: those big brand advertisers are right to wait and see if the overall standards of local food blogs and food websites will improve. Although I only mention local, this is not to say that you don’t also get horrifically blah food blogs elsewhere on planet earth, but advertisers – yes, those multi-national brands stuffed in your fridge and grocery cupboard and even those other big ticket brands you drive and sit on and bathe in – are only concerned with returns on investments in the countries in which the brands are marketed. So even in big International brand business, local is a crucial buzz word. Therefore it’s important to determine why we write our blogs and my spotting revealed a few reasons:

 

It’s a hobby for fun, a little ego-stroking and a bit of freebies (if this blogger is also competitive, views and visitors and hits become serious emotional triggers)

 

It’s a passion for food and sharing (plus a bit of the above)

 

It’s personal brand building to enhance another business (these bloggers market their restaurants, food styling, photography, direct selling agencies, their own food brand, enhance their CVs and have some or all of the above)

 

It’s a serious, strategized budding future online business

 

Of the above, the bloggers who do it for a future online business generally deliver the best content in terms of creativity, images, writing and originality. They understand that in today’s virtual realm, giving is the new taking. They understand that they need to deliver (give) great content to get visitors to dwell on their blog or website (take their time). Why? ‘Cause they know that big, serious brand advertisers want to see their brands in publications or domains or spaces that deliver on quality, originality, integrity and credibility.

 

Here is what any blogger who wants to make money need to know: big brand advertisers sneer at proposals from volume flashers. Those are the folk who brag about hits and unique or absolute unique visitors to their blogs or websites. All that your dazzling volumes ‘tell’ the advertiser is how well you may be doing in search engine optimisation or how hard your host is pushing your blog, nothing more. If you do not enjoy mostly local visitors and good dwell times with low bounce rates on your blog or website, advertisers immediately realize how little you know (or care) about hard-core brand marketing and the quality offerings of your work. Needless to say, advertisers who want to create name awareness for their brand may benefit from high volumes to your blog. But established big brands (read really big budgets) need more. They need visitors to sit and engage in your blog or website (and their brands) for longer. They want the content of your blog or website to improve the usage, frequency, loyalty, added value, word-of-mouth-referral rate and trial of their brands. Every big brand has a competitor and they want users to switch from the competitor brand to theirs. They want non-users to try their brand and they want to get into bed with likeminded bloggers and website owners. Serious bloggers and website owners understand that image and the creative and strategic standards of a brand’s ‘bible’ are sacred to the advertiser and these are the bloggers who toil and invest and work on their content and deliver credibility and integrity. They are investing in their blogs’ longevity and financial sustainability.

 

One of them (in my opinion) is Nina Timm – her images are superb and she invests time, money and effort into them, she makes her recipes her own (meaning she does not lift them and just add a link to the website where she lifted it from like other lazy bloggers), her blog has a voice (she writes about family fare) and she networks and promotes her blog constantly online, on radio and wherever she gets an opportunity. She does not take advantage of her blog space on food24 by punting advertisers on that space and is serious and devoted and honest and transparent in her dealings with freebies and the odd advertiser on her other blog.

 

On the other hand, bloggers with a passion for food and people and living who blog as a hobby and to still the hunger for sharing, deliver superb content. It may not always be the sharpest images and in focus and the recipes may not be perfectly written, but it’s from the heart. And the enthusiasm and joy and passion with which they write are infectious. I never miss a post from Janice Tripepi. She is (in my opinion) the most authentic and honest home food blogger we have in South Africa. May her blog live long and hard and continue to deliver buckets of joy and authenticity to our screens. And so I have other brilliant blogs to commend for simply sharing and having very little covert motives and social modus operandi: Scrumptious (hell yes!), Pink Polka Dot, Sous Chef and many others.

 

From a marketing perspective, the blogs that fall in the category of personal brand building are the ones that (often) fail to market themselves or boost our collective advertising sales. There is one local blog clearly established to market the services of the blogger that consistently delivers other people’s content and I suspect it is to drive traffic her way so that other areas of her life may blossom – like her profession. This is not to say that these folk are doing anything wrong, no.  In this case it is just important to know that although you cannot copyright a recipe, websites have rules, terms and conditions and legal notices that bind us to a specific behaviour model. You may (usually) not use a recipe from another source as is. You can only do that with the origin’s knowledge and permission. Just adding a hyperlink to the origin is not enough. You cannot copyright a list of ingredients but the methodology is another person’s intellectual property and you have to change the words while still giving credit to the origin. But what does this have to do with quality content? Using other people’s work stops creativity and progress in its boots, that’s why! At the heart of blogging lies the sharing of recipes and food ideas but in the absence of legalese for bloggers, it’s professional and ethical (and may even be a legal requirement) to request permission to use another’s work as is or if you change it, to site the origin of your inspiration for a re-worked recipe. And of course, the less you rely on other author’s work, the more creative you are and the better (hopefully oh, dear!) your content will be!

 

Point is good bloggers delivering great content know that great food is more than just writing, following (or cribbing) a recipe. It shows intent, training and experience, good taste, an eye for detail and technique, and above all the selection and quality of ingredients (Like Janice). So long story short, good food blogging asks for good food and all it entails including (above all) good intent -  even if it’s with financial gains in mind. There is nothing wrong in wanting to earn a living, it’s just wrong to harm the greater ideology and its supporters in the process.

 

The big issue is that regrettably, we are a society that seems to insist on rewarding low stats and believe me if you reward low stats, you will continue to get low stats. Sometimes posts so poorly and transparently self-serving make it to their blog space’s home pages and the big main pages elsewhere on the Internet. Some days it is so bad I have to field calls and emails from fans, friends and possible advertisers with negative comments. Not a single one of those posts would ever have seen the light of day in a magazine or a publisher’s office. Why are they ever posted as a yardstick of what our local blogging is about? They should simply be there on the latest posts feed where they will be read and enjoyed by some but not be held up as the heros and she-roes of local blogging brilliance. There is room and a need for all sorts of quirky and poorly-written blogs. But not as the poster kid for bloggers … 

 

From a marketing and image perspective with a view to attract big bucks advertisers to food blogs, only blogs with the very best of the best content should hit home (pages). It’s obvious to even the most unenlightened that if a post is featured and promoted all over the site, it gets the visitors regardless of the content. And if this indiscriminate promotion of poor content continues, food blogs will never enjoy solid brand advertising support. And here I also dare say (may as well go all-the-way) that the gushing comments some bloggers place on some really bad posts are just so transparently ‘scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours’. Girls, time you realize that quality comes before quantity when it comes to visitors and your own integrity as a blogger. Besides, a polite-but-true evaluation of the post will not only show your ethics but if it’s interesting to boot (instead of just gushing over rubbish) you will attract more visitors who will be curious to meet you!    

 

Just believe me that Content is King if you want to attract serious fans and followers who will dwell longer because they find value if what we offer and also just believe that they will be followed by advertising money, bucketsful of the stuff. You are free to ask me how we can improve our content and how we can improve our income from big brand advertisers instead of greedily and gratefully grabbing the meagre offerings of expedient smaller budget brands (of late) who buy bloggers privately. We all know who they are and we all know who falls for their offers. Just believe me that Cash is also King and if that’s what you’re playing for, it’s easy to keep your eye on the ball: deliver great content. And if food hosts want to attract big brands with big budgets, they need to hear that only the best content should be promoted and if there are too few of those posts, then great content must be generated from partners like magazines. 

 

So keeping my eye on the ball here is my content for the day but I should just tell you there are at least sixty recipes for mac ’n cheese on food24. That is astonishing as there are only 5 basic ingredients in this recipe (mac, cheese, eggs, seasoning, milk) and there could only be two cooking methods, bake or free-form. Oh well, this is blogging … to share. Here is my little version and it has a multi-lingo voice: homely, family, delicious, easy, versatile. The name is derived from the first full sentence my son could speak: Mama Macaroni  … enjoy!

 

Mama Macaroni

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for the recipe.

 

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Nice has a price

September 22, 2010 in Pasta & rice

 

O joy … a cook’s dilemma: to buy or to make? I thought long and hard before writing this post because it involves food that comes with a schlep. But the long weekend is coming up and you may have the time and energy for a very nice and very rewarding schlep… Besides, the rebel is me is going against the groundswell of interest in the imminent ‘try-a-braai day’, so trust me to veer towards pasta on the day! Think about it: garlic-and-herb pasta instead of the trusty old potato bake with your steak and chops for a change…!?

 

 

 

Few foods satisfy the soul’s craving for honesty like a simple bowl of home-made pasta. People go quiet (including me), as if deeply touched by the chemistry that takes place when humble, home-made pasta meets the palate and starts its journey to please the body and soul. Perhaps the drying and travelling to the shops age and pervert the taste of bought pasta – almost as if the pasta is at once robbed of something good whilst developing a taste that is not true … but if you made your own, you’d be eating one of the best pastas ever – promise.

 

But nice has a price and for that reason, I am convinced that not every pot of pasta you’ll cook in future will be hand-rolled by you, no. If you’re a busy or lazy cook like many of us, just make it once in a while – for special days and high days. Then sit back and watch them go quiet, hunched over the pasta bowl until it’s all done … guaranteed.

 

Like all classic recipes there is not a proper recipe for home-made pasta– mainly a long, long method. And every cook eventually develops his or her own style. Once you have the hang of it, I bet you’ll make it more and more often.

 

So here goes, my favourite home-made pasta. Read the method carefully before you start. It’s one thing wasting money, but to waste your own efforts is really very depressing. And if you like the outcome as much as we do, teach somebody to make it for you. I taught son-on-law Kevin and he is now such a dab hand at it, he even makes little ravioli’s filled with all sorts of goodies but his best is prawns minced with garlic-butter. Sometimes he places small leaves of fresh herbs like basil and chervil between two sheets of pasta and rolls it out until the herbs and pasta fuse and come together as a gourmet heaven.

 

See, clever cooks also know how to delegate!

 

Homemade Pasta

 

 

 

                       View full recipe

 

 


 

Garlic & Herb Sauce

 

65 ml butter

90 ml coarsely chopped basil

65 ml finely chopped parsley

45 ml strong, woody herbs, chopped and mixed (like rosemary, thyme and origanum)

15 ml freshly chopped garlic (or as much as you like)

250 ml grated strong cheese, preferably parmesan otherwise 18-month mature white cheddar or even mature Gruyere cheese

lemon-infused olive oil

ground black pepper

ground salt

  

If you want to ‘fly the braai’ this weekend, for a complete main course, add a voluptuous salad made with ripe avos, peppery rocket and other leaves with handfuls of pitted and squashed black olives and squashed baby tomatoes to release their juices and flavours. Squashed? Yes, you take them in your clean hands and over a bowl to catch the juices, you squash hard! Don’t discard the juices: add it to the salad for extra flavour.

 

So there you have it: my home-made pasta. Very nice at a price of your efforts and you may agree, well worth every effort. Do let me know!

 

BTW, daughter-in-law is home again and getting stronger by the day. The latest MS attach has been klapped and she is almost ready to rock-n-roll again. She says she’ll miss her pink (I swear!) wheel chair but then again, there is the scooter (we call it her ‘poegie’) waiting to be used again … What a fabulous thing the body is to heal so wonderously.

 

There won’t be a blog tomorrow because we’re all heading for Hermanus. Enjoy your long weekend and may you have wonderful company in the kitchen!

 

 Until Monday then, chow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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