Archive | June 2011

IN MY KITCHEN, THE PEEP-IN CHALLENGE

I recently started reading the lovely Sally’s blog, My Custard Pie. Yesterday, Sally gave us a peep into her kitchen and invited us to do the same. (She had come upon the idea via Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.)
I love seeing other bloggers’ kitchens and what they’re doing with ingredients. Apparently Celia does a monthly ‘In my kitchen picture post’, listing new and interesting things in her kitchen.
This is my kitchen, messier than usual as I am beginning to prep for a catering gig.

A new arrival this week; a lovely pack of Nicoletta cake decorating products to try out:
4 tubes of Glitter Writing Icing,
1 jar of Heavenly Hearts,
1 pack of Love Notes
1jar of Lilac Cake Crystals

This was my first attempt to see what the Glitter Writing Icing can do; I have much practising ahead…

Some newbies (and some oldies) on my shelf; I love NoMU products more and more. The purple tin in the foreground is my newest acquisition and I used it for our lunch. The large silver object in the background is a 1KG bag of their drinking chocolate, which I received on Tuesday. Thanks Paul and Tracy! My lucky clients are going to be so spoilt.

Back to that purple tin. We were gifted with a glorious, sunny day. Warm enough to have lunch outside, picnic style. Chicken thighs roasted with NoMU Pistachio and Sumac Dipper, crispy fried red onion and chunks of bread. Such a treat in the middle of the week.

And, do you know what? I didn’t feel at all guilty about taking a few hours away from my work …

Repeating an old observation of mine:
When you travel, you experience the glossy façade of a culture; the images on a brochure.
But …
When you blog, you get a glimpse of the flesh and blood of other cultures; you see their grocery cupboards, their hopes and dreams, you feel their very heartbeats.

P THINGS, RATHER THAN WEAPONS OF BASS DESTRUCTION

Foodreference.com tells us that on this day in 1999 Nicholas Vitalich was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a large tuna, outside a San Diego supermarket. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
I’ve done a Google search, but I can’t find out what Mister Vitalich’s girlfriend’s name is, or whether they got back together. Also, nobody seems to know anything about the tuna. I’m quite intrigued to know if it was alive, but I assume a frozen tuna is a more deadly weapon than a live, wriggly one?
Anyway, I don’t want to dwell too closely on tuna…
Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips. Charles Dickens


As is pork, Mister Dickens, particularly pork neck steaks in pinotage and pear preserve and peppercorns. Which is what we had for dinner last night. With sweet potatoes cooked in rooibos tea, mashed with salt, pepper and butter.
Rooibos tea is grown in South Africa (Western Cape) is not really a tea; it is actually a species of legume! This infusion has significant health benefits, but its benefit to the sweet potato is extraordinary; the tea colours the vegetable beautifully and heightens the inherent ginger notes.
Ah, how I wish there were leftovers!

SLOWPOKE ME

My office in the wintertime is not a happy place. It’s on the side of the house that loses the sunlight first and in the early afternoons the temperatures drop so that it becomes colder than the proverbial witch’s wotchit.


I far prefer the kitchen and like to get the windows fuggy with steam, have the radio on and cook shamelessly indulgent food. The smell of roasting garlic and bubbling tomatoes goes someway to making the weather bearable. With a windfall of a bag of bringals (eggplant, aubergine), I made malenzane over the weekend, using Jamie Oliver’s recipe. What a feast of flavours …

Life got in the way of blogging over the past two days and, with great anxiety, I see that I have 87 blog posts to read. This caused me no amount of worry when I opened my email inbox this morning, but I have taken a step back and thought about it; blogging should cause only pleasure. Things happen and – from time to time – it’s inevitable that we will miss out on a few posts of our friends, isn’t it?
Anyhow, what I am trying to say is that it is unlikely that I can catch up, but I will try.
The year seems to be speeding by at a scary rate of knots, it seems like yesterday that we welcomed our friends who’d come to stay for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. I look at my archives and – sure enough – there is my June 14th post; a snapshot memory of a very happy time.

WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: MORNING

It’s just gone 6am in Johannesburg and it’s black as ink outside.
I’ve just tested my new ‘daylight simulator’ light. Is it obviously artificial?

“Is there anything better than butter? Think it over, any time you taste something that’s delicious beyond imagining and you say ‘what’s in this?’ the answer is always going to be butter. The day there is a meteorite rushing toward Earth and we have thirty days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here is my final word on the subject, you can never have too much butter.” – Julie Powell, Julie & Julia

I’ve a feeling I may just get a bit fat this winter …

DELAWARE AND A FREE STATE CURRY

I want to start today’s post with a heartfelt plea. My dear friend Paula is distraught; she has had visitors from all the states in the USA, save for Delaware. This is extremely upsetting for Paula. I am beginning to suspect that people in Delaware don’t blog. Could this be true? Somebody out there must know somebody in Delaware? Surely! PLEASE; IF YOU KNOW SOMEBODY IN DELAWARE, ASK THEM TO GO AND SAY HELLO TO PAULA’S BLOG!!!

Now, on to Sidey’s weekend theme
Usually, after work, my husband stops in at one of his two favourite local pubs. The Jolly Roger has, he says, become too rowdy, with young advertising industry types using it as a pick-up spot. These days he prefers the slightly seedy Thundergun, where elderly blokes hang like aphids at the bar counter, miserably avoiding small talk and allowing Old Spouse to read his paper in peace.
He never eats there, but one evening – both O Bunn and I were out for supper – he ordered their daily special and came home groaning with a fierce case of heartburn. It had been curried mince and rice, he told me, the likes of which he’d never tasted. As he struggled to describe it to me, ‘not Indian, not Thai, they put bloody fruit in it!’, it dawned on me; it was Orange Free State curry. School fete curry, a long-forgotten taste from my childhood. I had to have it, but – try as I did – I couldn’t recreate it.
My friend, Chantelle, put up a request in an Afrikaans recipe-swap group on Facebook and – sure enough – within hours a lady posted the recipe, which I cooked last night. Old Spouse wasn’t home to witness my joy as I scoffed. He also got out of watching as the heartburn set in.

FREE STATE CURRY INGREDIENTS:
500g mince
500g mixed frozen vegetables (I only used peas, can’t face a frozen carrot)
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
10ml mild curry powder
5ml Borrie (Tumeric)
50ml vinegar
50ml apricot jam
2 tablespoons chutney
1 tablespoon maizina, mixed to a paste with water
Salt & pepper to taste.

The man is due home today, I think he’ll give the pub a miss, I’m sure he’s been very homesick for his own hearth this past, cold week…

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER

Or let’s not … it’s bleak. Let’s also not talk about the news, at least not the local news. The most intriguing headlines I found during my early morning vigil were American and Canadian, both involving bears. I think the zucchini wins?
Over here, we call zucchini ‘baby marrows’. Or, if we want to pretend we spent a lot of time in Europe, we call them ‘courgettes’. Whatever they’re called, I’ve never seen one big enough to ward off a hamster, let alone a bear.
While searching for zucchini trivia, I came across a mystifying quote by John Gould, “The first zucchini I ever saw I killed it with a hoe.” Of course I had to find out why. Turns out Mr Gould wrote a book called Monstrous Depravity: A jeremiad and a lamentation [about things to eat]. It turns out the book is quite a collectors item and I shall have to try and get myself a copy off Amazon.com.
In the meantime, I’m going to roast some vegetables and make soup. As one does at 4.45am …

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” – John Gould.

BULLETS AND HUMPS

BULLETS:
• My favourite neighbour in our little street was the victim of an armed hijack & house robbery on Monday. Luckily she was not physically hurt.
• My husband is away on business this week. I’m always unsettled when he’s not here, but more so now because of the aforementioned robbers.
• I’m sleeping in shifts; deep sleep in the early evening and site patrols in the late hours. With a cricket bat, in case. When I can’t get back to sleep, I practice cookie decorating. This baffled our security company at 2am this morning and they came to investigate. I made them coffee and gave them slices of chocolate bread.
• If a recipe specifies two layer pans, don’t try and be clever and use a loaf pan instead. You’ll end up with a humped loaf and your Facebook friends will have loads of fun out of it:

Cindy: My loaf cake looks a bit like a camel.
Melanie: Animal or cigarette?
Cindy: Animal, big hump in the middle, Chelsea thinks it’s awesome, like chocolate bread ;p
Liane: I’ll eat it blind folded if that’ll help :D
Linda: One hump or two? ;-P
Cindy: One … is that a Dromedaris?
Linda: One of JVR’s ships?? Must have been some hump! :)
Cindy: Haha, which one has two humps? Does a Llama have a hump?
Linda: The dromedary has one hump. The lama does not have a hump, but spits like a Redneck.
Cindy: Ah, Googled it; the Dromedary has one hump.
Linda: That’s what I said… Look down… :)
Cindy: What’s a Redneck, like from the farms and new in the city?
Linda: Like from the South in the USA.. Like from.. You know you’re a redneck when your sister is also your mother, etc.
Cindy: Oh … Gomers!
Linda: Bwhahahahaha! Yep, those ones.
Brenda: My cousin Larry said his cousin Larry and other brother Larry love camel loafing.
Linda: As long as it is loafing and not toeing, it should be fine. *giggle*
Colleen: HAHAHAHAHA!! You lot are hysterical. And this all because a loaf has one lump and not toe…I mean TWO???
Brenda: I think they actually meant humping. Too much moonshine, methinks.

And, as my dear friend Charlie says, so it goes … happy hump day, everyone …

GEEKS, GLITCHES AND ROMANCE

Because of some computer problems I don’t quite understand (that’s what the IT geeks are there for), my last editing project went slightly over deadline and prevented me from blogging. I finally released the manuscript to the publisher yesterday and – as always – there’s a certain sense of loss that accompanies the relief of finishing a job. It’s much like saying goodbye at the end of a holiday romance.
Said computer glitches mean that I didn’t get email updates of posts on my friends’ blogs done between around 6pm on Saturday and around midday on Monday (GMT), so I am having to work my way around trying to catch up.


Tandy’s seasonal ingredient challenge of the week is to use pumpkin and squash. She didn’t specify what kind of squash, so I used butternut. I’d been tantalized when I read that she was cooking short ribs on Friday night, so I went out and bought some too; I was very keen to try out NoMU’s Cajun Rub and made a hearty stew and turned the leftovers into a really good soup (which I forgot to take a picture of).


Back to the topic of romance, I am completely smitten by these little fellows, so much so that I can’t bring myself to cook them yet. What a strange lass I am.

METAPHYSICS: CONVERSATIONS WITH DOG

Lulubelle is a verbose dog, with a large vocal range. She yodels when I talk on the telephone, she whoops when it looks like she’s going to get a walk, she – literally – shrieks in distress if Diski goes through the fence to visit the neighbours’ dogs and her yelling at intruders is enough to put the fear of God into any would-be burglar.
And so it came to pass that Old Spouse, after a long and boozy business lunch, came home one Friday night and launched into conversation with the dogs. I eavesdropped as I cooked a burger for the man.
OS: Do you want a biscuit, Old Girl?
LB: Wroodleack.
OS: You’re an old greedyguts, aren’t you?
LB: Breefle.
OS: Come off it! It’s just metaphysical hunger!
LB: Ahoooreh!
OS: Go on! You can’t even spell it!
LB: Harrumphooooo!

They understand one another perfectly, those two do …

Best burger ever: peppered beef patty on ciabatta bread, topped with onion, chillies and Emmenthaler cheese.

PAINLESS, BUT ALSO WITHOUT POETRY

Sometimes I realise afresh how extreme the South African climate is. Yesterday our lawn was frozen, the blades of grass sharp icicles that hurt the dogs’ feet when they went out for a piddle. (The photograph is blurred, because I was shivering.)

I chose, instead, to look upward, where the skies were blue and the sun was doing a pale imitation of summer.

And so onto Sidey’s weekend theme: poetry. When I came to WordPress over a year ago, from another blogging platform, my intention was to only post poetry and creative writing here. (*Points to sidebar / list of categories.*) Life, however, has its own agenda. It is no big secret that I suffer from fibromyalgia and sciatica and, on some days, am laid almost paralysed with pain. Some time ago, my lovely Doctor Neighbour prescribed Cymbalta and – largely – made the pain go away. Cymbalta is an anti-anxiety drug, but research found – coincidently – that it eased fibromyalgia symptoms. One of the downsides is that it somewhat dampens creativity and it almost immediately put my poetry muse into a coma. Food and wine took over this blog, which is not at all distressing to me, after all, as Mister Berchoux said “A poem was never worth as much as a dinner.”

And so to dinner and the weather. Only a curry would to against these sub-zero temperatures. I, homesick for Simonstown, yearned for a bowl of Mrs Patel’s biryani and set out to recreate the taste from memory.

Satisfying and spicy, I was flooded with thoughts of gratitude. Looking at my wine quote of the day this morning, I can only wonder at the synchronicity of minds, how perfectly appropriate: “Wine is bottled poetry.” Robert Louis Stevenson.