Archive | April 2011

RETREAT, PART 2

On Wednesday morning, after battling through 128 pages, I conceded defeat and closed Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. I’d long resisted reading the book, but felt I ought to give it a bash, given its widespread acclaim. I just couldn’t stomach it though, and was constantly irritated by the author, whom I found to be a self-indulgent whiner. I took a blanket and walked around our cottage to find a sunny spot and was soon lulled into a doze by the cooing mountain doves.

I was woken by excited chirruping in a nearby tree; two tiny birds – no bigger than my thumb – were courting. Too pretty for words; with their plumage flashing emerald green and scarlet. I have no idea what they are.

Soon I became aware that I was being stared at. A very fine hound had come from the main farmhouse to say hello. He was so like our Lulubelle, in looks and character and he took up with us for the rest of our stay. We named him Bentley.

I couldn’t help wondering if the peaceful ambience is only informed by the geography of the place, or if it is also a result of the calm – almost Zen – mood that prevails among the Basotho people, with their simple, centuries-old lifestyle. Anyhow, soon the not-altogether-unpleasant smell of a goat stew and porridge came drifting over from the local kraal and I realized that I had been self indulgent myself for long enough, and it was time to go back to the cottage and start preparing our lunch.

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SANCTUARY

The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Dutch: Drakensbergen, “the Dragon Mountains“) is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to 3,482 metres (11,424 ft) in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba (“barrier of spears”), and in Sesotho as Maluti (also spelled Maloti). Its geological history lends it a distinctive character amongst the mountain ranges of the world. Geologically, the range resembles theSimienMountains of Ethiopia. (wikipedia.org)

We went to a cottage high up in the Northern Drakensberg, in the provinceof KwaZulu Natal; a section of the mountain range known as The Amphitheatre. Our hosts had promised – rather poetically – If you are in search of serenity, tranquility, then this is the destination to visit. You will be suspended in moments of magic, “like a balm to your troubled soul”. “It’s as though time stands still and one’s worldly concerns just simply melt away or perhaps carried off on the gentlest of breezes, on the wing of one of the many beautiful birds that inhabit the estate, you will be left unencumbered to experience an exquisite lightness of being”.

Which was exactly what we wanted out of the excursion.

While I got a fire going and set out a bottle of wine to breathe, Old Spouse took himself off to conquer his first peak and the Bunn and her BFF went off on horseback to explore.

We hardly saw the girls during the daylight hours of our stay and we simply lazed around when OS wasn’t hiking the mountains. We read or had long, rambling chats about nothing. Nightfall saw us knackered from all that fresh mountain air and fell into our luxurious beds to deep sleep under our goosedown duvets.

Mornings were slow and peaceful; a blanket and a cup of coffee … no rush, no deadlines, just living in the moment.

SCRAPING THE BARREL

On this day, back in 1856 Charles Luttwedge Dodgson met a little girl named Alice Liddell. Alice had a penchant for consuming unknown (and apparently psychoactive) food, pills and liquids that she found while exploring a very large rabbit hole. You might know the two people better by their pen and fictional names, Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland.

(foodreference.com)

I am floundering a bit with this post-a-day business and inspiration is in very short supply. The WordPress prompter is too silly for words and I have unsubscribed as of today. The “What percentage of Americans believe in the devil” prompt today was the last straw. I cast about further afield for a topic to get me going. Wikipedia’s random article was bleaker still: “Anthony Martin Grosvenor Christopher, Baron Christopher known as Tony Christopher CBE, FRSA (born 25 April 1925) is a British businessman, trade unionist and tax official.” Thank you, that doesn’t give me material for poetry …

It’s said that, when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. I think not, lemonade is for sunshine; which rhymes with gluhwein. Ah! That’s what I’ll do today, a nice fuggy pot of spicy, warm wine. Just the thing for a lazy Easter Monday.

Other words that rhyme with gluhwein:

  • canine, asinine, leonine, saturnine
  • pitchpine, orpine
  • lupine, supine
  • porcupine, vulpine, salamandrine
  • endocrine, aventurine, vulturine
  • intrauterine, uterine
  • adulterine, riverine, ensign
  • internecine, V-sign
  • piscine, porcine, cosine, thylacine
  • countersign
  • shoeshine, moonshine
  • serotine, infantine, Wittgenstein
  • Ballantyne, valentine
  • clementine, vespertine, serpentine
  • hyacinthine, labyrinthine
  • Jugurthine, grapevine, bovine

    There are, amazingly, oodles more rhyming words, if you’re moved to write a poem about gluhwein, go here: http://www.answers.com/topic/what-rhymes-with-gluhwein#ixzz1KW4b4me3

DUFs AND A TOPLESS TART

Downs:

Dreary weather.

Ups:

Lunch at the home of friends today, haven’t seen them since Christmas.

Forward:

Mountain sojourn on Tuesday.

The Topless Tart:

Jeanne Horak Druiff was one of the speakers at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba I attended in February. Until then, I wasn’t aware of her award-winning blog. I have since been following her and this month she is hosting the Monthly Mingle, her sister Meeta’s monthly event.  The theme is Topless Tarts.

My contribution:

1 roll puff pastry

1 packet chopped bacon

1 packet baby spinach leaves

1 camembert cheese round

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Handful of chopped spring onions

Dried rosemary and pepper to taste

I sautéed the bacon bits until they were crisp, turned of the heat and added the spinach leaves to wilt. I laid this mixture onto the pastry and topped with the cheese, tomatoes, onions and seasoning and baked at 180C for 35 minutes. 

Before posting this, I Googled the ingredients to check that my tart was original. Alas, I find that Oprah magazine featured something similar in April 2010, albeit a galette and not a tart.

Food trivia for the day from foodreference.com:

24 April 1994 The world’s largest lollipop, 3,011 pounds, is made inDenmark.

Why, I ask you, why?

UPDATE:

Here is the link to the roundup of all the contributions to this challenge:

http://www.cooksister.com/2011/05/topless-tarts-everywhere-the-monthly-mingle-roundup.html

LUNCH AT THE LAKE

It’s the time of the year for taking stock of financial things; tax certificates and royalty statements are arriving in my post box. Last week brought a small cheque for royalties from a long-forgotten book. I decided to take the family out for lunch. I was keen on sushi, but we are a democratic household and I was outvoted by Original Bunn and her best friend and so we went to Moyo atZooLake.

Moyo is a franchised chain of restaurants with an African theme, essentially a tourist trap and very expensive. Still, the locations of all the branches are set in very pretty scenery and our local is in walking distance of our home. The kids love it because they can take a boat ride on the lake while we wait for our food and they enjoy having their faces painted by the staff and we go there fairly often, especially when we have guests from abroad.

Arguably, simple is always wise, and the burger is probably a better choice than the more exotic dishes on the menu. The girls chose this and the pumpkin and sweet potato bread rolls that encased the patty were a big win. Worth R60 each, I am not sure.

My own meal cost R160, fine enough, but no great shakes; South African Springbok (I didn’t know there were any other kind?) fillet wrapped in a brandy marinated chicken breast served on mashed potato, spinach and a sherry cream sauce. Old Spouse raved about his Samaki Kavu, a spicy fish curry (R130). 

As always, the service was dismal, but we managed to enjoy the afternoon anyway, despite the rowdy company at the table next-door.

 Related post:

https://theonlycin.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/antelope-song/

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE ‘LINES’ TAKE 2

“…she had an extremely retentive memory and all her reciting had kept the texts well in the forefront of her mind. She was never happier than when taking notes, rather elaborate notes in different coloured ball-point pens, for the need to be doing something while reading, or with reading, was beginning to assert itself. Her essays, which she approached as many women approach a meeting with a potential lover, were well received. She was heartbroken when one came back with the words ‘I cannot read your writing’ on the bottom.”

Anita Brookner – A Start In Life