30 September, 2014

Taking our dogs to the beach for the first time

It's been more than three years since we moved to the coast and our dogs had never seen the ocean. We finally took them to the beach this week with my parents. I was expecting them to be confused by the waves, but they were much more interested in exploring all the scents on the beach.

I introduced my dad to the A Beautiful Mess app this week and he's been making collages of our outings.

Poor Twiggy got so excited that she hurt her neck and had to go to the vet the next day. She is fine now.

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24 September, 2014

Vrede en Lust getaway

It can be difficult to take a break when you have three dogs at home, but we had the opportunity to spend two nights at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate near Franschhoek recently. We stayed in the beautiful Barbere cottage.

The decor mixes contemporary elements with antique furniture. We had a giant bathtub complete with Charlotte Rhys products.

The location is beautiful and we enjoyed relaxing strolls to take in the view. The grounds are very peaceful and it felt like the perfect country escape.

Our stay included breakfast at Lust Bistro & Bakery, only a few metres away from our front door.

Not only did they have soy milk, but our favourite brand. On the first morning I had a cappuccino and the fruit and muesli trifle without yoghurt.

We bought one of the delicious breads for dinner and ate it with different toppings we bought in Franschhoek. We discovered a shop selling a large variety of flavoured oils and vinegars. I picked basil flavoured olive oil and tomato flavoured vinegar to dip the bread in. It was like a salad in liquid form.

On the second morning I had a fresh juice and the best mushrooms on toast I've ever eaten.

We had a wonderful stay and I look forward to the next one. As a bonus this friendly cat greeted us on the first day and we spotted him a few times during our stay.

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17 September, 2014

Mission Samsung Roundup

Mission Samsung is over and all the review Smart Ovens are being collected from the participating bloggers. You can see Samsung's list of the contestants here. To make it easier to follow, I have put together a list of all the blog posts from the challenges.

A few things I made with the Samsung Smart Oven.

Mission 1: 'Weekend Night Feast Challenge'

Mission 2: 'Healthy Fried Food and Easy To Clean' or 'Baking Bliss'

Mission 3: 'So you think you can Blog?'

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13 September, 2014

Mission Samsung Challenge Week 3: Final review

I've spent an exciting three weeks with the Samsung Smart Microwave Oven and now it's time to tell you about my experience. The first thing you need to know about this oven is that it's a combination microwave and convection oven, meaning you get the capabilities and convenience of two appliances in one compact oven. I'll share a general overview of the oven with you before getting to my personal conclusion.

With your smart oven you will receive a handy instruction and cooking guide. This little booklet contains all the information you need to get cooking. It starts of with a quick look-up guide and then provides detailed information about how the oven works, how how to use it, the appropriate cookware and guidelines for many different types of food. There's a section for each of the smart oven's programmes and settings with tables to help you quickly look up how to cook or reheat anything from baby food to broccoli. There's also a handy guide on the oven so you don't even need the manual once you've learnt how to use it.

Smart Features
There are 4 buttons at the top of the control panel for the smart programmes with automatic power and time settings. The tables in each section show different types of foods, serving sizes, standing time and recommendations so that you can easily make the right selection. The Smart Sensor reads the food’s surface temperature to determine whether it is done.

Smart Defrost
You can use the smart defrost programme for meat, poultry, fish, bread and fruit. You can also easily manually defrost food and there is a section on defrosting later in the guide.

Smart Cook
There are programmes for 25 different foods in the smart cook section. This includes bagels, soup, frozen lasagna, cauliflower and even cookies. I tested out the smart cook function to bake cookies for Mission Samsung's second challenge. I also tested it with broccoli and jacket potatoes and got perfect results. It only takes 2 minutes to cook broccoli and 5 minutes for potatoes, you can't ask for a quicker healthy dinner.

Slim Fry
This has to be one of the best features of this oven. The slim fry programme combines the microwave, convection and grill functions to create crispy food with less oil than traditional frying methods. There are 10 pre-programmed settings featuring frozen oven chips, spring rolls, home-made French fries and apple halves. I tested this function with frozen oven chips, potato wedges and sliced courgettes.

The oven chips were much softer inside than when cooked in a regular oven, but still had a crispy exterior. I usually think frozen oven chips are too dry when cooked, but that doesn't happen with the smart oven. The potato wedges cooked much faster than in a regular oven, it only took 17 minutes. I've never made roasted courgette (baby marrow/zucchini) before and they were delicious. They are the perfect healthy side dish or snack.

Auto Fermentation Feature
I used this feature in the first week of Mission Samsung to make pizza dough. There are also settings to proof cake and bread dough and to make homemade yoghurt. I tested the bread dough and yoghurt features too.

To make yoghurt you combine 150g yoghurt with 500ml milk and the smart oven helps you turn the milk into yoghurt. Since I don't drink dairy milk I decided to test it with soy yoghurt and soy milk. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked and I had delicious thick soy yoghurt. You can either use a large bowl or 5 small dishes for the milk. The programme will run for 9 hours with a large bowl or 7 hours with small dishes. Then the yoghurt needs to be in the fridge for 6 hours.

Special hints
At the back of the cooking guide you will find a special hints page with quick instructions for melting butter, cooking pudding etc. I used this guide to melt the chocolate and brown the almonds for my dessert pizza in the first challenge. There are also easy instructions to cook jam and I tried that this week. I've never made jam before, but in only 10 minutes these fresh strawberries and sugar were turned into delicious homemade jam.

Other features
The smart oven has microwave, convection oven and grill (broiler) settings. You can also combine the microwave and grill or microwave and convection settings for faster cooking times while roasting or browning dishes. You can use the fast preheat function to quickly heat up the oven and shorten cooking times. The oven has an anti-bacterial and scratch-resistant ceramic interior that is easy to clean. It's surprisingly big and can handle large dishes, so it's perfect to cook a family meal. You can even cook more than one dish at the same time by using the different metal racks.

My favourite features
The fast preheat function I mentioned above is very handy and this oven is ready to cook or bake much quicker than a regular oven. The turntable ensures that your food is cooked evenly. This is a feature normally only seen in microwaves, but it's very useful in an oven. Another microwave feature I love is the timer. Whether using a programmed setting or choosing the time yourself, you will never come back to food that has been burnt beyond recognition because the oven will switch off when the time has run out. How many times have you had perfectly cooked food that only needed to brown under the grill for a few minutes? But while you quickly did something else, your food was scorched? This will never happen with a timed grill function.

The Samsung Smart Microwave Oven is an incredibly useful kitchen appliance. It can perform several different tasks, it cuts down cooking time and it can even automatically cook many types of food. I love cooking and experimenting with different recipes, but I often feel like I don't have enough time to cook everything I want to. This oven has helped me cook more in less time and with less supervision. I would recommend this to both beginners and experienced home cooks.

I have loved testing the Smart Oven and I hope it will become a permanent part of my kitchen.

See my previous Mission Samsung posts here:
Challenge 1: Pizza
Challenge 2: Cookies
Baking bread

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My name is Natasha. I live in a beautiful coastal town in South African with my little human/dog family. I love cooking and share new recipes I've tried here. Sometimes I even create my own recipes. I spend way too much time on Pinterest and blogs, but I'd like to be a neat, productive person one day. We're also starting a new business. You can read more about that at terrapinandtoad.com

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