Archive | December 2011

DECORATION OR MISGUIDED DESECRATION?

In a nutshell, Wikipedia gives this information about the suburb where I live:

“Parkview is a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. It borders the suburb of Greenside and overlooks Zoo Lake, a park which lies on the opposite side of Jan Smuts Avenue from the Johannesburg Zoo. All of its streets are named after Irish counties.”

The ancient homes here wear stone masonry characteristic to this residential node; they have iron pressed ceilings (which probably contain an unhealthy lead content) and floorboards hand crafted from Oregon Pines. These houses are often inhabited by third-generation families. In fact, properties here come quite rarely onto the market.

Our own crumbling pile is one of the ‘new’ houses in Parkview, having been built as recently as 1942.

Locals vehemently oppose modernization and applications from people wanting business rights on their land are unanimously vetoed. Modern convenience stores are verboten and support of the ‘high street’ shops is a proudly upheld tradition. The quirky population live a ‘village life’ and have included many famous names throughout the history ofJohannesburg; writers, artists and the finest legal minds.

The architecture in the high street is testament to the cheap labour that was available early in the 20th century; shop windows expertly carved, thick beveled glass, intricate staircases…

It’s a fairly insular community and newcomers aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. But, occasionally, a ‘foreigner’ will worm his way in; a building may come on the market as a result of a deceased estate, some little old lady with no grandchildren waiting in the wings.

This happened in 2011. One of the most historic of the buildings was bought by a nouveau riche cowboy who believes that a bit of a makeover is needed ‘to bring in some light and make the shops pump with action and bring in big bucks’. Your man gutted the building, demolishing an oak staircase older than a century. He brought in neon lights and ersatz travertine marble flooring.

It all happened so fast, we were too late to lodge an objection with the authorities to try and protect the building and our little patch of history. The bugger must have a heart of galvanized steel, concrete running through his veins.

It’s sad, really sad.

This is my (late) contribution to Sidey’s latest theme.

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NOEL 2011 REDUX

The book was an early Christmas gift from my husband. I read it in the early morning, in the garden while the rest of the house was asleep. Do you know the smell of Nivea body lotion? That is the scent that came in waves from the moonflowers I planted two years ago, cuttings from Sidey’s garden.


I laughed out loud at one passage; this book makes fun of our quest to be politically correct. There truly is no nation like us anywhere else in the world:
White chicks, like Black chicks, love to dance (although White chicks don’t dance in the streets when they’re disgruntled). Most Friday nights, groups of White chicks get dressed in skimpy outfits and doll themselves up to look more beautiful than they actually are. Then they go to nightclubs and throw their bags and jackets in a little pile on the floor and huddle in groups and do their dancing with their backs turned to everyone else. It’s somewhat insular if you ask me.
There’s just one problem. White chicks can’t dance. Black chicks get their bums and hips to move to the music as if they have a mind of their own but White chicks can’t manage to do this – they have to think about their dance moves and practice them so their dancing always appears a tad forced. That’s why if you see a White dancing next to a Black, the White looks like she has rigor mortis while the Black moves like she’s made of grape-flavoured jelly.
Because they are so useless at modern dancing, White chicks will employ other forms of dancing. The most common alternative is called “The Twist”. The Twist is a really simple dance Whites’ parents invented back in the 1960s because they couldn’t dance either. All you do is bend your knees, lean slightly forward and then kick your heels from side to side while making a running motion with your arms. This dance is so easy that it gives the impression that White chicks can actually dance.


I rest my case; we celebrated my boss’s birthday on Friday night. That photographs were taken is unfortunate, but I guess that’s what friends are for?


I opened my presents with the family when they finally awoke. My polka dot tunic was new and I had to smile when I opened Tandy’s gift and saw that her Mr. P bathplug matched.


It’s a colour I don’t usually wear, so you can imagine my surprise when Nzwa emerged from my guest bedroom with her gift to me; the perfect accessories for my outfit.


Peace, love & rockandroll.
Absolutely!


All too soon Nzwa’s lunch hosts arrive to fetch her. I stalled them with champagne cocktails and we had a lovely visit with lots of laughter. Nzwa was hilarious; she told us this is her first ‘White Christmas’.
My cup runneth over, it really does.

SELF-PORTRAIT IN ROSY BELLIBUTTON

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Self Portrait.
In her book, The Thornbirds, Colleen McCullough describes a dress-fabric in a shade of ‘ashes of roses’. I was entranced and it became my personal favourite palette forever, with periodic and brief forays into brights. But I always return to pastels… Montage on my office noticeboard:


Thirty-two and forty-seven. Those were the birthdays my husband forgot. Thirty-two was understandable; we had a new baby, were moving into a new house and his older daughter was being taken to Canada by her mother. He had a lot on his plate. We got married on my fortieth birthday, so forgetting forty-seven was rather vexing. I sulked a bit. Forty-eight is looming, but he will be away and so, with us being childless over the past weekend, we celebrated my birthday and our wedding anniversary in advance.
I was eager to introduce him to Weltevreden Farm, after discovering it on Friday. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch; I had a chicken-pancake-stack and he loved his chicken-pot-pie.


For dessert he had cheesecake and I the frozen lemon meringue pie.


The farm has a few interesting shops, antiques and the like. One of the stores stocks clothing that caused our youngest stylist to proclaim “Cindy, I have found your wardrobe!” She was spot-on, each and every item could well have been made especially for me. After lunch I took my husband to see and he spoilt me with a generous budget. I chose a few outfits and accessories, some of which he confiscated to wrap; they will be hidden and he will phone me on the 8th of January to reveal the hiding place …


Until then, I have more than enough (thanks Paula!) and can only count my blessings.

In an aside; I tried to find a link to BelliButton on Google and failed. What I did find was this:
http://www.yourwildlife.org/bellybutton-biodiversity/
Sampling the nation for Belly Button Bacteria.

Folks are odd, hey? Gotta love this world…

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 …