Friday, 29 May 2015

How to Keep Kids Toys Organised on A Budget

We all know that part of the job description of being the resident household mommy is knowing where every single one of your children's' hundreds of toys are at any given time. Well, my kids seem to think so anyway, since I keep getting asked where some or other random toy is. It also gets very frustrating to constantly trip over toys scattered everywhere.
There are many different ways to organise toys, I am just sharing what works in our house (well mostly, since children and order seem to be diametrically conflicting notions).

First, I have one really huge box for each child for larger toys... pink for Noodle and Blue for Squish. There are stunning wooden toy chests out there but these inexpensive but large plastic storage tubs work well for us.




Then, each child has a set of stackable plastic drawers for smaller toys, again colour co-ordinated to match their bedrooms. Each of these are categorised according to what goes in it, eg. Noodle has one drawer with puzzles, ones with smaller dolls etc, whereas Squish has one with rattles and baby stuff, one with cars etc.



Then within Noodle's drawers, I have some of the stuff sorted in Ziploc bags so that toys of the same type stay together (eg. pieces of a tea set in one bag and plastic farm animals in another). This is neater and I find that they are more likely to be played with when they are not randomly scattered. (P.S. I use Ziploc bags for everything...large ones to keep children's socks, underwear, hairbands etc together and tiny ones to keep pairs of earrings together and to keep chains from tangling.)


organisation toys


We also like re-using ice-cream tubs and those party pack buckets to sort toys of the same type together. For example, all bath toys are in an ice-cream tub which gets packed away in the cupboard under the basin. (If the ice-cream tubs are going to be seen, they can be painted as desired... let the kids do this part).


kids storage ideas


Noodle has lots and lots of stuffed animals and dolls and we have put up separate shelves for these. Books are on a small bookshelf, where I resist the strong urge to use the Duey Decimal system for organisation.

Other small collapsible storage boxes are also used where required. For example, this cute little bus storage box (which I found for a steal at Pep of all places) keeps all Squish's little trains in one place. The box doubles as a toy as well as he enjoys driving his bus around the house.



Labeling where different things go is also handy. For children who cannot read yet, it also helps to have pictures of what goes where, eg. a picture of a puzzle piece to indicate that this is where puzzles go. (This method can also be used for clothes, eg. pictures of t-shirts, pants etc to show what goes where).

Toys are kept at a level where they are easily reachable for children and easy for them to put back again (with the exception of a few expensive breakable toys that are only played with under supervision). 

Children can be taught from very early on (pretty much from when they start walking)  to help tidy up toys and a reward for this is useful. Yes, the war on piled up toys is an ongoing battle but it can be managed, if not won entirely.

I have yet to find a good solution for storing the assortment of bikes, trikes and ride-on cars amassed, other than packed away in a store room or garage, but would love any suggestions. I would also love top hear any handy storage ideas that you may have for kids toys and other items.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

25 Things To Do With Your Child At Least Once Before Age 5

This toddler and pre-schooler 'bucket list' is in no particular order and once is an absolute minimum for each item, but they can be repeated again and again. This list applies to both moms and dads. 

1.Go to the beach. Play in the water.

ocean wave sand


     Build sandcastles.



2. Do a charity drive and give the collected items to the recipient in person with your child.

3. Random acts of kindness.

4. Play outdoors in the sand, leaves and mud.

5. Bake together.


baking


6. Let them help you wash your car.

7. Milk a cow.



8. Plant something together and water the plant regularly together.

 Image from flowerclipart.com


9. Play hide and seek together.

10. Pray together.

11. Go to the zoo or to an animal farm.


12. Go camping, even if it is in your back yard or indoors.

13. Let them save for something and buy it themselves.

14.Ride bikes.

15. Tickle each other till you are both out of breath.

16. Feed the ducks.



17. Fly a kite.

18. Play in the rain.

19. Watch the sun rise.


20. Take your child to work with you.

21. Make a hand made gift for someone.

22. Scream at the top of your lungs for no reason.

23. Explore a new place. 



24. Blow bubbles together.


25. Snuggle under the blankets as a family and exchange hugs, kisses and snuggles together.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Inside Jozi Wahm's Kitchen- Spicy Chicken Lasagne

Lasagne is one of my favourite go to dishes, because it is simple and tasty and can be made ahead of time and frozen for busy days.

It is also great for hiding any other vegetables that you like without the kids noticing (grated carrot or finely chopped cabbage, spinach or broccoli can all be slipped in unnoticed). This is not a traditional Italian version, as some extra spices are added, but I am sure that Garfield would scoff this down in an instant.




I make the filling first and then assemble the lasagne.

This recipe is enough for four, but can easily be doubled up and one frozen for an extra meal. One box of lasagne is enough to make the below twice.

INGREDIENTS:
 
2 chicken fillets, cubed finely
1/2 punnet mushrooms
1/2 a green pepper
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon fine garlic
1 teaspoon fine ginger
1 finely chopped chilli (use less or omit if you do not like very spicy food)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tomato, grated
1/2 sachet of tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Lots of finely chopped herbs (I use spring onion, parsley, coriander)
Cheese, grated (I use a mix of gouda and mozzarella)

SAUCE:

White sauce or cheese sauce of choice (make lots). If you are feeling lazy, the instant packets of pasta white sauce will do the trick, but it is always better made from scratch.

METHOD:

Heat a little oil and add onion, ginger, garlic and all spices. Once onions are translucent, add grated tomato and tomato paste. 

Add chicken, mushrooms and peppers. (You can also add any other vegetables you would like to sneak in). Cook on low heat until cooked. The chicken should still be saucy (the lasagne sheets absorb some of the sauce). Sprinkle with fresh herbs.

While it is cooking, grease a casserole dish liberally (I use butter for this).

Add a generous layer of sauce to the casserole dish. Add a layer of lasagne. Break the sheets if you need to but do not overlap.

Cover with a layer of the chicken. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, another layer of sauce and a second layer of chicken. Add a final layer of lasagne and cover with more sauce. 

Set dish aside for at least an hour before topping with grated cheese. You can also sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. (This dish can be frozen at this point if a suitable freezer-safe dish is used).

Bake in the oven (pre-heated) for twenty minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. (I sprinkle with a bit of dried origanum).

lasagne garfield spicy cheese

Serve with salad.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Why a Simple Car Ride with Kids is Not so Simple

It is time for a quick stop at the shops for bread and milk. Easy, right? Not when you have two little kids.


Here is how it goes. 

Pack nappy bag, handbag and a snack (because my kids get hungry wherever we go). Locate pram. 

Pop in baby bottle and a water bottle for big sister (she just HAS to get a drink because he has one). 

Locate car keys which toddler has placed securely in the dustbin for safekeeping. Disinfect keys. Check that electronic components still work after disinfecting.




Clean kids up a bit so they do not look like they live in a sewer. Toddler nappy explosion occurs- change nappy and repeat clean up process.

Call for kids four times. Get told that we have to wait till Sophia the First finishes.


 Call for a fifth time then drag kids out.

Lock up house. Ensure that all doors and windows are locked, electric fence is on and alarm activated (this is Johannesburg, South Africa, known for its high crime rate). 

Unlock car. Place handbag and nappy bag in car. Place pram in the boot.

By this point minors may have escaped. Chase said minors around the yard to get them into car.

Have five minute debate with four year old on why she needs to be strapped in her car seat. Strap four year old into seat while continuing said debate.

Drag giggling one year old from driver's seat and forcefully place in rear car seat and strap up while he wriggles and squirms. Provide one year old with a stuffed toy in the hopes of him settling. Retrieve stuffed toy from floor three times before giving up.

Close rear car doors.

Get into driver side door. Close driver side door. Put on seat belt. 

Give in to request for nursery rhyme CD. 

Lock car doors and scan driveway exit point for potential house burglars and hijackers (this is Johannesburg, South Africa remember). Say a prayer for your safety and that of your family and possessions while out on this momentous journey.

Get ready to reverse out of driveway.

You've got this. Finally ready to go.

Then comes the dreaded sound from the back seat... "Mommy, I really, really need the bathroom ... right now!!!".

Sigh. Repeat entire process.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Not a Baby Anymore- My Little Boy is Growing Up!

Just yesterday I was holding my 2.4 kilogram newborn boy in my arms. That's what it feels like anyway. Suddenly, I have a very grown up, walking, talking, acrobatic sixteen-month-old  whizzing around at lightning speed, leaving in his path equal proportions of love, smiles and utter destruction. I don't quite know when it happened but I have a fully-fledged toddler.

Here is a pie chart I created. 

toddler jozi wahm squish
LIFE AS A ONE YEAR OLD

 He is learning new things rapidly. He can now point out all his body parts and say the names for some of them too. He points out the correct animals in a book when asked (though when he sees animals in person, they are all doggies or cows). He can build a tower of lego blocks and put things in the right hole in a shape sorter.

One of the highlights of having a toddler is watching him play with big sister and observing the interactions between them. Noodle likes pretending he is her 'puppy'. She ties a string on his arm and pulls him along. He willingly obliges, running with her and barking like a dog. He loves playing hide and seek with big sister. When he 'seeks', he faces the wall and says 'two, two, two, two' until he gets bored and then goes looking for Noodle.

He loves talking on the phone and will happily 'chat' for ages with his grandparents (with a lot of head shaking and hand waving).

baby laundry peekaboo


He helps out with housework and likes sweeping, folding laundry (i.e. crumpling the laundry I just folded) and mopping the floor with the toilet brush (true story- we now keep bathroom doors closed at all times).

Noodle did not do the terrible two thing- she had the terrible 1.5's. All indications show that Squish will repeat this trend. 

His latest trick is to do something that he knows he is not supposed to (yes, he is little but he knows)... like throw his plate down, pull Noodle's hair or throw something down the toilet and then say his newest word "Eish" (which he seems to think will magically excuse his misdemeanor). If we tell him that he is being naughty, he voluntarily retreats to Noodle's time out corner with his tail between his legs and all is forgiven.

All attempts at baby-proofing our house have gone out of the window as he has those child-proof locks all figured out. He can switch on the TV all on his own and can switch on lights, the washing machine and the oven (oh dear). He has also decided that bungee-jumping off the back of the couch is his favourite new pastime. Heart attack alert!

Having a one year old is the most exhausting job in the world but if I could freeze time I would. One is just such a sweet and innocent age.Despite all the antics, he makes everyone in his path smile and laugh- a lot.  He still loves being showered in hugs and kisses and will return the favour. He is still just so cute (I may be biased but he is) and it is fascinating to see this new personality, with unique quirks and traits emerging. I am excited and just a little bit scared to see my big boy take on the world.



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Quick Kids Art Using Recycled Waste Products

Noodle always likes to do something arty when she is home with me and Squish is napping.

Here are some of the things we have been up to lately. These are all quick and easy and primarily use waste materials which otherwise would have been discarded.

COUTURE FOIL HAT AND BANGLE

flower art crafts toddler child kid recycled

The bangles are literally just scrunched up foil.

The hat is lined with a re-used disposable plastic bowl, which gives it the firm shape. The flower is cut out from a cardboard tray.

EGGTRAY FLOWER

upcycle recycle waste artcrafts child


This is so easy that Noodle was able to do this on her own with a bit of supervision.

1.Cut out four 'egg holes' from the egg tray (with a bit extra cut out from in between to create the petal shape).

2. Tape a straw at the back as the stem. (We twisted a green pipe cleaner around the straw but you could use a green straw or paint the straw green).

3. Paint the flower as desired. 

FINGER PUPPETS

These ones came pre-cut in a craft set, but could just as easily be made with off-cuts of felt, stiff cardboard to line with (toilet rolls or foil inners will work well), some glue and a few googly eyes.

animals crafts felt monkey dog bear lion


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

7 Secrets to Combatting the Flu at Home

This past few days, our household has been transformed into a quarantine zone, with two cases of whiny-clingy little kiddy flu, one case of debilitating mommy flu and one suspected case of the notorious man-flu just beginning to brew. Noodle's pre-school Watsapp group is abuzz with messages from parents saying that their littlies will not be attending school due to illness. Extended family members who declared themselves immune after flu shots are down. 
 

drugs calpol probiflora avamys dynexan panado


Yep, the dreaded flu season has arrived with a vengeance.

As much as I would like to crawl under a duvet and hibernate for a week, life must go on.

I have decided to compile a list of my top home flu remedies as I work my way through using these with my family one by one (together with the goodies that the doctor prescribed of course). Sniffles and sneezes begone!

image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net
  • Nobody seems to know why this one works (some kind of reflexology perhaps?) but many mothers will swear by applying Vicks balm under the feet at night and covering with socks to magically stop night coughing in its tracks. Please exercise caution as this is not suitable for infants.
  • In dry Johannesburg, a humidifier makes a huge difference when the sniffles arrive. I like to use eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender oils in the humidifier (between them they are meant to have antiviral, antibacterial and decongestant properties). I also put a few drops of these oils in a squirt bottle, diluted with lots of water and spritz at night. (If you do not have a nebuliser, steaming over a pot of boiling water is also effective).
  • If you have a nebuliser, use it! This works brilliantly for coughs. Regular saline is just as effective in the nebuliser as prescription meds. Smaller children may be afraid of the nebiliser at first, but they will quickly get over it if you make a game out of it.
  • Lots of fluids are essential to avoid dehydration. Plain water and clear hot drinks are the best. Noodle requests 'honey tea'when she is sick. My 'sick' tea recipe varies, but typically contains the following, brewed in boiling water and then strained: ginger, turmeric, peppermint, cinnamon, honey, a rooibos teabag. Skip the milk if you can as this can make cause more phlegm. Drink as hot as can be tolerated.
  • Vitamin C is great for an immune boost and probiotics are helpful too as they restore your 'good bacteria'.
  • Encourage children to wash hands regularly and not to hug and kiss while sick to avoid spreading germs (easier said than done, as children tend to get clingy and unusually affectionate when ill).
  • Sleep with an extra pillow to allow for easier breathing and sinus drainage. The top of childrens' beds and cots can be raised.
Note: the above should not be construed as medical advice. Please always consult your doctor.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Some Decor Ideas Using Metallic Sharpies

I have officially been hit with the metallic sharpie bug. Since having found them, I have found it difficult to resist the urge to effortlessly make things shiny and metallic (just call me Midas). 

I am no artist, but everything looks pretty when you add a bit of sparkle to it. I have added metallic edges to a few items for a touch of glamour in a matter of seconds and also marked random items like lunchboxes with names using these.

I also used a silver metallic sharpie to transform a generic black tablet cover. It took about fifteen minutes to cover the entire surface with henna inspired doodles. The medium is very forgiving and you would have to look very closely to see the various spots where I was knocked by a wriggly toddler on my lap. If you try a similar exercise, bear in mind that the ink takes a little while to dry, so take care not to smudge.

tablet cover silver black henna tattoo
I also had these tiny white teacups that came as a freebie at some point. The cups are cute but had unappealing corporate branding on them. I of course, decided to transform these with my own random patterns. From what I have read online, these need to be baked in the oven for a few minutes to prevent the colour from washing out over time, but I have not done this yet.

crafts decor cup silver white


I wish I could post a picture of the candle that I decorated, but it seems to have grown feet. Next time! I have a few more ideas with these that I hope to share soon! 

(Note: this is not a sponsored post)

Friday, 15 May 2015

NickFest is Coming to Jozi!!!

We are super excited to announce that the great people at Nickelodeon are bringing the Nickfest Festival to the Globe at Silverstar on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 June 2015 for what is promised to be 'the most fun your family will ever have'. 




I don't know about you, but my children love characters like Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I know that they will absolutely love going to this event. Noodle is obsessed with Dora in particular. I also love the fact that this event supports such a worthy charitable cause.


nickelodeon nickfest


According to our friends at Nickelodeon:

"Kids and family favourite Nickelodeon (DStv channel 305) is teaming up with Tsogo Sun and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust to stage its first ever family-centric festival, NickFest, in Johannesburg at The Globe at Silverstar on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 June.

NickFest will thrill kids and parents alike with its unique combination of live music from SA A-listers, character shows and appearances by Nickelodeon superstars SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Packed with fun and interactivity, NickFest promises a fabulous day out for kids of all ages and their families, with designated activities for pre-schoolers, primary school kids, tweens and teens. And of course there’ll be lots of Nickelodeon’s trademark slime– tons and tons of gooey green stuff… in the awesome Slime Area!

A favourite with SA kids, Nickelodeon currently broadcasts three 24-hour kids channels in SA: Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nicktoons. Nickelodeon consistently ranks as the number one kids and family channel on premium pay-TV in South Africa, thanks to award-winning, ratings-beating programming that puts kids first, including “The Nickelodeon Kids’s Choice Awards”*, “SpongeBob SquarePants”, “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “The Thundermans”. Attracting 170,000 viewers per day, Nickelodeon’s viewership is up by 41 percent over the same time last year due to its compelling mix of classic, character-driven shows and a vibrant new programme slate.

During the 2 day festival, NickFest will welcome more than 4,000 kids and families to The Globe, with the site totally transformed into a Nickelodeon wonderland. Two shows will be held on both days at 10:00 am and 14:00 pm. Details of performers will be released shortly.

Commented Tasania Parsadh,
Senior Channel Manager, Nickelodeon, Africa, “We are delighted to bring NickFest to South Africa, providing a unique, fun-filled day out for kids and their parents to enjoy together. And, as a brand that prides itself of putting ‘Kids First’, we are donating a portion of the proceeds from the event to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust to help ensure South African children have access to improved healthcare facilities.”
In partnership with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust, NickFest will also feature The Celebrity Slime Challenge in which well-known celebrities will get doused in slime to raise funds for the charity, which is currently constructing the second paediatric hospital in South Africa, in Parktown, Johannesburg.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital began construction in April 2014, and is targeted to open in the second half of 2016. The Trust continues to fundraise towards its R1 billion target, of which R620 million has been raised. “It is with support and donations from partners such as NickFest, as well as the public that we look forward to Madiba’s wish becoming a reality. And we look to the global community to continue supporting this project, which will improve children’s health for generations to come,” said Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.

Speaking on behalf of Silverstar, Sanele Ntombela, Marketing Manager, commented, “As West Rand’s Number 1 entertainment destination, Silverstar is excited to team up with Nickelodeon for the inaugural NickFest. This fantastic, family celebration is the perfect fit for Silverstar’s family oriented profile.”

Commented Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa, “We are very excited to launch NickFest in South Africa as it also forms part of our festivities to celebrate VIMN’s 10th year and the 10 channels we have launched in Africa.”

Tickets for NickFest go on sale week commencing 11 May 2015 via Computicket, priced R110 per person (entrance free for children under 2). Ten percent of funds from ticket sales will be donated towards the construction of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.
For more information on NickFest please go to www.nickelodeon.com, join us on Twitter @NickAfrica and on Instagram @Nickelodeon_Africa, or like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/NickelodeonAfrica. To join the conversation about NickFest use the hashtag #NickFest."
  
nickfest nickelodeon
Are you going to NickFest this year? I know that we are certainly looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Five Things That I Really Love Right Now

My most treasured things are of course those things that you cannot place a price tag on- my family, friends, beliefs, values and memories. 

That being said, these are some of my current favourite shop-bought fixes.

(This is not a sponsored post and none of the items listed below have been sponsored in any manner or form.)

LINDT HELLO CHOCOLATE

All Lindt chocolate is delicious of course, but their new Hello Line is particularly indulgent. My husband is wise enough to know this and got me one of each flavour for Mother's Day. So far the strawberry shortcake and caramel brownie flavours are winners.

CONVERSE WEDGE HEELS

Now shorties like me can look casual, funky and laid back while still getting a height boost. People either love or hate these but for me it is true love.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE MUFFINS

The double chocolate and orange muffins from Food Lover's Market are the yummiest I have tasted, especially if you happen to get them hot out of the oven. (Their panini rolls are also amazing).

FELT TIPPED LIQUID EYELINER PENS

The only make-up item I cannot go without is eyeliner and the new felt-tipped liquid liner make application super easy for those of us that do not have the time or inclination to spend hours on make-up. I like the Essence brand with the super-fine tip, which is inexpensive and easy to find but works well. 


METALLIC SHARPIES

I am sure these have been out for a while but they are my newest toy and are just so cool. They are like regular permanent markers but waterproof, with a metallic finish and work on most surfaces (even black ones). The possibilities are endless! I hope to post some of my experiments with these soon.


Monday, 11 May 2015

Why I Never Post Pics of My Kids Online

Some of you may be wondering why my children, Noodle and Squish, feature so prominently on this blog, yet there are no photo's of them here. Yes, they really exist and no they are not butt ugly -in fact, in my (only slightly biased) mommy opinion they are exceptionally good looking and cute.


I completely understand the appeal of posting those innocent baby photographs- there is something about the joy and innocence captured in these pictures that makes parents swell with pride and rush to share these with the world. You want to share your happiness, the funny moments and all those special milestones. However, each share of these moments shared may have unforeseen consequences and this really worries me.

Even before I began blogging, when A and I had children, we made a decision from day one that we would not be posting pictures of them on social media. Back then, our social media influence extended primarily to Facebook. Despite personally knowing each of my few hundred contacts, some are former school friends that I had not seen in decades, random work colleagues etc. Who knows if any of them are in fact undercover paedophiles or child traffickers? In addition, Facebook is constantly changing its terms of use and privacy settings- who knows where these images will pop up in twenty years from now.




I think few people realise the permanence of images on the web. Every time you post pictures online, these are stored, with the potential for anyone to access these at a later time. Your child, too young to consent to his or her pictures flooding the internet, already has an online history, some of which he or she may not want shared with the world at a later date. As the guardian, for the time-being, of your child's online identity, you have a responsibility towards them. Maybe I am just a paranoid mom, but there are sicko's out there. Each little piece of information may unlock one piece of a puzzle in a criminal's pursuit at untoward activity, whether it be child trafficking or identity theft. Even corporate mining of information may have undesired consequences (yes, true fact, our larger corporates really do have intelligence centres that already know more about us than we do). We already have geo-tracking and facial recognition technology. Who knows what further information may be gleaned from photographs in a few years from now.

When I started blogging, it was an automatic decision that photographs of my children would not feature on my blog (other than the occasional hand or foot that makes it into photographs). I even took it a step further, using pseudonyms for all of us. Besides all the horror scenario's I already mentioned, I do not want to inadvertantly publish some miniscule detail about my son or daughter which crops up somewhere when they are applying for their first jobs or be the reason they get bullied in high school.

I see many bloggers who post thousands of photographs of their little angels online. I can certainly see why- this helps build a repertoire with readership and makes bloggers and their families come across as likeable and relatable. Oh and most of them are just so darn cute! Most of the bloggers I know have super adorable kids!

However,  I fear that for bloggers, this is even more risky as you are posting so many other minute details about the lives of you and your family and that this, together with photographs make it easy for ill-intentioned individuals to gather private information. P.S. I am not judging anybody's decision to do so- to each his own (oh except when you post naked bath pictures online, then maybe I am judging your discretion a little bit), but I just wanted to share my reasons for not sharing.

What do you think? Am I being overly protective? Are there other parents like us out there? I would love to hear from you.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Competition Link Up- Coz Everyone Likes to Win

Everyone loves a freebie right?

prize competition link up


Our South African bloggers always have some great giveaways on the  go, so I thought it would be great if people could have a reference point to find these all from one place. 

If you are you running a competition on your blog during the month of May, why not post the link to your competition in the comments below. Maybe you will spot some competitions there which you would like to enter (remember, the only way to win is by entering!).

If this thread is popular, I will do a monthly competition thread. 

So go ahead, get posting!!! (P.S. Blog readers... get entering!!!)

(Disclaimer: unless otherwise indicated, The Jozi WAHM's Guide to Everything is not responsible for the running of any of the competitions below and may not be held responsible for the content of any of these competitions or awarding of any competition prizes.)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Jozi WAHM's Dummy's Guide to Making Samoosas

Ramadaan, the month in which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, is just over a month away. This is a spiritual time of deep reflection, prayer and introspection for Muslims.

Somewhat ironically, many Muslims in South Africa in particular spend the period just before Ramadaan obsessing over the preparation of savoury foods to break their fast with at sunset and stockpile freezer loads of the triangular delicacies (together with a back up warehouse of spring rolls, half moons, pies and other cholesterol rich delights). The theory goes, according to elder housewives, that if most of the food preparation is done in advance, there will be more time for prayer during the auspicious month. I am not sure how relevant this argument is given how laborious samoosa making is and given that the frozen samoosas still has to be fried or baked before being eaten, but nevertheless, it has become tradition (in South Africa and other parts of the world) and Ramadaan just would not be the same without them. 

In honor of this samoosa-filled period, I thought I would share a dummy's guide to making these intricate snacks.


Recipe 1:

Okay, maybe I should not call this a recipe but it works perfectly! The ultimate dummy technique, which I favour, is to find a little old Indian or Cape Malay lady who slaves away every day making samoosas and pay her to do it. 

This site is all about encouraging, celebrating and supporting work from home moms and Johannesburg has hundreds, if not more, of these little old lady WAHM's running little home industries, as do other South African cities. Some will even make the samoosas using your filling if you so wish, and provide you with the frozen goodies, which you will just have to fry.

Given how much time is invested in making samoosas, I would strongly suggest this route if you are short on time.

Recipe 2:

If you really want to make your own samoosas, read on. I am by no means an expert in samoosa making (mine taste decent but I am quite slow at folding them, unlike the more experienced makers who do it at lightning speed).

The instructions here use ready made 'pur' (the samoosa pastry). I made my own once but quite frankly it is not worth the effort. The pur can be bought frozen (it can be found in the frozen food section of most major grocery stores, though nicer homemade ones are available at Indian grocery stores and butcheries).

You will need to defrost your pur for a few hours or overnight. In the meantime, you can prepare your filling of choice and leave it to cool. 

I will share a recipe below which can be used with chicken, steak or mutton mince, but you could also do cheese and corn, spicy potato or virtually any other filling.

The filling:

500 g mince
2 finely chopped onions
Green chillies, finely chopped (to taste, depending how hot you like things)
A squeeze of lemon juice, 
pepper and salt to taste
1 small bunch of chopped coriander (dhania)
1/2 teaspoon of ginger and garlic mix
1/2 teaspoon gharam masala (available from any spice shop)

Method: 

Saute the onions in a bit of oil until golden brown. Braise the mince in the above ingredients until the mince is cooked and dry. Soggy mince is your enemy when folding later on so this is crucial. Season with the chopped coriander. Leave to cool for later use.

While you are filling your samoosas, keep the unused samoosa pur covered with a clean cloth to prevent it from drying out.

The pur will come stacked in a big pile, usually of a hundred sheets. Carefully peel off one layer of pur, being careful not to tear it. (Some people use a double layer of pur for cheese samoosas as they tend to burst while frying). P.S. if you do accidentally tear some of the strips, do not use them for samoosas. Instead you can cut into smaller strips and fry for a snack similar to potato chips. 

Now comes the tricky part. You need to fold the samoosa as shown in the picture below.

The instructions below comes from a 1960's recipe book called the Indian Delights, which remains the authority on South African Indian Cooking (like every Afrikaans household has 'Kook en Geniet', almost every South African Indian household still has a copy of this gem).

Courtesy of Indian Delights by Zuleikha Mayat
zuleikha mayat

The next few pictures illustrate the above using paper and tissue "filling". Chinese Origami may seem easier at this point.
 
samoosa pur folding how to
Top left: First fold | Top right: Second fold | Bottom left: Filling added | Bottom right: Third fold
After the first two folds, you would have created a little triangular pocket. You add about a tablespoon of the filling into the pocket you have created. Do not overfill as you will battle to close it. Then you do another fold to close the open flap at the top of your pocket. Well done, you have completed the hard bit! Then you just keep on folding until your strip is used up.

Make sure that your corners are tightly sealed or the oil will seep in while you are frying, leaving you with a greasy samoosa.

Once complete, you seal the samoosa with a dab of paste made out of flour and water (add just enough water to the flour to make a sticky paste).

Samoosas taste best deep-fried until golden brown but if you would like a healthier alternative, you can brush with olive oil and bake, or you could use an airfryer.

Serve with your favourite chutney and slices of lemon and enjoy!