Category Archives: Student Life

Best of G’Town: Milkshake hotspot

Mmmm milkshakes. I used to think that Bar One milkshakes was about as extreme and amazing as you could get (there is no disputing that they are fabulous, though). Then I found Red Café, and I was completely blown away.

Peanut butter milkshakes to blow you away, strawberry and banana smoothie (Pam thinks she's healthy). Bar One milkshake next to a peppermint crisp milkshake which tastes just like the dessert.

Peanut butter milkshakes to blow you away, strawberry and banana smoothie (Pam thinks she’s healthy). Bar One milkshake next to a peppermint crisp milkshake which tastes just like the dessert.

They have your traditional chocolate and vanilla, but then they also have Milo, Horlicks, and even peanut butter milkshakes! It’s like a perfect peanut smoothie, but it’s a milkshake, so it’s better. Then they have Dessert Milkshakes, which include peppermint crisp (Peppermint Surprise for those students who live in res at Rhodes University), Bar One and Oreo (cookies and cream is always a winner). They also serve smoothies if you would prefer to appear healthy, but they taste so great that it’s hard to believe it’s healthy fruity ingredients.

They have a charming breakfast menu, but the food menu is dominated by tramezzinis and baguettes. Their tramezzinis are definitely the better option, though, as they crisp up nicely, while the baguettes are rather bland… They also do salads and cater for certain fussy diets.

Breakfast wrap and a breakfast tramezzini, same filling, different outside. The wrap itself was somewhat bland, so it is better to have the cheese, scrambled egg and bacon in it's crispy tramezzini form.

Breakfast wrap and a breakfast tramezzini, same filling, different outside. The wrap itself was somewhat bland, so it is better to have the cheese, scrambled egg and bacon in it’s crispy tramezzini form.

They have a charming breakfast menu, but the food menu is dominated by tramezzinis and baguettes. Their tramezzinis are definitely the better option, though, as they crisp up nicely, while the baguettes are rather bland… They also do salads and cater for certain fussy diets.

Darren enjoyed a chicken mayo tramezzini, which was full to bursting with more than just a chicken mayo filling - there was cheese and I think they even crammed some mushrooms in there. The chocolate brownie was one of the greatest in Grahamstown for sure

Darren enjoyed a chicken mayo tramezzini, which was full to bursting with more than just a chicken mayo filling – there was cheese and I think they even crammed some mushrooms in there.
The chocolate brownie was one of the greatest in Grahamstown for sure

My first port of call, though, is the sweets and treats, obviously. Brownies, millionairs shortbread and an assortment of cakes go down a treat. My latest delight there was a chocolate brownie that was delicious. I couldn’t figure out if it was a especially gooey brownie, or slightly under-done; either way, it totally worked.

Red Café is definitely under-appreciated, though it does receive a steady amount of business by the sounds of things. It’s a pity about their open times, but it is understandable for a café to not be open for dinner; their menu doesn’t lend itself to that as much. Their food is consistently improving, providing reliable deliciousness – keep it simple and you’ll definitely get it right more often. Their location and set up is also ideal – the balcony overlooking the high street is quaint and cool (under the shade at least) for a hot summers day with a shake or a smoothie.

They have a unique balcony with a charming view. Here I enjoyed a roast chicken and cheese baguette with an Oreo milkshake.

They have a unique balcony with a charming view.
Here I enjoyed a roast chicken and cheese baguette with an Oreo milkshake.

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Everything thing brownies

Have you ever done the everything thing? I’m at the stage in my life where it is happening very often, and it makes sense: I have so many big choices to make, and everything seems to have culminated into this period of my life. Never have I been faced with so many options and life paths, and it’s getting almost overwhelming.

So I decided to bake of course.

These were originally meant to be “kitchen sink brownies” but as I realised how much these brownies were becoming a metaphor for my life at the moment, they became Everything Thing brownies.

Baking Everything Thing brownies to distract myself from life choices

Baking Everything Thing brownies to distract myself from life choices

I am finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in a few days (couldn’t be more excited for it to be over!) and I now have the potential of the big bad world ahead of me. Let me just warn you that University pretty much doesn’t really prepare you for real-world activities, only life can do that. I am scared that wherever I decide to go, I will end up having learnt all about the industry, but not enough about how to do a job in it. Well, these are just my concerns and fears for the future. And then there’s the fact that I don’t even know what I’m going to do with my life.

These are the contents, not the ingredients of Everything Thing Brownies. The Snickers were strong, bordering overpowering, and the Rolo's disappeared. The Creme Caramels also disappeared, but that's because I ate them before they made it into the brownies

These are the contents, not the ingredients of Everything Thing Brownies. The Snickers were strong, bordering overpowering, and the Rolo’s disappeared. The Creme Caramels also disappeared, but that’s because I ate them before they made it into the brownies

I am going to London in two weeks time (looking forward to more travel pieces, yay!) and I am going to be spending time at a cool company there. I am meant to be returning to South Africa mid-January to start my honours degree back home in Johannesburg, which is cool because there’s not as much real life when you’re a student, however, yet another year of studies? It better be good. This obviously depends on whether or not I get accepted into my chosen University.

Looking back, though, I am heartsore to be leaving my current student life behind. I have recently met a huge number of wonderful people. I made biscuits for one of them with some cool new cookie cutters that I ordered online. I need some practice with them, but I am very pleased with my purchase. It’s going to suck leaving all these awesome people in this crazy little town.

Cookie jars are the cutest gifts I think <3

Cookie jars are the cutest gifts I think ❤

"Hi Pam"! "Pam and Chris". It's easier to make cookies like this for someone else rather than admitting just how lonely the future could be...

“Hi Pam”! “Pam and Chris”. It’s easier to make cookies like this for someone else rather than admitting just how lonely the future could be…

As far as the taste of the brownies are concerned: matched my life as well. They seemed like a really good idea at the time, and I was accumulating the ingredients and building up to and enjoying the idea of these little gems. They looked like they would work out, everything was great on paper. When I finally got around to it, it was actually pretty disappointing. The Snickers kind of ruined them on the first bite, because of the intense peanut flavour and the way that the caramel went quite hard… Once I got over the initial surprise of the flavour though, things got better. So that’s where I am right now: initial bite was rough, but I know it can only get better. Especially if you make the most of the other cool things going on in there, like Oreos and M&M’s.

Everything Thing Brownies (ET Brownies) are officially a thing. Just incorporate everything that makes you happy, and your life will match up eventually <3

Everything Thing Brownies (ET Brownies) are officially a thing. Just incorporate everything that makes you happy, and your life will match up eventually ❤

Brownie bake-off…

… a quest to find the best brownie recipe of them all!

Which one will it be? Which brownie recipe is Brownie of them all?

Which one will it be? Which brownie recipe is Brownie of them all?

Brownies are definitely my thing, so I was determined to find the best brownie recipe out there. I have some favourite blogs and some recommended recipes that I had to give a go, so I set them all up against one another and had a day-long brownie bake-off. I made six batches of brownies (obviously in my absolute element!) and got a bunch of my friends to rate them and decide on the best one. 

Batch # 1: Yuppiechef

Batch # 1: Yuppiechef

The first batch I made was the one from the online shop, Yuppiechef. They are certainly my favourite online shop because they sell cooking equipment to heaven and back and I just want to buy absolutely everything on that site! You will see the brownie pan that I bought from them in later photos, it was very handy, producing cute little individual brownies.

The judges’ opinions: Softer, cakier, moist, not dry and not too sweet (however a later test group noted that they were sweeter than Batch #2, which is contrary).

Batch #2: Food.com

Batch #2: Food.com (in my Yuppiechef brownie tray)

I had this recipe at a baby shower I went to once and it was beautiful. They had been baked perfectly. I do love my fudgy edges, and those didn’t have them that time, but wow, not too cakey, not too fudgy, they were fabulous. This batch turned out quite nicely as well, but perhaps somewhat less chocolate-y than the first time I had them.

Judges’ opinions: soft inside, chocolate-y, with a crunchy coating. [I would say the crunchy coating is a bit of an exaggerated description, but they were somewhat fudgy on the outside]

Yammie is my favourite food blogger, possibly because we have a lot in common, but also because she produces some superb and truly delicious recipes. All her posts have so much character and her recipes are easy to follow. These brownies have proved a huge success in the past, when I used them in my slutty brownies and when I made a brownie pizza once as well. They are really great.

Judges’ opinions: Cakey, doughy and hard. Crunchy [They were more dense than crunchy]. One judge thought they would be good with tea, but that is because they are dense and chocolate-y.

These brownies are flourless and dairy-free, which means that they cater for a large number of people. And they taste fantastic as well! They have added coffee, which intensifies the chocolate flavour, and they still have great structure, even though they don’t have any flour. They are quite dense and a little bit sticky, but if that’s how you like your brownies, then that shouldn’t be a problem.

Judges’ opinions: Bitter [from the added coffee], dark and gooey [from the lack of flour and added coffee].

Batch #5: BBC Good Food

Batch #5: BBC Good Food

This recipe sounded absolutely fabulous! And it would have been too, however, by this time I was slightly limited. I no longer had a sieve (note the lumps of cocoa powder) and I was using a new oven. A new and extremely hot oven. We cooked them at 110 degrees Celcius (instead of 160), for 15 minutes instead of 25, and they got burnt to an absolute crisp. It was a sad day; I had been so looking forward to them. I managed to save the remains and everyone got to taste a sliver at least.

Judges’ Opinions: “How a brownie should taste”.

Batch #6: How Sweet It Is. These ones didn’t make photo-time unfortunately.

I love this blog as well. She has a lot of character and got me really into reading food blogs. What I liked when I first came across her page was that there is more than just food in her posts (similar to Yammie), she also had stories and you could really see her personality. She now posts some very interesting and different recipes. I am particularly keen to try this sandwich of hers.

IMG_6739

“But, what do you mean you don’t like this one? It’s the best!”

IMG_6738

“If you don’t like it, I’ll have it!”

IMG_6745

Brownies to last the week of studies

IMG_6742

So the final verdict…

Final brownie results

Final brownie results

In order of the best:

1st place: BBC Good Food (even though they were dinky and a tad burnt. Such a pity!)

2nd place: Food.com

Tied 3rd place: Yammie’s Gluten Freedom (see, gluten and dairy free can still be delicious) and Yuppiechef

5th place: Yammie’s Noshery

6th place: How Sweet It Is 

Marshmallow frosting and quick Oreo truffles

While trying to come up with a title for this post, I was hit by a disgustingly sweet and delicious bit of inspiration… It’s going to be amazing, even better than these wonderful and fairly easy treats, which, for the moment, don’t go together (unless you really want them to…).

Oreo truffles are easy and delicious

Oreo truffles are easy and delicious

Omnomnom. Slutty brownies are her favourite treat, hence choosing to top those with this amazing frosting

Omnomnom. Slutty brownies are her favourite treat, hence choosing to top those with this amazing frosting

Slutty brownies were the request for the evening (I don’t blame them) but marshmallow frosting was just like sugar overload and excessive but amazing of course.

Cupcake versions of the slutty brownie worked pretty well

Cupcake versions of the slutty brownie worked pretty well

The Marshmallow frosting is something that I am still working on – it was delicious, but it needs a bit of refining. I will share the recipe with you, give it a try, maybe it works out better for you (but how wrong can you go with that much sugar and egg whites? Meringue is one of the best things in the world!).

Mmm foamy...

Mmm foamy…

Meringue and marshmallow is so satisfying when it is a success

Meringue and marshmallow is so satisfying when it is a success

Not enough sugar in the marshmallow stuffed choc chip cookies from this recipe, apparently more frosting was required on the top as well

Not enough sugar in the marshmallow stuffed choc chip cookies from this recipe, apparently more frosting was required on the top as well

I ended up with a fair amount of leftovers, so obviously we had to get rid of it in the classiest manner possible

I ended up with a fair amount of leftovers, so obviously we had to get rid of it in the classiest manner possible

The Oreo truffles are the easiest little gems to whip up – super delicious, practically fool proof, and a very short list of ingredients. And the flavours complement each other spectacularly: you have the sweet Oreos mixed with the almost-savoury cream cheese, and dipped in a bitter dark chocolate which offsets the extreme sweetness of the Oreos. Well, this is what I have heard, I didn’t think the Oreo centre was that sweet at all, but I’m just not as sensitive to that sort of thing. Go ahead, give me more sugar!

I may have a slight Oreo addiction

I may have a slight Oreo addiction

I've only recently learnt to truly appreciate cream cheese (glad it didn't happen even later in my life, I would have missed out on so much!)

I’ve only recently learnt to truly appreciate cream cheese (glad it didn’t happen even later in my life, I would have missed out on so much!)

Neat little balls of Oreos and cream cheese

Neat little balls of Oreos and cream cheese

I used my new chocolatier to melt my chocolate - it's a seriously handy little device!

I used my new chocolatier to melt my chocolate – it’s a seriously handy little device!

Marshmallow frosting inspired by Martha Stewart’s High Hat frosting

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not tartaric acid which almost happened in a lapse of concentration)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Place sugar, water, egg whites and cream of tarter in a heat proof bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until foamy
  2. Place bowl over a pot of water simmering at low heat. Continue to beat on high speed for about 10 minutes until stiff peaks start to form
  3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract
  4. Pipe onto whatever tickles your fancy, and a bit of toasting might go down well as well

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients

  • 16 Oreos
  • 110g Plain cream cheese
  • 110g melted Bournville (or dark chocolate of your choice – Bournville is still nice and sweet and not too bitter)

Method

  1. Crush the Oreos – liquidize them or place them in a plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin if you feel like letting off a bit of steam
  2. Add the cream cheese to the crushed Oreos, mix well (can be done in the mixer) until there is cream cheese all throughout the mixture (it mustn’t be too white and visible though)
  3. Form into balls
  4. Melt the chocolate, and dip the Oreo balls in the chocolate, ensuring they are fully covered
  5. Leave to set on wax paper or

The Homeground Advantage

Homeground Coffee Roasters: delicious, authentic and exclusive. And pretty much just not suited to Grahamstown. You would think that with their prime location right near campus, a cute little hole-in-the-wall that’s perfectly suited to the small-town that is G’Town, they would cater for one of their nearest consumers. Alas, the drive for excellence comes with a price, and if it’s not pay-day, most students are unable to afford it on a regular basis.

Homeground Coffee Roasters

Homeground Coffee Roasters

The have done very well on their branding and image, using quirky decor all around their coffee kiosk

The have done very well on their branding and image, using quirky decor all around their coffee kiosk

Homeground coffee is good. It has a unique flavour, and it is certainly prepared with lots of love, skill and attention to detail, which is highly commendable. You can really taste the subtleties in their flavours that they pride themselves on. It’s not my favourite flavour, but it is pretty great coffee in its essence.

Café mocha/chococcino ? You choose

Café mocha/chococcino ? You choose

Their menu is thorough and caters for the common coffee drinker, that is, those who do not appreciate the art that is coffee. There is almost an attitude of “Fine, I guess I will have to put milk and sugar in your coffee, Peasant… Oh, you want cappuccino art with that? Of course you do, Hipster.”

Latté art and a mocha-nut truffle slice. Only 15% flour in that brownie chunk of gold

Latté art and a mocha-nut truffle slice. Only 15% flour in that brownie chunk of gold

They also have a delicious range of baked goods. You can grab a packet of interesting flavoured biscotti biscuits which do well for a car snack (if they make it that far…). They do huge scones and muffins, spinach and feta flavoured and blueberry respectively. They like to change it up a bit as well, which is quite nice. That is the joy of being a small independent business in a close-knit town, I suppose.

Cappuccino and a great big blueberry muffin for breakfast to go please!

Cappuccino and a great big blueberry muffin for breakfast to go please!

Obviously this exclusivity comes with a price. I understand that they are teeny and probably have substantial overheads for their location and the fact that they don’t sell much to the local community – they serve as the coffee supplier for their other branches in Kenton and Johannesburg – so high prices are to be expected. But R22 for a tiny slice of truffle brownie something? It’s a bit excessive. Though it is made with top quality ingredients and it is absolutely delicious. That’s probably why I am complaining: I just can’t afford to eat as much as it’s deliciousness warrants!

Carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting. Dinky and delicious!

Carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting. Dinky and delicious!

Their open hours are also a bit of an issue in my life, but I feel the same way about most of Grahamstown’s other businesses: how can you only be open half-day on Saturday and not at all on Sunday? Those are treat days!

White chocolate almond and cranberry blondie bar. This was delicious, though I do think the cranberries were a bit overpowering of the other flavours. (Cranberries are great though, right?)

White chocolate almond and cranberry blondie bar. This was delicious, though I do think the cranberries were a bit overpowering of the other flavours. (Cranberries are great though, right?)

It’s a classy little spot, great to have a little chat with a cup of good quality coffee and a slice of Blondie, unless you’re living within your budget. Definitely worth the occasional treat though, so certainly do yourself the favour whenever you have the opportunity.

Lovely setting with a lovely coffee

Lovely setting with a lovely coffee

Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies

Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything, but these were literally the most amazing cookies I have ever made and ever eaten. The slutty brownies were pretty good as far as taste goes, but these cookies are definitely the most delicious things that I have EVER baked.

Big Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies - the best I have ever had

Big Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies – the best I have ever had

I had something else planned and ready to make for quite a while, but a craving for buttery cookies interfered with that, and so the Rolo-cookies were born! It took a while for me to make them because I kept eating all the Rolos… Oops…

I managed to perfect the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I initially had, although this time I used milk chocolate chips to complement the milk chocolate in the Rolos. It worked out quite nicely, as it was a nice draw away from my traditional Bournville.

The cookies are chewy, but not too much, and they don’t taste like butter (although the craving was most certainly satisfied). They are best enjoyed warm when the caramel inside the Rolos is still all melty and bursting with flavour, but cold Rolos are just as delicious, are they not?

I had to use the big Rolo slabs as my initial Rolo supply because they didn't have any rolls the first time I went. This meant massive cookies, but that's not a legitimate problem, is it?

I had to use the big Rolo slabs as my initial Rolo supply because they didn’t have any rolls the first time I went. This meant massive cookies, but that’s not a legitimate problem, is it?

Rearing to go - those beautiful mounds waiting to be transformed from delicious cookie dough into chewy, Rolo-stuffed, melted perfection

Rearing to go – those beautiful mounds waiting to be transformed from delicious cookie dough into chewy, Rolo-stuffed, melted perfection

Ready and large. Give those babies just a few minutes to cool, then grab one while it's still warm with a melted caramel and chocolate centre

Ready and large. Give those babies just a few minutes to cool, then grab one while it’s still warm with a melted caramel and chocolate centre

They are still delicious once cooled. And once you've started eating them, you don't worry about how pretty they are anymore.

They are still delicious once cooled. And once you’ve started eating them, you don’t worry about how pretty they are anymore

I even attempted to make caramel for the first time - it needs some work, but definitely on the way to success

I even attempted to make caramel for the first time – it needs some work, but definitely on the way to success

Caramel-filled heart - now that's true love indeed <3

Caramel-filled heart – now that’s true love indeed ❤ (and true love is always messy, particularly if you rush it)

Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies

Makes 18 smaller cookies, 12 large ones (with big Rolo bits)

Ingredients

  • 150g salted butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (130g chopped up Cadbury Dairy Milk)
  • 2 rolls of Rolos

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius, and line your baking tray
  2. Cream the butter
  3. Add the sugar to the creamed butter, and beat until well-mixed
  4. Add the two eggs and beat until well-combined
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until you have a consistent dough. This dough is not too dry and holds its form fairly well
  6. Add in your chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture
  7. Prepare bottom cookie layer, making sure there is enough flattened out cookie dough that when there is a Rolo sitting neatly on there, it has a fair amount of dough surrounding it. This helps in step  8. Place Rolo on each cookie base
  8. Place your top cookie layer on top of the Rolo, and press down the sides, tucking that Rolo neatly and comfortably in there, ready for a cosy nap
  9. Place tray on middle rack and bake for 15 minutes (depending on the oven)
  10. Remove from oven and let cool. After 10 minutes, eat one, and marvel at its greatness, then let the others cool and save them for later

Eastern Cape life – Grahamstown Flower Festival

Who doesn't love a goodie bag of free stuff?

Who doesn’t love a goodie bag of free stuff?

My gran lives on a farm. My mom seems to love the farm. My brother wants to live on my gran’s farm in England because it is so clean. And I’m over here like, “Ooh look! A plant!” Meanwhile it’s actually a weed, not even part of the flower show.

All the pretty flowers

All the pretty flowers

Ok, I am exaggerating, but I consider myself to be very much a city girl, and this farm-life is not one that I am used to. I went to the flower festival motivated by the fact that I knew that a certain coffee company was coming to town, and their coffee is pretty amazing. I figured that if they were going to be there, there was bound to be other delicious goodies and interesting stalls selling loads of useless things that I will fall for and spend far too much money on. I was not disappointed, but I was also pleasantly surprised by some of the things that I found.

Some girls were selling some hippie pants

Some girls were selling some hippie pants

There were flowers, of course, and a number of other plants that I won’t even try begin to name. In short: plants. Some local Eastern Cape greenery in celebration of summer (the first day of the festival was a real stunner) as well as some flowers that I do actually recognise.

This is an example of the types of sales-folk surrounding the local Botanical Gardens

This is an example of the types of sales-folk surrounding the local Botanical Gardens

Gorgeous sunflowers being sold out of the sun...

Gorgeous sunflowers being sold out of the sun…

There were getups that I know would look great in my house… My house that I don’t have… So I settled for a cute succulent in a teacup and saucer. It now belongs on my windowsill, and is the closest thing to a pet that I have ever had to look after independently. Writing that just reminded me that I have yet to water it. Clearly it’s not looking too good. It is cute, nonetheless.

My new plant!

My new plant!

There were R5 pancakes (sold by a dear bunch of women), bacon and egg butties [‘rolls’ for those of you who need the translation] (that I purchased from the Dean of Students, and they were amazing!), and a Chip’n’Dip too (which I thought was majorly out of place, but hey). And then there was the coffee of course, truly splendid coffee.

Unfortunately I did not buy another bag of their coffee because I haven't opened my first one - their sample sachets were great, though, and they also supplied Lindie's brownies, which can be seen on my Instagram feed

Unfortunately I did not buy another bag of their coffee because I haven’t opened my first one – their sample sachets were great, though, and they also supplied Lindie’s brownies, which can be seen on my Instagram feed

I also ended up buying myself a few necklaces, and a gift for a bestie back in Jo’burg.

New jewellery! Because I basically have none

New jewellery! Because I basically have none

I did not attend any of the talks because I do not own a farm and I don’t garden just yet. I probably won’t for a while, and whatever I need to know when I do decide to make my plants all pretty (and keep them alive) will probably be available on the Internet. I do think the presentations most likely went down a treat in this little town of Grahamstown, because there is quite a substantial farming culture in the Eastern Cape, from what I have gathered.

Lovely water feature and plants for my house of the distant future

Lovely water feature and plants for my house of the distant future

These are just adorable to look at

These are just adorable to look at

Overall it was a lovely day. Day 2 was a bit wet and rainy, but a decent event overall. Farmers’ markets are quaint, but I look forward to returning home to my Metropolitan Johannesburg in the next seven weeks.