Pink Sheep's Memos

January 22, 2011

Some foodie inspiration for the week

Filed under: Food,Lists — Cathy @ 5:30 pm
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Just came across Looking Back, and Then Forward. in my subscription feed and became instantly inspired.  Have got to give that banana cake a go…


January 2, 2011

A new venture

Filed under: Holidays — Cathy @ 2:37 pm
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My blog post hiatus has nothing to do with lack of material, and everything to do with lack of time (or priority). There’s no better time than the new year to refocus though, so I’ve decided to branch out and focus a new blog, Have you been to…? specifically on my love of travel and food destinations.  Pink Sheep’s Memos will remain my occasional playground and rambling space for my other interests, but I hope that the special focus of my new blog will be an inspirational creative space for me.

I already have a long list of ideas from my amazing holidays in Mozambique, Hout Bay and up the West Coast just in the last month. Stay tuned!

October 10, 2010

Asparagus, Sundried Tomato and Polenta tart

Filed under: Food — Cathy @ 7:22 pm
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Every now and again I come across a delicious sounding recipe with an ingredient I’ve never contemplated using before.  This time it was polenta.

I wanted to try it but didn’t even what to look for in the supermarket (does it come in a box, packet, a slab..?!).  I’ve since discovered that Polenta is ground maize and can be found in the Health Food section of the grocery shop. Although historically a peasant food in Europe (gruel anyone?) and apparently more popular than pasta in parts of Italy today,  it seems to fall into the trendy health food category (along with quinoa) in this country despite it’s similarity to the ubiquitous mielie pap that is the South African staple.

So finally armed with a packet of this yellow grain I tried out my own variation of a delicious looking tart from a magazine.  The extra little tart in the picture is because I had too much mixture for my dish, but it’s a perfect little meal-for-one for tomorrow.

Here’s my version will a few slightly health conscious tweaks:

  • 75g quick cook polenta
  • 225 cake flour (I used half brown bread flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g butter, cubed
  • 30g parmesan cheese (I left it out but only because I didn’t have any, I think it would be delicious)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5-6 Tps cold water

For the Filling:

  • 2 packs asparagus
  • 5-10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil (my adaption)
  • 250ml reduced fat cream + 250 plain yogurt (original recipe only used cream)
  • 4 free range eggs
  • salt & pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degree C. Put the polenta, flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it looks like bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and enough water to form a dough.  Remove the dough,  press into a ball and refrigerate for 25 mins (I cheated here with 10 mins in the freezer).  Remove from the fridge and press into a tart case (not too deep or it won’t set in the middle).   Bake the pastry blind for 10 mins.  In a separate bowl whip the cream, eggs and yogurt, add the sun-dried tomatoes and season well.  Lay the asparagus in the tart case and cover with the cream/tomato mixture.  Bake for 25 mins until the tart is set.   Serve in generous slices with a dollop of chutney. Yum!

September 25, 2010

Bread & Wine

Filed under: Food,Wine — Cathy @ 7:55 pm
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Sorry!  I’ve moved this post to my new blog, please read it here:

August 7, 2010

Nonversation promotes Xenolexica!

Filed under: Lists — Cathy @ 3:10 pm
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A couple of days ago my brother Ba sent me a link to the most fascinating (to someone who loves words) article entitled “Secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary uncovered!”.  As scandalous and exciting as that sounds, it’s not as if this collection was ever really secret, it’s just that these words that have been rejected for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary…for now.  The exciting bit is that they could well be included sometime in the future if they become commonly enough used.

Some of these words I thought were legitimate already, like “earworm” which I learnt from Oliver Sacks in Musicophilia (also wrote The Man who mistook his Wife for a Hat).  It means “a catchy tune that frequently gets stuck in your head”.

“Locavor” is another one which I’ve seen bandied around frequently in trendy health/green magazines . It means “a person who tries to eat only locally grown or produced food”.

Here are my 8 favourite of the other non-words in the article that I hadn’t heard of before (in alphabetical order) that I think deserve a place in the dictionary!

  1. Dunandunate – the overuse of a word or phrase that has recently been added to your own vocabulary
  2. Lexpionage – the sleuthing of words and phrases
  3. Nonversation – a worthless conversation, wherein nothing is explained or otherwise Elaborated upon
  4. Polkadodge – the dance that occurs when two people attempt to pass each other but move in the same direction
  5. Pregreening – to creep forwards while waiting for a red light to change
  6. Spatulate – removing cake mixture from the side of a bowl with a spatula
  7. Wikism – a piece of information that claims to be true but is wildly inaccurate
  8. Xenolexica – a grave confusion when faced with unusual words

July 26, 2010

Battery Charging at Buttonquail

If your idea of “getting away from it all” bliss is ample opportunity to sleep, eat, read and relax in nature, then a slice of heaven is about 75km away from Cape Town nestled in the Elgin Valley.  Past some fruit farms, down a treacherous looking road dirt road and towards the banks of the gently swishing bit of the Palmiet river is the tented camp of the Buttonquail private Nature Reserve.

We were warmly greeted by George and Annelise on arrival and throughout our stay we felt like their personal guests as opposed to just paying customers.  The middle of winter isn’t exactly prime camping season so we were lucky enough to have the camp to ourselves.  Not that we “camped” really – our tent was more like a canvas chalet than a tent, with an en-suite bathroom (glorious gas heated shower included) fluffy duvet, gas lights and extra hot water bottles.  There’s a central bonfire area where we braai’ed the first night (on a Weber nogal) and a very well-equipped kitchen and lounge dining room area which we made ourselves thoroughly at home in.

There isn’t a lot to actually do or see around the reserve although the website boasts hiking trails, mountain biking, 4×4 (George would take you) and small game watching.  All of the above seems to take place though on a single dirt track that loops around the reserve towards a spectacular lookout point called Draak se kop (Dragon’s head).  This loop was the route for our run on the first morning and while the only living thing we spotted was a frog, the scrubby fynbos scenery and the sheer volume of space made for battery-charging stuff.  I was impressed that up close (see rock, must climb) Draak se Kop really does look like a dragon’s head!  The second morning was crisp and bright and we ran the other way, in the direction we driven in from (serious hill training!).  At the top of the hill was the most breathtaking vista across the vast, mirror-like dam, surrounded by pine trees on one side (an image straight out of a Canadian brochure) and rolling fynbos hills on the other.

Besides that view, my other favourite take-away experiences from the weekend were the hot scones with jam and cheese made by Annelise on the first morning and the flapjacks the next (part of the ‘winter special’!), the fantastic hippo dining table (photo to follow!) and going to sleep with river bubbling noisily just outside our tent.  My bliss.

Their own website isn’t the greatest so checkout their sa-venues page for the more professional finish.

July 12, 2010

Met Eish ja…met eish

Filed under: Food,Wine — Cathy @ 7:52 pm
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I don’t like brandy so I don’t drink brandy.  I have in the past, but only with coke and then usually because there’s a two for one special  or something and it seems like a good idea at the time but it never really is.  I’m always keen to learn though so when the opportunity arose during a mad world-cup-in-the-winelands themed 30th birthday (not mine) weekend to have tour of the Klipdrift distillery in Robertson, I was keen!  Brandy is made from wine after all so I thought maybe some education would help me to appreciate it.

Eighteen face-painted, afro wearing, flag waving,  sword wielding individuals casually sauntering into the distinguished reception area of the Klipdrift distillery sipping dainty orange welcome drinks did raise a few visitor eyebrows, but the staff, to their credit, didn’t bat an eyelid.  We were shown a rather peculiar video about the origin of Klipdrift (a renaissance man called “Koosie” invented it sometime during the 2nd World War, I think), then were given a tour around the factory, from the copper distilling pots to the enormous stainless steel storage tank farm (56 tanks storing about 81000l each!) to the dark and mysterious cellar of 2000 oak barrels.  I realised that despite all the science and technology of today, brandy making is still essentially an art with the master distiller taking all the multiple variables of grapes, temperature and oak and actually still having to taste and smell whether 3 years in the barrel has produced the perfect brandy or whether it must lie for x many more.  I love the human factor that still has to come into something as mass produced as brandy which , unlike wine, we expect to be exactly the same bottle after bottle, year after year.

The last part of the tour was a guided tasting which was fabulously paired with bite-size sweet treats.  First off  we sampled the “ordinary” Klipdrift (bizarrely called the family brand??) paired with a bite of apricot tart – no surprises there – I only managed a small burny sip (the tart was excellent).  I did learn that you’re not supposed to swirl brandy though (unlike wine) as otherwise the alcohol fumes will overwhelm the flavour (or just overwhelm you full stop).  Next was the Premium brand which positively singed the insides of my nostrils (even without swirling) with a cinnamon biscuit, and then the “Gold” brand (a blend), which I found less vicious than the previous two, washed down with a delectable chocolate truffle.  Finally was the pre-mixed Klippies & Cola alcho-pop paired with a classic koeksister.  At the least I could finish that one.

Although I don’t think I found my  brandy palate the whole experience was brilliant and I’d consider going back there just for the great value for money lunch (I had veggie burger but everyone who had the famous “Klippies Burger”  claims it was awesome too).  A great start to our World-Cup wine tour!

June 22, 2010

Football Firsts

Filed under: Sport — Cathy @ 6:49 pm
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Another football first (and probably last) for me today – tuning into the soccer commentary on the radio while driving home from work.  Yes, I also did a double take at myself, but leaving work in the middle of South Africa’s most nail biting match of the World Cup meant that although a usually 30+ minute journey took a record 13 minutes, I still couldn’t wait till the comfort of my couch to catch up on our fate.  My belated (and fleeting?) dedication to the sport can’t rival that of my other half though – Hagen left Cape Town at approximately 3am this morning to drive all the way to Bloemfontein to watch the match at the stadium.  Apparently Bloem was pumping! At least their effort wasn’t in vain though (Hello! We beat FRANCE – a top 10 nation (in theory at least) 2-1! Who thought we could do THAT a month ago?).  Now we have the dubious honour of being the first host nation ever to not make the second round, but I reckon we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, just look how much we’ve improved!  Uruguay drawing with Mexico didn’t exactly help us either.  It’s interesting that apparently the final group matches are always played at the same time to “ensure impartiality”.  Ah well, too many what-ifs for Bafana Bafana in the end.

Fan Park Puppet

Fan Park Giant Puppet

My other Football first of the last week was watching the England/Algeria match at the Grand Parade Fan Park on Friday night. I’m ashamed to admit that I was worried it would be dodgy (crowded, dirty, dangerous?) but agreed to go just for the experience, hands tightly in pockets.  My pessimism was quickly put in its place though as we entered a huge, spacious, clean area surrounded on all sides by beer tents, fan memorabilia, a selection of big screens and a prominent police presence.  H and I watched the first half sharing a table with some possible foreigners (very black, musical language) but otherwise tourists were hard to spot.  I reckon most of the crowd were local which was probably a good thing considering the notoriousness of the English footie hooligans, I mean fans.  (Did I forget to mention the match itself? It was a drearily boring draw, the most entertaining aspect of which was watching Beckham lose it from the sideline.)

Later on in Long Street we picked possibly the most crowded, boisterous  bar around (The Dubliner) to soak up the post-match gees and a decent drink (the Fan Park only sold Castle and Redds – bleh) and then discovered that upstairs was a chilled, uncrowded cocktail lounge complete with a Billy Joel singing pianist – what a contrast! A great night all in all and another tick on my World Cup experience must do list :-).

June 17, 2010

World Cup Fever!

Filed under: Sport — Cathy @ 10:06 pm
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I’ve never been a football fan.  I have gallantly watched a match or two with my other half but I tend to zone out pretty quickly and am usually asleep by half time – give me rugby or cricket any day.  Except yesterday. Even the Live match I went to on Monday evening at the GreenPoint stadium (which was incredible!) – Italy vs. Paraguay* – could not compare to the heartbreaking match between SA and Uruguay last night.  I’m sure it’s been blogged about all over the world but this was my experience:

H and I decided to soak up some of the World Cup “gees” and headed over to Quay 4 at the Waterfront  (that’s in Cape Town in case anyone besides my mother reads this!) where a friend of a friend had been guarding a table for the last  four hours, to watch the match.  Bedecked in our yellow Bafana Bafana t-shirts, beanies, and vuvuzela in hand we joined a throng of patriots like I’ve never seen before.

From the clapping, shouting and trumpeting at the big screen TV you’d swear the players could hear us all the way from Pretoria.  I actually got goosebumps when the entire restaurant stood for the national anthem and sang their hearts out.  Never have I actually paid so much attention to a soccer match in my life, every pass and tackle.  I wanted us to win so badly, not really because a soccer match is that important in itself , but because the whole country cared so much and how awesome would that be to lift everyone up and give us a common  thing to celebrate!?   In the end it was common grief that has perhaps brought us together anyway (3-0 to Uruguay for anyone who’s just emerged from under a stone).  The only topic of conversation today was the ridiculous dramatics of Uruguay’s number 9 (sorry I don’t know your name but I don’t really care) and the shocking red card decision that ousted our goalie.  As I write I know that the whole country is rooting for Mexico and France to draw to give SA a glimmer of hope to get into the 2nd round, but alas Mexico has JUST scored the opening goal 64 mins in L.  Yup, no other half in sight and here I am keeping an anxious eye on a match between two countries from the other side of the world.  World cup fever…. I’ve got it I’m afraid!

*Monday was possibly the coldest night in Cape Town but the whole experience was awesome none-the-less.  From the free shuttles to and from the stadium (I’m public transport newbie in my own city!) to the ease of finding our seats in the beautiful bright new stadium, even the icy rain couldn’t put a dampener on anyone’s spirits.  The earplugs and hot chocolate definitely helped as well.  Oh, and the match was fun too 😉

May 31, 2010

Wine, Cheese and Cheetahs

Filed under: Food,Wine — Cathy @ 9:11 pm
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Considering how close by it is to do, it’s shocking that I haven’t been wine tasting in over a year.  Positively disgraceful.  So on Sunday when a friend needed to whizz by Welmoed to pick up some wine for an upcoming dinner, H and I decided to tag along.  It was just going to be in-and-out, back by lunch, but these things never quite turn out that way and it was a stunningly beautiful Cape Town day!

I’m no wine expert (sickly sweet rosé was my student drink of choice and I wouldn’t be able to tell the different between a merlot and shiraz if you blindfolded me) but I’ve come to learn what I like in general and that’s good enough for me.  Chilled sauvignon blanc while sitting on a rock by the sea or a chocolately pinotage with dinner are some of life’s little pleasures.

At Welmoed we literally did a speed tasting.  We sipped and schurlped with purpose to decide what to buy.  The Kumkani range is the flagship there, but the Welmoed label was definitely enjoyable and a Merlot and Cab Sav found their way into my boot.  After that we realised what a beautiful day it actually was so decided to pop just next door for a more leisurely tasting in the sun at Spier.

R15 got us five very generous tastings each, but since we shared every round we managed to get through the whole range and then still go back for our favourites.   The little cheese platter (seen mostly demolished in the photo) was a gem and it definitely helped the wine go down (Green Fig cheese is now on my shopping watchlist –yum!).  I also learned that Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the “husband and wife” of dinner wine, because the sturdy Cab Sav grape skins make it stronger and sharper (I have run out of wine terminology) in comparison to the more mellow merlot. Hmm, ok then.  Well my favourites without a doubt were the Chardonnay, Pinotage and Merlot, all of the Spier range and some of those sneaked their way into my boot as well.

All mellowed out and no longer rushing home for lunch we decided to go look at the cheetahs in the Spier rehabilitation center – best R5 I’ve ever spent.  For a 100 bucks we could have had a “cheetah encounter” and patted them on the head, but just getting a really close up look at such magnificent creatures was awesome enough for me.  What a fabulous way to spend a Sunday.

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