Monday, 28 July 2014

Waterval Boven Adventure Weekend

A few weeks ago I realised I was stuck in a rut. Life had just become a seemingly endless tunnel of work and home and life. I was getting antsy and irritable and realised its time for some me-time. Luckily, I have a great friend Frans over at trailblazerguide.com who was going through his own bout of cabin fever! A few emails back and forth, and an adventure weekend was born!

Imagine my surprise to find Adventure Central within an hour and a half's drive from my home town! Waterval Boven is a quaint, historic town situated along the Mpumalanga escarpment. The town, along with its sister town of Waterval Onder, was established in 1895 along the route of the Pretoria - Delgoa Bay railway line. Here, the railway line had to climb 208m over a distance of 7.5km to traverse the escarpment, necessitating the installation of a rack-railway through a steep curved tunnel. Its location among the crags and buttresses makes it a mecca for both national and international rock-climbers and adventure seekers. In fact, see all about it in Frans' movie about the town here.

So, back to the adventure! After arriving in the town, we took a hike down beside the old railway tunnel to the base of the waterfall. Frans knew the trail well, and dragging along someone who is clued up is definitely the way to go! Security guards have been employed at the start of the trail and it is recommended to pay them a tip for keeping an eye on your vehicle. The hike down was easy enough, even for a beginner like me, and in no time at all, we were above the Elands River. Frans is an avid white water kayaker and has run parts of the river before. He took great pride in showing me the gorgeous rapids as we approached. He also took great joy in the fact that I was so distracted by the rapids tumbling and gushing beneath us that I didn't notice the majestic, 75m Elands Waterfall until we were almost right below it!
Elands River Rapids

We had lunch on the rocks in the shade of this breathtaking waterfall, watching the water cascading down, contemplating how few people had sat where we sat, how many people had viewed what we viewed,  how many people just scurried on, rushing past this phenomenal sight, and how few had taken the time to leave the road, to take the winding trail, and to see life, and the waterfall, from such a different angle.
What a view for lunch!
After an amazing afternoon spent exploring the river and rocky outcrops along it's banks, we headed back into town. We booked into a delightful backpackers for the night and then headed out for supper. True to my new 'try new things' motto, I had fresh trout, and it was amazing! 
Getting some photography hints from a pro. This is part of the old railway station that was once the life force of this beautiful town.

I truly recommend a stay in a backpackers for the adventurous at heart! The place we stayed at was full of climbers and thrill seekers from all across the globe. Much to my surprise, we met a group of young rock-climbers from a well known South African university, who were out in Boven for a weekend on the crags. We stayed up late out on the balcony, drinking coffee, chatting and laughing, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes from being part of community of adrenaline junkies. 

Late that night, I crawled into my warm sleeping bag, exhausted after a day of fresh air and adventure, and excited to see what day 2 of my adventure weekend will hold!

Stay tuned for day 2 of this amazing adventure!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Gluten Free Tuna Cakes

This is a quick recipe that I whipped up for dinner the other night! I have been focusing on recreating our favourite recipes into gluten-free versions, and this one will definitely be on the menu again!

I used this recipe from Taste.com.au as inspiration, and tweaked it a bit as I went. I am really bad at following recipes, and so end up tweaking most recipes as I go!


Gluten Free Tuna Cakes

Ingredients
2x tins flaked tuna - the tins I used were 215g each
1/3 cup instant mashed potato
+/- 1 cup boiling water (for the mashed potatoes)
2 Tbs mixed herbs
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
A pinch of salt

*You could use real, homemade mashed potatoes if you have on hand, I was in a rush and didn't have time to make from scratch

Method
1. Mix up the mashed potatoes. Brands vary in the amount of liquid they need, so go slow on the water. You don't want your potatoes too soggy. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly.

2. Drain the tuna. I always use the tuna in brine, it just seems healthier to me.

3. Mix the mashed potato, tuna, onion and dry ingredients together in a bowl.

4. Add one egg , mixing it all up with your hands, so that the ingredients are all nice and combined

5. Check the consistency before adding the second egg. You want to be able to form the mixture into patties that won't fall apart while cooking. You also don't want the mixture too squishy, as soggy fish cakes aren't going to please any tummies!

6. Should your mixture be too soggy, add some more coconut flakes or polenta to bulk it up some more.

7. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes for the polenta to soften slightly.

8. Form into 8 patties.

9. Shallow fry the patties in oil, for about 3 - 4 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

10. Serve and enjoy!

I served this with steamed mixed vegetables and a side of fresh cut papinos. Pure bliss!






Thursday, 24 July 2014

About me!

Hi there! Welcome to my blog!

Since this is my first first, I thought I'd share a little bit about who I am and what I am doing here.

My name is Elmarie, I am a gluten-free, single mom to two busy little boys. We live in sunny South Africa and love the country and the climate!

I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant a few months ago and it completely changed my view on food and cooking. Previously, supper was thrown together quickly and easily from mostly ready made sources. Now, I am focused on cooking healthy meals from scratch for my little family, and love doing it!

I have been on a journey of self-discovery over the past year since my separation and divorce, and love the person I am becoming. Part of the motivation behind starting this blog is to rediscover my passion for creativity, and adventure, which I had lost over the past few years.

I see myself as a total extrovert, I love people and socializing and sharing about myself and my experiences. Speaking as I have been lately with people from all walks of life, I have realised that I have a totally different outlook on life than the general masses. I am more focused on the small things in life, more honed on in on the beauty around us. I came across this picture that defines me to a tee:
(Origin unknown)
Initially, the word 'gypsy' drew to mind images of social outcasts, old broken caravans, and flowing skirts; but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that such intense passion and inspiration are rare in today's world. Life is so full, we are all so busy, that not many people take the time to stop and smell the roses, to see the beauty and purpose in the world around us. Thankfully, I was able to notice that within my own life, and am trying to break that cycle. This blog will be an account of that journey - Taking back me, one day at a time!