Leith’s Gammon with Marmalade & Wholegrain Mustard

Meat Tastic Gammon
Meat Tastic Gammon

I love Gammon. However it comes; in torn off chunks dripping with mustard, with pineapples on top or in big white floury baps. I love the salty bacon-esque meat-tastic taste you get with a joint being broiled and then roasted. Hot or cold, marinaded or not, i can’t say no to a slice.

Yet, weirdly i’ve never attempted to make my own because so many family & friends make them, along with fancy packaged shop bought ones which are too hard to resist when you are stalking the Supermarket aisles famished.  I’ve just never needed to do it for myself until i had a desire to try a receipe in Leith’s ultimate cooking book i’ve advocated before. It’s her Marmalade & Wholegrain mustard receipe on page 261.

I salivated when i saw the recipe and marvelled at its simplicity so gave it a whirl. I cooked it for a Sunday Roast and then served the off cuts (of which there were many, too many perhaps) throughout the week in sandwhichs, salads, pasta dishes and finally partnered with fried eggs and chips…..woefully underrated these days in my humble opinion.

Recipe.

1 x 675g piece of Gammon – I bought a 1.75kg joint and corrected the receipe to reflect

1/2 onion

1 carrot, cut into chunks

1 bay leaf

2 fresh parsley stalks

6 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon thick cut marmalade

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

 

Serving suggestion: Mashed sweet potato, broad beans in parsley sauce, peas

Note: If cooking a larger joint, allow 25 minutes per 450g for the simmering time.

Method:

1 Place Gammon in saucepan, cover with cold water and add the onion, carrot, bay leaf, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for 40 minutes

2. Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F/ Gas Mark 7

3 Leave the gammon to cool slightly in the stock. Then lift out and carefully pull off the skin and a little of the fat.

4. Mix the marmalade and mustard together and spread it evenly over the fat.

5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until dark and sticky.

 

It came out so fantastically well, was economically a great way to make the pennies go further as it went into so many other meals during the week. More than that it was so satisfying to finally make something i love.

I am not a confident chef and when taking the autodidact approach by following recipes or watching cooking programmes i have to be careful to choose those that i think i can do and will take pleasure from and which will spur me to have a go with something else. This was definitely one of them, Leith’s Marmalade and Mustard Glazed Gammon.

Make your own Pizza

Homemade Pizza
Homemade Pizza

I’ve tried many times in the past to make my own pizza, but with Domino’s on speed-dial and Supermarket shop bought ones winning the price war it’s always felt a like it belonged in the too hard basket, especially for last minute dinners.

That was until a friend shared her fool proof Pizza recipe with me, which i have tried a good few times now and has given us perfect pizza every time just the way we want it. It’s also been something my young children love to do – making their own dinner.

What you’ll need to make six Pizza bases – You can either eat the lot, freeze what you won’t eat or double/half/quarter the recipe for the amount you do want.

Ingrediants for the Pizza Dough

* 800g Plain Flour

* 400ml room temperature water

* 5g Yeast

* 3 tablespoons Olive Oil

* Salt

 

How to do it

Put the Water, Oil & Yeast in a bowl.

Mix the Salt & Flour together and gradually add to the bowl with the Water, Oil & Yeast until all incorporated. Knead until it’s a compact giant ball.

Cover with Cling Film or a dry tea-towel and leave to rise for 20 minutes.

Then cut the dough into 6 even pieces and shape into balls putting back in the bowl and re-covering for another 3 hours.

After 3 hours – take one of the balls to make your first pizza. Soften by kneading in your hands, then using a rolling pin, roll out onto a floured surface so its nice and thin and if you can manage it, round. Pick it up and stretch it gently between your hands making sure you don’t tear it.

I use a round medium size stoneware plate which i bought from Pamperedchef, which is non stick and cooks everything evenly and continues to cook even once out of the oven, if left on it.

Heat the oven to 200 oC, warm up your stoneware plate (or baking parchment lined baking tray) and then place on a heat protected surface, put your pizza dough onto it, spread it out for the rustic look, and add your toppings.

 

When time is not of the essence i like to oven roast a tray of different tomatoes, salted, peppered with some garlic and then once roasted so all squishy add in some fresh basil. I use this as my tomato sauce topping, otherwise i buy a fresh tomato & basil pasta sauce and spread that.

We like using Mozarella, Emmental, Feta cheese, parma ham, salami, pepperoni, mushrooms, jalapeños, – infact there is no end to the toppings you can use or the concoctions you can make.

We like to get a system going. Once the first pizza is in the oven for 14 minutes – we find that cooks it to our perfection –  we start prepping the next one. Once the first is out of the oven the second is in….which is great if you have friends over for the evening as it ensures a continuous supply of pizza and everyone gets to try their hand at making one just the way they like it.

If you find you have too many pizza doughs left you can always wrap in cling film and put in the freezer. The receipe says as long as they are taken out of the freezer 6 hours before they are needed they are fine. It even says you can make the dough the day before leaving in the fridge and getting out a good few hours before they are needed so they are returned to room temperature.

I’ve even tried using the dough as a base for garlic bread. I softened butter and stirred in crushed garlic. Like, 3 cloves crushed!,  then spread it over the base and cooked as above. It worked a treat and i would definitely recommend it. Great way to use up extra dough or as pizza in its own right perhaps, either way its weirdly so satisfying to make your own pizza.

Getting the kids in on the act
Getting the kids in on the act

 

Laughing at Cancer

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‘Laughing at Cancer’ could almost be classed as an Oxymoron, or an example of one because there is nothing remotely funny about it at all. Let me make that abundantly clear.

My weekly visit to see my befriendee, Penny on Monday surprisingly resulted in us rolling around laughing, figuratively speaking – for Penny can barely walk unaided – about the vagaries of Cancer in the lives of those people around us. Those that are in the midst of fighting the deadly beast and their tales from the battlefield.

For a subject matter so dark and so despairing, leaving no gender, race or creed untouched it is the cause of untold misery for millions of people worldwide. For those that have it and those that have to watch family and friends suffer from it, so to find myself laughing with a woman who I discovered this week has herself battled Colon Cancer in the past, it was the unfunniest of subject matters. Or so we thought.

Let me start by telling you my Monday morning started really early, on the back of being up for a second night in a row with a poorly baby. I felt tired and my irritable state was compounded by a nasty friction burn i had sustained just below my left elbow when rescuing the same poorly baby at a children’s soft play centre a couple of days before. I had to climb like Jungle Jane to the highest point of the soft play centre and help her down a too small curly yellow slide that suddenly seemed too scary and in the process took most of the skin off my left arm on the way down. I’m not normally a wimp but this kept burning and hurting still days later.

When Sarah my cleaner arrived i was desperate for some coffee to get me moving. How’s your week been is my normal opener but Sarah pipped me to the question first. Just about to launch into my Monday story of woe with my bad sleep and sore arm story, I stopped myself and said ‘Coffee first’. She folllowed me into the Kitchen as i asked her the same question so i could get on with making the coffee. Thats when she told me her partner Phil, who had been in and out of hospital having treatment for kidney stones, had been told he was suffering from Blood Cancer.

That put my burn and tiredness into perspective, i told Penny later when i went to visit her. We laughed as i stroked my burn, as she recognised my awkwardness and almost terrible timing.

It was then that our conversation moved onto Cancer in general and how so many people we know are affected by it.

‘If i get Cancer i said, I just don’t want it in the bum’ i offered. Of all the places i reckon thats got to hurt the most i said’. Penny lent forward laughing, at the same time as her eyes closing to exaggerate how funny she found that to be, as she told me thats exactly where she had it some years ago. My dignity died the day i laid on the Oncologists couch she said.

She regaled me with her own tales from the Battlefield, fighting the big C which i’m sure time has allowed her to see the funny side of. She was prodded and poked and cleaned inside out. I left as clean as a whistle she sniggered. I do try to forget, she laughed some more.

I thought i had a rough time of it back then she went on, although the other week an old friend called to tell her that one of her family members had found a tumour on her neck and it had grown to an obvious and uncomfortable size. She had to go and have Chemotheraphy directly on the tumour, she was given a bespoke Metal Mask that pinned her head to a table where she had to sit for half an hour every day for 17 days. It didn’t help that the poor love had claustrophobia.

Horrified as she is telling me this, i self consciously want to laugh. My lips curl and i stifle it, but I want to laugh at the absurdity of the image in my mind. Almost as though Penny can read my thoughts, she said the same. I put the phone down and couldn’t stop laughing. I just can’t stop picturing her with her head pinned to a table inside a metal mask as her body rocked within from her phobia of confined spaces. How unlucky can one poor soul be ?!

Now in print, this doesn’t seem that funny and as I’m relaying the story to you i’m worried i am offending all those with bowel cancer and neck tumours and all they have to endure, but through our laughter Penny and I came to the landing that, with most horrific things that beset you, the only thing you can do in the face of Cancer, the only thing you possibly can do to endure the pain of it being and not let it rob you of the ability to try and find humour to laugh at Cancer.

 

 

 

 

There to just listen

It’s great to go away, but even better to come home is what i found myself saying upon arriving in Heathrow Airport last Sunday at 5.30am. It’s been a fantastic six week trip for us as a family visiting South Africa, seeing our loved ones, escaping the cold January and replacing it with Blue African skies but nothing quite measures up to being home and with renewed vigour in your tanned stride.

Once we were through our front door, my three and two year old girls ran around screaming with excitement about their toys they clearly forgot they owned. It must have seemed like their Christmas and Birthdays had come all at once such was the pitch and volume of their shrieks, especially for my two year old who has even less concept of time than her older sister. She couldn’t remember where the loo was and i had to remind her.

I have found it strange being away from all that is familiar for an extended period. Luckily, the house was just as we left it but we were different, possibly buoyed by our holiday mojo but our experiences away and together had made us grow, even closer. The girls seem just a little more confident, taller and a little more able.

The next day with our normal lives resumed i went to visit my old Lady Friend, i mentioned before in previous posts ‘Funny how it all falls away’, ‘I’m listening’ and ‘Memories’. I”ve been visiting Penny for an hour each week for well over a year now. During this time we have developed a great affection for one another and i have had the privilege to sit and listen to her talk about her life. I genuinely feel i have become a bonafide confidente.

I don’t think i quite grapsed the great work the Charity that i asked to volunteer for does and how important their work is. In an age of unprecedented connections, loneliness is one of the biggest issues facing the aged. Infact, according to Age UK at least 1 million pensioners go a whole month before they speak to another person, with others citing the television as their main form of company. Incredible. More so when you realise just how important human connection is for the state of our mental health & well being.

I became a befriender initially as a way of giving back and a chance to make a difference to someone with the minimum input. I don’t have to stand in a cold town centre shaking a charity box or organising an uninteresting raffle. The advert for Befriending came through on a locally circulated newsletter and I thought being 10 hours child free a week, surely i can give 1 of them to another, this is my way of paying it forward and showing gratitude for all that life has bestowed me. Maybe that’s the Catholic guilt surfacing in me but its how i felt.

Quite frankly it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I was paired with an interesting lady a good fifty years older than me who is articulate, funny and she would hate me to say this – a relic from a different generation. The things she tells me about her life and the family she raised in the area that has become home to me continue to fascinate and astound in equal measure. Penny is such a lovely humble soul, lost in a world she doesn’t understand anymore and is afraid of and one where she misses her dead husband terribly. She tells me she doesn’t know why she is still of this earth and questions the benefits of modern medicine extending her life-cycle at the expense of its quality.

As a befriender, you aren’t just company for a lonely person, you become the eyes and ears of those that are classed as well enough to stay in their own homes but not far off of needing a greater level of care whether in their home or in a care home surrounded by professionals. There is a fine line and the balance can change overnight with quick deterioration either in health or in a lot of cases a nasty fall. There is also more depressingly, their vulnerability to praying parasites in society. Those that think it is ok to take advantage of good nature for their own gains so it’s important to listen and raise the alarm to the Charity when you think something isn’t right.

That first Monday back visiting Penny she opened the door to me rather sheepishly and with a grey hue to her colouring that i didn’t recognise. I try to be all sunshine and light when she opens the door to me as i know she looks forward to our meets, she tells me as does the Charity. It was only after i followed behind as she pushed her trolley for support, a little slower than normal that she was still wearing bed clothes. Hello, I’ve so missed you, how are you?, how was your Grandsons Wedding? (she was fretting about for months before i left) ?? all my questions came tumbling out and only when she had made it back to her favourite arm chair, overlooking the magnificent gardens her late husband cultivated did her face drop and her eyes go sad. I never made it to the Wedding was all she could say. I had another two strokes and i’ve been in hospital whilst you have been gone. I made it out just in time for Christmas she whispered in a way that i felt she was trying to keep herself and her emotions together.

The overwhelming sadness i felt on hearing this came straight to my eyes as they filled up and i struggled to stop them from leaking, i hadn’t for a moment expected to hear that she had been seriously ill in my absence.

By luck rather than judgement her eldest son had been with her when she had her first funny turn, he was over from Dubai to attend his Sons Wedding but she had been alone when after her second funny turn she went to her GP to get checked over at the insistence of her youngest son who called her from his home in Hong Kong. It was then she was admitted to hospital, taken there by a neighbour as the wait for an ambulance would be too long. At the hospital after a scan, it was confirmed she had infact had two strokes and they would need to assess any damage that had been done to her brain. On hearing this both sons had rushed to be with her and it was then confirmed her balance had been greatly affected as had the mobility of the left side of her body.

She told me how scared she was and how frightened she was to be in hospital. How she never slept a wink with all the noise that was going on. How she was worried what was coming next. As it happens the damage wreaked by the strokes was conservative to what it could have been and given her medical history. With her Sons having to go back to their lives and families who are stationed overseas, she is once again alone day to day. It was at their insistence she now has a carer who comes in each morning to help dress her and get her up (as this was proving particularly difficult for her), so for now she is still able to stay in her home. It gives little comfort to her Sons who i should imagine have to manage their worries and fears at a distance. I know this first hand through my husband, who’s own Mothers health is on the wane. The irony is not lost on me.

I tried to encourage her to pay for a cooked meal to be delivered to her each day, like she did when her husbands health was failing him and she was his carer. Penny can neither manage or be bothered to cook for herself so eats crackers, toast or reheated tinned soups. That is not enough to sustain anyone especially when Winter is biting. I can only suggest and advise so much without becoming a nuisance or being seen to interfere.

Instantly being home with fresh eyes, I can sense emotionally the boundaries of being a volunteer befriendee are becoming blurred. Perhaps being away and getting some perspective on my life has helped with this. I missed seeing her each week and I regard my old lady as a friend in my own right despite our contrived introduction and one i am lucky to have met in my life. I often want to do more for her, drop off hot food, invite her for supper with my family and pop in when passing but i am held back because i am unable to shoulder the responsibility of being more than i currently am to her, all the time and particularly at the times when i am desperately needed. I feel torn, after all, I am there to just listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vino Veritas

Enjoying a Sundowner in South Africa
Enjoying a Sundowner in South Africa

Being on holiday in Cape Town we really enjoy catching up with our friends. The other night we had a Braai at our rented house and invited seven of our very oldest friends to join us. Our children were in bed and stayed there, so we got to enjoy an adult only evening of fun and conversation.

Our friends were a real tonic, the joy to share an evening with them under an African sky was a memorable moment. The group was an ecletic mix of personalities; there was an Accountant, a Fashion retailer, a digital marketing dude, a Surgeon, a Craft beer maker, a freelance travel writer and a builder all sitting around breaking bread and enjoying drinks at our table and sharing of our lives over laughter.

If you ask me Wine is a vital ingredient at any social gathering. Vino Veritas – in wine there is truth, is the easiest of ways to promote conversation and (over) sharing. As we seldom see our friends in the flesh living so far away in England,  the time to slip back into old familiarity and pick up where we left off, is in short supply, Wine just speeds up the process. It is the twin sister to Food for me, complimenting the flavours and sometimes if the chef is having an off day can ameliorate the whole dining experience. It works for me.

In Wine we speak truth, writings from the night before.
In Wine we speak truth, writings from the night before.

The only thing i need to keep an eye on is that i have to make sure the wine doesn’t flow too freely my way. At home i try to live by a rule, two glasses is perfect, three makes me sloppy. On holiday this goes out the window though and three often becomes four. Like it did on this night because the morning after i woke too early to my child tapping my cheek telling me it was morning (I beg to differ it was 5.40am), with a sore head, dry mouth and face full of make up. The markers of a great night perhaps but one only multiple cups of coffee and water, dispensed simultaneously, would jump start.

The night was a great one though and once the hangover abated i relished in reliving such a lovely time with our friends. We were sitting outside on the decking, next to the Rim Flow pool,  over looking the beach, with the moon’s celestial reflection shining on the waves crashing below and us enjoying our time together,  i got so over excited and celebrated the only way i know how. Oscar Wilde’s ‘i can resist everything but temptation’ line could have been meant for me as i refilled my glass too many times. I bailed out at 1am and my husband got to bed at 4am as the conversation continued to flow between him and couple of stragglers. It turned out once everyone had left them to it, one of them wanted to share the saddest of news, a deeply personal and unwanted divorce was imminent for him and his wife and they sat sharing more wine which eased the melancholy mood that hung in the air and turned it into a more philosophical one.

For the wine in South Africa is off the charts, phenomenal. Regal Reds and Wonderful Whites are plentiful and produced locally. Wine tasting and visiting the farms is a brilliant experience and hobby for most. We have been to many farms over the years; Fairview, Graham Beck, Glen Carlow, Delheim, Kanonkop, Boschendal to name but a few of my favourites, but like any experience its the company you keep and the times i visited these Estates i was in brilliant company. On this trip to Cape Town we went back to Glen Constantia. An old favourite, boutique Estate that has been producing wine since 1685.

Glen Constantia
Watching the grapes grow, Constantia Glen
Tasting at Glen Constantia Wine Estate
Guzzling the Grapes, Constantia Glen Tasting deck

We turned up on Tuesday morning at 11am with our three and two year old in tow and quickly sampled their Wines up for Tasting for R50; 3 whites and 2 reds. All awesome and all can be brought back in the UK by their English agent Berry Bros. Saves the schlep of disguising in your suit case, risking breakage and having to carry them home like a mule. We bought their Red Constantia Glen Number 5 to savour and a few extra for gifts for our family & friends back home.

Wine is a big, real deal in South Africa. It is drunk on a huge scale and there are connoisseur’s on every corner. The South African’s know their grapes and rightly so because so many great ones are cultivated there.

I actually feel a little embarrassed when i’m in a conversation and wine is discussed. The technicalities don’t interest me (i just like drinking it) and i’m sure its the reason i can’t retain the knowledge, or maybe its i drink too much and then forget. I just know what i like; robust reds and silky light whites….thats the extent of my wine talk, thankfully my husband is the one who takes great pleasure pouring over the menus in bars and restaurants. He will often declare ‘this is a you wine’ as the sommelier pours into my glass. Meaning its full and well bodied, whereas he prefers them a little lighter. Wine is a personal thing and that should never be forgotten especially by those with superior knowledge or collection as we all have our preferences, yet when administered makes us the same and whatever has or is happening in our lives it is in Vino Veritas.

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Notes from an ignoramus wine drinker:

What i usually drink when I’m in South Africa are:

Pongracz – Sparkling Rose Wine. Obviously can’t be called Champagne as its made in South Africa and not the Champagne region of France, but it’s better then most of the top shelf Champagnes (or Sparkling wines).

Graham Beck Brut – Sparkling wine. Another outstanding Southern Hemisphere contender

Rupert & Rothschild – Red Classique

Boschendal – Sauvignon Blanc

Haute Cabrierre – Anything they do but especially the Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Meerlust – Merlot

Meerendal – Bin 159

Constantia Glen – Red Number Three & their Five

Inverroche – A South Africa Gin Verdant – with wild Cape Fynbos Botanicals mixed with Tonic Water. (Actually a new addition in their liquor stores but such revelation to a G&T advocate or for those who aren’t so keen on Wine or need a break from it).

 

 

Most important question to ask

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Through the clearing, Llandudno Beach, Cape Town

A few days ago we left Port Elizabeth and flew to the Western Cape arriving in Cape Town International airport an hour later laden down with our luggage, prams, baby car seats and husband’s surf board. We attracted looks of both pity and praise for juggling such items being transported. This is how i know that i am not a traveller, a bona fide not happy until there is new soil underfoot, traveller. I take lots of ‘just in case’ stuff and always almost never use them. They must be my comfort blanket or precious soft toy because i’ve still never finessed the art of packing light. Each time i swear next time will be different and it isn’t. It’s who i am and what i do and thankfully my husband never chides or berates for the serious tonnage he usually ends up carrying. Metaphorically he knew who he was getting into bed with when we married. A girl who likes her home comforts and to be fair he isn’t a great packer either.

Thankfully an old friend was there to meet us at the airport and help transport our luggage to the home we are renting in Llandudno. We arrived in the hillside beach mecca to find a grand house tucked neatly to the left side of the Suikerbossie ‘sugar bush’ hillside, with unspoilt views of the waves crashing below to the picture perfect beach. The view is so awesome it stopped us in our tracks as we carted our luggage into the house and there we stood, transfixed, next to the rim flow pool looking out from where we are to call home for the next few weeks.

Suddenly the holiday part of my holiday was happening.

As lovely as it’s been to be in Port Elizabeth, living the life of my husbands family. Doing what they do and going where they go, we’ve been in their space and to now have some of our own is much needed. With an awesome Ocean view as an added bonus.

The poolside view
The poolside view

Going on holiday with children, particularly small children is often harder work then staying home i find. Keeping them safe, entertained and well fed is not how relaxing holidays pre-children were for us. The days take on a busy richness where busy nights were the norm. There have been times i’ve come back from holiday, actually needing a holiday but this time, after our stay in Cape Town, i sense it won’t be the case.

My heart belongs to Cape Town. It is where i married my husband, where the sun beams reflect the sunnier side of my soul and the natural beauty of the ocean and mountains remind me of the immense power and fragility that the universe creates. My inner mojo is recharged with full credit by the time i come to leave, that no other place i’ve visited yet is able to offer. I treasure my holiday mojo like a precious jewel on returning home, trying to hang onto the inner peace and tranquility time out brings to the mind, body and soul.

Driving in Cape Town
Driving in Cape Town

On my first night in this house, which by the way is a family home and not a holiday home – which makes all the difference as there are personal effects; photos and lovingly collected trinkets adjourning the shelves. I feel like i’m in a ‘Through the Keyhole’ episode and need to trot out the lines ‘who lives in a house like this’ Lloyd Grossman style….I sense the woman who owns this house is a matriarch of sorts. Her style is stamped everywhere, like most family homes. She has two children, a boy and girl who are long grown up that i can see from photos documenting them as tiny babies right the way through to graduation many years ago. I think she is clever, creative and well connected – i spotted a picture of her meeting Nelson Mandela in one of the spare rooms. You can gauge a lot by what a person keeps and surrounds themselves with and I’m left wondering what my house would say about me should a stranger come stay. Hopefully someone who prides family above all and is good fun to be around.

One thing that jumped out on me as i scoured her bookshelf – another telling trait of a homeowner – between the reference books and travel guides (this woman has travelled far and wide) there was a a little section dedicated to philosophy and a book ‘Spirtual Literacy – Reading the Sacred in Every day life’. Being how i am made i homed in on this and thumbed through whilst the girls were playing happily and i laid in the sun. Spiritual Literacy at that moment was running through my veins as i indulged in one of my favourite past times – reading, whilst i could hear the huge waves crashing on the desolated beach below along with my children’s happy voices.

What i read of the book there were two things that instantly stuck in my mind which feel like a timely reminder; an anecdote about trust – remembering to trust the universe when you need to, the signs are everywhere if we only look and the second, a more profound quote that Albert Einstein was alleged to have said when asked what is the all time most important question to ask ?….’Is the universe a friendly place or not?’ Apparently our answer to this holds the key to many things about ourselves, the life we are living and the life we carve out. It’s important we ask ourselves this.

As i’ve said before in my post https://mrssmusings.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/book-karma-les-petites-enfants/ finding books at times in your life when you need to read them, i can’t but help think this is my time to find some Spirtual Literacy and remind myself whilst my mojo recharges in Cape Town, how good life can be. Surely that answers for me – what is the most important question to ask.

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What’s not to love ?

Zoo Biscuits
Zoo Biscuits

When I come to South Africa we usually stay for a month or two and I get to spend an awful lot of time grocery shopping for my family and I. Far from it being a chore I really enjoy checking out their variety and different foods.

I love spotting the nuances in home cooking when in South Africa and for the first time the other day noticed my Sister in Law’s microwave has some settings that i am not used to seeing on my microwave back home, which form the staple of many South African’s diets: Mealie-Pap (porridge/polenta made from mielie-meal and a staple food of the Bantu inhabitants of Southern Africa), Babotie (spiced minced meat with an egg based topping), and Potato Bake. It’s small things like this that remind me where i am and what i am not used to.

Catering for National Tastes
Catering for National Tastes

Over the years I’ve been coming to South Africa I’ve noticed a steady increase in the cost of their food prices. It is now on par with the prices in the UK, which is staggering when you think of the imbalance between currencies, the earning power of the UK, the weak Rand to the Pound and the vast amount of food South Africa can grow for itself. How do locals cope with the prices of food? They don’t get to eat the good stuff is the bottom line.

And thats such a shame as the good stuff is great.

Their supermarkets; Checkers, Pick n Pay and high end shops like Woolworths stock such a different range of food from what i’m used to in the UK. So much more meat and exotic fruit and juices which is great if you are a slavering carnivore like me paying with British Pounds.

With a country that has as its favourite past time To Braai (BBQ) their ready-to-range is off the charts. Spatchcock chicken and sasorties (kebabs) with all sorts of marinades, Sausages – from porkies to chicken sausages which are hugely popular to infamous range of Boerworse. Fat or Thin varieties this is South Africa’s very own delicacy often enjoyed in a bread roll.

Meat, meat, glorious meat. We had a braai last night and had a lemon and lime spatchcock chicken, porkies, ostrich fillet steak, halloumi cheese and a caramelised onion potato bake (potatoes layered with cream, cheese and onions) with a parsley and mint feta salad that i made. Geez it was off the yummy chart.

For dessert I prepared strawberries which were the size of my palm and  Woolworths vanilla ice cream  and a bag of chuckles – their equivalent of Maltesars for the chocolate infusion. Easy yet effective – my kind of food !

Man alive i rolled into bed.

Aside from the flavoursome produce we get to enjoy whilst we are staying here there are a few things we as a family really look forward to having:

– Biltong and Droeworse – Already discussed in my blog post ‘An apple never falls far from its tree’ https://mrssmusings.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/an-apple-never…-from-its-tree/ its lapped up by my kids and Husband. They come in a huge variety, our favourites being Kudu, Ostrich and Beef – in that order.

– All Gold Tomato Sauce – i deliberately didn’t say Ketchup as they don’t call it that. It has a distinctive taste different from Heinz Tomato Ketchup and is prized amongst South Africans for it being of superior quality. It has no preservatives, colorants or thickener. Squeezed over most things in our house and exported back in our suitcases to continue enjoying at home.

– Their range of crisps or chippies as South Africans say. Tomato Sauce flavoured being the stand out for us  ‘Big Corn Bites’ get the thumbs up as do ‘Flings’ – giant beef flavoured maize snacks that are oven baked. Think giant yellow wotsits.

– We also love Tempo Chocolate bars which my husband takes a stash home of and their Zoo biscuits and All Butter Ouma Rusks. The food of God’s.

With all this food and being away from home its easy to fall into the trap of over eating and forgetting your portion sizes, more so after a few glasses of wine so Im careful to reign us in a little and that can be easily done when their salads are so tasty laced with nuts and fruit and lean fish – although Salmon is ridiculously priced out here and their local snoek and haddock are great alternatives all easily cooked on the braai as well so you don’t have to stink your house out.

On the nights we like to venture out to eat in Port Elizabeth which i’ll be honest are in the minority as we still find it easier to eat in rather than out having small children, when we do our favourite family go-to restaurant seems to be Ocean Basket. Kids are welcome and catered for, they have sushi and fresh calamari on the menu cooked multiple ways, they serve wine and beer all at reasonable prices – i say – What’s not to love ?

Sushi Feast from the local Spa
Sushi Feast from the local Spa