Archives

ASPERSIONS, NASTURTIUMS AND BUBBLES

Our government has passed a bill that will prevent anybody from casting aspersions on corrupt politicians.

The South African Protection of State Information Bill, formerly named the Protection of Information Bill and commonly referred to as the Secrecy Bill,is a highly controversial piece of proposed legislation which aims to regulate the classification, protection and dissemination of state information, weighing state interests up against transparency and freedom of expression.

Our constitution, one of the best in the world, has been raped … I am not sure that I am breaking the law by posting this, so I will stick to casting nasturtiums instead. Or, rather, harvesting these unassuming garden treasures. The entire plant is edible; the flowers and leaves lend a wonderful peppery zing to salads and the seeds make the best pickled capers for serving with roast beef. A little-known bonus of growing nasturtiums is that aphids love them; so – if the critters are destroying your roses – cast nasturtiums profusely and the aphids will flock to them in droves.

 

I’ve received my first salary cheque in more years than I can remember, which offers a perfect reason for bubbles (Sidey’s weekend theme) and – in keeping with my penchant for eating flowers – I’ve made ice cream using the Hibiscus flowers in syrup given to me so long ago by Tandy. Greengage and champagne jelly with hibiscus and champagne gelato:

Grape-stuffed wild hibiscus flowers in syrup.

Ice cream, champagne and sunshine; and the amaryllis Sidey gave me for my last birthday has come into bloom.

 

My heart is fit to burst, not even the dirty scullery my family left me yesterday is going to burst my bubble!

I am very grateful the abundance in my life.

QUAH AND QUAFFING

Alvin Quah and I agree firmly on two things; we both think food is a religion and we’d both jump at the chance to have Gary Mehigan’s babies …


My excitement at having the opportunity to cook with this Masterchef Australia contestant, who was my favourite in Season 2 / 2010 of the series, was heightened by the prospect of seeing my beloved friend Tandy, who had flown up to attend the event and to spend some time with her sister before the latter moves to Australia.
Alvin says he loves South Africa, especially the bushveld. After spending time at Phinda Nature Reserve, he can no longer stand the sight of zoo animals “they look so sad; in the bush they look happy and free and you get to eat them that night, it’s a circle-of-life thing …”


After a demo session, we got down to business in the test kitchen. Tandy and I paired together like pros; we cooked Alvin’s ‘Drunken chicken and bruised salad’ and ‘Green duck curry’. I chopped a whole chicken in half for the first time and Tandy showed her mastery by frying off the duck breasts perfectly.


While Tandy got the green curry sauce going, I sliced the duck and prepared the bruised salad. Alvin seemed impressed with us; we changed his recipe for the curry by frying the mushrooms instead of boiling them.


We sat down to eat the salad and curry, and brought the chicken home for supper. Of course the day would not have been complete without wine, and we toasted absent foodie friends with Hill & Dale Dry Rose Merlot; the pink wine that has some of my blog friends so perplexed.


Rose is the perfect wine for this time of year, crisp and cool; it is simply the best tipple on our hot afternoons …

DE PROFUNDIS, POMPOSITY AND PUMPKIN FLOWERS

If your head is buried deeply between your own buttocks, you can’t look up and see the sunshine. This I know to be true.

I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world… And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived. My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom. From Oscar Wilde’s letter to his long-time paramour, Lord Alfred Douglas; ‘De Profundis’ (circa 1897).

I’m re-reading this letter and – not for the first time – I am a little irritated by Mister Wilde’s self importance, his very pomposity: “I want you and others who stand by me and have affection for me to know exactly in what mood and manner I face the world …’ Bah! There’s no getting away from it; although a literary genius, he was – in Max Beerbohm’s words ‘the spectator of his own tragedy …’ Too much time for introspection, methinks, and not enough dirtying-of-hands.

My pumpkin plants are blooming and the sight of the budding gourds and flowers banish any thoughts of shadow and gloom. I’ve been searching stores for ages and find that these little jewels are either scarce or frightfully expensive, so I am quite thrilled with my garden’s largesse.

I plucked some and stuffed them with garlicky mashed potato, tossed them in egg and then breadcrumbs and they made a delicious starter, with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Today is rainy, so good for the garden. Not even the clouds can dampen my good mood. Have a super week, my friends.

NOT BREAD ALONE

Man, it has been widely said, cannot live on bread alone. This idiom, from the Bible, is explained in a more secular manner by thefreedictionary.com as “something that you say which means people need things such as art, music and poetry as well as food, in order to live a happy life …”

What happiness, then, if the bread in itself is art, music and poetry in loaf-form?

My folk have long been bringing back treats from – and raving about – Not Bread Alone. Now I drive past the bakery daily on my way to the salon and decided it was time to pay a visit.

At first glance, it is inauspicious, situated as it is in the forecourt of a petrol station. But my, what sights for sore eyes on the interior. The staff bustle about happily and their delight in their work environment is evident as they lay out oven-fresh pastries, tarts and cakes.

Prices are very reasonable and there are a few tables where one can enjoy a sit-down meal, or one can simply pick and choose a few items to take away and nibble on at the office.

Corlia Hibbert, who co-owns the business with her husband, James, tells me they have been in operation for five years and have recently opened their second store. The sweet life indeed, but in the end I opted for a savoury option and enjoyed a ham quiche with my mid-morning coffee.

And just in case I suffered a mid-afternoon sugar slump, I thought it best to buy a little strawberry treat. You never know …

Not Bread Alone is situated at 63 Malibongwe Drive and at Cnr Rivonia & Protea Roads.

Disclaimer:
I have not been paid to write this review.

HAPPENSTANCE, PANSIES AND WONTONS

This ‘Post A Day’ malarkey was not clever of WordPress. Firstly, it creates unnecessary pressure on the blogger to come up with meaningful content every day. Secondly, it is extremely stressful, if you are away from the internet for a single day, to catch up with your friends’ posts. I’ve decided not to worry too much about it …
No rose today, my lovelies, some pretty petunias and pansies instead. We’re not allowed to say ‘pansy’ in this country anymore, it was fine to say back in the day when pansy was a flower and gay meant happy, but nowadays the gay boys take umbrage. Better to call them – as Kathy in Canada does, ‘Johnny-jump-ups’ …

Fuchsia seems the leitmotif-palette for my life at the moment. This is my new ‘office’. Ain’t it pretty? From here I can watch summer unfold; on either side of the salon is a restaurant, one Italian and the other Asian, both busy all day.

Noun
1.
happenstance – an event that might have been arranged although it was really accidental
coincidence
chance event, fortuity, accident, stroke – anything that happens suddenly or by chance without an apparent cause; “winning the lottery was a happy accident”; “the pregnancy was a stroke of bad luck”; “it was due to an accident or fortuity …[Chambers Dictionary]

I feel so lucky; there is a Chinese supermarket right next door to the salon! Can you imagine how excited I was to discover this? I have befriended the owner and have already earmarked a number of items which I will buy with my first salary cheque.


After ages of searching, I finally have a source for wonton wrappers and was able to make sweet & sour pork wontons in the steamer I’ve owned for more than a year and have never used. They turned out a bit fiddly, but practice makes perfect. With a ginger and chilli dipping sauce, they went down a treat and Old Spouse managed to polish off 2 dozen. I am thinking of doing them again tonight, with peanut chicken filling.


But now I must dash; there is frivolity that must be attended to, I am thinking ‘mango’ is a good shade for my nails today…

FEED ‘EM IN COMPARTMENTS

“There’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them for seven hours, they always come out tender.” W.C. Fields (1880-1946)
In the early pages of Mark Haddon’s novel ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ we learn – from the young protagonist, Christopher – that children with Asperger Syndrome will not eat their food if the peas or potatoes are touching the meat …
This aversion is not exclusive to children Christopher’s condition within the autism spectrum; most kids don’t like their food to mingle.


Another factor that may be daunting to children and cause them not to want to eat is the over-crowded plate. It is far better to use an outsize plate that will make the food appear to the child to be manageable.
Stick-foods are great, because they allow kids to eat with their hands. Lamb Kofta looks far less frightening than a bowl of curry and lets you introduce spices to their palate. They can be served cold and – so – are a handy item to have in the fridge to add to the school lunch box.

Easy lamb koftas: (Makes 8 / 2 each for a family of 4)
500g minced lamb
1 TBS Nomu Cajun Rub
2 large eggs
3 TBS breadcrumbs
Salt & pepper to taste
Oil for frying

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, using your hands. Scoop handfuls of the mixture and form around 15cm long kebob skewers. Set on waxed paper and place in the fridge for thirty minutes. Remove from fridge and fry in hot oil until browned.
Set in a casserole dish and cover with tomato relish.
Will keep in the fridge for two days; eat cold or microwave to heat.

Related post:
http://theonlycin.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/nurture-healthy-food-relationships-for-your-kids/

You can’t hide mashed potatoes in your hat. Chris, age 9
When food tastes terrible, you can say you have a toothache and you won’t have to eat it. Nakia, age 9
You should never try to stick peas in your pocket at dinnertime. Renee, age 13
I can never get away with feeding my broccoli to the dog. Joanne, age 10
If there is something bad for dinner, your parents don’t have to eat it, but you do. Deanna, age 11
You can’t fake a stomachache right before you’re having spinach for dinner. Jessica, age 11
If you put your peas in your mashed potatoes, they don’t taste so bad. Jonah, age 10
Sometimes you take too much food at dinner and you can’t eat it. Always make sure you have a baked potato because you can eat the middle and use the skin to hide the food until you take it to the sink. Then shove it down the disposal. Chris, age 14
Putting your vegetables on your little sister’s plate doesn’t work. Nicole, age 11

BORER BEETLES AND CUSTARD MINGLES

Monthly Mingle badge November Custard theme

Borer beetles are more interesting than custard! One species, the Death Watch Beetle, to attract mates, create a tapping or ticking sound that can be heard in the rafters of old buildings on quiet summer nights. They are therefore associated with quiet, sleepless nights and are named for the vigil (watch) kept beside the dying or dead, and by extension the superstitious have seen the death watch as an omen of impending death. How do I know this?
I’ve become familiar with boring lately; sitting on the internet, trying to stave off insomnia by searching for boring quotes to make me fall asleep. I found some very successful ones:
• The Lexmark Z25 Colour printer has a sound emission of 44dB.
• Did you know that St John’s Wood underground station is the only station in London that doesn’t contain letters from the word Mackerel?
• A Booby is a type of bird with webbed feet.
ARE YOU STILL WITH ME??? WAKE UP!

I also found that Fish Sticks and Custard is “a radio show on WVKC coming outta Galesburg every Tuesday at 8”, because I was searching for an interesting fact about custard with which to open my entry into Meeta’s Monthly Mingle, which is being hosted by Sally this month and features custard.


Alas, my custard tastes are boring too; I like it thin, pouring consistency, over a rich chocolate cake, or layered with preserved green figs from Granaat in the Karoo in a trifle that is a sublime mix of bitter and sweet …

Ps: Do you want to go back to sleep now? Okey dokey:
“Adopting a standard radius of curvature for the tines on a fork would allow 5% more cutlery to fit in a drawer, which for the whole of the UK would fill a football pitch the size of Wales with double decker buses.” Zzzzzzzzz….

NOVEMBER IN MY KITCHEN

And so begins November, also known as ‘Mo-vember’; thus explained by Wikipedia:
Movember (a portmanteau of “moustache” and “November”) is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November. The event was conceived in 1999 by a group of Australian men from Adelaide.
Since 2004, the Movember Foundation charity has run Movember events to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and depression, in Australia and New Zealand. In 2007, events were launched in Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States. {My note: It is HUGE in South Africa!}
In 2010, Movember merged with the testicular cancer event Tacheback
RULES:
1. On “Shadowe’en” (October 31), the complete moustache region, including the entire upper lip and handlebar zones, must be completely shaved.
2. For the entire duration of Movember [November 1–30], no hair shall be allowed to grow in the goatee zone (any facial area below the bottom lip).
3. There is to be no joining of the moustache to sideburns.

November is also the month in which my roses show off shamelessly and I am able to have them constantly in my kitchen.

And so to Celia’s monthly initiative: November in my kitchen.

First off; Giorgio Locatelli’s book ‘Made in Italy / Food and stories’, which was sent to me by an anonymously generous person so long ago that I can’t remember the month. I’ve flipped through it, but took it up in earnest last night and ended up reading until after 3am. I am now so tired that I am having auditory hallucinations. (Unfortunately it is Manfred Mann’s song ‘Pretty Flamingo’ …)
I never much cared for Mr. Locatelli; his habit of running his food-stained hands through his hair did not make me love him. However, this book has made me change my mind drastically. Filled with delicious food, the recipes are interspersed with chapters of touching stories about Locatelli’s childhood and his journeys to the success he is today.


He is clearly a kind man, a caring father and a chef who has a deep conscience about providing superb food in an ecologically friendly manner. The book is an absolute must for anybody who loves food and the history of ingredients.


I did remember – at around 2am, that I still had to use two ingredients that have long been waiting on my grocery shelf: Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup (from Tandy) and Woolworths Marinated Artichokes Quarters. Watch this space!
Lastly, Amy commented on my salad servers yesterday:


When I owned a holiday home in Glencairn, in Simonstown / Cape Town, I would let my friends have free use of it for their holiday accommodation. No charge. The only condition was that they had to supply the one thing they felt they couldn’t have done without during their holiday. One couple bought a furry blanket to leave by the fireside, someone else left a copy of Roberts Birds of Southern Africa and once there was a set of steak knives and these salad servers.

MONDAY THINGS

I watch a fair whack of food programmes on TV and – instead of keeping a notebook handy to jot things down – I rely on my memory to come through when I eventually decide to cook the dish. Not a good idea.
I saw someone (most likely Ina Garten) make a warm pasta salad with smoked bacon and I had a beautiful package of Wiltshire back bacon, so – when Tandy issued rocket as her latest seasonal ingredient challenge – I knew exactly what I wanted to make.


I made the salad as a side dish for our steaks, but it would me perfect on its own as a Meatless Monday Meal.

2 cups cooked fusilli
6 rashers smoked bacon crisply fried and diced
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 handful of mixed Tuscan herbs (I used Watercress, mizuna, rocket and red spinach)
Salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon and a drizzle of olive oil

As is always the case, the simplest dishes always come out tops. We loved this salad, the bite of the rocket was a perfect playmate for the other ingredients.

From Wikipedia:

Eruca sativa (syn. E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.), is an edible annual plant, commonly known as rocket, roquette, rucola or arugula, not to be confused with Wild rocket. It is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal east to Lebanon and Turkey.

And here are my answers to Mandy ‘s latest ‘Getting To Know You Challenge’:
1. Who would you be honoured to have cook in your kitchen?
Anthony Bourdain … naked.
2. What have you always wanted to cook or eat but never have?
Tripe
3. What is your favourite part of a chicken?
That little fillet of soft meat in the back.
4. Do you use a knife or a vegetable peeler to peel potatoes?
Most of a potato’s fibre is in the skin, peeling it is just silly.
5. What one item do you keep in the kitchen you know you shouldn’t use but do?
Ready-rolled frozen puff pastry. So sue me!
6. Do you like using the new culinary foam with your meals?
I don’t know anything about the product.
7. What 3 meals would you take to a friend who is sick in bed?
And catch their germs, are you crazy???

CHOCOLATE CAKE AND KISSING DOGS

Once upon a time……….
…………they all lived happily ever after.
That’s Sidey’s challenge this week. Unfortunately, tales of happy ever after are far and far between. Instead, we stumble over minutiae; electrical appliances die, as do loved ones. Bills arrive at inopportune moments and the car needs a service, but only after the cat has been neutered …
Life happens and that’s when chocolate cake helps …


Read these two chocolate-related posts:
http://johnell74.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/change/
http://paulatohlinecalhoun1951.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/fridays-fabulous-facts/
I’m off to my kitchen to cook lunch for my MIL’s birthday, I leave you with this piece of trivia, bet you didn’t know:
At least 63% of dog owners admitted to kissing their dogs. Of these, some 45% kissed them on the nose, 19% on the neck, 7% on the back, 5% on the stomach and 2% on the legs. An additional 29% listed the place they kiss their dog as other! (freakyanimals.com)