Monthly Archives: October 2014

Wreath 1

Use your garden to create Christmas Decorations

‘Tis the season to be jolly and for many of us, finding a family activity to do together in light of the special season is a must.

For a number of years, the Granny Mouse Country House & Spa have collated their efforts in creating Christmas decorations from materials from the gardens, to give that much needed homely feel during Christmas time.

Gather the children or some friends and get creative this Christmas, whether you are having Christmas lunch at home or away – get the festive feel in your home from the 1st of the month.

One of the favorite’s at the “Mouse house” is a South African inspired Christmas wreath that is often used on the front of the door of the reception area of the Hotel or in the Bistro restaurant.

Ane Du Preez, the Banqueting Manager at Granny Mouse says that all you will need to create the perfect wreath is the following:

A wire coat hanger or cardboard sheets

  • Stapler or sticky tape
  • Silicone glue
  • Ribbon
  • Leaves from a pine tree
  • Pine cones
  • Flowers
  • Tinsel

Follow the below steps to start making your wreath:

 Firstly, collect pine leaves, pine cones, flowers and normal leaves from your garden.

Then bend the wire or coat hanger into a circular shape and keep the hooked part at the top for easy hanging or if using cardboard, cut into a circle and then cut a hole in the middle.

Next, stick the tinsel on the wire or cardboard using silicone glue and then place the pine leaves and normal leaves on the wire or cardboard and secure it with the sticky tape or silicone glue. Continue to place the leaves layered on top of one another and secure with the tape or glue.

Then, once all the wire or cardboard is covered, you can tie ribbon into a bow and secure it around the coat hanger hook for decoration or alternatively if using the cardboard, staple ribbon to the top and create a loop that can be used to hang on a picture hanging hook, nail or similar.

You can also add flowers and pine cones to the wreath by securing them with glue.

“Creating this work of art is quick and easy and can be made using items from your garden and from around your home and is a great family exercise over the festive season,” Du Preez says.

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Try something new as festive season food!

If Christmas lunch or dinner spent at home with the family is your idea of a festive celebration, then why not try something different, by moving away from the traditional and choosing something more modern.

Chef Shaun Dampies says that he prefers to cook something different for the family for Christmas dinner or boxing day which he always finds, is a day of relaxation for most and this recipe, he finds, is easy to prepare, cook and plate for guests!

For his Walnut Crusted Pork Belly, Sautéed Red Spinach, Pea Puree and Bacon dish, Chef Dampies uses the following ingredients:

  • 1 kg pork belly, skin and bone off
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 350ml soya sauce
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • 3 pieces stick cinnamon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

He places all the ingredients in an ovenproof dish, covers with foil and bakes in the oven at 120 degrees for 2, 5 hours. When it is done, he then removes the Pork Belly from the liquid and allows it to cool. He then cuts the meat to his desired portion size.

He then roasts 6 pieces of streaky bacon in the oven at 180 degrees for 12 minutes, removes, then cuts it up.

Then for his special Walnut Crust he uses 100g of walnuts and 50g of sugar. He crushes the walnuts and mixes them with the sugar, which he then spreads on top of the portioned Pork Belly.

For his Pea puree, Chef Dampies uses 200g of peas, 50ml of cream and salt and brings a pot of water to the boil to blanch the peas for 5 minutes. He then removes the peas and adds them to a food processor and adds the cream. He blends all this together until it is smooth and uses the salt to season.

The red cabbage is the easiest to cook. Using 1 half of a small red cabbage, he cuts the half in half again to get two quarters. He removes the core to get a flat surface, and then slices it thinly to create a chiffonade style cut. He then blanches the cut cabbage in the pea water and then sautés it in butter and seasons it.

Last, but not least is the sauce. He takes two cups of pork cooking liquid, adds 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and reduces it on the stove to ¾ cup.

He usually plates each dish for each guest, by placing the sautéed cabbage on the plate, spooning one tablespoon of pea puree on each plate and dragging across for effect. He then places the crusted belly on the cabbage, adds the bacon and drizzles some of the reduced sauce over, but if you would prefer to have each guest dish their own, then this is also an option.

“Try something new this festive season and spoil loved ones with a delicious meal made from the heart,” Chef Dampies says.