Archives

DECLINING AN AWARD ON HERITAGE DAY

I have been awarded the ‘One Lovely Blog’ award by Mal. I’ve been blogging on various platforms for almost ten years now and I think that it is time for me to begin declining these awards, although I am very grateful to Mal for the nomination. The rules of this particular one are as follows:
• Thank the one that nominated you. My sincere thanks to you, Mal:
http://maloquacious.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/one-lovely-blog-award-2/

Put up the picture for the One Lovely Blog Award.

one_lovely_blog_award

Tell everyone seven things about yourself. I think I’ve done this so often that all my blog friends know everything there is to know about me. Nonetheless, below are a few random facts about today:

I love soap. I’ve heard many people say they’d be insulted if given soap as a birthday or Christmas gift; I wouldn’t. Not at all, I have bars of soap stashed all over the place: in the pockets of my winter coats to ward off fishmoths, in my linen closet to scent my sheets, in jars on the edge of my bathtub … I love soap! (Spot the bar of bergamot soap poking out of the pocket.)

coat with soap_edited

Although much time has passed, and – to all outward appearances – I have settled nicely in my apartment and have “gotten over it”, I still occasionally reel in shock at the change in my circumstances. I will wake up in the morning and, just for a moment, I will forget that I am not a wife anymore; that there is not some shared activity in which to be engaged for the day. This – feeling like an amputee - I am told, is a natural part of the process of grieving:
“I had known a man, a butcher, who had accidently hacked off most of his left hand while cutting up a side of beef. All that was left was the thumb and index finger, but he claimed to be able to feel his other, absent fingers, so much so that he often went to twist the ring that had once rested on one of them. In a way I could still feel my other life, or the lack of it. Sometimes I would be walking down a Roman street and be overcome by the sensation that I was in the Via della Condotta or Volta dei Tintori, or some other Florentine place. But I was never able to grab hold of these things – of course not, because they existed only in my mind. I wanted to, though. I craved some sort of contact, to see or touch the ghosts of home.” – Appetite, Philip Kazan.

appetite philip kazan
Read this book if you love history, art and food!
Without the company of my cat, I expect I would go slightly insane on lonely days. Our relationship took a while to get off the ground, but she has proved to be excellent company and an ever-ready ear when self-pity threatens to overwhelm me. As a keeper of secrets she cannot be faulted.

ally on heritage day_edited

Today is our National Heritage Day and it has become customary for the entire nation to cook meat on fires. I’m not sure that barbecues are allowed on the balconies in my building, but I lit one in my miniature Weber regardless of what rules may exist.

first weber braai_edited

My feast today was a solitary one; my daughter is away at the coast for the school holidays, or I would have invited her and her swain to join me. I cooked chicken marinated in Portuguese spices and ginger beer. One leg for my lunch, with potato salad and sliced beetroot. The other will be used for chicken mayonnaise sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch.

marinating chicken_edited

braaid chicken_edited

And so ends a relatively good day. I have been productive and have enjoyed sunshine, some good music and have attained a sense of relative serenity. All is good and I will sleep well. Tomorrow my job hunting continues and I will tackle it with the faith that I continue to operate beneath the benign hand of God. I will forge ahead and see what my new life becomes…

dilla lolly

In the meantime, I think an ice lolly will finish off the day nicely.

ON KILLING ORCHIDS AND REKINDLING RELATIONSHIPS

orchid_edited

Lounge circa 2009
They say that it’s not a good thing to look back with regret, but I can’t help thinking back to the orchids I made flourish profusely in my marital home. I had them showing off shamelessly all over the place, seemingly thriving on my neglect. Yesterday – as I discarded yet another sad, brown victim of my newfound ineptitude with these exotic blooms – I was forced to wonder where I am going wrong. Perhaps I am guilty of extreme cosseting, but I vowed to give up. I have, after all, killed a sum total of eleven plants in seventeen months. Yes, I would give it up … after just one more try … if this one dies, I will throw in the towel and stick to the thriving pots of succulents on my balcony.

last chance orchid_edited

New orchid – the last chance.
Extreme cosseting is also something I must avoid as my rekindled relationship with my daughter grows tentatively close again. When we spend time together I have to curb my urge to smother her with physical contact. I want to touch her, to hold her hand and hug her all the time, but I know that I must restrain myself and be content with an embrace on meeting and parting.
My girl has a beau now and I was overjoyed (and more than a little nervous) to meet the lad this past weekend. They’re terribly sweet together; both earnest, smart youngsters who delighted me with their witty conversation. I took them to Thava, an authentic Indian restaurant near to my new home. The chap has an aversion to very hot curries and it was a testament to his devotion to my child that – when her Vindaloo dish proved too hot – he promptly swapped dishes and manfully made his way through the dish as best he could, although I could almost see the steam coming out of his ears.

curries at thava_edited
Chicken Tikka Masala / Chicken Vindaloo / Seafood Vindaloo with Basmati Rice.

seafood vindaloo at thava_edited
My own seafood curry was delicious.
Dessert proved less stressful for both of them and – again – the young man gladly agreed that they should exchange their portions halfway through.

vermicelli dessert at thava_edited
Payasam – Vermicelli cooked with cream, raisins and almonds.

fried ice cream at thava
Thava fried ice cream
It’s such a thrill for me to be sharing my daughter’s life again and I am so grateful to see her so happy. I’m looking forward to spending time with the two of them soon again, next time in an environment that is a little more relaxed for all three of us. I think I’ll give the curry a miss though, and cook for them in my new home … a wholesome, calming mutton doughboy at my own table, with – hopefully – a thriving orchid as a centerpiece.

doughboy_edited
Mutton Doughboy (Recipe on my previous post.)

BANISHING SUNDAY LONELINESS WITH CHOCOLATE ELEPHANTS AND SALT+PEPPER

Some luxuries just can’t be lived without. Perfume, flowers, a good book and chocolate elephants. – Adair Victoria Cross

stop and smell the roses_edited

I’d include the luxury of lazy Sundays in my friend Adair’s astute quote; I’ve come to love Sundays in my building. The residents are such a diverse mix of cultures and, as they all start their cooking for Sunday lunch, the smells that mingle in the stairwell are a delight to the senses. Today I can smell ras el hanout from the flat of the Ethiopian pastor on my left and thyme in the stuffing of a roasting chicken from the little Jewish lady across the way. My own kitchen is fuggy with the smell of tomatoes simmering with harissa; I’m making a huge pot of sauce to freeze in batches for the week ahead and have made a batch of sausage rolls for the next few days’ lunches.

pies and tomatoes
I’m also preparing to cook a mutton doughboy from a recipe from a book which has made my senses dance a merry jig from the first page, Niel Stemmet’s ‘Salt+Pepper heritage food journey’ (Lapa Uitgewers, R358.00 from Exclusive Books). Niel is a Facebook friend of mine, whom I first discovered via his blog.

salt+pepper cover

salt+pepper doughboy recipe

Niel’s one of those iconic figures who makes everything he touches turn to gold. The seventh-generation descendant of a Dutch glassblower, Niel is a writer, photographer, restaurateur and guest-house owner and décor guru par excellence.
The book was first published in Afrikaans and the translator has been gentle with the author, allowing the unique Afrikaner voice to remain. The recipes are testimony to the history of South African cooking – before the 1970s brought the advent of quick-fix additives. Interspersed with the recipes are delightful anecdotes and reminiscences of the women who formed Niel’s love of cooking, and thought-provoking quotes from South African writers, poets and musicians – even some from the bible.

salt+pepper p123

salt+pepper p127

salt+pepper p140

Niel did all his own photographs and they alone are a good reason for relishing the pages of this book, which celebrates a return to the honest-cuisine of old times, when the only pantry ingredients necessary were salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, coriander, bay leaves – or rather, shared recipes “told in our vernacular and passed on by grandmother to mother, daughter and son”.
And so, with a squirt of bergamot on my wrists added to the fragrance of the flowers on my sideboard, I finish clearing up after my kitchen session and carry a cup of coffee and a slab of those chocolate elephants to my sofa. Perhaps I’ll nap or – perhaps – I’ll devour more of the book until it’s a respectable hour to get under the covers and have an early night.
Just for today I’ve banished loneliness; just for today I’ve created my own bliss …

chocolate elephants_edited

TWO TRIPS: IN PINK TAXIS AND DOWN-BLOG-MEMORY-LANE

Being carless is beginning to make me experience severe cabin fever; I was going batty with little to do except watch my flowers open.

flowers opening
A glance at my very full laundry basket reminded me that I urgently needed to purchase a washing machine and prompted me to do what many people who live in city centres the world over do: catch a taxi.
My drivers, Cecilia and Thobile, were very entertaining and they showed me clever shortcuts to use there-and-back in future.

Thobile with her Cabs for Women taxi cab.

cabs for women
Washing machine duly purchased (they can only deliver next week), I did some other shopping for bits and pieces I needed, including a plunger for one of my bathtubs that won’t drain. Alas, the plunger hasn’t done the trick and I’ll have to fork out for a plumber to come around.
I had time for some lunch while reading up on some Italian recipes and thinking about my answers to Mandy’s ‘Getting to know you better’ series. All too soon my outing was at an end and I had to rush to meet Thobile for my ride home.
Mandy has revisited the series on her latest blog post and I thought I’d do it to see how many of my answers have changed since the last time I completed the quiz way back in 2011.
1. What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?
Coffee, I drink copious amounts of it throughout the day.
2. What is your favourite alcoholic drink?
I’m an alcoholic in recovery, so I don’t drink, but I used to love red wine.
3. What is your favourite food?
I’m a bit fickle and it changes from day to day, generally I favour Italian food, but today I just read about it while eating good old fish and chips.

taxi outing lunch_edited

4. What is your least favourite food?
Carrot cake, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.
5. What do you eat that others think is really weird?
Tripe, I don’t cook it myself, but I make a pig of myself when I’m invited to eat it at someone else’s house.
6. What is your favourite thing to cook/bake?
I love cooking fiddly little things that look pretty, like stuffed and breaded pumpkin flowers. Pic from when I blogged about them on 21 November 2011.

7. If you could only chose one, would it be sweet or savoury?
Savoury.
8. What time do you usually eat your dinner during the week?
I’ve long had the philosophy that eating a big meal after 4pm is not good for the body. I have my main meal at lunchtime. If I am peckish in the evening, I usually have cheese and crackers.
9. What kitchen item/s have you never owned?
A chinois, I first saw Tandy using one to make sous vide crayfish bisque and have yet to get myself one.
10. What tip would you give to a newby cooker / baker?
It’s easier than you think, relax and enjoy the process and the rewards.
11. What is the best vegetarian dish you have eaten?
Parmigiana di Melanzane. I love it! Picture from when I made it from Jamie Oliver’s recipe on my blog on June 14 2011.

12. What is the easiest meal you can cook?
Mie goreng. Picture from the recipe I posted here on 2 October 2010.

13. If you could only grow 3 herbs in your garden, what would you grow?
Coriander, rocket and parsley.
14. What would you use as a substitute for salt?
Soy sauce.
15. What 5 items would you pack for a quick and easy picnic or day out?
Ciabatta, humus, taramasalata, cottage cheese and cranberry juice.

And now I’m hungry again …

MAKIN’ A JOYFUL NOISE

I’m surprised at how quickly I have adapted to, and come to enjoy, the single life. People are telling me I look better than I have in years and I feel that way too. I recently discovered the CDs of Louise Hay and have been listening to them in the car on the way to and from work and find them extremely motivational.

veri peri and shrooms_edited
But I think my newfound feelings of wellbeing stem from more than that; I have discovered the joy of solitude and the freedom to do what I like, when I like. This includes my diet and it’s no great coincidence that so many of my meals lately include All Joy’s Veri Peri sauce. At the end of the day, in these last days of summer, there’s great reward in enjoying a seared sirloin steak on a hot salad of warm shimeji mushrooms and tomatoes.

veri peri and shroom salad
I wrote some time back about a fantastic chicken salad I made to take along for my work lunch, and the people at All Joy Foods stumbled on the post and asked me to share the recipe. It’s so simple that there is no real recipe. Simply cut a deboned, skinned chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and season to taste; panfry in a little olive oil and set aside. In the same pan, fry baby tomatoes until the juices just start to emerge; remove and add to the chicken. Drizzle with All Joy Veri Peri sauce – the amount you use depends on your personal taste, I use about one teaspoonful. Toss this mixture into cooked pasta and refrigerate overnight; the juices of the chicken, tomato and sauce with infuse beautifully with the noodles. Serve hot or cold. A squeeze of lemon juice just before serving adds an extra zing.

hot bastard salad
An equally easy addition to the work lunchbox is to make a dip for crudités, cold meats or fish bites – simply add a teaspoon of Veri Peri sauce to two tablespoons of mayonnaise. And spreading a slice of toast before adding cheese and placing under a hot grill makes for a fine late-night snack, better than any Welsh Rarebit I’ve ever had!

hake bites and hot sauce
I’m taking one day at a time, with the mantra that: Just for today, I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
So far it’s working, and it’s ALL JOY, ALL THE WAY.
Have a great weekend, my friends, and thanks for your stalwart support.
I love you all.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by All Joy Foods to write this post.

RELISHING PICKLES AND HATING NEW TOILET ROLLS

I recently had occasion to seek out the Afrikaans word for ‘piccalilli’ and was surprised to find how few Afrikaans people knew what it was, even less that there was a word for this fantastic fridge-staple of mine.


The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word to the middle of the 18th century when, in 1758, Hannah Glasse described how “to make Paco-Lilla, or India Pickle” The more familiar form of the word appears a decade later in a book for housekeepers in a section on how “to make Indian pickle, or Piccalillo”. The spelling “piccalilli” can be seen in an advertisement in a 1799 edition of The Times.
British piccalilli contains various vegetables— invariably cauliflower and vegetable marrow —and seasonings of mustard and turmeric. A more finely chopped variety “sandwich piccalilli” is also available from major British supermarkets. It is used as an accompaniment to foods such as sausages, bacon, eggs, toast, cheese, and tomatoes. It is similar to a sweet pickle such as Branston Pickle, except it is tangier and less sweet, coloured bright yellow (using turmeric) rather than brown, the chunks are larger, and it is usually used to accompany a dish on a plate rather than as a bread spread. It is popular as a relish with cold meats such as ham and brawn, and with a ploughman’s lunch. It is produced both commercially and domestically – the latter product being a traditional mainstay of Women’s Institute and farmhouse product stalls. Piccalilli is very popular with many Britons; in fact, Bill Wyman, the bassist for the Rolling Stones, mentions in the DVD ‘Stones in Exile’ that during the band’s relocation to France due to tax troubles in 1971, the thing he missed most was British food, particularly piccalilli. (All information sourced from Wikipedia.)


Someone recently asked on Facebook what items we compulsively stock up on and – aside from obsessively hoarding toilet rolls in case I get snowed in for an extended period of time – I always have countless jars of relishes, not just piccalilli. Since I’ve been living alone, a ham and piccalilli baguette is a quite-sufficient lunch. Or a piece of roast chicken with pickled cabbage and marinated mushrooms, eaten at my desk while I work.


Or – one of my very favourite things to eat while I read the Sunday papers; cold pork sausage and mustard pickles.
Speaking of toilet rolls and pickles, I was speaking to a friend the other day and she was saying that she hates starting a new toilet roll; it’s just a personal niggle she has. I know the feeling, sort of; we have these dispensers at work and – when the old roll is used up it’s no mean feat to get the empty tube out of the contraption. Then you’re confronted with the task of getting the new roll to drop down, only to find that there is no way of getting the thing to budge without digging your nails in and shredding it to bits.


Now, please excuse me, I have to go and explain why I was seen taking my camera into the toilets …

13 PIGEONS AND AND ABSENTEE NOTE

I’m not sure how we drifted to the topic, but my doctor mentioned that his dad is a hobby-hunter and an excellent cook, being an Italian, this follows. My envy at his access to game lead to my being given thirteen frozen wild pigeons. I envisaged receiving a clingwrapped package of miniature versions of the plucked chickens I buy at the supermarket. My donor had not been as generous, however, and I got the birds as they died, all appendages intact and full-feathered. My staff were totally unfazed by this and were quite excited at giving me a lesson at the squeamish business of getting the pigeons naked without being daunted by the arduous business of plucking and cleaning, although there was some debate about the best plucking method.


Anyway, it didn’t take long and the capable pair had the buck naked birds coming thick and fast.

I made a briny bath of sea salt, juniper berries and bay leaves and left the clean little birds to soak for a few hours, as instructed by Our Alice. I had decided to invite my friend Brian, a photographer who is currently visiting us from Cape Town, to join me for a tasting menu of three pigeon dishes made in three different ways, served simply with a crust French loaf to mop up the juices.


Firstly, the most boring take: mainly because I had a glut of tomatoes and had spent Monday making up a big batch of tomato sauce for bottling; I made a cacciatore style casserole. Niki Segent’s tome ‘ The Flavour Thesaurus’ is rather scathing on this dish, saying “ Tomato and chicken are the controlling partnership in chicken tikka masala and in chicken cacciatore, or hunter’s stew – which is not, sadly, the invention of pockmarked Sicilian peasants , returning home with a brace of feral chickens slung over their waistcoats, but an English recipe from the 1950s , taught to nice girls by their mothers in the hope they’d bag the sort of chap who’d be neither too unadventurous not too suspiciously cosmopolitan to a slightly herbed slop of chicken in tomato sauce.” Not too promising a take on the dish, but I fried them lightly with diced bacon and packed them snugly under a blanket of my sauce. Slow cooked in my little casserole dish, in a bain marie, they were quite good and nicely robust for winter fare.


Next was the recipe of my own doing and the one I was most excited about. I stuffed Turkish apricots with ground ginger biscuits soaked in port wine and sandwiched them inside the birds’ cavities. I gave the skins a rub of masala, before wrapping them in bacon and sticking them in a 180C oven to roast to a crispy finish. I really like the way they turned out and the camera seemed to like them too.


My final take was a traditional poultry treatment; I did a lemon & herb seasoning, browned the meat quickly over hot heat and made phyllo blankets to seal in the seasoning. A successful dish and most likely the one that would go down best with folk with less exotic and adventurous eating habits. This one would also be great served at room temperature at a picnic lunch.


All in all, we had a lovely meal and a good evening of reminiscence and giggles, thanks Dr V, and thanks too to your dad. Our final verdict is that ‘wetter is better’ and they are most successful cooked casserole style over a long period in a liquid of some sort.
Now for an announcement: I am leaving on Friday for Cape Town, where I will take a detox programme lasting 28 days at a beach rehab facility. I doubt I will have access to the internet whilst there, so don’t be alarmed if I don’t visit blogs or reply to comments.
Bon voyage and take care.
Much love,
TheOnlyCin

ERSTWHILE COLD SHOULDERS AND HOT CARROTS

Adj. 1. erstwhile – belonging to some prior time; “erstwhile friend”; “our former glory”; “the once capital of the state”; “her quondam lover”
one-time, onetime, quondam, sometime, former, old
past – earlier than the present time; no longer current; “time past”; “his youth is past”; “this past Thursday”; “the past year”
Adv. 1. erstwhile – at a previous time; “at one time he loved her”; “her erstwhile writing”; “she was a dancer once”;
erst, formerly, at one time, once

(Source: thefreedictionary.com)


I paid a visit to my erstwhile employer on Tuesday and begged a favour; in my future job interviews, I should need to look snappy. She kindly obliged by giving me a new coiffure that has drawn much favourable comment from my pals. Now I can only hope that my erstwhile colleague, who has since moved to the field of recruitment, makes like a gale force wind and gets those interviews lined up pronto.

Very cold Johannesburg; early-morning frozen birdbath:


On the subject of pals, I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to stave off our sub-zero weather with a pot of carrot, apple and ginger stew. One friend suggested I had made a typo and meant a pudding instead of soup. No, no, the inherent spicy flavor of carrots, offset by the sweetness of Granny Smith apples and a dash of marsala-mix with a hefty pinch of ground ginger and a garnish of coriander … my kitchen carried a scent that, if bottled, would epitomize the perfumes of autumn and the health benefits of this combination are manifold. Interesting trivia I found on Wikipedia about carrots:
Lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision, including night vision, and vision can be restored by adding it back into the diet. An urban legend says eating large amounts of carrots will allow one to see in the dark. The legend developed from stories of British gunners in World War II, who were able to shoot down German planes in the darkness of night. The legend arose during the Battle of Britain when the RAF circulated a story about their pilots’ carrot consumption as an attempt to cover up the discovery and effective use of radar technologies in engaging enemy planes, as well as the use of red light (which does not destroy night vision) in aircraft instruments. It reinforced existing German folklore and helped to encourage Britons—looking to improve their night vision during the blackouts—to grow and eat the vegetable.


On the subject of warfare, I had my first cold shoulder from a now-erstwhile friend this week. I found an excellent and perfectly relevant piece on the net, written by one ‘ctomshaw ‘: “It’s fascinating to see what happens with friendships before, during and after divorce. You hear all the time about ex-partners fighting for custody of their children. What you DON’T hear about is losing custody of their friends.” This fellow, evidently terrified of being caught engaged in conversation with my by my erstwhile spouse, positively quivered in his haste to put a distance between us.


In response to this, I can only quote “Give him carrots!” I can’t find the source of this saying, but when I discussed the matter with Big Betsy, she was wholly in agreement with the sentiment.

MISSING 3RDS-OF-EYEBROWS AND ORANGE SWEET POTATOES

When my friend Nzwakazi gave me Abraham Verghese’s novel ‘ Cutting for Stone’ to read, the back-cover blurb had my mouth watering at the mention of the cross-cultural conflicts of a medical doctor spanning Britain, Ethiopia, India, the Yemen et al. I’ve evidently been reading too much Annie Hawes, because – whilst the cuisines are mentioned – they are not exactly features in the story. There is a lot of interesting information about medicine and – certainly – about the history of female surgery. I soldiered on and finished the book (834 pages, excluding end-pages). Judith may rate it higher, but I found insuffiecient character motivation in the plot; perhaps 3/5, and the fault of a ruthless editor. I finished the book while waiting in the car outside the supermarket whilst Grandy was doing her weekly shop. Several strokes have left her very slow and a yield of 2 tomatoes, a loaf of bread, a roasted chicken and the newspaper can occupy her for upwards of two hours.
Anyhow, I got out of the car to enjoy the sunshine and have a cigarette and was joined by an amiable old chap who was engaged in the similar pursuit; of waiting for his wife to do her shopping. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew this man from somewhere and it was only later in the afternoon, when I thought back on it that things clicked into place, thanks to a passage from Verghese’s book:

“A drunk named Jones looked eerily like his father. Thomas realized it was the waxy complexion, the swollen parotids, the loss of the outer third of the eyebrows, and the puffy eyelids of alcoholism that gave both men a leonine appearance. Now that he was trained to see, he put together the other clues he reacalled: red palms, the starburst of capillaries on cheek and neck, the womanly breasts, and the absence of armpit hair.” Lookit; where are their eyebrow-ends??? (pics pinched off the net.)


No doubt my new parking-lot friend had added a bottle of sherry or some-such to his wife’s grocery list. Coincidently, I later read in one of the tabloids that womanly breasts are also a dead-giveaway that men are using Viagra, but I’ll leave it at the missing 1/3rd of the eyebrows for now and move on to the orange sweet potatoes, shall I?


En-route to the mall, I’d been bending Grandy’s ear about Our Betsy scoffing all my pansies and she took it upon herself to buy Betsy a bag of fingerling sweet potatoes. We were most intrigued when we presented these to Betsy: the flesh is bright orange. We’ve never seen anything like it before. Our standard sweet potatoes are a sort of dull beige. Can anyone shed any light?
Betsy seems to like them well enough!

CARPETBAGGING IN MY GARDEN

Carpetbag steak or carpetbagger steak is a luxury dish, probably of American derivation, popular in the 1950s and 1960s in Australia and New Zealand.
It consists of an end cut of steak, such as scotch fillet. A pocket in the meat is made, into which oysters are stuffed and sutured with toothpicks or thread.
The combination of beef and oysters is traditional. The earliest specific reference is in a United States newspaper in 1891, which may indicate a connection with carpetbaggers or to gluttony. The earliest specific Australian reference is a printed recipe from between 1899 and 1907. Another recipe from 1909 includes cayenne pepper as an ingredient, which may indicate an American origin. The more recent Australian versions typically use Worcestershire sauce, as does the local version of Oysters Kilpatrick.


It is sometimes served standing up like a miniature mountain. Pockets in the meat are made by small cuts, into which oysters are stuffed and sutured with toothpicks. As the dish is broiled, the flavour of the fresh oysters permeates the steak and blends with the juice of the tender meat. A strip of bacon may be wrapped around the serving and surrounded by peeled and browned baby potato halves. In one style, the steak is marinaded in a sauce of thyme, pepper, tarragon, lemon, sugar and tamarind and served with a glass of dessert wine. The steak can also be flambed with cognac, when it is called “Carpetbag Maxine style”. (Source Wikipedia).
With Professor Tim Noakes doing an about face on his diet advice, a nice, juicy carbetbag steak and chips seemed the perfect treat for a sunny afternoon lunch. I’d forego the dessert wine in favour of a nice peppery First Sighting Shiraz though. With fresh oysters a scarcity, I made do with my dad’s old standby, tinned mussels and it was delicious.


This is a quick and easy meal for one and I used beef tenderloin, I ate out in my little garden. I think it’s coming along nicely, given that I had so little to start with.


My physiotherapist is very angry with me, as my shoulder injury forbids gardening, but I am a stubborn one when I want something done. Big Red Betsy has settled in well, but she’s in my bad books today as she ate all my pansies.


I’ve had two promising job interviews and hope to share some good news next week.
In the meantime, to all my British friends, enjoy the Jubilee festivities.