We initially planted a rose garden in front of the house, but because of the huge trees, the ground is quite dry and they did very poorly. The lavender can cope with the dry and poor soil and gives off the most amazing scent as you walk through the path toward the front door.There is such a lot to do with lavender flowers: I love making small posies using lavender and roses; I also tie small bunches on a ribbon and hang it in the wardrobes or I tie it around the bath taps and it gives off its perfume as the hot water runs over it. Ten sprigs of lavender in about 500 gram of castor sugar gives you a delicious lavender sugar (I sprinkle it on French Toast which I then serve with bacon, garnished with a lavender flower)
The peppadews growing at Fairview self-seeds and we find ourselves in constant supply of these deliciously piquant little peppers. The green shaped ones will all turn red at some stage - I quite like the look of a combination of green and red in one jar. I use it in omelets, pasta dishes, in salad and stuffed with creme cheese it makes a lovely snack served with ice cold beer.
If you are not as lucky as I am to be married to a fisherman and to have two sons and a son-in-law not too shabby with a fishing rod either, then hake from your fishmonger will have to do. Over the years I have tried many traditional recipes, but I promise you that we have now honed it down to the best.
Both Desmond and I grew up with mothers who made Ginger beer and Grenadila cordial as a summer cool drink.The drink was only allowed to brew to make it fizzy and non alcoholic (although I do remember becoming quite tipsy once because I scoffed down the delicious swollen raisins that I was supposed to discard!)
Desmond's mother often made Grenadilla Cordial and looking at our harvest this year the guests will be treated to Grenadilla cordial in a big way:
For every 2 cups of Grenadilla pulp, you add the juice of 3 oranges and 1 lemon. Heat 3 cups of water and dissolve 2 cups of sugar to make a thin syrup. You then add the fruit to the syrup and bottle it. It is very good diluted with soda water and ice. And a shot of Vodka and a mint leave will turn it into a summer Cocktail!
Does the world really need another pancake recipe, is a good question to ask at this stage... I thought I'd share my story of how I became known as the 'pancake-asaurus' in our family. Yes, that was one of those little family words that we took the liberty of making up based on the amount of fluffy Canadian pancakes I could pack away, leaving my bigger brothers in the dust at age three. As I've mentioned on my blog before, my childhood was filled with vibrant adventures with my family that took us from living in a desert country on the West Coast of Africa to a small village in Canada where my father worked as a doctor. If there's one thing that the Canadians added to our quirky array of culinary favourites it is breakfast pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. To this day when we have family gatherings it usually involves my father (who's specialties include this, and cooking fish to absolute perfection) to don my mother's apron and get his hands dirty
We have just harvested the first beans of the season. I just have to share our daughter's memories of harvesting beans with you:
Long before I knew I would make a career of my passion for food, my childhood summers were marked by warm evenings congregated around the kitchen table, top- and tailing beans. In winter, my brothers and I were asked to squeezed one liter of orange juice per day as part of our daily chores and together with the bean harvest, these were the rhythms that marked the seasons of my childhood. As long as I can remember my father has been a keen vegetable gardener. He fought the odds in the harsh Namibian climate by building an elaborate shaded frame over his vegetable garden; and during one short summer spent in Canada, filled our basement with the sweetest sweet corn and buttery new potatoes. My mother has had to become very creative with my father’s harvests, be it spinach, broad beans or rhubarb there is always more than needed! She’s had to come up with a number of ways to preserve and capture the deliciousness for another day or season and this broad bean and garlic spread is just one of those recipes.
It is grapefruit time again and when my guest told me how much she enjoyed her grapefruit starter (a take on Bircher Muesli served with grapefruit) I remembered how my daughter loved her grapefruit. As she remembers: ' When I was a little girl my mother would give me half a grapefruit sprinkled with sugar, each segment delicately cut loose for me to eat it more easily. I still remember that bittersweet deliciousness, it's such a fond memory, but thinking about it now I realise it was quite unusual for me to be eating, not to mention enjoying grapefruit at that age! Somewhere along the line, probably when I started doing my own shopping and choosing what to fill my fruit bowl with, grapefruit didn't quite make the cut and many years passed without me giving them much notice.'
I think I should offer cooking class exchanges officially on my website! I was delighted when Dani, who lives in London, but is of Greek descent, offered to teach me how to make dolmathes using the new leaves from our vine. Last year I exchanged...
Our son Eckart is a spear-fisherman of note. His dad and brothers are not too shabby as sea-hunters either.
When the Benkenstein men bring home fish we eat fish for three days in a row. This is one recipe that I can honestly claim as my own and it works perfectly with frozen fish too. I've even substituted fresh fish for tinned tuna and it is still fool-proof - let's face it: every fish brought home represents 3 that 'got away'! This is just one of those recipes you are going to write and thank me for sharing...