Tag Archives: cheap

Homemade Aloe Vera Moisturising Gel and Some Exciting News!

4 Feb

The aloe vera plants on our roof terrace are out of control. They are in fairly small pots and they seem to produce new leaves overnight. So many leaves that the pots are actually splitting. The Washer Up decided to cut them back today which meant we had carrier bags full of aloe vera leaves.

It seemed such a shame to throw them all away so I did a google search to see how difficult it would be to make some aloe vera moisturiser. After all I buy aloe vera face cream from Mercadona. It turns out that it is really easy (if a little messy). All you do is blend the fresh aloe gel with some sweet almond oil (that you can get from the pharmacy) and there you have it. Your own 100% natural aloe vera  moisturising gel.

It admitedly looks a little bit like snot but disappears into your skin really quickly and leaves it feeling, soft, smooth and nourished. The Washer Up’s hands are reaping the benefits and I can defintely see the difference in my face.

Homemade Aloe Vera Moisturising Gel

Makes 1 jam jar.

  • about 200 gr aloe vera gel  (I used about 4 big leaves)
  • 1 or 2 tsp sweet almond oil
  • a few drops of your favourite essential oil if you want it to be scented (optional)

You  may want to use gloves and protect the worksurface with a plastic bag or something.

The aloe starts to oxidise (turn red) quickly once it is cut so you have to do it straight away.

Split the aloe leaves down the middle, open them out and scrape the slimy gel out onto the scales with a teaspoon.

When you have about 200 gr tip into a bowl or blender with 1 or 2 teaspoons of almond oil and blend until smooth and slimy.

Tip into a sterilised jar and keep in a cool place (my bathroom is freezing) or in the fridge in summer.

This can be used as a face, hand and body moisturiser but it is also excellent for burns, sunburn, skin irritations and mosquito bites.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…….

The almond blossom is really early this year because of the mild weather we have been having up until this weekend which has been freezing cold. I love the candy floss trees with their barely pink delicate blooms. It is one of my favourite things about living here, it signifies that spring is not too far away.

I have some very exciting news to tell you. Next week we will be going to Cape Town. As many of you will already know, my Dad lives there so we are primarily going to see him but also….

We are going for three weeks, during which time I will be travelling around the Cape eating in some of the best and most popular restaurants the region has to offer.

I am a contributor to Getaway Magazine which has won South African Travel Blog of the year for two years running. They recently held an award ceremony of their own in Cape Town (which my dad attended on my behalf) and to my complete surprise I won the award for best food blog!!

I will be compiling a list of the best restaurants for vegetarian food (not vegetarian restaurants) in the area with reviews, recommendations, and a Vegetarian Culinary Journey Route.

We  start the tour in Cape Town then move on to Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Montagu, Robertson, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and then back to Cape Town again.

We have lunch and dinner booked in a different restaurant every day. Such is the quality and choice of fabulous restaurants out there, there are still quite a few that I won’t have time to get to unfortunately.

I will be taking my camera to photograph the restaurants and food and will hopefully be posting a quick photo daily just to let you know where we are and what we’ve eaten.

I have also asked if the chefs in these gorgeous restaurants would be willing to share the recipe for one of  their favourite vegetarian dishes for me to recreate when I return home.

I have already received some fantastic recipes for such delights as, Goats Cheese & Beetroot Lollipops from Peter Tempelhoff, winner of award for Best Chef 2011. Peter is Executive Chef for three of the best restaurants in South Africa including The Greenhouse, winner of the award for Best Restaurant 2011.

As you can probably tell I can’t wait to get started. We leave on Tuesday, arrive on Wednesday morning and have lunch booked at Harbour House at The Waterfront in Cape Town.

For dinner we have reservations at The Mount Nelson Hotel’s restaurant Planet. The Mount Nelson (or Nellies as it is affectionately known) is a local institution famous for their afternoon tea. The Planet chef, Rudi Leibenberg has had the foresight and invention to create a four and six course vegan tasting menu. Yes, a vegan tasting menu! It must be the first one ever.

I will let you know the rest of our itinerary when we get there. But until then I’ve got some ironing and packing to be getting on with…

Mixed Vegetable Paella and Stuffed Peppers

6 May

 

This is one of my favourite recipes. It was one of the first recipes I posted on this blog when I started it last September. I have decided to reblog it for those of you who haven’t seen it because it is really versatile and delicious. I make it at least once a week. It is a great way to use up any leftover odd bits of veg you have lying around.

I use whole grain (brown) rice which takes bit longer to cook but you can use any short grain or risotto rice. For me the essential ingredients are saffron, peppers, tomatoes, peas, rosemary, paprika, parsley and lemon juice. Any veg you want to use is fine just make sure you have red and green in there to stand out against the beautiful saffron gold.

The best thing about making paella is the leftovers. I always make sure I make too much so I have some left for lunch the next day. You can always just reheat it but using it to stuff a pepper is such a quick and easy way to make it a bit more special. Go on spoil yourself. Just slice the pepper in half if it is large (as below) or slice the top off a smaller pepper, take out the seeds and membrane and pile in the paella. Drizzle with some extra virgin and bake for about 25 minutes. You can even grate over some Manchego cheese before it goes in the oven for extra flavour.

Just serve with a simple salad dressed with lemon juice & olive oil and a wedge of lemon to spritz over the paella pepper.

Another way to use up the leftovers is to make paella cakes. You just form the cold paella into little patties and shallow fry or bake them until crispy. The crispy bits are the best. You can see my full instructions for the paella cakes here. Or try stuffing tomatoes with the paella rather than peppers.

Mixed Vegetable Paella Recipe

serves 2 with leftovers, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 small green peppers (the long thin ones) sliced
  • 1/2 big red pepper, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 squirt of tomato paste (tomate frito)
  • 4 handfuls of short wholegrain rice(you can use risotto rice)
  • 1 big pinch of saffron (or an envelope of powdered saffron)
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  •  a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 stalk of rosemary leaves removed & chopped finely, about 1 tsp
  • salt & black pepper
  • a good splash of Spanish sherry(or madeira or wine)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • some grated Manchego cheese (optional)
  • 1 lemon, half squeezed, half cut into wedges

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion & leek  with a pinch of salt until translucent (about 3 – 4 minutes)  then add the garlic and cook for another 2 mins.

Add in all the vegetables, stir and cook for 2 or 3 mins. Add in the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then add the herbs (except the parsley) and spices, stir again until well combined. Add in the splash of sherry/wine and the tomato paste, stir to incorporate.

Add the veg stock, season well with salt & black pepper, and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium low, put the lid on and cook for 20 – 25 mins (stirring occasionally) until all the liquid has gone and the rice is cooked. Don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom of the pan the crispy bits taste good. Squeeze over the juice of half the lemon and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning.

Serve sprinkled with grated Manchego cheese (if using), some more chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.

Paella Stuffed Peppers Recipe

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • leftover paella (see above)
  • 1 large red pepper (or 2 small)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • manchego cheese (optional)
  • mixed salad leaves
  • cherry tomatoes
  • lemon juice
  • salt & black pepper
  • lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut your large red pepper in half, or cut the top off of two small red peppers. Remove all seeds and membrane. Stuff the paella in to the peppers and press down. Place on a lined baking sheet. You may have to cut a little bit off the bottom of the small peppers to make them stand up straight. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the peppers are softened and starting to collapse.

Serve with a simple salad of mixed leaves and cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & black pepper.

Buen Provecho! I hope you enjoy this easy weeknight supper as much as we do. You get two meals for the price of one which is always a bonus!!

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