January 2009


We had a partial eclipse this morning. It was cloudy in Fish Hoek, but at work the clouds pulled back just a bit, giving me a chance to take this photograph.

As you can see, this was taken after the maximum (about 40 minutes after).

Beef curry

Apologies to the houseblogs.net readers. My posts lately have been about anything except house DIY.

We had basically the first of many housewarmings-to-be last Saturday. Was a good party. 12 couples, we had snacks, and beer, and wine, and a good time was had by all.

A lot of things happened in the run-up week. My wardrobe moved from the living room to the bedroom, for one (more on that later, it’s related to the shower… will tell you later, once I’ve permanently fixed the problem).

So… basically… nothing house related happened subsequently. And there’s a lot that needs to happen. Ah well.

Today, Tanya felt like a nice hearty curry. Beef, of course, she doesn’t like mutton.

So I toddled off to the local Spar, got 700-ish grams of stewing beef. Bit of Worcestershire, bit of Tobasco, bit of time, cut it up, flour, slow fry, remove. Fry onions and carrots, “extra spicy” curry powder and turmeric, deglaze with my brother’s Pinot Noir (realise I need to register a domain for him so that I can link to it). Add stock, tomatoes, apple, bay leaf, meat back in, simmer for an hour.

Add dumplings (not a success, next time read the packet, you need *self raising* flour, idjit. Kick self).

Result: very lekker curry.

From somewhere on the web:

BASIC CURRIED STEW (‘Westernised’!)

750g boneless beef neck, cubed, or beef ‘curry pieces’
30 ml cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
15 ml curry powder
15 ml turmeric
1 chilli, seeded and coarsely chopped <- I omitted this
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 apple, cut in wedges
1 tomato, skinned and cubed
3 carrots, sliced
200 ml meat stock
15 ml cake flour <- I omitted this. Or used 3x this to coat the meat before frying. Whatever.

Brown meat in heated cooking oil (remove). Add onion (and carrots) and sauté till transparent (obviously the onion not the carrots). Add curry, turmeric and chilli (or not chilli) and fry for 1 minute. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, tomato and heated meat stock (and apple, and meat back in). Lower heat, cover with lid and simmer for 1 ½ hours or till meat is tender. Thicken with cake flour and water paste if necessary. Serves 4. (serve on rice).

(Notes by me)

And there’s a trick to browning the meat. First, coat it with flour. Then, stick it in the pot, pieces not touching, in batches, and slowly brown. Turn with tongs. Brown some more. You want a coating of carcinogenic gunk sticking to the bottom of the Dutch oven. This kills you, maybe, but tastes good, guaranteed. Risk I’m prepared to take.

Kluitjies (dumplings)

Mix 175 grams *self raising* (kicks self) flour with 75 grams butter or marge, add water to make dough, add herbs and salt and pepper, make balls, float on stew/curry/whatever, cook for 1/2 an hour. Simple.

Note to self: your readers might have trouble following if you post after sampling the Pinot.


Last week sometime we bought a nice big avo. Not quite ripe yet, so I wrapped it in newspaper, stuck it in the veg basket and… didn’t forget about it, for once.

It was nicely ripe on Thursday, but we didn’t get around to it until this morning. Very ripe, extremely tasty, so I made guacamole. With a red onion from the market, a handful of cherry tomatoes… I licked the food processor clean :-)

Guacamole Recipe

Take one large very ripe avo, one small onion, 1 or two or (I used) 3 cloves garlic, a small tomato or a handfull of cherry tomatoes, the riper the better, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, and some salt and pepper, maybe a teaspoon or two Tobasco sauce, and blend in the food processor.

There, you’re done.

Happy Birthday JMB

Today, we celebrate the birthday of Saint John of Ogden.

Problem is, I have nothing with which to properly celebrate it.

Oh, I own a 1911, a Winchester ’94, a 1900, a semi-auto 22 rifle, and an Auto-5 shotgun, all designed by The Man Himself, but these are all stored at various gunshops, since I don’t have licences for them… yet.

I submitted 22 (!) applications back in August, but the wheels of government turn slowly, if at all.

Maybe next year I can burn some powder with my JMB toys.

(I’ve shot the 1911 before, before my friend Etienne (who moved to the states) sold it to me for a pittance. Man oh man, that’s a lekker pistol. (I think it’s a 1944 Remington-Rand model)).

We’ve been cooking…

We went to the Porter Estate Market, bought all kinds of nice things, including an aubergine, five or six heads of garlic, some spinach, and a bag of grenadillas, which are called passion fruit in most parts of the world, it seems.

The aubergine was for making pseudo-Baba Ghanoush. “Pseudo”, because I used hummus instead of tahini. I had to bake the aubergine, so I also roasted the garlic. Now to find some tahini to make the real thing, to compare.

Tanya felt like a vegetable bake, so we googled this recipe, added broccoli and cauliflower, tastes as good as it looks. I made Tanya do all the work, but she still claims I made it, because it came out well…

I don’t often see grenadillas for sale, so when I saw this I figured I could use them to top a cheesecake — since I had a tub of cream cheese left over from the last time I made cheesecake a few weeks ago (I finally found a recipe that works really well).

Before baking.

I then googled for what to do for the grenadilla topping. Turns out it’s easy, mix with gelatine and let it set.

Behold, bitchez! (Roughly translated, I think it came out rather well :-)

Meanwhile, Tanya was rooting in the freezer and found an unlabelled container of what I suspected was a meat sauce for pasta, made… can’t remember when or why. Defrosted that and added the five heads of garlic’s worth of roasted garlic. Since the topic under discussion was lasagne, that’s what I decided to make. Except I choose my recipes carefully (that is, IMO, the #1 rule for cooking — cheat!) I had the sauce already, mixed up the cottage cheese, sour cream and egg sauce, and layered meat, one layer lasagne sheets, spread some sauce, another layer lasagne, some more sauce, and repeat. Top with cheese.

No prizes for presentation, but it was goood. Had the rest for lunch today, I think we’re both flea proof for the next few weeks.

Oh, and I tried making a sourdough starter but it didn’t take. Fortunately I have a sachet a friend brought from Yellowknife, will try that next.

And the worms ate into his brain *

Earthworms, that is. Specifically, recycling kitchen waste, leading to less landfill and a healthy garden.

I bookmarked this web site a long time ago. It has instructions on building your own worm farm and all.

So when I recently revisited the topic, I found that a whole lot of new web sites had sprung up. This worm farming thing is becoming popular.

In the order I found the sites:

Full Cycle Worm Factory, Wiggler Magic Worms, Wizzard Worms, Full Cycle Can of Worms, Mother Earthworms. They also sell worm farms at the Porter Estate market, but they’re the single-bin type, and I quite like the stacked bin idea.

The Wiggler (imported) kit sells for R930, including worms — probably not that much more than the bits to make my own would cost me. They also have a locally made one for slightly less, but I prefer the look of the imported model, which is what I ended up buying. I picked it up from Vernon’s house in Lakeside.

Yup, those are the worms, in the top box…

So now I have a colony of earthworms, eating some spinach leaves… will see how it goes.

(* Pink Floyd lyrics here)

I suddenly realised why I’m so damned tired

Emotionally tired, I think, more than physically.

I looked back through some photographs… we’ve come a long way, and we did a helluva lot, but it’s not so obvious if you’re living it day-by-day — it’s much more striking when you look back.

This was the stoep area outside the kitchen door, back in April.

By July, it was looking a lot better.

Of necessity, Frank paved the bricks at quite a slope. This is good, from a water runoff point of view, but I had to chock the washing machine with a couple of 2x4s, otherwise it would bleat piteously and give up on the spin cycle.

I had planned a platform to keep the machines dry and off the deck, as well as a partition to keep the wind and dust at bay, and a table for sorting and folding the washing.

I’ll move the chest freezer when I have help :-)

Tomato Bredie

Christmas left me with a whole lot of tomatoes in the fridge. Half a container of small red cocktail tomatoes, most of a container of mixed red and yellow cocktail tomatoes, and a whole unopened bag of Roma plum tomatoes.

And with Tanya and the kids off to Knysna for a week, I figured I would make tomato bredie (Tanya hates mutton, Jessica’s a vegetarian, but Tamsyn might have liked it, except I put a whole lot of chili in).

Found an Ina Paarman recipe online, used a whole lot less mutton, and three whole green chillies from a packet that I stuck in the freezer a couple of years ago.

Used this nifty Christmas present to reduce the sauce. Ain’t it cute?