Category Archives: FOOD

COOKING  CURRY


The Virus/Lockdown Combo   induced a sort of writers’ lethargy in me, dropping a thick blanket of torpor upon me, smothering my energy. I never knew what day of the week it was, and found it hard to concentrate. I noticed other bloggers  complaining about  the same deadening effect. With the slow reduction of our lock-down, a beam of sanity is creeping in. I plan on re-cycling a few older posts. My readership has changed enormously over the years, so most of you will not have read  this food/TV  post, dating back to 2015. Enjoy!

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I watched a BBC cooking show, a series called Rick Stein’s India which gave us all the colour, dust, crowds, gaudy festivals, temples, gorgeous saris, elephants, and palaces you could ever wish for. An absolute feast for the eye. My favourite street scene shows an elephant slowly ambling along a road bordering a street market, and at each stall the vendor steps forward and offers one item – mostly fruits – from his stall, which the elephant gracefully scoops up with a curled trunk, while the vendor makes a Namaste and a slight head bow.

In amongst this, the pink and perspiring Mr Rick Stein, notebook in hand, camera-man at his shoulder, valiantly researched South Indian cuisine, Rajasthani delights, on and on he went, through humble home kitchens, hole-in-the-wall kitchens in cities,  no bigger than a broom cupboard, tucked down side-streets, manned by sweating cooks turning out their speciality – just the one dish, there literally being no room to produce more than one. He ate street food (and there were never any references to the dreaded Delhi Belly, he must have a very strong stomach!). He ate in a restaurant run by a Maharajah, who personally cooked ‘Jungly Mas’ for him – a simple dish consisting of goat, water, salty, ghee and chillies. He ate at the Indian school equivalent to Eton. He ate at the Golden Temple, in  Amritsar, where thousands are fed daily – food is cooked in vast vats over open wood fires, by bare-chested, lunghi-clad old men.

No matter where he ate, the theme seldom varied: curry. Sometimes it was vegetarian curry, sometimes fish, but often it was goat curry, masquerading as lamb, called lamb, and never referred to as goat. I gathered that sheep didn’t do well in India. Imagine those thick woolly fleeces in that terrific heat!

He conducted an earnest enquiry during his travels, as to whether Indians use the ubiquitous word ‘curry’ and if so, what they meant by the term?  Apparently in Britain, the word curry covers practically any hot and spicy main dish, produced by immigrant families in takeaways, in the local High Street; accompanied by naan bread  and lots of lager.

It transpired that most Indians were quite happy to use the word curry, although – strictly speaking – the work means ‘gravy’. But it seems that ‘curry’ has entered the many languages of India, and is widely use, to cover main dishes ranging from the most subtly fragrant to the most inflammatory chilli. One Indian gentleman, a famous cook in India, discoursed eloquently and scornfully on the horrors of “Indian Curry Powder”, the boxed variety brought home from colonial service, to dear old Blighty, by the British. His condemnation of commercial curry powder was a joy to listen to! Indian cooks, of course, buy and grind their spices daily, at home, depending on the dish they’re making. I have to agree, that boxed curry powder (Rajah Curry here in South Africa) while quick and easy is always too hot. I don’t like blow-your-sox off fiery curries, I prefer spicy, deep flavoured curries.

So: inspired by Mr Stein, I hauled out my cookery books and made a tasty cauliflower curry for lunch yesterday. It’s quite a fiddly process, what with the chopping up of the veg, the discovery that I do not have fenugreek, or ground clove in my spice drawer, the garlic is finished, and so on – back to the shops yet again. But the results were worth it, and I have a nice stash of curry dinners tucked away in my freezer.

I can’t resist a bargain, especially in the cash-strapped month of January, so I bought vast quantities of tomatoes which suddenly appeared at Food Lovers’ Market at literally give-away prices, and I’ve found a recipe for tomato and hardboiled egg curry.   Hardboiled eggs, oddly enough, go well in a curry sauce. Sounds good to me!

 

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Filed under FOOD, TRAVEL, TV SHOWS

NEW YEAR EXPERIMENT #1


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One of my sort-of-rezzes that are not actually resolutions, you understand, just vague plans, misty promises, wavering pledges, is to tackle unfinished projects and finish them. I’m a brilliant starter, filled with energy, enthusiasm and vuma*, but as a finisher – not in the same league. We won’t even mention the outstanding 30+ year tapestry hanging in my cupboard, about half done. In my defense, it’s a very long tapestry. But I’m rambling.

 

So I haul out the brand new waffle iron, that’s been languishing at the back of a kitchen cupboard for over a year. I adore waffles, and the waffle irons were on sale. Fantastic price. What more can I say?

 

I dusted off the gleaming red appliance, dug up a recipe and looked forward to waffles for supper.

 

The results, I have to say, were not good. The iron works well on the one side, but unevenly on the other. Sort of toasty brown on the right, and patchily brown on the left. The texture, I am sorry to report, was akin to a soggy doormat … nowhere near to the light, airy, crisp golden waffles I was hoping for.

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Clearly I need a lot more practice. And possibly another recipe. Any offers?

  • vuma – energy, get up & go

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Filed under FOOD, HUMOUR

SO WHO’S A HAPPY LITTLE GARDENER?


 

The answer is me!

Look what I grew in pots on my patio :

 

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Nothing beats the taste of young, freshly picked green beans. By planting at four weekly intervals another crop of beans arrives in time to replace the fading first plantings. I’ve had fun waiting and watching for the sprouting beans to push through the soil, then watering them – just a little, this is pot gardening we’re talking about here – until they’re established. I use my kitchen grey water for my pots where possible, and it fascinates me that the beans are not flavoured with Sunlight Dishwashing liquid!

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The New Zealand Spinach is rampaging happily, as it does. I can barely keep up with it! Nobody more surprised than me when it erupted in both my pots, having self seeded eighteen months ago.
I’m currently on a gardening binge, and buying a few new shrubs to fill in the evidence of the drought. My lavender and my ground cover died off, drought victims, and my ten year old Rosemary bush jungle is in a sad state, sorry to say.

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My two new hibiscus plants, both with promising fat buds. I’m looking forward to their generous pale pink flowers.
However, I’ve had success with striking cuttings from my Hoya creeper and my pretty pink geranium, so I need to start replacement rosemary cuttings. On a hot afternoon the remaining rosemary sends clouds of perfume into my bedroom. Delicious!
The soil in my garden is basically beach sand, but fortunately only  a very small area, which is manageable for a spasmodic gardener like yours truly.  Gardening in pots is waterwise,  versatile and rewarding.  If, like me, you garden in adverse conditions, pot gardening is worth a try.

 

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, FOOD

THE JOY OF SIMPLE PLEASURES


 

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My picture tells the story beautifully.
Gently steamed fat spears of fresh asparagus, doused with butter, and eaten with brown bread.
Nothing nicer. You can keep your gourmet highlights like caviar.
I’m very satisfied with my simple supper of fresh asparagus.
Not only satisfied, but content and delighted!

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, FOOD

WINTER COMFORT FOOD


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Cold winter weather always drives my Inner Cook into action. Chiefly because I’m constantly hungry, as opposed to hot summer weather, when I wilt, along with the salad leaves. So its time to make Chai tea – Ceylon tea with a mixture of spices. I’ve grown lazy and buy the tea bags instead of making my own, but its hot and warming; all that ginger, no doubt.
At a recent Village function the good ladies of our Village Catering team produced Sago pudding, which was to die for. I thought: the hell with it, and had seconds! My, it was good. Two of my fellow diners screeched: Urrrggghhh – NOT SAGO! And flatly refused to have anything to do with it. Turns out they were the victims of Boarding School cooks, and I know exactly where their phobia originated. I also have grisly memories of leathery rice puddings, slimy tapioca, and worst of all, baked egg custard. Shudder.
However, moving on to happier times and rosier memories. I managed to find a copy of a much-wanted cookbook ‘Retreat’ by Daniel Jardim, a noted South African vegetarian cook. And within its pages I found a recipe for Boeboer. I can hear you saying “Huh? What’s that?”

 
It’s a Malay dessert, made by the local Muslim community, on special occasions. Cape Town has a rich cultural heritage stemming from the early days of its history, when the Dutch East India Company imported slaves from Indonesia and Java. Their descendants form an essential part of our city’s mixed community, and their cuisine reflects their traditional Asian heritage.
Here’s a Boeber recipe from the web:http://boekatreats.com/recipe/boeber . If you decide to try the recipe, please note the cup measurements are British standard cup measures, (250 ml) not American.  I can never remember whether the US version is bigger or smaller; the point is, there’s a difference!  And, by the way, the mixture needs to be stirred constantly.
Enjoy!

 

 

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, FOOD

REMEMBERING ANTHONY BOURDAIN


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The following post appeared on this blog in September 2012, and today it seems fitting to re-post it. I suspect my readership has done a 360° turnaround since I posted it. It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve read it before or not. I’m posting it in memory of Anthony Bourdain who has entertained me for years, and I’m truly sad to learn of his suicide in France, on Friday 8 June, 2018. He was a one-off, an original. I’m a fan, and always will be . I enjoyed his zest for life and food. I shall miss him.

 

 

MEDIUM RAW by Anthony Bourdain is sub-titled “a Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook” .I’m pretty sure if the Publishers felt they might get away with it the sub-title would have read “A F—-ing Valentine etc” because the F-word is Bourdain’s favourite word, he uses it in almost every paragraph, he uses it adverbially, he uses it adjectivally, he uses it as a verb. He has even invented a collective noun ‘clusterf…’ to describe gatherings of hungry journos and industry peeps. This is not a book to tuck into your maiden aunt’s Christmas stocking. But if you love food, cooking and eating then open the book and prepare to be entertained, astonished and illuminated.
Anthony Bourdain was the Bad Boy of New York chefdom, some years ago, and hit the headlines with his first culinary exposé “Kitchen Confidential”, which was a riveting account of cheffing, boozing, drugging, oh – and cooking. Some twelve years later he’s calmed down quite a bit (he recently married and now has a baby daughter with whom he is besotted); he wrote more books, got onto TV as a hit show host (No Reservations – Around the world on an empty Stomach) and he writes foodie columns for top-end magazines & newspapers in the US.
Now he’s laying into the food industry with his customary verve – he must have as many – if not more – enemies than friends. There’s a chapter in Medium Raw titled ‘Heroes & Villains’ in which he names names and plunges in with gusto. He’s opinionated, outrageous, opinionated, funny, opinionated, philosophical, opinionated and passionate and loves nothing more than a good rant. You should read his indictment of the beef industry in the US and what goes into a hamburger. You will never eat another hamburger that you have not personally prepared, this I promise you.
For all his fearless bravado, it has to be said that when it comes to food, the man writes like a dream. There’s a chapter appropriately titled ‘Lust’ where he describes dishes he’s eaten all over the world – Borneo, Singapore, Italy – never mind the location; when I’d finished reading that chapter the pagers were covered in drool …. he describes this type of writing as ‘food porn’. He’s not wrong – I nearly had an orgasm.
I’m a great Bourdain fan, but I’m glad he’s not mine. He may be long, lean and devilishly good-looking, but Mrs B is welcome to him. I reckon she’s got her hands full!

 

 

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Filed under BOOK REVIEWS, FOOD, SOCIAL COMMENT

*JAP* BRICS BANANAS ??


 

 

Really? Bananas from Ecuador, for crying out loud? Now I realise why it cost me R6-77 in Cape Town for two bananas. What a crazy price. But I suppose if the fruit has been air freighted from the north-east of South America to the very tip of Africa in the South , the price is bound to rise. South Africa produces bananas  on our southern coast in Kwa Zulu Natal; as does our neighbour Mozambique to the North of us. Not to mention Malawi  even further North.  South Africa joined the trading bloc BRICS  – BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs“), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. BRICS – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRICS

Thanks Wikipedia. What would we do without you? Global info is wonderful but I’m not so sure about global trade deals . They  certainly wreck the price of bananas.

 

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

 

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*(JAP)BROWNED TOAST IS DEADLY


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Really?  Is there no end to the health warnings? Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t eat fried foods.   Don’t be overweight. Don’t eat tuna – it’s full of poisonous minerals. Don’t eat processed meats . Don’t eat too much salt. Don’t eat sugar. And now TOAST? Is nothing sacred?  But, the BBC – a source I trust – solemnly advises us that we need to carefully toast our morning slice to a pale golden colour – any browner, and we are at risk. Yet again. I give up. It seems that anything and everything is waiting to ambush us, and the results will be fatal. Pass me the boiled lentils and a nice glass of pure spring water. Sigh. Read the article and depress yourself.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38680622

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

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Filed under FOOD, SOCIAL COMMENT

*A PASSION FOR PISTACHIOS


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Filed under FOOD, HUMOUR

(JAP)  TYPHOID, ANYONE?


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(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

You’re probably thinking: Huh? Weird title for a blog post. What’s she on about now? She cleaned out her fridge – join the dots, people, work it out for yourselves. Odd though it may seem, I don’t mind doing housework. It’s not my #1 favourite occupation, but that said, in the spirit of the Zen practitioners, I just do it. I attack tasks in small, bite sized chunks, when the spirit moves me. No timetable. Just as and when either I feel like it, or the task can no longer be ignored. The fridge cleanup fell into the last category. I ruthlessly tossed any item that was past its BB (best before) date. Out went two jars of mayo, and an elderly bottle of chutney. I’m now mayo-less, but hey, its winter. Not salad time. The true horror story was a bottle of green Madagascar peppercorns – 2012 no less, and sporting a spectacular crop of green mould. Pretty colour, though. I recall buying them specially for a new recipe which I tried out. Recipe tried, and the peppercorns languished. I bet you’ve got some fancy ingredients growing whiskers in your fridge too. I double-dare you to ‘fess up!

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Filed under FOOD, HUMOUR