Thursday, February 07, 2013

Dreaming of Luxury and Romance

My husband is very bah humbug about Valentine’s Day. He quite rightly reckons that if you love someone you tell them so every day and in every way without being dictated to by the hype of one particular occasion. So we’ve never done the roses and dinner by candlelight 14th of February thing. Instead we have our own funny little tradition that I shared at the end of this post with hearts on our hands.

However it looks like this year I’m going to have a luxury romantic break come my way anyway. Out of the blue yesterday I received an invitation from Grootbos Nature Reserve to come and stay for a night. Now this is a stunning nature reserve two hours from Cape Town, overlooking the ocean.  A place of beach picnics, whale watching (in winter and spring) of beautiful views and pristine fynbos, it’s a five star luxury retreat with fabulous food, and a whole story behind it that I’m looking forward to discovering. So romance in a luxury nutshell, and I get to take my husband!

We probably won’t get there till March, things being busy here right now, but Grootbos do have a fabulous special offer on for the whole of February if you are feeling tempted to go overboard with the spoiling. Their Month of Love offers a Valentine’s half price special  (half price is R2100 a night per person sharing, so think lavish!) which includes all meals, a selection of activities including that beach picnic, horse-riding and all sorts, and a free spa treatment.

I’ll let you know all about it after our visit, but if you do get there first let me know what you think... or, on second thoughts perhaps, keep it a secret so it’ll be a wonderful surprise for me!

Disclosure: I am being offered a complimentary night at Grootbos but am receiving no other remuneration for writing about them and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ginger Oat Cookies on A Quiet Saturday Morning

Ginger and oat cookie recipe
An unusual silence for a Saturday morning. The house is holding its breath, a dog’s snoring the only sound above the rustle of leaves in trees, as an infant south-easter prepares to ruffle the hot morning air.

I’m home alone, which hardly ever happens; the girls at an impromptu sleepover, my husband dropping our son and his inseparable computer at a friend’s house for the weekend before heading off to a meeting.

I made all my noise earlier with the vacuum cleaner, washing machine and  dishes, in a fit of virtuous housewifery. Now I’ve run out of steam and virtue, finished my book and I’m not ready to do any of the 101 things that I ought to do. The siren call of bloggery lures me and I remember a half finished post intended to feature an essential biscuit recipe...  can I find it? Of course not.

Waiting for something to happen

We’re out of biscuits now; the full tin that I was preening over in the vanished post a distant memory. But instead of baking up a storm and wowing my family on their return with tantalising wafts of newly-baked goodies, I’m going to write that post all over again instead. Maybe, just maybe, the girls will bake something when they get home, if they don’t just collapse in a heap after their jollities. In the meantime it's too hot to bake.

This recipe for ginger oat biscuits is one that I always used to keep stocked up in the biscuit tin, back when I was a full-time mother and the kids were toddlers in urgent need of regular snacks. The oats are a sop to the health freak in every mum, and if you are avoiding wheat you can use rye, oat or combinations of almost any other flour; it’s very forgiving recipe.  And they are tasty, satisfying and not too fancy for everyday.

Ginger and oat biscuits

Ginger Oat Biscuit Recipe

115g / 4oz butter
1 cup / 250ml plain flour (or wholewheat, rye or oat flour)
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda / baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar (soft dark brown or demerara)
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup rolled oats / porridge oats
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 160C / 325 F
Makes about 24 cookies

Cream together the butter and sugars. Add beaten egg.
Sift flour with baking powder, bicarb, salt and ginger. Stir it into the butter mixture.
Add the oats and mix well in.

You should now have a soft rather crumbly dough.
Dollop generously heaped teaspoons of mixture onto two greased baking trays about one inch apart. The biscuits will spread as they cook.

Bake for 15 minutes until they are firm at the edge. The biscuits will crisp up as they cool. Cool on a rack and then store in an airtight tin. They keep well if you can manage not to gobble them all up in a day or two!

Ginger and oat cookies

Here is the same cookie recipe but as a chocolate and cinnamon version, posted back in the early days of my blog, when the kids were little.

Home alone is only a relative term with so many companions of other species available for conversation at any time.