We had the in-laws over for Christmas, and for the first time since Tanya and I’ve been together we also had the kids for the whole time (their stepmother got snowed in in the UK, only flew out this week).

Braai-ed steak (porterhouses from Constantia P&P — and they even had brussel sprouts) on Friday, with potatoes in foil in the coals, always good.

Tanya insists on turkey, this year I wizened up and brined it for only about 10 or 12 hours in 2 litres of apple juice, some vinegar, a few oranges, ginger… basically a variation on this theme (Close to, if not all, of our turkeys are imported butterballs. Brine these for too long and it gets overpowering. That happened last year. Half a day seems perfect). Of course I didn’t smoke it, I stuck it in the oven over a roasting pan with the giblets, half an onion and some water in it.

Turkey was great, so was the ham MIL brought. Gravy (stuff from pan, minus the boney bits, food processed) was excellent.

And of course there was Christmas pudding and Christmas cake and trifle (which lasted until Monday, the trfle, that is. We still have cake…).

Present from the in-laws was a pressure cooker. Used that to make a stock from the leftover turkey. This worked so well that I then made a meat stock followed by a chicken stock — I had five or six 2L ice cream containers full of frozen stock bits that I hadn’t got around to.

The beef stock went into a stew on Monday. The left-over turkey + stock will go into a risotto next week. Last night was a more mundane but still excellent pastorie hoender (I’m sure I’ve posted my recipe somewhere, but can’t find it right now… blogfodder, yay!). Tonight is a beef tomato bredie using a bunch of tomatoes I bought cheap and froze a month or so ago.

We live high on the hog.


This is the kind of thing I get up to when I’m home alone.


I had some leftover puff pastry, lots of eggs, and a tub of cream a week past its expiry date but! still good!

Started with half a kilo of spicy sausage, skinned, fried, with a coarsely chopped onion. Added to this some tomato, spices, and about half a cup of three chili chutney. While this is cooling down, blind bake the crust. Beat four eggs, add cream, mix with meat. Cheese. Don’t forget the cheese. Pour into crust.

Some people sprinkle flour on the crust before pouring the sauce in. It’s supposed to keep the crust dry or something. I did. Worked for me.

Bake until it looks OK (180 for 20 minutes worked for me).


Almost perfect (It needs bacon. With bacon, it would have been perfect. Everything’s perfect with bacon :-)


Dis ‘n eetplek. In Baron van Reede straat. Ek is nie honger nie. Glad nie. But the smell of the buffet is going to drive me to gluttony.

Kêrel langs my voel dieselfde. Bel pêlle om te kom help vreet.

Sê vir my ma ek het dapper gesterf.


So there I was, pottering around home yesterday morning, and suddenly the lights go out. And the bleating of the UPS reaches my ear. Some inspection shows that the fridge is still working, Tamsyn is still happily playing on her computer, and all the trip switches including the big ones in the box outside are happy.

Further inspection shows that we have one phase of the three phase circuit, and even further inspection shows some very dodgy looking wiring on the pole side of the feed.


So Tanya gets instructions to phone council and I bugger off to work.

Long story short, at 1800 it was starting to get dark inside the house, and we still had only the one phase.

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Battleshort!  I disconnected the two dead phases, and shorted all three phases together on “my” side of the mains breaker (which is the bottom of the bottom left switch in the first picture, but I did it at the input side of the breaker that feeds the garage, just because it was more convenient.

So around quarter past eight, just as I’ve put the bread in the oven [1], the crew pitches.


Of course, they had to cut all power to fix the feed, and when they reconnected the power everything now hanging off the one phase was cold, so that tripped the outside breaker, which lead to the quickest removal of a kludge you can think of (figured I had to remove all evidence of my meddling before they came inside to look why the lights were not burning…)

[1] We had friends over, and I make Pioneer Woman‘s Marlboro Man’s Birthday Dinner (well, the pan fried steak with blue cheese sauce, crash hot potatoes, and buttered rosemary rolls part of it). With store-bought dough in my black pot, Porterhouse steaks from Constantia Pick & Pay, and lemme tellya, that blue cheese sauce is something else.

I mentioned the worm farm before. Turns out, if you feed them bits of tomato, you get a garden full of tomato plants. And that leads to lots and lots of tomatoes :-)


Only one thing to do! Deb’s slow roasted tomatoes!


Halve tomatoes (this takes a helluva long time). Cover with oil and herbs (I did this in a bowl).


Spread on baking sheet.


Roast for three hours at a touch over 100C.


This took care of about two thirds of the tomatoes. Here’s the rest, covered with boiling water…


… and skinned (this, also, is a helluva job). The skins etc goes back to the worms, of course.

I used these to make tomato bredie. Used beef, this time (a 1.1 kg hunk of silverside, cut into cubes), did the flour thing, did the space thing, and eventually did the dumplings thing. No pictures, we were too hungry by then :-)

And by the looks of things, there’s about twice as many tomatoes still on the way…

Last night I made Pioneer Woman‘s Beef Stew with Mushrooms. And it ROCKED.

So here’s the interesting part. Right now, at the SPAR around the corner, beef goulash sells for R59.99, while corned beef sells for R49.99. It seems like a sin to cut a hunk of meat into little cubes, but it’s cheaper, so what the hell.

I knew that the corned beef would make the dish very salty, so I didn’t add any additional salt.

Used 750ml of meat stock that I’d cooked a few months ago — this is the kind of nom you miss out on if you feed the bones to the family dog :-)

Highly recommended.


We had a visitor for Sunday lunch, and I made the ever-popular Upside-Down Chicken which is basically beer can chicken (I use the AGA recipe I got from the American Grassfed Association, looks like the link is dead at the moment) using a pottery megafter some friends made for us.


Pioneer Woman posted a recipe for Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges and she made it sound so nice that I had to try it. Couldn’t find Acorn Squash, used Hubbard Squash instead. ’twas good, but I ended up with quite a bit left over.

Meanwhile, we’re in a USA frame of mind (thinking of visiting) and with Halloween coming up and all, someone mentioned pumpkin pie. So I made pumpkin pie, using the first recipe I Googled across.

And it’s good!

But I suspect Vanilla Basil‘s recipe for A Not-So-Pumpkin Pie might be better.

Meanwhile we’ve been in the house for a year and we still don’t have a door on the master bedroom. Eish. We do have a new front door though.

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… is what happens if you have a vegetarian daughter :-)

A while ago I poached a chicken. Stuck the meat in the freezer. Took it out this morning, figuring it was time.

Started with this recipe. Modified it, as always.

Black pot. Melt some butter, add one chopped green pepper and one punnet of mushrooms, sliced, Wait for it to draw water, add a few shakes flour (’bout a quarter cup, maybe). Add salt and pepper, and about a teaspoon of English mustard powder.

Add 250 ml of cream, stirring all the time. Add a cup of chicken stock (the Ina Paarman stock powder is vegetarian¹), stirring all the time. Add about two tablespoons of cider vinegar.

Mix some cold water with some Maizena in a cup, add to pot while stirring.

Add about four spring onions, sliced.

You now have a nice thick sauce, so go play on the computer a bit while someone else cooks some rice and veggies.

Add half a tin’s worth of pimiento, sliced. Stir through, remove enough for said vegetarian daughter to bowl. Add chicken, sliced into bite-sized bits for people with small mouths. Heat through.


¹ : And Kosher, Parev and Halaal — and it actually tastes good. It’s a miracle, I tell you!


Our lime tree reminds me that we’ve been in the house for almost a year.

Meanwhile, it’s still cold and wet enough for Coq au Vin. My recipe is loosely based on Nigel Slater… loosely. But read what he has to say, it’s gospel.

I use drumsticks and thighs. A big pack, four drumsticks, four thighs, for four people.

For starters, peel about two dozen little onions (pickle onions, or whatever they’re sold as). Stick them on end in a black pot, with a bit of oil, and slowly caramelise. Turn them around, do the other side, etc. Remove to a plate.

Then the mushrooms — fry a punnet of white button or portbellinis in a bit of butter, remove to a plate.

Then fry bacon of some type. I use the thick rashers, cut into thin strips. Remove to a plate.

Now fry the chicken, in batches. I normally pull the skin off the thighs once it’s fried up enough to come loose easily. Remove to a plate.

Meanwhile you had a chance to chop up  a large onion, three or four carrots, and a stick of celery. And don’t forget the garlic. Stick that all in the pot for a while.

By now you’ll have a lot of gunk on the bottom of the pot, so open that bottle of red and deglaze. I like to use a cheap fruity red from the Worcester area — something that would never win awards but goes down well.

Put the chicken back in the pot, pour the rest of the wine in, add whatever herbs you fancy (a bouquet garni is a good idea). I generally find there’s no room for stock in the pot, but I guess you can toss in a stock cube if you want to (this is how I do it, please don’t blame Nigel Slater). Also add the onions and bacon back in at this stage.

When it starts looking almost done, put the mushrooms in.

Serve with mash. Lots of mash.


This is a recipe from Jamie, which I scribbled down from a book my mom had. Simple, but great, especially if you have a vegetarian daughter who lurves mushrooms.

Thinly slice a punnet of brown mushrooms, fry in oil, add salt, pepper, maybe a bit of marjoram or rosemary, maybe a bit of chilli powder. Add one cup vegetable stock, bring to boil.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water with a lot of salt, then slowly (as to not douse the boil) add gnocchi. When they float, remove with slotty spoon, add to mushroom sauce.

And that’s it. OK, you can add a couple of tablespoons of Creme Fraiche if you’re feeling decadent.

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