Num Num

eat. cook. write.

December 26, 2011

Road tripping: The Garden Route

Storm's River  is a magical place. The background of dark trees, craggy rocks, course sand, and the wild sea make me feel sort of crazy and content simultaneously. We arrived just before sunset, and settled into our little forest cabin. Dammit; I like forest cabins. Then off to the beach for a look around. I reached happily back into memories of my childhood holidays there. Everything seemed to have shrunk, now that my lens was no longer that of a twelve year old's. 

Dinner at the restaurant surpassed all expectations (previous encounters had been tough, bland and poorly served). I had blackened sole,  the flesh melting tenderly in the mouth before giving way to a shock of well- selected spices.

December 24, 2011

Christmas fever: Quince, red onion, rosemary and rosé wine stuffing

You know it’s Christmas when the queue in the Hermanus Woolworths winds up and down three aisles at 7 30 am. It’s a killer hot day, and everyone’s dashing around trying to keep the festive spirit together.

I’m also getting in on the fever. I’ve baked like a banshee today, a second batch of mince pies, a lemon and vanilla biscuit wreath, a batch of puff pastry and a few other things are ticking over. The other day I attempted to bake some Lebkuchen but they turned out rock hard. So I whipped out the gold and silver dust, and a dash of yellow raffia, and did some cookie pimpin' for the tree.

My fave thing from today is the quince stuffing I dreamed up for the half- smoked turkey tomorrow:

Quince, red onion, rosemary and rosé wine stuffing

December 22, 2011

Decemberitis: The fear of cooking failure

Mageirocophobia: The fear of cooking. I am not a sufferer. But every year I fret from a dose of what I call Decemberitis: the fear of flops.  It creeps up on me towards the start of the festive season. After six months of my academic, student lifestyle (where I eat communally on a low budget, only cook once or twice a week, and leave my favourite kitchen equipment to gather dust in the cupboards) I start to prepare for my private cheffing stint in Hermanus.

The annoying worrying starts. What if I’ve lost my touch? What if I can’t chop fast enough? What if… what if…. They don’t like the food? I try to resist it, going through old blog posts, proof that I can. Paging through my favourite recipe books, hoping inspiration will strike. Googling away at food blogs while I should be studying for exams.

On my first day of work I get a caught by a speed trap en route to Hermanus. Then, the guests arrive late. The butcher order isn’t in yet and I go shopping elsewhere. The meat is not top notch. (I don’t recommend Woolworth’s sirloin, mine was super- stringy) A first lunch flop. This is exactly what happened last year and the year before. A tradition perhaps?

December 19, 2011

Road tripping: Eastern Cape

I'm writing now from Bantry Bay; the doors are open to let the sea air through and there is still sand between my toes from Glen Beach.
The sea was as cold as slush puppy but we stayed in, soldiers.
Beach bats.
Good friends.
Ice cold coke.
Paragliders suspended in the blue sky; Table Mountain grand behind us.

I feel rested and smug. My skin is browner.  My hair curlier from the sea. My brain has rebooted.  December has been a most beautiful month. 

It started in the Eastern Cape, with a Nanaga Pie that was confirmed to be the best pie ever (By a man who doesn't normally like pies) .Then Grahamstown: The rain had finally cleared, it smelled of dust and the stench of exams had finally been erased. We celebrated the holidays with wine at the Monument, and pizza at the Rat and Parrot, which is just as it should be. 

Bathurst toposcope.

November 28, 2011

The End of the Year

I love the end of the year, I really do.
It’s bursting with promises.
It unties the twisty knots that built up through the year.
It’s beach time. Families hanging out. Talking about 2011. And 2012. Stories and pipedreams.
It’s being silly with brothers and sisters.

Ching chong cha.
Road trippin’.

It’s ice cream and presents and listening to all the music on your iPod you’ve been neglecting. It’s finding new favourites.
It’s many cappuccinos and remembering how to be a tourist in your own country.
It’s moaning about the weather that’s never compatible with your plans.
It’s saying goodbye to sweet Grahamstown and its criss-cross networks of friends and people buzzing in and out from my home to the peripheries of this bubble.
It’s me getting the chance to go to Hermanus and private chef and play, play, play

November 04, 2011

Love: Chocolate mud Cake with Raspberry Meringues

I attended a very beautiful 21st party recently. The kind with warm friends, great outfits and songs written especially for the birthday girl. Someone shouted “cake is love” before Candace cut the cake, and screamed; with a room full of people who adore her joining in.

Cake contains the kind of love that cut be portioned and shared, from plate to mouth to mouth. With receptive grins and crumb- cornered mouths and licking of icing off fingers.

I had a cake- making project coming up and I was feeling inspired. Efe is a cake- lover, a dark- chocolate lover; and the kind of person who generously shares her passions. She commissioned me to make the party centrepiece and I agreed, despite 7 looming academic pieces of work and all sorts of other little stresses hanging about my mind. I agreed because there is nothing as satisfying as

Googling chocolate cakes when you should be studying (thank you Sweetapolita, you are great.)
Going shopping and putting 2 kilograms of chocolate and 1kg of butter in your trolley. 
Discussing cake making with Chef Jenny, and Thandi from next door.
Making a cake of three tiers that you know will be dismantled in minutes
The reward that comes with a chocolate- smattered/ pink/ silver dusted dirty apron 

Watching the birthday girl’s face when she sees the sparkles and the pink fairy dust and the crowds of friends singing, and bursts into tears.

Before you start worrying that this is going to be a deeply emotional and teary post let me tell you that making this kind of cake requires brute physical strength. Well, ok, if you don’t have a whisk attachment for your mixer, that is. The rest is all quite sentimental and airy and fun.

Three tier Chocolate mud Cake with Raspberry Meringues

October 14, 2011

Rocking the daisies 2011

 (Because every now and then you experience a weekend that sits like a burnished blimp on the surface of your year. You feel compelled to write about it quickly, before it seeps away into your wash bucket of tousled memories. )

It started with a frantic phone call on Wednesday. A friend’s lift had bailed out and a free ticket was on offer in exchange for a driver. Keen, I said. It has dawned on me lately that life is too short to let the good things go.

Then in an eye- blink I was standing in throbbing crowd, surrounded by shrieking girls and the tang of sweaty bodies. Jack Parow was waving his armpits in my face, which is what you do when you’re cooler than everyone else.

There were squeezy bottles being filled with gin dry lemon, beer, vodka coke, redbull, and lots and lots of water in between. Hot air wrapped like a blanket around us. A sweaty, close blanket that could only be temporarily escaped by a plunge into the dam; in bikinis, onezies or your summer dress. Or starkers.  There was dancing waist- deep, toes squishing in the mud and wondering what the poor ducks must think of these crazed beings.  

 There were porter loos: Solidarity in lack-of-toilet- paper, and long queues. Volumes could be written on the twisted expressions

September 15, 2011

Drakensberg Adventures

(also, How to warm up dinner and make breakfast on a fire without the use of pots)

Bear Grylls would be proud of this one. My friend T and I arrived in the most majestic Monk’s Cowl in the Drakensberg after a long academic term and a 12 hour drive. We were met by a beautiful campsite, all set up. We went for a walk, we had potjiekos, and drank wine and spoke rubbish with my parents. Then we slept all morning, ate some glorious lunch, and helped my parents pack up, leaving us behind with a tent and all the basics we would need.

Except pots.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? (All reality show participants can take note here; this is a typical African mountainous scenario.) Like a reality TV game, you have certain tools but not others. The mission: to eat. Points given for resourcefulness. Points given for laughs.

This is what you do:

You make it feel like a game because you’re on holiday and its much more fun that way.

Then, you scout the premises for any useful tools. Girls get resourceful.
Don’t get overly enthusiastic now. It seems a good idea to uproot the fence to get at that piece of wire; but they do have security guards. Look elsewhere.  
A flat rock- great. A piece of thick wire. Kindling. Check.
You figure out that you have got tinfoil and you feel grateful.
You pour yourselves a drink (you can make this step 1 depending on how perplexed you are).

Then, you make a serious fire. You disinfect that piece of wire that you found behind the scullery block by burning it and wrap up your mother’s camping plates in tinfoil.

Pop the potjie kos on there and stir a bit. It can get messy if you can’t see what's going on but no matter. It takes a while to heat up, you have put that foil plate right into the ash. Cover it up. Yes, potjie does taste better the next day.

(We just laughed while we waited because the moon was so bright it was bursting. We could see up to the cliff faces, we could see a controlled veld fire with its orange streaks ripping through the landscape. We couldn’t see anyone else, and sometimes its so damn nice to know its just you and the mountains and your dinner.)

Day 2.

The breakfast was our greatest feat. Pure ingenuity, Grylls would certainly agree.

August 27, 2011

Pan- fried Silverfish with Radish, Sweet Pea and Mint salad

When you live in a small town you might have the pleasure of running into several friends at the Saturday morning market. Many of whom you saw last night at a quirky, tasty poetry reading; where Cafe D'vine gave out gorgeous lemon poppy seed cupcakes; and where you were moved by the generosity of people sharing their intimate favourites, their inside jokes, their stories of heartbreak and heartshare and taking a dump in the veld.

When you live in a small town you jump up and dance when you find out (and I am pleased to announce) that Lungi and Ingram’s fresh vegatable stall is expanding to a permanent shop in Peppergrove centre. Their sweet peas have been called ‘a miracle of life’ (McDougall:2011).

Produce from Lungi and Ingram's fresh vegetable stall
When you live in a small town you might end up standing at the great cheese stall in awe and excitement. But you’re a student on a student budget and so you ask the man to please cut you a R12 (about £1) piece of cumin cheese. He puts a thin slice on the scale and announces the price: R21. You cringe and say sorry, I really only have R12 on me. Then the woman beside you tells the man to wrap up the cheese, “you can’t have that little cheese” she says, and pays the difference.

August 14, 2011

Sweet potato and Strawberry starter with Paw-Paw pip dressing

Its not every day that your brother turns quarter-of-a-century years old and happens to be in town. It’s not every day you find out that you are being flown to Cape Town next weekend to represent Rhodes at vinovarsity. Its not every day that you notice the first strawberries for sale (and cheaply, at Her Majesty’s Fruit and Veg). Its not everyday that its Intervarsity and the streets of Grahamstown are sprinkled with students in hand-painted overalls, with crackling bottles in hand- already stumbling and ready drink themselves into a purple haze.
To celebrate this special day, we had a larny dinner. My brother resided over wine tasting practice (he had a big challenge in helping us prepare for the competition next week). I went out on a limb and bought lamb. And strawberries. And almonds for toasting.

My favourite kind of dinner parties are the ones where the kitchen swells with friends. (and, admittedly, when some of them stay over to help wash the mountain of dishes).

July 22, 2011

My advice for Tourists in Paris

Wear Birkenstocks, sneakers, or your choice of can-wear-all-day-sans-blisters footwear. The pavements are hard and the queues are lengthy.

Take a whole day for the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre. I did, and only saw about an eighth of the Louvre. But you can only do THAT MUCH museum, eh?

Try to find yourself two European art- history fanatics to be your guides through said- museums. They can sometimes be found at bars across from backpacker hostels (I’m just saying). If you don’t stumble upon any knowledgeable new friends, I would recommend those earphone gadgets that tell you about the artwork you’re viewing. For me, those stories bring art to life.

July 15, 2011

The last Elderflower in England

I recently took a train to the Cotswold's, that ancient place where the cottages are all cute and crumbly, and where strangers wave at you as they pass you in the lane. We were just entering one such cottage when my friend Muppet and her sister Eva started to lament their laziness at not picking elderflowers earlier, as the season was nearly spent.

I was a little confused. Days previously, I had collected bushels of elderflower (or so I thought) on the side of the road. The white heads were absolutely everywhere. The only reason why I hadn’t made my cordial yet was because I couldn’t find any citric acid. (I must mention at this point that I had never really seen elderflower before, but was going on a vague memory of something I'd seen on google image once.) I pointed out to Muppet, sheepishly.. that there was loads of elderflower in their driveway.

July 10, 2011

Chunky fig and white chocolate biscuits

I am sneaking some recipes onto the site Food 52- Just because its great and I feel bad for using other's recipes there and never sharing my own. Take a look here

July 07, 2011

Berry Picking for jam

It turns out you can’t pick berries for ‘jam’ in the unpaid-for sense of the word at all. I was shocked to find that after one drives 33 miles, gets down on your knees and scratches around some bushes; you end up paying more for your dusty berries than you do at the supermarket, where they come conveniently packaged and wiped down.
By the way, these are NOT supermarket berries. They were handpicked, by yours truly. 
But mine was a beautiful day for berry-picking. The sun was out but not beating down exactly. And because I  ‘picked my own’ at Hildred's, there was a 100% guarantee of no miff berries in my punnet, no pale unripe contenders, and I got to taste before I selected. Bonus! (note- I found out later that you’re not really supposed to eat-as-you-go, oops.

July 06, 2011

Elegant Asparagus starter

An elegant starter that is easy to prepare is a lovely thing indeed. This is fresh, textured and an all-round monument to summer. Another idea from Smart Food.

As a student I had the privilege to work at very very fine hotel in Bantry Bay, in Cape Town. On my first day at work, a chef's meeting was called. We all sat around a conference table, facing the head chef. This was serious business. I expected a 'to do' about off days and tardiness but no. Peeling tomatoes was the first topic on the agenda. Their would be serious repercussions if anyone was seen being lazy about blanching tomatoes. To this day I cannot bring myself to cool them under running water or throw them all in at the same time. Getting drilled about perfect concasse was a valuable lesson, the taught and shiny flesh is worth it.

Serves 4. Increase quantities for more

  • 1 large beef tomato
  • 6 fresh quail's eggs
  • 8 pieces best parma ham
  • about 100g thin asparagus spears, ends trimmed off
  • olive oil
  • some baby leaf salad (I got mine from Turnips)
  • a drizzle of truffle oil (get from Tartufaia truffles at Borough market or even at Waitrose)
  • maldon salt and black pepper

Borough Market

Our feet found their way to the top of the Borough Market stairs. We descended, expectant, into the courtyard surrounded by ancient walls where stallholders were making their first sales and unpacking their crates. I liked it immediately. The joyful spirit is not contrived- the sellers are truly laughing inside, and the customers are curious and giving. The sound of trains rambling loudly over the bridge above adds a sense of surreal drama. You feel as if you are caught in a dry thunderstorm, but with tasty morsels to sample all around you.
To curry or not to curry?

This is far removed from Cape Towns’ Biscuit Mill market- (a flurry of fashionable woman in bitter heels, leaning up against hay bales and sipping organic strawberry daiquiris on a Saturday morning). We did not come here to be seen. We came here to behold, to taste, and to shop for the week.

Heavily laden with delectable treats
Juicy and nice! 1 pound a slice! 

And behold we did. We saw the first, powdery purple figs from Europe. We saw vegetable treasures- Yellow courgettes and green ones in flower. We saw organic carrots in unimaginable colours. We saw heaps of eggs, and barrels of beer. We saw an array of olives and heartening flowers. We saw tiger tomatoes, green and ruby. Then yellow ones, tiny ones, organ- shaped ones. We saw cheese. We held out our palms for slithers to taste. We ate our way around in a manner that startled us at lunch time (our bellies were already full, you see). We nibbled biscuits, and cakes. We drunk the finest Darjeeling tea. We ate breakfast on the sidewalk- a cherry tart. Oh! It moved us to eat more, to taste more. To buy more ( I confess).

July 01, 2011

Chocolate Sorbet in Snap!-ity baskets

Oozy Schmoozy dark chocolate sorbet

I undid the silver and brown wrapper of a bar of Green and Black's Organic dark chocolate recently and chanced upon this gem of a recipe. I can't even remember what my original intention for the chocolate was.I switched my plans to sorbet immediately.

I've decided that chocolate and sorbet are better  friends than chocolate and ice- cream. This is because dairy is an over-bearing character at times, hiding the best of chocolate's tasty traits away. We can't have that.

Of course the hazard involved in preparing a recipe from a wrapper is that someone will find the paper later, and, wondering why Carina is littering in the kitchen, will dispose of it. Of course, a guest asked for the recipe to be passed on.. and on discovering it's absence my mind immediately flew to a scene in film Charlie and the Chocolate factory (adapted from Roald Dahl's fabulous book). That horrible girl Veruca Salt's father orders his whole factory of nut workers to engage in opening chocolate bars in the search for a golden ticket. My imagination exploded with images of supermarkets selling out of Chocolate bars at an alarming rate as we all searched for the the golden recipe.. a fantastic chocolate frenzy would ensue of, course.

Then my imagination calmed down, rid itself of chocolate fountains and silvery- fireworks and sensibly googled Green and Blacks, who thankfully have their recipes online.. We were saved from having to buy a million more chocolate bars. Dammit.

Lollipop lamb with Zingy dressing

George took one look at this at this dish and said "Sis Carina, did you just get that from the abattoir?". Funny cat, that George. He likes his meat cooked through. I prefer my lamb to be super-tender, still red, but rested enough not to bleed. Medium rare is how it should be.

A friend forwarded me this recipe of Jamie Oliver's.. please see it here. I didn't see fit to barbecue for a lunch for just 2 tiny ladies so I did mine under the grill.

Also, I'm not really into shop- bought humus, so rather did it with crispy baby potatoes (cooked on the rack in the oven at 180 for about 40 minutes), along with pan fried tomatoes and asparagus squeezed with lemon juice and good olive oil.

I also made this zingy dressing: 

  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 5 olives, de-pipped and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste (from Waitrose) or you could just chop up a couple of sundreid tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Whisk all of that together. The dressing was originally planned as a dressing for a salad of fennel, raw celeriac and celery... but it tasted so good on the lamb that it migrated across the platter to get drizzled over the meat. 

The lamb was purchased at Waitrose...just remember that when it comes in a packet the bones won't look so neat and clean- that takes some effort with a paring knife so do factor that in. I followed Jamie's recipe as far as the marinade is concerned, then I got some olive oil and butter very hot in a frying pan, and browned the rack on all sides. I finished it under the grill (exactly 8 minutes is perfect for medium rare, sorry George) and left it to rest under tinfoil for a good 5 minutes.

Better than a Fizzpop, hey? 

June 30, 2011

The Wimbledon Experience

Oh I know its such a tourist-y bore. But its a delicious cliche.

The journey
The Thames River at Mortlake

I like the overland journey from Mortlake to Wimbledon.
The train tracks rumble so loudly.
We whoosh past allotment gardens
Carrot tops.
Roses- white and pink.
An artichoke bush!
And then, in the beat of an eyelid- a sprawling river with houseboats as colourful as flags; and a woman eating her toast on the river.
There is:
Peeking into people’s houses
Cluttered offices
Mary’s Terrace
“This is Twickenham”
“This is Strawberry Hill”

This is another place, and these are more people.
Travelling makes me feel tiny.

The Golden Ticket

I meet a tennis-groupie couple on the train, they were so sweet. They knew absolutely every detail about Wimbledon and tennis. They showed me how to get there from the station via the bus. It started to rain. We laughed at that misfortune and they wished me well in my ticket hunt.

The closer I got to gate 1 the more rain fell from the sky, and the more useless my mission seemed to be. As I neared the gate I was approached my a tall man in a beautiful brown leather jacket. He asked if I was looking to buy a ticket. Wary of touts that I'd heard of and being ripped off, I asked him to show me. £65 for court one. I was suspicious. But the ticket looked real and he looked sincere. This will only happen once in my life, I thought. So I followed him to the gate and paid him my due.

Pimms, Missing Links, and Henman Hill

Play, of course, was suspended.

June 27, 2011

Melt-y Camembert with Breadsticks and Antipasti

Everybody loves a good braai; or as the British would say- A barbeque. A braai is traditionally a laid- back affair that shouldn’t require too much effort and is executed with a beer in one hand, and a pair of tongs in the other. The trick to this kind of eating is to keep it very laid back, and very easy. Here is my new favourite braai starter. Melted camembert and breadsticks. What! So delicious. So simple.

I confess that during my first year French 1p tutorials I spent more time browsing through French magazines than taking notes. I am sorry to say that I couldn’t resist tearing some recipes cards out of an issue. At least having French recipes inspired me to study harder, I think. And they led to this great find:

Braaied Camembert with breadsticks

You need 3 good rounds of Camembert- The kind that comes in boxes, or as the French would say: “Une boite”. Remove the cheese from each box, undo the wrapping and return to the box. Now wrap the whole thing in tinfoil.
Place on the hot braai ( a weber is best) for 10- 15 minutes, until you can feel that the cheese is melted under the skin… it may also be leaking out the bottom.
That’s about it. Tear the outer layer slightly to get to the melted goodness in the bottom and serve with breadsticks…

  • a note on the breadsticks. I made Jamie Olivers Moroccan flatbreads, and they were very tasty. The idea is to add 1 tablespoon each of crushed cumin and coriander seeds along with a can of smashed chickpeas to a general bread dough. The only problem I had is that they don”t stay crisp for very long, you need to serve them immediately. I tried crisping them in the oven a few minutes before, but they weren’t fabulous anymore.
  • If you don’t feel like baking breadsticks just before your meal….I suggest buying a good quality country loaf and toasting that on the braai (drizzled with some olive oil) while the cheese is on the go.
  • I served this as part of an antipasti starter along with freshly prepared artichokes and bright green broad beans with fine onions and crispy parma ham.  The main course was beautiful salads and Jamie Oliver's funky kebabs... A feast for the eyes and for the belly.
The smooshy- yummy end product

Anti pasti- freshly cooked artichokes with olives and parmesan cubes, and ( in the backgorund)  broad beans with parma ham and fine onions.. pretty pretty. 

Jamie Oliver's Chicken kebabs with courgettes, and peeking in the corner.. lamb kebabs with red onion and smoked paprika

June 26, 2011

Baked Pork with Oranges (and very crispy crackling)

Baked pork with oranges

This dish is a reminder as to why Elizabeth David is such a legend. Her recipes always work, and they always taste amazing. I turn to her books when I need something dependable and delicious. This dish is so handy as you can start it early and then only have to worry about it again 15 minutes before dinner.

This is my (very slight) adaptation. I cook for real crackling- lovers and thus do it separately: the only way to get it evenly crisp I think, without drying out the meat.

June 25, 2011

For the love of summer. and strawberries.

Strawberry Summer Cake

I found this recipe on one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. It's adapted from Martha Stewart, and is called Strawberry Summer Cake. Those are two things I adore: Summer and strawberries. It gives me great, great pleasure to hop on an aeroplane and escape at least one month of what I deem to be winter misery in South Africa. I live in a house without heaters, or electric blankets, and only hot water bottles tucked into our pants and between our blankets to warm us. This morning at 7am I went for a crisp morning run and chuckled (a little gleefully I confess) at the thought of my friends at home still enveloped in a dark chill.

Strawberries scream summer. In Smitten Kitchen  Deb writes of rainy weather combined with strawberry purchases that causes a bit of a dilemma. I know what she means. I bought a red mountain of half- priced berries from Waitrose intending to make a chilled strawberry soup. The constant, characteristically English drizzle outside did not invite chilled soup. Rather, it invited warm carbohydrates that were reminsicent of summer but with due regard for the downpour outside. I googled strawberry cake, as I am sure many have before me.. and came upon this gem that I’ve now made twice since in four days.

Please see this link for the recipe as I found it:

The first time I made it, I scattered pistachios on top  ten minutes before the end of cooking and baked it in a sort of pie dish (that turned out to be tricky to serve). For round two I used a cake tin, and added 2 tablespoons of almonds to the mixture for a bit more richness.
Also, when following Deb/slash Martha’s recipe, I do the following:

Instead of adding the dry mixture after the wet ingredients, I make a mixture of egg and milk and add it alternately with the dry mixture of flour, baking powder and salt. I add the vanilla last (and I use vanilla bean paste, oh- glory). This prevents it curdling. Not that I’ve ever known a once- curdled mixture to be of lesser taste… but I just feel more satisfied if it stays smooth throughout!
Since it was a chilly summer evening (annoying actually, considering it was the summer solstice and the druids were all doing their thing at Stonehenge etc) I warmed it up in the oven before serving. M made a glorious runny vanilla bean custard to go alongside.

Vanilla sponge seeped with fresh strawberries.

Yes, please. 

June 24, 2011

The straight and the narrow- A welcome to England

The British are annoyingly organised. You can’t pick your nose without being caught on camera. You wouldn’t dare drive an old jalopy on the highway; and neither would you dare leave your car anywhere without first scrutinising the parking notices. I learnt this the hard way after I received a £25 fine on my first day in Newbury for parking in an area that I didn’t know was “pay and display”.
This country seems to me a land of more straight than narrow. A place of rigid white lines and tall, trimmed hedges; square little houses and bigger square mansions, all with their uniform chimney pots and their uniform people.
Of course, I judge the English too harshly. I do so because I am used to country where one will find litter in the streets. Where a burst of sobbing can save you from a traffic fine and the majority of square houses you find are in the townships where the poor live piled atop one another in a sea of reflective sink roofs and dusty roads. We are not as organised as the British. We have bendable rules and bribable officers.
And so, the British have wild things too- and these are the things that I like.  I saw a timid deer today when I went for a run. I saw two stark black sheep in a cloud of bleating white.  I got stabbed in the shin by an unruly bramble bush. But the cherry on top of my ice cream Sundae happened in Waitrose. The supermarket where its so damn cold and sterile you feel as if you’d welcome a broken refrigerator or a speck on the floor.
In my fresh baguette I found an embedded piece of white cloth, baked into the crust. I was so amused to find this evidence of human error that could not be avoided by law and rule that I didn’t even consider reporting it, or suing dear Waitrose.
So that was my first day in England. Also, we had a dinner party of five guests and Berkshire cook M and I tackled it together.
We had Ottolenghi’s delicious rice flour pancakes with veg for starters, you can find the recipe here .Its one everyone should have in their repertoire and it's great for all those gluten- allergies out there. This was followed by Elizabeth David’s pork cooked in milk, which was very tasty… and the list of the last three days’ cooking goes on. It’s been lovely to get at summer ingredients, and ones hard to find back home:

Rhubarb. Palm sugar. Broad beans. Fresh globe artichokes. Shallots. Plump raspberries, and salmon for tickets.  

And I wish, I wish, I could write you up the recipes I’ve been doing, with pictures alongside. But smarty pants didn’t pack her camera cable (a general note to all: It is advisable to get more than 30 minutes sleep the night before you fly) and thus I can’t upload photos and post them. It sort of kills my blogging mojo, not having the photo part. But I know George I will help me tomorrow, so I’ll see you soon- with more of the straight and narrow.  

June 04, 2011

Orange marinated Chicken and roasted Veg with Orzo

We live with a vegetarian who is allergic to oranges. She is in Cape Town at the moment, and we miss her every day. However, I jumped at the chance of making a meal to this tune while I had the chance.
Since exams started, we have turned our sitting room into a Zone of Higher Intelligence. Files and notes are littered around a massive table, millions of tea cups and coloured kokis are dotted around a box of tissues for our winter sniffles. Glorious. We really needed a wholesome dinner, and a good dose of orange healthy goodness.