Appetisers: Zucchini and feta fritters (Mücver)

I love cooking and trying foods inspired by the places I visit. My most recent holiday was to Turkey and on my second night in Cappadocia we dined at an amazing restaurant called Topdeck cave restaurant (I’ll review this separately). On the mezze plate was a zucchini fritter I just knew I had to try making when I came home. 

From the recipes on the web, I saw the main herbs used to flavour it are parsley, mint, and dill. I didn’t have dill so I excluded that from this recipe. Still turned out tasty so you can totally add it in or leave it out when you make yours. 

I also added some chilli. Chilli isn’t commonly used in Turkish cuisine but it is in mine. This addition is optional so if you know kids are going to eat then don’t add it in. I also always have lemons in my fruit bowl so added the zest of half a lemon. I find lemon and zucchini a match made in heaven. 

Fritter batter

It’s tasty, moreish, and light. 

Try my recipe and let me know how it turns out. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s quite forgiving. You can adapt it to suit your own tastes.

Zucchini and feta fritters (Mücver)
A tasty and light fritter that will keep you coming back for more
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 medium zucchinis, grated
  2. 3 eggs
  3. Half a red onion, diced
  4. 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. Handful of parsley
  7. Handful of coriander
  8. Tablespoon of mint
  9. 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  10. 1.5 cups flour
  11. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  12. 1 tsp cumin
  13. Salt
  14. Pepper
  15. Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Grate zucchini, add to colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow it to sit for a bit.
  2. After 10 to 15 minutes, squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini and add this to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add in the onion, chilli, herbs, feta, seasoning and combine.
  4. Mix in the eggs and then slowly add in the flour and baking powder until a nice batter is formed.
  5. Heat some oil in a pan to shallow fry.
  6. Drop tablespoon fulls into the oil and fry until golden on each side.
  7. Serve with yogurt or dipping sauce of your choice.
Notes
  1. Red onion can be substituted for spring onion.
  2. Dill can replace coriander.
  3. Chilli is optional.
From My Fingertips http://www.frommyfingertips.com/

 

 

How to apply for your South African passport online

One of the things many South Africans dread is going to stand at a queue at Home Affairs. It’s easily the busiest government department – queues snake around buildings for kilometres. You’re possibly going to queue in the blazing hot sun, or on a rainy day, or if you’re a lucky Capetonian a Southeaster so vicious the wind will make you dance involuntarily.

At some point every South African will need something from Home Affairs so when the government announced that online registration was possible I jumped for joy. Of course, at the time of the announce my passport still had some time on it but the end of 2017 rolled around and I realised mine was going to expire a couple of months into the new year.

No time like the present to test the new online system and let me tell you it worked for me. The only thing I wish is that the online system already extended to FNB bank branches in Cape Town. Currently only their Joburg clients have access to biometrics facilities. So while the online system works for us in Cape Town and the rest of SA, we still need to go to a Home Affairs office to get our photo and fingerprints taken. You do get to bypass all the different queues though and you’re done in less than an hour from the time the branch opens provided you get there early.

Just please note that the whole process is not online. You still have to either visit a branch or bank but the time spent there is a lot shorter if you do the basics online first. 

A note from Home Affairs on the matter.

“A branch visit is mandatory for the capture and verification of your biometric detail (photos, fingerprints and signature). No appointment/booking is required to visit any Home Affairs office.”

Let me walk you through my experience.

Step one: Register on Home Affairs

It’s safe and easy and it makes use of a one-time pin system connected to the phone number you provide. Every time you log in you’ll get a message to your phone with a pin to use for that login. 

Home affairs registration page.

Step two: Fill out your applications online

This part is very quick. Select the item you’re applying for. In my case it was a passport but I also had an option to apply for my smart ID card. I’m going to apply for that online next time as well.

Just make sure you have spelled everything correctly and you’ve inputted the right details everywhere. Be very thorough.

Here is a handy how-to guide from Home Affairs.

Step three: Make your payment

The system is quite fancy. You input your banking details and when you log onto your own online bank account profile there’ll be a pending payment for your to approve from Home Affairs. Once you’ve approved you go back to the Home Affairs site and you’ll see it picks up that you’ve paid. Now you’re ready for the next step.

Step four: Print your document

By now you’ve filled out your details correctly, made a payment online, and the system will ask you to print along a document with a QR code to bring along with you.

The only tricky thing is that it must download in Adobe reader and then you’d be able to print it. I struggled with this a bit because I kept thinking my form wasn’t downloading. This was what I got every time I tried to download.

(insert screenshot)

After I installed Adobe Reader, I printed the form and I was ready to go queue for my biometrics.

Step five: Biometrics

If you’re in Joburg, you can simply make an appointment with one of four FNB branches on that side. For the rest of us stuck in 1955, we need to go to our nearest branch. For me that was in Barrack Street, Cape Town. 

I went to queue from just after 06:30. The queues at that time weren’t bad – only around 50 people ahead of me. (I wonder what time these folk got up!) As I joined the queue it grew and grew so by the time the offices opened at 08:00 the queue was right around the corner of the building.

But then a magical thing happened. A man came looking for online applications and there were very few of us. So we got to go inside, get a number (this part took a few minutes because there was an older aunty who was having some issues), have our fingerprints and pics taken, and then our details quickly confirmed. I was out of there in 45 minutes after they opened.

After that it’s a matter of days’ wait until your can collect your document.

Step 6: Collecting your document

Five days after I went for my biometrics, I got a message from Home Affairs telling me my passport was ready to be collected. There is a separate collections queue and these people get to go inside first. I went around the same time as I went when I went for my biometrics. This time, I was in for all of 5 minutes before I left with my new passport in hand.

And that’s it. 

Here are some other questions you guys sent me on the process via Instagram. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU HAVE A VALID VISA ATTACHED TO YOUR PASSPORT?

If you still have a valid visa attached to your old passport, travel with both passports to said country until that visa expires. This was the advice given to me by Home Affairs as I still have one valid visa attached to my old passport. 

CAN I DO THIS FROM THE COUNTRY I’M LIVING IN?

From my research it seems that expat South Africans still have to visit the SA consulate where they live, for biometrics especially. They need to confirm that you’re actually you. The wait time remains 4 to 6 months as the document has to come all the way from South Africa. If your passport has a year left on it and you know you’re going to travel out of the country you’re living in next year, I’d apply as soon as possible.

CAN I APPLY FOR MY CHILD’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE/PASSPORT ONLINE?

There is an option to apply for your minor’s documents. 

 

  • If you have any further questions, comment below or find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I’ll gladly look into it and get back to you. 

Happy 18th birthday, Grief!

Happy birthday, Grief! You’re 18 years old. A newly matured adult.

While it’s been 18 years since you were born and became part of me, you’re mostly locked away. There are days though, like today on your birthday, when you remind me of your presence, Grief.

You remind me of the painful reason you came into my life. How that first year was probably the roughest young teenage me would go through. As time went by, you became a part of me that surfaces every now and then, but you allow me to live a relatively sane and normal existence (bar some trust and confidence issues that will probably always be there).

In those first years you felt raw and painful – like an open wound covered in salt. The wound has been patched for the most part. Thank God!

When you turned 14, there was a shift. A turning point. It was exactly half my life since you entered and half my life since dad had been gone. I knew from that point it would always be that you were with me longer than he would ever be. It made me sad but forced me to push you further away so you only surface about twice a year now.

Sometimes I wonder about the type of me I’d have become without you, Grief. Would I still be as painfully shy? Would I have more confidence? Would I trust more easily? I’ll never know.

Today, and every year on this day, you tend to scratch at the scars on my heart, strumming it the way my dad did his guitar strings. It plays a familiar, haunting melody that wakes the memories of that last day my dad was with us. I wake in the chair by his bed and see him open his eyes one last time to look at me. And then he’s gone and you take over, Grief.

But these days I’ll only allow you in on the big days. Because you know what, Grief? I like laughing and smiling and living and so did my dad.

So visit for today if you must, but tomorrow and all the other tomorrows they’re mine for laughing, smiling, exploring the world, and living life to the fullest. That’s what my dad would have wanted for me.

Appetisers: Spinach and feta pinwheels

I don’t like going to a party empty-handed and I like to make something different every time I go somewhere so recently when my uncle invited us for a family day I was at a complete loss when it came to thinking about what to take along. 

I had things in the house to make some tried and tested appetisers but I wasn’t satisfied with that and it seemed my kitchen muse had escaped me. I wasn’t feeling very creative and wanted to make something that wouldn’t take an age. I also knew I didn’t want to use meat. 

At the grocery store that morning I bought spinach and feta cheese thinking I’d maybe make a vegetarian or something. When I got home I decided pinwheels would be nice and made a quick filling (recipe below) and rolling it into some pastry and a new crowd-pleaser was born.

I reckon you can use any veg stuffing you want. Roasted sweet peppers and a nice strong cheese would also make a good filling. Or a mushroom stuffing. 

You can use store-bought ready-rolled puff pastry. I used what I had at home – my mom’s flaky butter pastry. #blessed (mock me for using a hashtag in a blog post)

It’s pretty easy to put together. Check out the recipe below. Try it and let me know what you think. 

Spinach and feta pinwheels
A quick and easy appetiser
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 sheets puff pastry
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. Half a green pepper, diced
  4. 1 clove garlic, crushed,
  5. 1 finely chopped chilli
  6. 1 bag of spinach, chopped
  7. Half a tub of feta cheese, crumbled
  8. butter or oil for braised
Instructions
  1. Braise onion until soft and golden.
  2. Add the pepper and when it's just about cooked add in garlic, chilli, spinach and cook until spinach wilts. It shouldn't be wet.
  3. Add in crumbled feta (be sure to pat the wheels of feta dry between paper towel).
  4. Allow mixture to cool.
  5. Once it's cooled, divide the mixture in two and spread it over each sheet of pastry.
  6. Roll up and slice in about an inch in thickness.
  7. Place wheels on a baking sheet, brush with egg.
  8. Bake for between 20 and 25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Notes
  1. You'll notice I didn't add salt to this recipe. The feta cheese itself is quite salty so you definitely don't need to add any in.
From My Fingertips http://www.frommyfingertips.com/

Turkey: What travel dreams are made of

“I need a holiday.”

“I need to get away.”

“I need a break.”

If like me, these thoughts have been on a loop in your head, I think it’s only right to reward yourself with a much-needed getaway. I mean, 2017 has been quite extra so a holiday from it all is just what the proverbial doctor prescribes.

While I had a wonderful holiday to Australia and Dubai in January, it feels like ages ago so I’m already looking at a possible trip to Turkey in the very near future.

Enter Travelstart Black Friday. From 23– 27 November 2017 Travelstart will be cutting the cost of flights to your favourite local and international destinations with some epic “Black Flyday” travel deals. (Look out for the Spin to Win competition on the page!)

I’m so excited. I have my fingers and toes crossed for a good deal because Turkey has been on my travel bucket list for ages. 

I dream of visiting The Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

 

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And then learning all about the rich and complex history of the Hagia Sophia.

A cruise on the Bosphorus will be amazing bonus.

 

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As a lover of a good bargain, I long to see what the Grand Bazaar has to offer.

The foodie in me can’t wait to tuck into as many local dishes as possible.

 

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And buy as much Turkish Delight as I can fit into my suitcase.

I’m also dreaming of a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia.

 

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There’s much more to do and see in this beautiful country that I’m told is rich in history, architecture, culture, and good food. I am itching to explore it all. Turkey is pretty much what dreams are made of. 

PS: if you need a holiday but don’t want to go all the way abroad, you can also book a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg and tick some things off my bucket list.

Are you as excited about Black Flyday as I am? 

  • Partnered with Travelstart.