Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Memories of Cape Town

Cape Town has a very special place in my heart as that is where my son (first child) was born. We spent a very happy 2 years in Cape Town enjoying the weather – okay not so much the wind #hectic We also loved visiting the Winelands, the V & A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and the scenic drives along the coast. As is the case when you live in Durban (not going to the beach) we didn’t go up Table Mountain even though we could always see it.

Caleb and I on Blouberg Beach

We expected to spend many years, if not forever living in Cape Town but suddenly my husband Neil was needed back in Durban. It was a frantic rush to organising the moving of the furniture and how we would get my car back to Durban as I would need to drive the company car while Neil drove the company bakkie. We also had to fit in all the sights we had not been to see as yet and the biggest of those was going up Table Mountain. 

Unfortunately the day we chose was not the clearest of days but we were in awe of the views and the experience of being up there. Our son Caleb kept trying to chase the inquisitive Dassie’s so that he could touch them. I used Neil’s cellphone (a large chunky thing) to call my Mother to tell her where we were. We also enjoyed breakfast in the cafe before descending the mountain.

Meyer family on top of Table Mountain

That was about 17 years ago and I have not been able to return to Cape Town again. Neil has been very fortunate to go back for business and about 3 years ago he did a motorbike tour. 

I love living in Durban and this is my home, but I have always wanted to return to Cape Town and see Table Mountain again. Plus there are quite a few coffee shops that are on my must see list #lovecoffee. What I need is cheap flight tickets to Cape Town.

I thought long and hard about what type of art I could do to properly feature Table Mountain and then I remembered that I still needed to do wood, nail and string art. This was one of the items on last year’s Creative Challenge (hosted by Lovilee) that I hadn’t had time to do. I also thought it fitting to use wood as wooden ships brought my ancestors to Cape Town and the use of string also “ties” me to Cape Town.

String Art :

Brown paint
String/embroidery thread/wool
Table Mountain shaped template

The wood base that I wanted to use had previously been painted blue and had a saying on it. I liked its roughness and it was a good size and shape to use. It needed two coats of brown paint to properly cover what was there before and then it needed to thoroughly dry before I moved onto the next stage. While it dried I looked on the internet to get a picture of Table Mountain so that the shape would be correct. I had to make sure that the mountain shape fitted perfectly on the wood base. This entailed quite a bit of printing and cutting to get it just right. Then it was time for the fiddly work of marking the nail placement on the wood base and hammering in the nails, which was done very carefully.

Once all the nails were firmly hammered in, it was time for the fun part – stringing. The end of the string was tied firmly to an outer edge nail and then it was wrapped around the next nail. I then continued until the open space was covered to my liking and the shape of Table Mountain could be seen clearly. Stringing is not that easy and was in fact quite fiddly to do. I had to keep a good tension between nails and often had to undo and try again.To finish I went around the edge of the mountain once more to make it stand out. Such a simple, but truly spectacular way to make a statement art piece.


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Joyful Coffee with Java Maestro

We have been using the French Press to make coffee for many, many years. In the beginning we bought ground coffee from the supermarket #horror. Finally we invested in a coffee grinder nearly two years ago and were amazed at the taste difference. We also started buying coffee beans from The Coffee Magazine’s Discover Great Coffee Club and from coffee roasters in our area eg. Lineage.

The next step in our coffee making progress was buying an AeroPress as we needed a quick and easy system for making a cup of coffee for one person. Morning and evening we use the French Press and I make coffee in the AeroPress during the day.

I have always been a cappuccino person and was never interested in trying any other methods or types of coffee. Late last year I decided to spread my coffee wings and test out the other coffee types. These are the coffee types I have now had : Cappuccino, Macchiato, Mocha, Flat White, Chemex, Siphon and Cortado.

I had yet to have a Pour Over coffee and I was finally forced to find out about this method of making and enjoying coffee by Java Maestro sending me their stainless steel pour over coffee dripper to review. 

The first thing I had to do was go to my favourite coffee shop – Lineage – for a lesson on how to make the perfect Pour Over. It was a busy Tuesday morning but barista Kgune Dlamini was willing and happy to help me with my request. I had my Java Maestro stainless steel pour over coffee dripper with me.

He set up the Hario ceramic pour over dripper that they use in the shop and explained to me the ratios needed to make a correct cup of coffee. For every 180ml’s of water 10 grams of coffee must be used. They are very technical and use a drip coffee scale to weigh everything out. The coffee grind must be medium. The Hario pour over dripper uses filter paper and the coffee grinds are placed inside. Water is poured over the grinds with a pour over kettle until the grinds are completely wet. The grinds are left to “bloom” (fast release of gas that occurs when hot water hits coffee grounds) for 30 seconds. After that time is up Kgune used the pour over kettle to slowly pour water over the grounds. It is done slowly so as not to make too many bubbles. The water is also poured in a circular motion making sure that all the grounds are covered. Once he had reached the final volume of water needed per weight of coffee he stopped pouring. The coffee was then ready to drink and enjoy. He poured it into small glasses and I drank it just like that – no milk! No sugar! If someone had said to me a year ago that I would be drinking and enjoying coffee without milk and sugar I would have laughed at them.

After removing the Hario ceramic pour over dripper he did the same process with the Java Maestro stainless steel pour over dripper (no filter paper necessary). I will say that he was very impressed with the results from the Java Maestro and I thought that it was the better made coffee. I compared the results from the Hario to the Java Maestro and the coffee was clearer and tasted better from the Java Maestro (no I am not saying this since I was sent the Java Maestro). The coffee had a clearer and sweeter taste to it. That is what my taste buds were telling me.

Ceramic Hario and the Stainless Steel Java Maestro

Now that I knew how to make a pour over coffee I had to see about making it at home. I don’t have the fancy scale, stand or pour over kettle and was very interested to see how the coffee would turn out. I was also interested to see how it would compare to the French Press and the AeroPress.

I decided to follow the instructions on the Java Maestro box and use the included stainless steel scoop to measure the required coffee. Firstly I rinsed out the coffee dripper with hot water and then I added two level scoops of ground coffee and levelled it out in the dripper. We have a kettle that can be adjusted to a certain temperatures and I set it to 90 degrees. I slowly poured the hot water over the grounds until they were completely wet and then left it for about 20 seconds. Then came the fiddly part of slowly pouring the water from the kettle over the grounds, and making sure that I kept pouring the water over the grounds in a circular motion. What is great about the stainless steel coffee dripper is the gap at the bottom. This allowed me to see the level of coffee in the cup (since I was judging by eye and not volume) and I was able to stop adding water. I left enough space to be able to add milk and the dollop of cream that I love. The coffee dripper was very easy to clean. I banged out the wet coffee grounds into our bowl for compost and then quickly rinsed out the dripper and left it to dry. I could then sit and enjoy my first cup of pour over coffee made at home.

In the past few days I have found myself reaching for the Java Maestro instead of the AeroPress when I want to make a cup of coffee for myself. It’s not that the Java Maestro makes a quicker cup of coffee (all the slow pouring). It’s because I was a bit tired of having to put the AeroPress together in order to make a cup. What could be easier than putting the Java Maestro onto a cup, adding the coffee, pouring the water and then rinsing when done. With the AeroPress I have to make sure a filter paper is in and the plunger rubber is wet before adding the water. After making the coffee (which is super fast) I then have to dismantle the AeroPress and I rinse it out.

Comparisons :

French Press            : Able to make 2 cups of coffee
                                : Brews for approximately 4 minutes
                                : Sometimes ground coffee granules can get through if the filter is not on properly
                                : Rinse out and let dry

AeroPress                 : Makes 1 cup of coffee
                                : Make sure filter paper is in properly
                                : Super quick coffee making
                                : Dismantle, rinse out and let dry
                                : Filter papers can be used at least twice before adding to the compost

Java Maestro            : Makes 1 cup of coffee
                                : Allow coffee to bloom for 20-30 seconds
                                : Takes about 2 minutes to pour through water (this depends on how slow you                                            pour)
                                : Rinse out and let dry

Conclusion :

I was very impressed with the ease of use of the Java Maestro stainless steel coffee dripper and it is great to have another method of making and enjoying coffee.

Please note that I am an “at home” user and not a coffee professional. To a coffee connoisseur and professional my method of making coffee would horrify them. The whole point is to make and enjoy coffee the way that you like it.

Java Maestro features :

.               Premium, laser cut 18/8 food grade stainless steel filter
.               Eco-friendly, durable and reusable ultra fine stainless steel mesh
.               Dishwasher friendly or easy manual clean
.               Portable and easy to use anywhere
.               Fits most cups, mugs and thermoses
.               Built in cup stand
.               Includes a stainless steel coffee scoop/bag clip

If you are keen to buy one for yourself you can find them on Yuppiechef and Takealot.com 
They are also available to buy from Truth Coffee and Terbodore Coffee

Friday, 3 February 2017

On a Quest for Fresh Breath?

Fresh breath has been a worry for many people and there are so many articles written about the causes and solutions for bad breath. If you think about all the movies you have seen when the cute guy or girl checks the smell of their breath before meeting the “love of their life”. Who can forget the scene from Mr Bean checking the smell of his breath before meeting the Queen. We chuckle about it, but for many people it is a serious issue.

February’s #FreshBreathQuest has begun, and Ivohealth has hand-picked a selection of the best oral care tools for you to use in the quest for fresh breath and a healthy mouth.

Take the Sunstar GUM Fresh Breath Quest this February to find out how fresh your oral care knowledge is. There are prizes worth over R15 000 up for grabs and for every person that completes the quest, Sunstar GUM will donate a toothbrush to Operation Smile South Africa

The main prize, valued at R10 000, includes a Tsogo Sun mini-break (worth up R7 000) and an oral care kit worth R3 000. There are also 10 Sunstar GUM fresh breath kits available (worth R539 each), packed with innovative Sunstar GUM oral care products for fresh breath and a healthy smile.

To enter, go to www.ivohealth.co.za/freshbreathquest from 1 to 28 February 2017 and answer 8 simple oral care questions to test your oral care know-how. Terms and conditions apply.


Inside the Sunstar GUM ‘fresh breath kit’:

1.       GUM Technique Plus toothbrush (R57.40) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-technique/
2.       GUM Original White toothpaste (R52) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-original-white-toothpaste/

Clean in-between
3.       GUM Original White floss (R51) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-original-white-floss/
4.       GUM Easy Flossers x 30 (R50.31) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-easy-flossers/
5.       GUM Soft-Picks Advanced (R89) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-soft-picks-advanced/
6.       GUM Flosbrush Automatic (R104) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-flossbrush-automatic/

Clean the tongue
7.       GUM Tongue Cleaner (recommended retail price R51.35) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-dual-action-tongue-cleaner/

8.       GUM Original White mouth rinse (R84.18) - http://www.ivohealth.co.za/product/gum-original-white-rinse/

About Sunstar GUM
Sunstar GUM, partners to dental professionals worldwide, offer complete oral care solutions including the most comprehensive interdental range available in South Africa. With Sunstar GUM’s interdental brushes, Soft-Picks, Flosbrush and several types of floss on offer there’s a suitable interdental tool for everyone.

Sunstar GUM oral care products are distributed in South Africa by Ivohealth and are available from dentists, Dis-Chem, selected Pick 'n Pay, Clicks and pharmacies.


Disclosure : Run On Coffee received products for review, blog post and social media mentions.