Archive | November 2011

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.

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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.

FLIBBERTIGIBBETS, FISTFIGHTS AND FUCHSIAS

Flibbertigibbet is a Middle English word referring to a flighty or whimsical person, usually a young woman. In modern use, it is used as a slang term, especially in Yorkshire, for a gossipy or overly talkative person. Its origin is in a meaningless representation of chattering. It does not always apply to females, however; it has also been used to describe Jiminy Cricket due to his whimsical, chatty nature. (Sourced on the net.)


Here, then, my flibbertigibbets from the week that was:
In the past week, I have:
Been surprised by my husband, who splurged at the nursery and bought miles and miles of plants for my garden; mostly floral shrubs and border blooms. It will be interesting to watch how the hydrangeas change colour according to the iron content of my garden soil.

Witnessed a fistfight! After many years of parking chaos, the management of the centre where the salon is have changed the parking lot to a one-way entry/exit system. This makes some people very cross. Last Saturday a man (Mister BMW) insisted on exiting the way he had for years. He ignored the car guards and sped along, going smack-bang into a car entering the lot. The driver of the other car (Mister Baldyman) got out and explained that it was a one-way and Mister BMW promptly punched him on the nose, which brought Mister Baldy’s wife running; she duly gave Mister BMW a few clouts upside the head and he boxed her right back. Mrs Baldy suffered a broken thumb. Mrs BMW joined the fray; the two men were wrestling and tearing one another’s shirts; the two women were at it like angry dogs, I believe I saw one sink her teeth into the other’s arm.
Mister and Mrs BMW jumped back in their car and reversed, bumping into a parked vehicle. They then sped forward, almost knocking over a car guard, who proceeded to whack at the car with a steel pipe, before the BMW made its speedy escape.
It was all very thrilling for me to watch. Had I not been so fascinated by the unfolding drama, I’d have grabbed my camera and done a photo essay for Sidey’s weekend theme … Instead, here is a picture of one of my new fuchsias; appropriately enough, it is called ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’.

Next week I will:
Cook with Alvin from Masterchef Australia and Tandy Sinclair!
Change to posting only once or twice a week on my blog! I am battling to keep up to date with my blogger friends’ posts and find it impossible to get to the blogs every day … From now on; I will catch up on Sundays and Mondays, which are my days off.

Wear blue nail polish on my fingers and toes and drink pink wine!

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.

CLICQUOT-TY CLICK AND JACARANDAS

Madame Clicquot, née Ponsardin, Widow Clicquot or Veuve Clicquot (16 December 1777 – 29 July 1866), known as the “Grand Dame of Champagne” was a French businesswoman who took on her husband’s wine business when widowed at 27. Under her ownership, and her skill with wine, the company developed early champagne using a novel technique. The brand and company of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin still bears her name. (info sourced on the www.)

My husband and child both forgot my birthday in January, to save them the embarrassment of repeating this gaffe, I saved her portrait from the bottle I opened by sabrage at The Wine School back in August and took it to my jeweler to have set into a ring for my husband’s account. It was delivered to me on Friday and I am heartily chuffed with it, I should think Madame would approve?
I can’t afford the champagne, but the ring more-than makes up for it.


This is possibly the prettiest time of year in Johannesburg; the Jacarandas are showing off and the city is bathed in lilac. The trees scatter their flowers and the streets are covered in a purple haze; Jimi Hendrix must be smiling down from heaven.

And so to Pink Polka Dot’s weekly food quiz:
1. What is an Italian dumpling better known as?
Gnocchi
2. What is “strata” in culinary terms?
Layers of bread with savoury filling, then baked?
3. What does “sous vide” mean?
Ask Tandy! It’s pronounced SUV, but has nothing to do with a motor car!
4. The “fifth taste” discovered by Japanese scientists, called “umami” describes what?
I wrote about it here.
5. What are the main ingredients of “vichyssoise?
Leeks and potatoes.
6. What is Mentsuyu?
According to Dave who owns the Chinese deli next door, it is the Japanese equivalent of Miso paste. Used it in my oxtail stew yesterday.


7. The fruit of which African tree is used to make monkey bread?
No eye deer …
8. Why is fish traditionally served with lemon?
It’s got something to do with balancing the acid and masking the odours?
9. What is tahini?
Sesame paste / dip
10. What are the basic ingredients of Fregolata, a hard and crumby cake, which are eaten all over northern Italy at the end of a meal?
A giant biscuit

Have a wonderful week, my lovelies 🙂

DOUBLE-ARSES, BUMS AND BUTTOCKS

I don’t get much interesting fodder in the way of spam comments. Most are blatant marketing links, but this one – on my post about cannelloni, has me bristling with indignation; did the spammer not like my food?
Most people, when they criticize, whether they like it or hate it, they’re talking about product. That’s not art, that’s the result of art. Art, to whatever degree we can get a handle on (I’m not sure that we really can) is a process.”
Pffft!
And so I move right along to Sidey’s weekend theme: “things aren’t always what they seem to be”
Indeed, they aren’t, as I was abruptly reminded earlier this week when a ‘good friend’ of many years’ standing turned out to be what the Afrikaaners call a ‘tweegat jakkals’; literally translated as a ‘two arsed jackal’ …
perfidious
adj
treacherous, untrustworthy, deceitful, dishonest, disloyal, double-dealing, double-faced, false, traitorous, two-faced, unfaithful, faithless, corrupt, Machiavellian, treasonous, Punic formal duplicitous
ANTONYM faithful, honest, loyal
Anyhow, her head is so far up her own bum that she won’t read this post, more’s the pity. Here’s a rose for my loyal friends:

The first week at the salon went well, the staff are really nice and there is no end to the entertainment brought by the clients and the passing parade in the shopping centre. It’s interesting to watch how my girls eat on their busy schedules; one of the shampoo ladies only eats junk food and has an impressive set of buttocks to attest to her diet. I continue to cook my lunch to take to work. Today I have an oriental chicken and noodle curry.


I leave you with a vignette; a gentleman phoned in to make an appointment:

Me: Will that be just a cut or a cut & blow, Sir?
Gent: [pause] … erm … just my hair, thanks!

To my credit, I got the joke immediately.
Have a super Saturday, friends!