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Sunday 2 November 2014

Outdoor Lounge

What to do: 
Tip: Make sure the ground is level before setting everything in place.

1. Start with one side. Set 4 cinderblocks vertically, and 2 that go on top horizontally. Allow approximately 8 - 9 ft. of distance before setting the next side of cinderblocks.

2. Feed the wood through one side to the other. Make sure you have at least 6 inches sticking out on both sides. If you want smaller seating, you may always trim the excess wood.

3. Once you are happy with the placement and size of the seating, temporarily remove the wood beams. Use the concrete adhesive to set the cinderblocks in place.

4. After the concrete adhesive has dried, feed the wood beams through the top holes of the cinderblocks.

5. Place your cushion onto the wood beams, recommended cushions are the "deep seating" cushion for this width, approx. 32".

 What you need:
- 12 cinderblocks (6 for each side)
- 4 pieces of 4″x 4″x 10 ft. lumber
- a comfortable blue long cushion;
- blue paint;
- concrete adhesive

Estimated time needed: 1hour plus drying 


Garden Markers

What to do: 
1. Roll each clay ball into a coil about 5.5″long. Then flatten the coils to .25″ thick with your rolling pin.

2. Use the dull side of your knife to trim one end into a point (the dull side won’t leave behind serrated marks), and shape the edges of each marker with the flat side of your knife. Smooth out any imperfections with your finger, transfer the markers into your baking dish, and get your stamps out.

3. Stamp your garden markers, and bake them according to the clay package instructions. Polymer clay is plastic, so don’t worry about sealing it. Be gentle with your markers! Polymer clay isn’t the most sturdy material, but if you carefully plant them next to your herbs they should last. 

What you need:
- oven bake-able polymer clay rolled into 1.25″balls (one ball for each marker)
- appropriate baking dish (according to package instructions)
- a rolling pin
- a butter knife
- rubber letter stamps
- an oven

Estimated time needed: 1hour and 30 minutes plus drying


Vertical Garden

What to do: 
1. Sand down any rough spots on your pallet. If the back of your pallet doesn’t have much support, find some scrap wood, roughly 3 to 4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick (or the thickness of the rest of your supports) and cut it down to the width of your pallet. Using two nails on each side, add supports so they are roughly even down the back of your pallet.

2. Double or triple up your landscaping fabric (can also be canvas or hessian, any thick fabric or plastic) and begin the stapling fun. Staple fabric along the back, bottom and sides of the pallet, taking care at the corners to fold in the fabric so no soil will spill out. 

3. Lay the pallet flat and pour potting soil through slats, pressing soil down firmly. Leave enough room to begin planting your succulents.

4. Begin planting, starting at the bottom of the pallet and ending at the top. Make sure soil is firmly packed in each layer as you move up. Add more soil as needed so that plants are tightly packed at the end.

5. Water your wall garden thoroughly and let it remain horizontal for 1 to 2 weeks to allow plants to take root. After 1 to 2 weeks, you can set it upright.

Note: Remember when you water to start at the top and water each subsequent section a little less, as your water will naturally seep through to the bottom-most plants.

 What you need:
- a wooden pallet
- landscaping fabric (canvas or hessian, any thick fabric or plastic).
- sandpaper
- staple gun and staples
- hammer and nails
- potting soil
- plants of choice 

 Estimated time needed: 1 hour


Mint Chip Ice Cream Pie

Serves 8 | preparation: 10 minutes | cooking time: 145 minutes

Nutritional information: Carbs 47g | Fat 18g | Protein 5g

- 225g chopped semisweet chocolate, melted
- 4 cups crisped rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
- 4 cups mint chocolate-chip ice cream, slightly softened

1. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate and cereal until the cereal is completely coated. Transfer to a 23cm springform pan. Press the mixture into the bottom and 2.5cm up the sides of the pan. Freeze just until firm, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Spread the ice cream in the prepared crust and freeze, covered, until firm, for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. 


Caramelized Onions and Roasted Bell Peppers Meatza

Serves 6

Nutritional information: Carbs 19.2g | Fat 38.7g | Protein 42.8g

- 900g ground beef
- 1 cup raw cauliflower, grated
- 1 cup almond flour
1 small onion, diced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp dried mustard
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp baking soda

- 2 large onions, sliced
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 200g sweet mini peppers
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 100g unripened soft goat cheese
- 50g walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 9" x 13" baking sheet well with butter. 

2. Add all the ingredients listed under “meat crust” to a large mixing bowl and knead with your hands until well combined. 

3. With your fingers, spread the meat evenly across the greased baking sheet taking care to form a little “crust” along the edge, for a more authentic look. 

4. Remove the stems off the mini-peppers, cut them in half and remove the seeds, if any. Place the peppers in a broiler pan and drizzle them with a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. 

5. Place both the crust and the mini peppers in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the meat is browned and the peppers are nicely roasted. 

6. Meanwhile, add the sliced onions and butter, set over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions turn a nice golden color, about 15 minutes. Add the sage, salt and pepper, stir well and set aside. 

7. Remove the meat and peppers from the oven. If you find that the meat has released a fair amount of liquid while cooking, you’ll want to carefully drain that. 

8. Spread the caramelized onions across the meat, followed by roasted bell peppers, crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts; return the meatza to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the crust gets nice and crispy and the cheese starts to turn golden. 

9. Cut your meatza into 6 pieces, dribble with a little bit more extra-virgin olive oil and chopped fresh parsley. 


Grilled Mielie Salad

Serves 4

Nutritional information per serving: Carbs 66.5g | Fat 15.4g | Protein 16.8g

- 8 ears of fresh mielie, silk removed
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 2 cups haricots verts, ends removed and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
- the juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 75g unripened goat cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat your outdoor grill to high heat (around 400-450) 

2. Place your ears of mielie directly on the grill without removing the husks (remove the silk to avoid burning) 

3. Close the lid and cook the mielie for about 20 minutes, rotating the ears every 3-5 minutes, to insure even cooking on all sides. 

4. Remove mielie from the grill and allow to cool for about 10 minutes then remove the husks. 

5. Remove kernels from the cobs and place in the fridge to cool completely, preferably overnight. 

6. Of course, you can also use leftover mielie or even frozen mielies. 

7. When mielie is good and cold, add it to a mixing bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Blend to combine. 

8. Serve immediately or leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow for flavors to combine.


Ways to keep your home cool in summer

Summer is fast approaching and it’s time to start thinking about solutions to keep your home cool and comfortable indoors during those blazing hot days. There are scores of options for keeping things cool. Some are quick and cheap fixes while others can be more involved and costly.

Electric options
Installing an air conditioner might seem like the most obvious choice but with South Africa’s soaring electricity costs, this won’t be the most wallet friendly solution for most.

Fans don’t use as much electricity and keep air circulating. A ceiling or standing fan will help to make your home’s rooms feel a couple of degrees cooler.

Inside your home 
The most successful way to keep a house cool is to keep the heat out. One of the most easy and effective changes to make is to use light coloured curtains at your windows. The old science lesson of light colours reflecting heat while darker colours attract heat is good to remember while looking at curtains for sale. Also consider layering blinds - light coloured of course - inside your windows to add another layer of sun protection.

Don’t forget that some heat is coming from inside your house. Minimise the use of appliances and lights during the day. And this will come as a welcome tip to most - make sure to avoid cooking during the hottest hours of the day.

As a long-term solution, consider insulating the ceiling of your home. This could be a costly upgrade but will make the inside of your home feel so much cooler and add to its resale value. The added bonus is added insulation will also help to keep your home warm during winter.

Outdoor solutions
Try where possible to leave your home’s windows open, particularly during the early evening, night and morning, to ensure cooler air filters inside. Shades and awnings added to your home’s exterior will assist to keep the sunlight’s heat and glare away from your windows. Now is a great time to plant plenty of plants and trees outside - but make sure they won’t need too much water. As these grow, they’ll help to keep the interior of your home cool as well as provide a shady spot to lounge during long summer evenings.

If the exterior of your home is in need of a makeover, the cooler spring months are a great time to do just that. Paint your outside walls and roof in light colours, or even reflective paint, to reflect sunlight away from your home. And remember, all summer heat isn’t bad. The washing you’ll hang on the line outside will be dry in no time.

Article written by Chantel Harris