Romancing the Family with Alfresco Dining at My Shabby Shack

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces" - George Santayana

Hello again! It's that time of the week again where the wonderfully creative dames from Romancing The Home come together to bring you some more inspiration on bringing a little bit of beauty out into the light of every day life!

This month we've been looking at embracing spring and how to bring out the most of our outdoors. Some have vast areas with loads of hidden nooks and crannies. others, literally have a nook, or a cranny! Those may be shy to entertain in those small spaces or may even be overwhelmed with what to make out of large areas!? But don't be discouraged, with a little luck, you may find the inspiration you need to set up a table for dinner or simply throw down a blanket for a conversation with a loved one on the lawn and have something pretty to discuss in those moments.

As a busy mom, especially a work at home mom, it can be challenging to want to make special efforts for day to day life. But, the thought of changing scenery from the usual dining area to the garden is, well, refreshing!

You don't have to go way out, just take the food outside! Maybe you don't have a permanent dining area? Set up a make shift table and carry your dining room chairs out! Set the table and add some mood lighting, and don't forget the foliage! It doesn't only have to around you, it can be on the table in front of you as well!

For what you are seeing in this weeks blog, I did what us "Afrikaaners" call a "moerby-pot". Basically it's a meal made with some leftovers and random stuff in the fridge and grocery cupboard.

Here's what I did;

roughly chop 1 onion and fry in coconut oil with 1 tbsp crushed garlic

1 packet baby marrow (zucchini) with tops and tails off and cut into bite size chunks were added when the onions became semi-translucent. with that I added

1/2 packet cocktail tomatoes which I halved, with 1 reg. can peeled & chopped tomatoes. Season well with salt and pepper and throw in 2x 7cm sprigs of fresh rosemary. After simmering for a while I added dry white wine, measured in the tomato can and tossed in about 5 cups worth of leftover lamb roast (bone pickings).

Dessert - French Strawberry Tart

(found on Pinterest)

Make a shortcrust pastry with 2 cups flour, 125g cold butter, 125ml ice water and 5ml lemon juice. with pastry, you always rub your butter into the flour to form what appears to be breadcrumbs. them you work in your water ad lemon juice and try not to overwork as it will prevent a nice rise on your pastry. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before blind baking for 15min in a tart pan and then again for 10-15min without the beans for a nice golden brown colour. Cool in pan for 1 hour and then turn onto wire rack to further cool.

Creme Patissiere is french pastry cream which is a spreadable custard that is often used in eclairs and mille-feuille. it's pretty simple to make; heat 2 cups of milk with 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan. Whisk another 1/4 cup sugar with 1/3 cup cornflour (maizena) with 4 egg yolks to create a thick paste. when the milk is hot and the sugar seems all gone, gradually add little splashes to the egg yolk mix, constantly stirring until the entire mix is blended. return to the saucepan and cook on low heat until thick, maintain that stirring unless you want lumpy custard!

My suggestion is to let it cool a bit with occasional whisking until you can comfortably put a sheet of cling wrap on top, right up against the custard, pushing out any air. this prevents a skin forming or any steam to make sweat. You can refrigerate it when the pan is cool enough to go into the fridge. Then, once chilled, pour into your tart/pie crust and flatten with the back of a tablespoon.

Wash your strawberries, take the tops off and slice in half. Arrange them on top of the pastry cream. Unless you plan on eating it soon, I suggest you seal in the strawberries by making a concentrate of jelly, anything red, to pour over. This gives them a beautiful glossy look and will prevent them from wilting.

We dined outside on Friday evening, the sun still sets pretty fast and even though I had everything prepped and waiting for dad to get home from work, the window to take photos was extremely short, no red and pink skyline, it just went dark! But the breeze wasn't too chilly and it was exciting for the children to get out for the first time since winter kicked in 4 months ago, as you may know, time to a child could feel like an eternity! We look forward to plenty more Alfresco Dining in the warm months still ahead of us! I hope I've inspired you even a little just to get out and enjoy nature with your family (if you don't have one, alone time in the outdoors is better than therapy...and cheaper!) and friends! Happy Sunday everyone!

Don't forget to go see what Stacey @sawdustandhighheels got up to in beautiful Cape Town!

Also check up on Liz @keepitfrench and Ramona's gorgeous garden where she often entertains @rufflesandrust.

'Til next time!

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