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LE PARADOXE ET LES CHAPEAUX TENDRES

French paradox
The term ‘French paradox’ refers to the observation that while both the French and Americans have a diet high in saturated fats, smoke cigarettes and exercise little – which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease – the French have a significantly lower risk of cardio vascular disease than that of the Americans: 36% compared with 75%. The difference in risk has been attributed to the consumption of alcohol and, in particular, red wine. The French consume 60 L per capita of wine per year, while the Americans only consume 7.7 L per year. (Source: http://www.thewineschool.co.za )

Which explains why I am such an avid Francophile …

Sidey’s weekend theme (for which I am, once again, late) is The Hat.

I love hats and buy them indiscriminately. I wear them in the garden, when I go work, at weddings and even, sometimes, when I am home alone watching television.  You can, therefore, understand how upset I was when I discovered the adverse publicity my habit had been given by the acid-tongued Mr. P.J. O’ Rourke:

“A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life.  Nothing looks for stupid than a hat.  When you put on a hat you are surrendering to the same urge that makes children wear mouse ears at Disney World or drunks wear lampshades at parties.  Wearing a hat implies that you are bald if you are a man and that your hair is dirty if you are a woman.  Every style of hat is identified with some form of undesirable (derby = corrupt party worker; fedora = Italian gangster; top hat = rich bum’ pillbox = Kennedy wife. Et cetera).  Furthermore, the head is symbolically identified with the sexual organs, so that when you walk down the street wearing a hat, anyone who has the least knowledge of psychology will see you as having a beaver hanging off your penis or feathers protruding from your genitals.  A hat should only be worn if you are employed as a racehorse trainer or are hunting ducks in the rain.”

Very rude, Sir!  I shall wear this hat, feathers and all.

Of late, I am wearing my caterer’s hat. It happened slowly; first one then another of the stylists eyed my work lunch and asked if I would consider that they pay me and I bring them lunch too. And so it began, with a quiche or a salad …

And then the orders started streaming in … customers got wind of it and I was asked for a large lasagne for a dinner party. Someone wanted a special birthday cake …

As my good friend Charlie always says: “And so it goes … “

BIRDS AND STOLEN MEAT

Yes, I have been quiet. The truth of the matter is that I am pining for a fowl. I’ve quite lost my heart, and it’s to a girl named Licken. She is a baby Guineafowl and I love her so much that I don’t believe I can live without her. My days are consumed by making plans to carry out a midnight raid on the farm and kidnap her. I have fantasized about the two of us taking a Thelma and Louise-style road-trip together …


In the meantime, for those readers who asked about ‘kleftiko’ …
My kleftiko, made to pair with First Sighting Shiraz:


Greek cuisine (Greek: ελληνική κουζίνα) is a Mediterranean cuisine,[1] sharing characteristics with the cuisines of Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Levant. Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach.
Kleftiko: literally meaning “in the style of the Klephts”, this is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven. It is said that the Klephts, bandits of the countryside who did not have flocks of their own, would steal lambs or goats and cook the meat in a sealed pit to avoid the smoke being seen. (Wikipedia)


My friend Browniegirl is far more erudite than I when it comes to writing recipes, I use lamb shanks for my kleftiko and she opted for lamb knuckles, but the cooking process is much the same, so go here if you want the recipe.

When I come to think about it, there really is little difference in the cooking styles for lamb across the globe. The French call it souris and the Moroccans use a tagine. Whatever the method, it always ends up being comfort food of the first order …

I AM WELTEVREDEN; THAT’S NO EUPHEMISM

A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others are created to mislead or at least put a positive spin on events. Euphemisms can also be used in the place of words considered profane.


It’s hardly a secret that I have had what may be, euphemistically, an Annus horribilis. After two glasses of wine I’d be less wary of profanity and label 2011 as the most dreadful of my life, with some very salty adjectives thrown in. My team (yes, there is a team) of physicians agreed strongly that the antidote to my burnout from working too hard was – paradoxically – to ‘get a job’. A menial job which would bring me into contact with people, as my life was too populated with solitary pursuits.


Enter my old friend, Debby; hair salon owner and now my boss. A woman with an innate understanding of the human psyche, she asked few questions before taking me into her fold. Her staff welcomed me with open arms and now, just a month after starting the job, people ask me if I have had a facelift.


We celebrated Debby’s birthday yesterday, with a tea party at the appropriately-enough-named Weltevreden Farm.

 

‘Weltevreden’ is a Dutch word meaning ‘well satisfied’ or ‘content’. It is a much-guarded secret jewel and a surprisingly tranquil venue right in the middle of hectic suburbia.

 

Tables are tucked in amongst trees and roosters sit about on antique farm implements, preening while their hens tend their offspring.


Baby Guineafowl nestle on the shoulders of the waiting staff as food is brought to the table.

 

The menu options are myriad and offer sweet treats, light lunches or more robust meals. The smell of slow-roasted lamb from an adjoining table was very tempting.


It’s a place that is the geographical metaphor for Debby’s character; an oasis.


Happy birthday, Debby.
And thank you.

MY SPAM IS BETTER THAN YOUR SPAM

This post is dedicated to Tilly Bud, who gets the most interesting spam, of which I have always been slightly envious. Mine tends to be all too predictable; Viagra punters, dating-for-over-50s, ‘how to pump your tyres’ (???) and so on … but this morning I got a piece of spam that is pure poetry, quite metaphysically. Really.
An absorbing communicating is worth comment. I conceive that you should indite more on this content, it mightiness not be a sacred dominate but generally group are not sufficiency to communicate on such topics. To the succeeding. Cheers like your DOUBLE-ARSES, BUMS AND BUTTOCKS The only Cin.”
Cheers indeed.

THIS IS NOT SPAM, IT IS 100% PIG *WINK*
If Tilly came to visit me, I’d treat her to a traditional South African braai, with lots of meat and not a single one of her much-loathed enemy; the Brussels sprout. Steak and ribs, with a luscious, chunky mushroom sauce.


Perhaps that’s too predictable and I should do something a bit fancier for Tilly? Pork rib and mushroom wontons …


Or pork ravioli in a paprika sauce?


I’m sure we’d enjoy the occasion, whatever the dish. And I know we’d enjoy a glass of pink wine under a pink African sky … and a giggle about our spam.


And dessert? Oh, it’s not hard to solve that one …

But this is not Tilly’s cake, it’s for the shampoo girls at work. Tilly’s cake would have Maltesers …

BLUSHING, HAEMORRHOIDS AND NECTACOTS

Life at the salon is positively hectic, with Johannesburg women flocking in to be transformed into ‘beach babes’ for the holidays. The stylists are working at a hectic pace and I am exhausted by the end of the day and welcome my homecoming, when I can slump into a garden chair and enjoy my glass of chilled wine.


I’m sleeping like a log and waking up bleary- and puffy-eyed. Last week a customer suggested I dash down to Clicks to buy a tube of haemorrhoid treatment ointment; she said it is a sure-fire cure for bags-under-the-eyes. Clicks is a department store, stocking medicines, toiletries, cosmetics etc; much like Germany’s Schlecker or England’s Boots stores. At my local branch works an elderly gay man of whom I have become very fond over the years. Your man is hard of hearing, which makes for some awkward moments, especially on a busy Saturday morning, when the shop is teeming with shoppers.
Me: [dulcet tones] “Could I have a tube of Preparation H, please?
EGM: [STRIDENT tones] Have you got PILES? Oh shame, Lovey, you poor thing! ARE THEY SORE?
Blushing like a rose  …


Moving along swiftly; my husband has discovered a new fruit, the Nectacot. My spellchecker doesn’t believe me, so here is proof.


The fruit is a cross between a nectarine and an apricot and – of course – I had to experiment immediately. As today is the anniversary of Prince Louis II de Condé’s death, back in 1686. He was known as the Great Condé and was a French general who loved to hunt and had a passion for rice. Several dishes have been named for him, including Consommé Condé and Crème Condé. I hate rice pudding, but am always game for a challenge.
I decided to use pasta rice instead of regular, and made a puree of the nectacots, added gelatin and set the rice. Inspired by Dinahmow, who said on her blog: “What a good thing I don’t sign up for those silly post-a-day blog things! You want regular, try prune juice.” I added prunes.


As I am still without my desired pizzelle iron, I served my pud with the faithful standby; Bakers Tennis Biscuits.
It was vile … perfectly vile …

MUTTERING ABOUT MUSING

My gerberas are bursting into bloom. No recipe; they just pop up every year.

This is cress ready for harvesting. There is no recipe; you simply get your friend Sue to bring you some seeds from England, fling the seeds into soil and wait for them to sprout. Then you pick them and put them on a sandwich.

When we were at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba back in February (how this year has flown!) one of the speakers, a world famous foodie blogger, advised us to abstain from using the word ‘musing’ in our blogs. I have been repeatedly snubbed by the food blogging community as not being a ‘real foodie’. In fact, when I registered to become part of the FoodBlogs.com community, I received this curt reply:

Hi Cindy,

Thank you for submitting your blog. We are currently limiting the blogs on FoodBlogs.com to those that have at least 80% of the posts containing recipes and associated pictures.

Thank you for your interest.

Pfft! After steaming a bit about the whole business, I decided that the snub was a blessing which actually gave me the freedom to muse to my heart’s delight. And to show pictures of my Lulubelle, who ran into a fence whilst chasing a bird and got an awful ouchie on her forehead.

This is Alvin’s Drunken Chicken which, although not pretty, is very tasty.

Here is the recipe:
1 medium organic chicken
1 liter Shaoxing wine
500ml Mirin
500ml water
60g dark palm sugar
2cm ginger, peeled and bruised

Bring the wine, mirin, water, palm sugar and ginger to the boil.
Place the chicken in the broth and turn down the heat an gently simmer for 45 – 60 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Serve with noodles and sweet corn (my take on this one).

Have some pink wine and enjoy the meal.
Thumb your nose at food snobs …

I BEEN PLAYIN’ WITH BEANS

Green beans grow on the unpromising-sounding Phaseolus vulgaris vine; if we allow ourselves to ignore the nauseating name this vegetable could be one of the most important additions to our diet. Look at the info I found on nutritionandyou.com:

Health benefits of Green beans

  • Fresh green beans are very low in calories (31 kcal per 100 g of raw beans) and contain no saturated fat; but are very good source of vitamins, minerals, and plant derived micronutrients.
  • They are very rich source of dietary fiber (9% per100g RDA) which acts as bulk laxative that helps to protect the mucous membrane of the colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer causing chemicals in the colon. Dietary fiber has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing re-absorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
  • Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, and many health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and ß-carotene in good amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease process.
  • Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid in the beans, selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light filtering functions. It is, therefore, green beans offer some protection in preventing age related macular disease (ARMD) in the elderly.
  • Fresh snap beans are good source of folates. 100 g fresh beans provide 37 µg or 9% of folates. Folate along with vitamin B-12 is one of the essential components of DNA synthesis and cell division. Good folate diet when given during preconception periods and during pregnancy helps prevent from neural-tube defects in the offspring.
  • They also contain good amounts of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), and vitamin-C. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free radicals.
  • In addition, beans contain healthy amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which are very essential for body metabolism. Manganese is a co-factor for the anti oxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

Curried green beans are much-maligned side dish at many South African barbeques. My vulgar vine is ripe for harvesting, my friend Ray asked me to give him my recipe and – as Tandy had given me an ingredient challenge (a jar of curry powder beautifully presented with a miniature blackboard) – I set to killing three birds with one stone and making a few jars of beans.

This is not ‘my’ recipe; it’s one of those things we absorb from the matriarchs over the years, much like looking left and right before crossing a road.

They keep well if stored in jars in the fridge for up to two weeks.

1 kg green beans

500g sliced onions

500ml water

2 teaspoons salt

Sautee the above ingredients together in a little olive oil for 10 minutes.

1 ½ cups white balsamic vinegar

3 teaspoons flour

3 teaspoons curry powder

1 cup sugar

Mix the above into a smooth consistency and add to the sautéed mix; cook until beans are tender (but not soft).

Allow to cool and place in sterilised jars.