Swaziland & The Kruger National Park

We had the most wonderful few days away in Swaziland and the weather was heavenly!

Our breakaway started with a night’s stopover at my folks which is always a wonderful treat and after breakfast the following morning Pete and I packed the car and hit the road.  Before I knew it, we were at the border post.  A quick three and a half hour drive from Johannesburg  – fabulous!

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Swaziland has beautiful rolling hills and mountains.  Sadly the autumn weather wasn’t kind enough to give us a clear view but they were breathtaking nonetheless.

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Unfortunately for Pete he had to work the whole day after we arrived which left me to my own devices for a leisurely long breakfast, followed by tea in the room with my feet up on the bed doing a crossword before heading to the pool for some additional R&R followed by what I thought was a necessary run around the very hilly golf course.  All that relaxation leaves a girl a little plump around the middle!  Pete took me on the route the day before when we arrived and I almost thought he was joking about how steep some of the inclines were – I had to go up on my toes otherwise I would have rolled back down.  Needless to say these were the most challenging runs of my life!  I wish I could capture it on a photo so you can see how steep it all is.

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Pete treated me to the best meal of my life in the hotels in house restaurant, Planters – a quaint welcoming and elegant restaurant/bar.  It was lovely to dress up and put on some lippy for the evening out and I have truly never eaten a better steak in my life!  The wine and company weren’t half bad either. ;-)

Planters 2

Seems our waiter had the shakes when taking our photo. At least I look slim and young. :-)

Sadly 3 days later it was time to leave Swaziland  and decided to do one more stopover en route back to the folks and went into the Kruger National Park, a sister park to our Addo where you know Pete and I spend lots of time.  Holy macaroni!  We weren’t anticipating much excitement as we could only spend a couple of hours in the park (it is HUGE – you need 5 days or more to cover its magnificence) before heading to our overnight accommodation but were we in for a serious surprise!

Kruger map

No sooner had we entered the park and driven  around 1 km when we were graced with the presence of 2 snoozing rhinos!  We have only spotted one in our park which we may never see again so this was incredible!  I snapped away frantically thinking we would never have such an opportunity again but wait…there was more!  We were squealing with delight by the time we left the park as we saw no less than 13 rhinos – all with their horns.  Now that I am typing this it worries me that some revolting poacher may read it and hunt down these near extinct magnificent animals for their horns.  What idiots to think their horns are an aphrodisiac.  How can keratin, the same material found in your hair and fingernails possibly be an aphrodisiac.  They can just as well grind up their own hair and nails, but I am getting off the point.  I have always said to Pete that a giraffe and squirrel will complete our family – he ain’t buying it. :-D  Well, the second I spotted a graceful long legged beauty, I whacked Pete so hard on the arm, I am sure he has a permanent bruise!  I couldn’t believe how incredibly lucky we were.  Short of putting in an order before heading into the Kruger, I couldn’t have asked for better viewing.

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We also saw loads of Impala and a couple of buffalo, a pair of vultures and a wildebeest (gnu) and some fascinating birds!  What a treasured couple of hours in the park.  Must say though the toasted sandwiches we ordered for lunch were revolting.  No matter as the viewing was out of this world.

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We enjoyed 2 more sleeps with my folks and had a wonderful evening with my brothers and their families.  Unfortunately my one sister in law and her youngest weren’t able to join us as the little one was sickly.

3 siblings'

Two brothers and a sister

Guess we will just have to go back and visit again soon.

Apple Crumble (The Cake the Buddha Ate)

Nothing like a comforting piece of apple crumble hot from the oven with some custard or cream to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold wintry evening with aromas from the spices which are beautifully intoxicating.

I adjusted the recipe slightly by increasing the spice quantities and placing the entire crumble on top of the apples instead of mixing a portion of it in with the apples as with the original recipe in the book, The Cake the Buddha Ate.

Buddha apple crumble

Apple Crumble


500g self-raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon – I used 1 tsp
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cardamom – I omitted this as I only have pods
⅛ nutmeg – I used almost ½ tsp
½ tsp salt
250g butter, soft
2 cups brown sugar – I only used 1¼ cups
500g apples, cooked or 1 x 725 g tin – I cooked 4 large red apples in a about 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup raisins – I omitted these because I was plum out of raisins
½ cup chopped nuts – I omitted these because I was plum out of nuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a pie dish.
  2. Gently work the flour, spices, salt and butter together between your thumbs and fingertips to form crumbs.
  3. Add the sugar and blend with your fingers to retain the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  4. Combine half the mixtures with the apples and raisins, and place in a dish, alternatively just place the apples and raisins in the bottom of the dish followed by the entire crumble mixture on top.
  5. Sprinkle over the remaining crumbs and then the chopped nuts.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve warm with custard or cream or possibly even ice cream if it isn’t too much of a wintry night.

In My Kitchen – June 2015

It is officially winter.  So far, so good; here’s hoping the rest of winter is as mild.  In fact, the weather has been so good that I have been spending as much time in the garden as I can so the start of this months post its just outside my kitchen, around the corner outside the back door.

Just outside my kitchen outside the back door…

I have been filling pots with a few flowering winter plants to keep things upbeat for those cold days.

Back door June 2015 4 Back door June 2015 3 My precious little boy was around to help take a few photos.Back door June 2015 6As you can see he was being very helpful!
Back door June 2015 5 Back door June 2015 1 And I have transformed the herb patch into a flower patch.Back door June 2015 2

In my kitchen…

Is a flask I have had for the better part of 15 years which I used on a daily basis for a long while and then Celia mentioned in post how she is now officially an old Chinese woman as she has an insulated flask on my kitchen bench to which I commented: “Eek! I must have been an old Chinese woman about 15 years ago when I got one of those insulated flasks – I made my tea in it for years. Hee hee.”  So Celia, not that I am Chinese but I will be honoured to be an old woman with you. :-D


In my kitchen…

Is the most precious birthday present from my cousin Renee.  I thought I was spoilt with the lovely mug and chocolates until I opened the wrapping to find a gift voucher for a pedicure!  Oh how I cannot wait to redeem it.  Thank you so much Renee for spoiling me so very much!

Birthday pressie 1

In my kitchen…

Is a wonderful birthday gift from my friends Wayne and Kelly who were also kind enough to have me over for a Spanish Omelette breakfast because my Pete was away on my birthday.  Very special to spend the morning with you both.  Thank so much for spoiling me so much.

Birthday pressie 2And if that is not enough their darling little granddaughter made me a birthday card!  Thank you sweet little Abby, you are a pure delight to be around with your sparkly personality.
Birthday card abby

In my kitchen…

Are more birthday pressies from friends.  Thank you so much Wayne and Cheryl for including me on my birthday at your home for a roast dinner!  You can make me roast potatoes any day of the week and still to get a beautiful bottle of wine was very special.  Thank you too Bertie and Mags and Tony for the the wine and chocolates.

Birthday pressie 4

In my kitchen…

Is the prettiest cake platter and server from my sweet neighbours and friends Dean and Lesley.  You guys really spoilt me with the lovely gift, thank you so much!

Birthday pressie 5

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Our dear friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial links all our monthly instalments on her blog so we won’t have to miss out on any of the wonderful kitchen views and as always a big thank you to Celia for the fun of being able to pop in around the world to see what everyone has to share every month.

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.


Pete has whisked me off to Swaziland for a little getaway so I will be a little scarce for a short while. :-)

To quote Wikipedia:  Portulacaria afra (known as elephant bush, dwarf jade plant, porkbush and spekboom in Afrikaans) is a small-leaved succulent plant found in South Africa.  It is a soft-wooded, semi-evergreen upright shrub or small tree, usually 2.5–4.5 metres (8–15 ft) tall.  In the wilds of South Africa, large plants do survive the winter frosts by growing dense enough to provide their own natural cover. Drought-tolerant and fire-resistant, it will endure desert sun and heat once established. Cuttings root very easily in most potting media.  In southern Africa it is commonly eaten, usually as one component of a salad or a soup.”

Garden May 2015 5

Must remember to use the leaves in a salad next summer

And to quote The Spekboom Foundationan: “Spekboom has enormous carbon-storing capabilities. Its capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is compared to that of moist, subtropical forest. This remarkable plant is unique in that it stores solar energy to photosynthesise at night. This makes spekboom thicket 10 times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than any tropical rain forest. Each hectare of spekboom could capture 4,2 tons of carbon yearly.”  How cool is this plant!

“The miracle plant of the twenty-first century: Stef Delport The Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) is truly the miracle plant of the Eastern Cape and the Sundays River Valley. The Addo Elephant National Park is privileged to be the centre of the Spekboom region. The Valley Bushveld Biome (Xerix Succulent Thicket), of which The Spekboom certainly forms the main part, occurs mainly in the Eastern Cape’s river valleys of the Gamtoos, Sundays, Fish and their surrounding areas.

The Xhosa name for the Spekboom is iGwanitsha and in English it is known by the descriptive name of Elephant’s Food (and not as the Pork Bush according to the wrong direct translation from Afrikaans) as it forms up to 80% of the diet of elephants. An elephant eats up to 200kg of Spekboom leaves per day.

During this process they can strip almost all the leaves off the tree, but the tree very soon sprouts new growth. The broken or down-trodden branches also develop new roots and grow again as part of the thicket. Thus Spekboom flourishes if it is grazed upon, trodden and fertilised from the top. The destruction of large areas of Spekboom in the Eastern Cape was actually the result of over-grazing these bushes by grass and bush herbivores such as goats and sheep, which stripped them from the bottom and, in this doing, destroyed the Spekboom and the micro-climate under their protective thickets. The eyesore this resulted in is clearly visible for all to see on many farms. The Spekboom is a herbaceous shrub and the only specie in its genus and restricted to the south-eastern regions of South Africa. The Spekboom prefers summer rainfall with warm summers and a temperate winter climate. The occurrence of large numbers of Africa’s big game in this area can be mainly attributed to the presence of the Spekboom. An interesting fact is that in the Spekboom regions of the Eastern Cape, virtually no large anthills of termites are found. North of the Kei River the tropical termites occur, while the temperate region termites are found south of the Eastern Cape Spekboom region.

Spekboom 1

The first Europeans to penetrate this part of the Eastern Cape were hunters who came to the Sundays River Valley as early as 1702. Thus, fifty years after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape, this Valley was already known for its elephants, thanks to the abundance of the Spekboom. The Spekboom was known in Europe at an early stage.

In 1771 the well-known botanist, Linnaus, reported that one was flowering in Italy and when the French Revolution started in 1786, another was flowering in Vienna. Early travellers through southern Africa noted the occurence of Spekboom. In 1834 Thomas Pringle wrote in his African Sketches: “The Spekboom, with its light green leaves and lilac blossoms” ….. and later he refers to…” browsing on the succulent Spekboom, which clothed the skirts of the hills.”

In the Cape of Good Hope Almanac of 1843 we find: “One of the most valuable shrubs … is the Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra). It is found in great abundance on the stony ridges and affords excellent food for those large flocks of sheep and goats…. In severe drought the bush is truly invaluable.”

Today the Spekboom supports the tourism industry of the Eastern Cape with its many game farms, nature parks and the Big Five which are being reintroduced to their old natural habitat everywhere. Today, an ever increasing number of farmers are moving away from veld-destroying goat and sheep farming to sustainable game farming.

Spekboom 3

The Spekboom flourishes in areas with an annual rainfall of 250 to 375 mm and warm summers. It reaches heights of 2,5m to 4,5m with a trunk which averages 20cm in diameter and can live up to 200 years. It has succulent green leaves of 1,3 to 2mm long. These are stubby or rounded and are joined by a small stem. It flowers in spring or early summer after good rains and has pink or light purple hermaphroditic flowers which produce good honey.

The fruit is small, berry-like, pink and transparent with 3 small wings and need follow-up rain soon after the fruit drop to germinate.

The Spekboom is exceptional as it uses 2 two methods of photosynthesis:

1. During the winter months when it is cool and damp, ordinary photosynthesis and better growth occur.

2. In dry conditions, winter or summer, a process is activated whereby the plant opens its stomata and ‘inhales’ carbon dioxide and builds up acid inside the plant. During the night the stomata are closed and the acids are broken down to release carbon dioxide inside the plant without losing moisture through its stomata. The available moisture is then stored by means of these carbon compounds in the leaves, stems and roots of the Spekboom.

Thus the Spekboom is an exceptional plant as it can utilize both these processes. These facts have been established thanks to the physiological studies by scientists in especially America and Japan.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s scientists realised that the Spekboom functions differently to other plants.

The Spekboom is even more special as its humus cannot burn. Thus a fire cannot destroy it and its organic material, as well as the carbon dioxide taken from the air, is finally stored in the ground. Studies done in the veld show that an average patch of Spekboom can capture up to 4 tons of carbon per year.

Global warming will eventually have catastrophic consequences for mankind.

One of the reasons is that carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere and this causes global warming. The Kyoto Protocol endeavours to halt this process by, among others, creating Carbon Sinks which will remove large quantities of carbon from the atmosphere in a natural way. Research has proved a Xerix Succelent Thicket and especially Spekboom in the Valley Bushveld to be one of the most successful Carbon Sinks in the world. A Spekboom can remove up to 100 times more carbon from the atmosphere than a pine tree of similar size can do. This type of Bushveld only occurs in South Africa, Mexico and Spain, but has been virtually destroyed in the latter countries. The Spekboom is thus going to cause a mind-boggling revolution in farming in the Eastern Cape. Millions should eventually be available to pay farmers to have the Spekboom veld restored by decreasing their livestock or planting Spekboom. At present projects are afoot to replant hectares in the vicinity of the Sundays River and Baviaanskloof with Spekboom. So, perhaps, in future, farmers will use the Spekboom to farm with carbon.

Spekboom 2

Nowadays trading is already taking place with Carbon Debits and Carbon Credits. Countries such as Germany and others which signed the Kyoto Protocol, are assessed and penalised with Carbon Debits because of their excessive pollution of the atmosphere as a result of the high

CO2 emissions of their vehicles and factories. They then have to buy Carbon Credits to neutralise their outstanding debits.

Farmers in the Eastern Cape who participate in this system and who have their carbon deposit evaluated by German certifiers, will be able to trade their carbon credits on the open open market. Sums of anything from $1 to

$600 per hectare, depending on the density of the Spekboom area, have been mentioned. So farmers will be able to sit on the stoep having coffee, while their Spekboom bring in the money.

Another fact contributing to the Spekbooms reputation is its ability to stimulate milk production. The traditional Xhosas believed that the grandmother should start eating lots of Spekboom leaves a month before her first daughter would give birth. A few days after the birth of a daughter, the baby was handed to the grandmother to suckle so that the young mother would be available to fetch wood and water as the grandmother aged. I mentioned this once to experts on grazing of the University of the Free State and they could confirm that research showed that the milk production increased considerably when cows grazed on Spekboom.

Spekboom is the staple diet of bush grazers such as kudu and other big game.

It is also digestible by herbivores like cattle, providing it is consumed with other available plants suitable for fodder. Thus it is an exceptional habitat for game as it not only provides food when grass and smaller bushes are no longer edible in the dry winters, but also serves as shelter during bitterly cold weather because of the moisture in the Spekboom which maintains some of its heat at night and thus acts as a good insulator.

Spekboom also differs from other bush shrub as it is edible for people. The leaves, which have a slight lemony taste, are suitable to use in salads.

The Spekboom is rich in manganese, cobalt and especially magnesium. It also contains large quantities of the micro elements, iodine and selenium.

Millipedes use concentrated iodine as a defensive mechanism and this explains the presence of large numbers of these in the Eastern Cape Valley bush. This also sheds light on the movement of thousands of millipedes across the tar road near Uitenhage, where dense areas of Spekboom occur next to the road.

People have been planting Spekboom as hedges over hundreds of years.

Spekboom branches take root quickly and start growing when put into the ground. By merely planting branches in the ground close to one another, one can create a living hedge which is ideal to enclose one’s property. Black stock farmers have used these over centuries as fences for a kraal. The stock could then maintain the inside of the kraal by grazing on the leaves and protruding growths, while the outside could grow freely.

We hope the symbiosis of people, big game and the Spekboom will lead to fruitful ecological and economic co-existence in the Eastern Cape in future.

Spekboom, the miracle plant of the Eastern Cape, may eventually be known as the saviour plant of the Eastern Cape.”

Garden Update – May 2015

It has been quite a long while since I have shared a garden update so here are a few close ups of our wintery garden for you.

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A little rusty but still works a treat

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Young and tender Brazilian pepper corns

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We have planted spekboom around the perimeter of our garden – can’t wait for it to fill out – need to do a post on this incredible plant

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Pete’s protea keeps on growing and growing

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Our very first and only olive

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Poor pot has been waiting forever for something to be planted in it

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The last of the fig leaves

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Love how ferns are green all year around

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Quite normal having coral in the garden

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Water tank tap is nearly hidden

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A lot of cat claws have been sharpened here


Teavivre Tea take 2

The lovely Alison at Teavivre sent me a second batch of teas to test.  I had so much fun with the first lot that I couldn’t believe I didn’t find time before now to try these.

Teavivre tea

As with my first review, please bare in mind the following is my layman explanation of these teas.  You can view the Teavivre website for any health benefits, caffeine content, their origin and pricing etc.

First up was the Tie Guan Tin Oolong Tea (Anxi Monkey Picked Ma Liu Mie)

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea 1I loved how these leaves opened gently when I poured the water over them.  The aroma reminded me of jasmine but softer and slightly sweeter and had a lovely light refreshing taste.
Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea 2

Second up was the Goddess Oolong Tea (Tie Guan Yin Iron)

Goddess Oolong Tea 1This was quite similar in smell and taste to the first tea although I would have to say had a very slight bitter taste at first.
Goddess Oolong Tea 2Then it was onto the Milk Oolong Tea (Taiwan Jin Xuan)

Milk Oolong Tea 1This tea has a slight grassy nose with a flavour which I would kin to black tea – I did not really pick up a milk aroma.  Might have to try this one again.

Milk Oolong Tea 2

Next up was the Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea (Taiwan Monkey Picked Ma Liu Mie)

Taiwan Tie Guan Yin oolong Tea 1

The leaves of this tea didn’t seem as tightly packed as the others and had a beautiful smooth soft taste – I think this may be my favourite.
Taiwan Tie Guan Yin oolong Tea 2
Finally it was the Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea (Da Hong Pao Big Red Robe)

Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea 1The leaves of this tea were very different to the others and was the only one which had a slight brown tinge to it once brewed.   It is regarded as the king of Oolong among all the Chinese Oolong Teas and one of the China’s Top Ten Teas.Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea 2I  am not sure my palette is sophisticated enough for these teas but I thoroughly enjoyed doing my own little tea ritual all the same.

I was not remunerated or asked to do a review on these teas. I did a this post as a courtesy after receiving the tea.

In My Kitchen – May 2015

Even though it is my birthday month, all the gifts below were just because gifts and thank you gifts.  Very special!

Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial must spend hours linking all of the instalments of IMK every month as there are so many wonderful blogs to visit.  Thank you Celia for the fun of being able to pop in around the world to see what everyone has to share every month.

In my kitchen…

Is the most thoughtful gift from my sister in law Elmien.  When I was last up in Johannesburg visiting and seeing their new home for the first time, I commented on how much I like one of her plant pots and how I cannot find the gift tags she uses down here and next thing, when the folks were here visiting, along came a gift for me.  Dankie Elmien, ek waardeur dit baie!

Pot and gift tags

In my kitchen…

Along with the pressie from Elmien was a gift from my brother Chris (Elmien’s husband) – aww, they miss me.  Thank you Honey Bunny.

candles gift set

In my kitchen…

Is a big bottle of my dad’s favourite spice which has also become mom’s favourite and all my siblings.  It’s a good spice.  Thank you for brining one along for me too daddy. Love you. xo

Worcester Sauce jumbo

In my kitchen…

Is some fabulous tea from the UK and some home grown olive oil.  Friends of Pete’s from varsity days, now living in London came home for a visit and made time to come and visit with us and brought along the most thoughtful gift for me!  Thank you Ian & Ruth.  It was wonderful finally meeting you and here’s to us coming and visiting you in the UK soon.

tea olive oil

In my kitchen…

No sooner had Ian and Ruth left that my brother in law and sister in law from Plettenberg Bay came to visit for a weekend and brought Pete and I a beautiful gift bag filled with loads of treats.  Don’t tell Pete I managed to finish the Lindt chocolate all on my own.  Thank you D and Trishy.  Missing you – come back for another weekend soon!

Trishy goodies

In my kitchen…

Are two nunu mini sauce jugs.  Can’t believe I forgot to share these with you last month.  My friend Yolandie sent them down with her son who was here doing swimming trials.  She said she saw them and bought them for me because she knows how I love little things.  So sweet of you Yolandie, thank you so much!  Hopefully we can use them later this month when you are here.

Mini sauce jugs

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Grilled Sweetcorn with Sweet Chilli, Coriander & Lime (The Cake the Buddha Ate)

This is the first recipe I tried from my by birthday book, The Cake the Buddha Ate and it is divine!  An absolute must make!  Pete and I  did the corn on the braai  but you could easily grill them in the oven too.

sweet chilli coriander corn

Ready to go on the braai for 5 minutes

Grilled Sweetcorn with Sweet Chilli, Coriander & Lime


1kg sweetcorn ± 6
50g butter
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp cumin seeds, bruised, crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
1 tbsp lime juice – you could substitute with lemon
½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Precook the sweetcorn in the microwave for 5 to 7 minutes until tender alternatively boil in water for ±15 minutes.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the oil.
  3. Add the spices and sweet chilli sauce and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the garlic and cook while stirring for 5 minutes until thick.
  5. Add the lime juice and chopped coriander and add seasoning if required.
  6. Pour the sauce over the sweetcorn and braai for 5 minutes turning while basting with the sauce.
  7. Alternatively place in a preheated oven at 220°C and place on the highest rack in the oven.  Turn the mielies when they turn brown and grill to finish off.

Addo Elephant National Park – Picture overload

To celebrate my 5 year Blogoversary, I bring you lots of photos from the past few months which I snapped in our beautiful National park, Addo.  As you know though, camera has been misbehaving but thanks to a friend, it is all better now.  So, moving forward we should have sharper images.  Thank you Luc!

Addo 2015 704 Addo 2015 631 Addo 2015 581 Addo 2015 568 Addo 2015 559 Addo 2015 541 Addo 2015 531 Addo 2015 497 Addo 2015 487 Addo 2015 461 Addo 2015 380 Addo 2015 373 Addo 2015 348 Addo 2015 331 Addo 2015 318 Addo 2015 255 Addo 2015 244 Addo 2015 381 Addo 2015 225 Addo 2015 221 Addo 2015 212 Addo 2015 183 Addo 2015 168 Addo 2015 165 Addo 2015 137 Addo 2015 136 Addo 2015 119 Addo 2015 110 Addo 2015 107 Addo 2015 74 Addo 2015 68 Addo 2015 51 Addo 2015 35 Addo 2015 31 Addo 2015 28 Addo 2015 27 Addo 2015 18 Addo 2015 7 Addo 2014 718 Addo 2014 712 Addo 2014 698 Addo 2014 697 Addo 2014 681 Addo 2014 666 Addo 2014 655 Addo 2014 602 Addo 2014 634 Addo 2014 633 Addo 2014 605 Addo 2014 553 Addo 2014 646 Addo 2014 511 Addo 2014 507 Addo 2014 491 Addo 2014 494 Addo 2014 497

Maputo, Mozambique

It’s been so long since our return so here is a quick synopsis of our trip before I forget!
The start of our road trip to Maputo, was a 10 hour drive mostly in the rain to my folks home in Johannesburg for a quick braai and sleepover before hitting the road again early the following morning for the 6 hour drive to the border.
My folks xo

Love my mommy and daddy SO much xo

Another day spent in the rain and mist although, the drive was still very pretty.
Maputo 9

Not quite the long and winding road

Not sure why I was worried about all the horror stories I heard about the border post,  especially seeing as I had quadruple checked all our papers were correct beforehand, turns out all we needed were the papers for our car – must have been our lucky day.  Getting through the 2 border posts was a walk in the park.  Getting Pete’s local sim card took longer than both crossings.  Our return into South Africa at the end of out trip was equally as easy, all African style harry casual.

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En route to the border post

The drive through to Maputo from the border was a bit of an eye opener. I thought living in Mauritius seasoned me to the wild driving of Africa but alas. When I say there are no rules, I really mean there are NO rules. When Pete stopped at a red traffic light he very quickly had to pull to the side as a local coming up behind us would have smashed into us as he sped through the red light along with others.  My nerves! What is wrong with these people!  Why can’t people obey the rules of the road and why are there never any traffic officials in sight!  All I hear is Pete echoing in my ears, “Welcome to Africa.”  There is no respect on our roads anywhere in Africa.

Maputo 34

The quality of public transport is clearly not an issue – maybe they should seat everyone on the right hand side to try and balance the shot suspension

It is incredibly sad to see how people are living on a rubbish dump on the side of the road, sifting through the rubbish for anything of value and the thought of breathing in the  toxic fumes every day as they burn everything is frightening!  I wish I could say there was no rubbish anywhere else but the streets and beaches are riddled with non biodegradable items.  Makes me so angry.  If everyone could just pick up one piece of rubbish every day, it would make a huge difference.
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Rubbish, rubbish and more rubbish

Driving through  Maputo to the hotel reminded me a lot of the Port Louis, Mauritius, just dirtier and the buildings made me think of what the derelict buildings look like in Beirut.

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Beirut possibly…

If driving in the traffic isn’t bad enough, there are television screens at the traffic lights!  Where is there any logic in that?  There is definitely better and safer ways of advertising.

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Wonder if my favourite sitcom will come on while at the red traffic light…

There are strange contraptions on the side of the road, again more traffic hazards but anyhoo, enough about the negatives, there are vendors making sugar cane juice by squeezing lengths of sugar cane through rollers and into a bucket with ice.  It is very popular as there are a number of vendors dotted every few hundred meters.  Must be most refreshing with the all year around summer weather.

Maputo 49

Juice on the run

Then step into the hotel. Hello first world and to be spoilt with an ocean view room. Woohoo!  What a treat.  Looking out onto the beach and ocean stretching as far as the eye can see took all the stresses away from the drive.

Pete and I enjoyed room service for our first evening, eating our dinner on the bed no less in front of the telly. I felt like a kid apart from the fabulous glass of wine. What fun!
Maputo 313

Perfect sunset and or sunrise :-)

The extent of my Portuguese learnt while in Mozambique…
Hello – bom dias
Please – por favor
Thank you – obrigado
Although for some strange reason I kept wanting to use my French words

Maputo Hotel room

What a magical view to wake up to

I’m so pleased calories don’t count when you are on holiday otherwise I would have put on a truck load of weight (cough, cough) with all the calorie laden meals.  After all it is perfectly normal to have 5 rashers of bacon every morning with waffles and a croissant – not forgetting the healthy intake of fried eggs on brown bread toast after all it wouldn’t be right to have white bread as that would upset the healthy well balanced carb intake all this while enjoying the wonderful “as far as the eye can see” ocean view. One naturally also makes a gluttonous attempt to ingest as much smoked salmon and tropical fruit as possible especially as it is all peeled and sliced waiting for you.  I have never seen honey being served on the comb before – it was beautifully light and runny, normally I can’t eat raw honey but this was fabulous.  I forgot to ask if the hotel keeps its own hives.

Maputo 103

Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey

We ate a few local dishes which were all great but Mozambique is known for its prawns and I was not disappointed. We enjoyed the most wonderful prawns I have ever eaten in a local restaurant, a 2 minute walk from the hotel.  It is worth a visit just for the prawns alone!  Sadly I did not have camera or phone with me that evening to take a photo to share with you.  Sorry.

It was so nice to see the beach being cleaned every morning although sadly it doesn’t stay that way.  As with the streets, the beach is full of rubbish in the blink of an eye.

Maputo 121

To quote Barney, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share”

It was lovely swimming in the rim flow pool while watching various ships passing into or out of the harbour, although I wasn’t expecting to see a construction vehicle come past.  You can see in the background of the photo they are construction breakwater barriers of sorts or something like that.

Maputo 181

It broke my heart to see local women with babies on their backs for hours on end digging for clams, their only source of income.  It seems all other locals won’t swim in the ocean as it is very brown and if you want blue water, you need to drive 5 hours further north.
Maputo 264

Something that stood out to me is how many people smoke. Thought it was out of fashion and forbidden in public places but it was definitely very popular throughout every corner of Maputo.

Had we stayed longer, we could have enjoyed a number of tours to see more of Maputo, most of which left at dawn including a trip across the border to Swaziland and Kruger Park.  Maybe next time.

In My Kitchen – April 2015

Eek, I have not posted since my last IMK post.  Clearly the weather has been too good to pass up on.  Oh I wish!  I have been knee deep in Neighbourhood Watch everything.  It has become somewhat of a full time job.  Must say though, we are still enjoying summerish days.  Long may it last. :-)

I, along with so many others are so grateful to our friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for her wonderful idea of sharing what’s in our kitchens every month.  It makes the world a little smaller and brings us all a little closer together.  Thank you Celia for the fun of being able to pop in around the world to see what everyone has to share.

In my kitchen…

Is my first attempt at icing a cake using my favourite Ateco 852 nozzle.  I made the cake to share with friends and my aunt for tea. While all the girls were thoroughly impressed, I was left a little disappointed.  No matter as I can decorate plenty more cakes.

Rose iced cake

Jasmine tea

In my kitchen…

Is an early birthday gift from my sister in law Karin and brother Greg.  I often quote Karin and what she has shared with me from this wonderful book and recently asked for her help with a few recipes for folk who were coming to stay who are vegetarian which resulted in receiving my very own copy.  Thank you Karin!  I LOVE my book.  I can highly recommend getting a copy of your own The Cake the Buddha Ate if you need inspiration for vegetarian recipes. ISBN 978-1-77009-772-8

The Cake the Buddata Ate

In my kitchen…

Was a great new find at Woolies.  I have never been able to purchase panko crumbs unless from a Chinese Store and ridiculous premiums so was thrilled beyond bits and piece when I saw this pack the other day.

Woolworths panko crumbs

In my kitchen…

are more flower decorations for cupcakes.  I cannot help myself when it comes to buying anything for cupcakes.  Yellow seems to be my favourite colour.  I’m not much of a pink kind of person and don’t really think you would use blue flowers so yellow it is.

cupcakes decoration flowers

In my kitchen…

Was a brilliant find when I was visiting with my folks in Johannesburg.  Mom took me to a new baking store which opened just down the road from home and lo and behold there was exactly what every other store to date in South Africa has not been able to provide me with – various sizes of icing nails.  I have only been able to source a size 6 which does not work for me.  Now to get practising with make perfect roses.

Rose icing nail set

In my kitchen…

Just in case, you know, just in case 3 spares isn’t quite enough, I got another spare icing/frosting bag – the day might come when I want to frost using different coloured icings at once, so now I am fully prep’d.

Icing bag

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

In My Kitchen – March 2015

I’m not quite home yet from my trip away with Pete.  I will catch up with you all this coming week. :-)

Thanks to our friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts our monthly IMK event, we are able to peek into kitchens all over the world.  Thank you Celia for the fun of being able to pop in and see so many wonderful things that everyone shares.

In my kitchen…

Were chocolate cupcakes with my first attempt at icing roses.  Up to now, I have had the incorrect nozzle.  What a different having the correct one makes. I am looking forward to practising a little more with my new favourite Ateco 852 nozzle.

Rose iced cupcakes Ateco 852 rose nozzle 1 Ateco 852 rose nozzle 2

In my kitchen…

Is a new 2 tier cake stand.  It had a gold handle which I didn’t like so sprayed it white until I can get hold of some silver paint.  It was ridiculously cheap.  Not sure why I never bought more!  They make fabulous gifts.

2 tier cake stand

In my kitchen…

Are the cutest mini sauce bowls – I REALLY don’t need them but couldn’t resit buying a set.

Mini sauce bowls

In my kitchen…

Are pictures of our three cats.  I have been trying forever to get decent shots for Kim but alas this is the best I can do.  They are the most uncooperative four legged felines I know!

Fur babies photos

In my kitchen…

Is rhubarb seed, a gift from our friend Wayne after he heard how much Pete loves rhubarb.  Now, the pressure is on me to get these lovely little seeds growing and eventually to make a pie. :-)

Rhubarb Seed

In my kitchen…

Is a second batch of lovely teas to sample, sent to me by Alison over at Teavivre.  I am looking forward to doing another degustation.

Teavivre tea

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Road Tripping

I am thrilled to bits and tickled pink to tell you I am on a road trip with Pete and we are currently in Mozambique so will not be around for a short while.

Mozambique map

Image sourced from Google

I will update you with (hopefully) loads of pics on my return.

Until then, au revoir

Green Bean Vinaigrette

In keeping with my tradition of quick and easy recipes, this is another qualifier.  I can quite comfortably polish off all the beans by myself in one sitting.  It does help that Pete says they are squeaky and steers clear of them. :-)  If you want to get fancy, you could throw a few toasted flaked almonds over the top.

Green Bean Vinaigarette 1

Green Bean Vinaigrette


350g fresh green beans
45ml olive oil
30ml red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove crushed
¼ tsp brown sugar
Ground salt and pepper to taste


  1. Blanch or steam the beans until tender.
  2. Mix all of the other ingredients and pour over the beans while they are still hot.
  3. Allow to marinate for an hour or more spooning the vinaigrette over the beans a couple of times.
Green Bean Vinaigarette 2

So tasty with a tender piece of steak


Baked Sweet Potato with Philadelphia, Dates & Coriander

Quite frankly this is a meal all on it’s own and I have been known to enjoy it more than once for lunch and is another fabulous recipe I inherited from my sister-in-law Karin.  I am also hooked on serving these for guests and they accompany everything from a braai to a roast dinner, well I think so.  If I bake the sweet potato in the oven, I brush them with olive oil before baking but when I do them in the microwave I don’t bother.  There are no real quantities as you can stuff in as much or as little of the cheese, dates and coriander as you like.

Baked sweet potato

Baked Sweet Potato with Philadelphia, Dates & Coriander


Sweet potatoes
Philadelphia cream cheese cut into chunks
Dates cut into pieces
Coriander chopped


  1. Baked the sweet potatoes in the oven set at 180°C until soft alternatively cook them in the microwave.
  2. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise and place all the other ingredients in the opening.

Baked Sweet potato 2

In My Kitchen – February 2015

I am so far behind that I started typing January in my title.

Thanks to our friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts our monthly IMK event, we are able to peek into kitchens all over the world.  Thank you Celia for the fun of being able to pop in and see so many wonderful things that everyone shares.

In my kitchen…

I honestly squealed with delight when I opened our post box to find Celia’s envelope with my sourdough starter Connie, South African cousin of Celia’s Priscilla.  I have just bought some bread flour and will get cracking and report back on how I am getting along.  Can you believe loaf after loaf will be baked from that wee packet of dried starter.  So exciting!

Celia's starter

In my kitchen…

Is a pair of herb scissors.  I have wanted a pair for the longest time and found this pair at a very reasonable price.  For the most part, I have used them every day for the past 2 months.

Herb scissors

In my kitchen…

Are 2 homemade cupcake separators.  I was taking two dozen birthday cupcakes to a friend’s party and only have a holder which holds 12 and couldn’t find another the day I was in town so into the garage I went and found 2 pieces of wood, used Pete’s round hole cutting thingy with his drill plus a little bit of spray paint et voilà I now have dividers which fit perfectly into an old Tupperware which has a handy carry handle.  I can’t bare the thought of having cupcakes bump into each other en route somewhere and have the icing all messy so this was the perfect solution.  Now, here’s hoping Pete wasn’t saving the wood for something else.

cupcake holders

In my kitchen…

I have been searching forever for mini wooden spoons and came across these which were dirt cheap in a store I never frequent as its not in my normal stomping ground.  The shape wasn’t quite right so back into garage for some sandpaper and a few minutes later I had just what I wanted, although the handles are a teeny bit short.

Mini wooden spoons

In my kitchen…

Is some beautiful olive oil and balsamic vinegar from the Tokara wine estate.  They were part of a Christmas gift from my cousin.

oil vinegar

In my kitchen…

See, now this just goes to prove how far behind I am… Pete brought this  Pret orange and cardamom chocolate back for me from the UK last year.  It was fabulous!  I loved how both the orange and cardamom came through in the flavour and very true to their natural taste.  Probably just as well we can’t get these chocolates here otherwise I would eat far too much of it.

Pret chocolate

What’s in your kitchen this month?  Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Watermelon Salad

Finally!  I am back in the swing of things, well, sort of, I am getting there.  I have missed you all so much and feel I have missed out on so much news.  Please do fill me in if there is something I should know. :-)

Sorry to all you lovely folk in the northern hemisphere, its going to be a while before you can enjoy this lovely salad but can tell you it is well worth the wait.  Simplicity at its best.

Our summer dining is often enjoyed al fresco with not much time at all spent in the kitchen which makes this super easy three ingredient salad the perfect accompaniment for a braai (barbecue) and actually fits nicely into my un-recipe category.

Watermelon salad

Watermelon Salad


Watermelon chopped
Sliced onion
Feta cheese crumbled


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

See, it couldn’t be easier. :-)

Run, Run, Run

It’s been 3 months since I last gave you an update on my running so just in case you thought I forgot…

Things have improved slightly and I say slightly because there have been far too many days of no running which is not good, especially around this time of year with all the festivities and celebrations with family and friends.

Dogs, oh give me strength, are still a problem.  I do not understand what the problem with some dog owners is.  I know I get all frothy about dogs and carry on a bit but it really is a problem.  I recently rang an owner after having nearly been attacked by his dogs 3 times!  The last time it happened his labrador chased after me like a rabid monster – I stopped dead in my tracks and put my arms up in the air with a questioning gesture at the owner as he casually stood in his driveway and watched his dog nearly knock me off my feet.  I honestly believe he found it amusing.  I was petrified as I am inherently scarred of dogs I do not know.  He claims they have never bitten anyone before or is it yet!

Interestingly, I spoke with a doctor and he said considering my heart condition, he is amazed I am running at all.  Seeing as my pulmonary stenosis (murmur) which I was born with is mild I thought it would not affect my running at all but clearly it must so I don’t have to beat myself up about my improvement or lack thereof any more.  Well it’s a great “legitimate” excuse.

A quick medical lesson…

Image sourced from Google

Pulmonary (valve) stenosis is a condition in which a deformity on or near your pulmonary valve, the valve that influences the blood flow from your heart to your lungs, slows the blood flow. Adults occasionally have the condition as a complication of another illness, but mostly, pulmonary valve stenosis develops before birth as a congenital heart defect.

Medical lesson over.

Other than that, I am enjoying my running when I can get out and have changed my route slightly to avoid as many dogs are possible.

Has your exercise regime also taken a knock this festive season?

Just in case I don’t chat with you all before Christmas, let me wish you all a wonderful, blessed and happy festive season with my annual Christmas message:

What is Christmas?


It is tenderness for the past,

courage for the present,

hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish

that every cup may overflow

with blessings rich and eternal,

and that every path may lead to peace.


– Agnes M. Pahro

Mandy’s Tempura

The festive season is well under way so you may have noticed my lack of visiting your blogs – sorry about that.  Things may be higgledy piggledy until the new year before I am back in the swing of things – I will pop in periodically though just to keep up to speed with you all as I hate missing out on things. :-)

I love when I can put something together that really works, especially the first time and this tempura is one that has jumped right to the top of my favourite list.  I call it Mandy’s tempura as I am sure it is not a traditional recipe and has a slightly thicker consistency, although you could thin it a little by adding more club soda.  This recipe doubles very well too which works well for sharing these light crispy morsels with family and friends.

Mandy's Tempura 1

Mandy’s Tempura


½ cup flour
1 tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt or season of choice
1 egg yolk
½ cup ice cold club soda


  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg yolk and club soda and mix until just combined – leaving lumps.
  3. Dunk any julienne vegetable or protein (I used chicken) and fry in medium hot oil until light golden brown on both sides.

Mandy's Tempura 2

Spicy Roasted Chicpeas

With the festive season here and all the extra eating and celebrating we do, a healthy tasty snack is always welcome.  Even if you aren’t a chicpea fan, I urge you to try this easy recipe, the crispy light nutty result is well worth the time in the oven.  I would suggest doubling or even tripling this recipe and use any combination of spice you would prefer.

Spicy roasted chick peas  1

Spicy Roasted Chicpeas


1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tin chicpeas – drained and rinsed
Salt to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Grind all the spices together and place in a bowl, add the oil and stir to combine.
  3. Rinse the chicpeas and mix through the oil mixture to coat.  Add salt to taste.
  4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until crispy.

Spicy roasted chick peas  2