Cooking, loving and hating by a regular inebriate, master thesis-dodger, pseudo-foodie and all-round trouble maker.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cooking with FIRE

I love South Africa in the summer. And despite the dooms-day naysayers it still is an awesome place to live. Summer sun sets later and nothing is about but Christmas beatles (it's that time of year), mozzies (I look like a mosquito-bite leper) and the thick smell of braai fires every weekend.

And since we have been down on our luck and looking for simple pleasure we rediscovered fire. Which is strange because the farm has only fire to cook with and in Big Smoke we become lazy to build fires. No longer.

We have built a fire and eaten lush about once a week for the last few weeks. It's heaven, the smell alone is intoxicating. All that smoke and familiar smelling fare brings to mind endless days of childhood in swimming pools or zig-zagging through sprinklers. It smells like hide and seek in the late night at the coast when the shy cicadas are out and singing their songs and we have to be wary of fruit bats overhead. It smells like the ocean, or the back yard, or your friend's house, or your brother's place, or that awesome birthday you had. It smells like when we were young and could still run. It smells like life lived at its best.

And you know it might seem that I am waxing incredibly lyrical about something as silly as a braai fire but when life is in tumult it is so good to light a fire and remember great times. Times when worries concerned a new bathing suit or a song name you don't know and might be quizzed on by the cool set at school. Times when anxieties were contained in childhood dreams about not being prepared for an exam. Nice times. And the present? This current time with smoke curling into the curly willow overhead and three near-depleted candles blinking around the grill, settling deep into that chair that is so comfortable even though it's only meant for gardens, looking at Tristan and hearing the hiss of the sausage as it drips it's fat onto those white hot coals?

This time isn't so bad either. Despite so many worries and anxieties and what if's, this time could always be worse.

Besides, we get to light fires and cook our food. Nurturing ourselves with the deepening realisation that all of life is connected and that happiness is a decision.

I am grateful for the smoke that seeps into my clothes and makes them smell muggy, the same smoke that burns my eyes and those errant coals that splinter onto a bare thigh in summertime when thighs are known to be bare and cut-grass lawns in suburbs remind me of my horses and the constant smell of sweet feed in the car. The smell of the rain always lingering and the fresh blast of ozone from highveld storms that somehow still manages to take me by surprise.

But mostly I am grateful for the fire of life and coming to realise that both good and bad times are connected. And that gives me so much to think about.

Found this online, too good not to share, will do a photo post with all our braai pics next :)

Cook with fire, you won't regret it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The thing about dying one day...

IT'S not really that I am afraid of it or whatever. Instead I am annoyed by the things I may miss and mortified that my funeral might suck. Of  course I realise I'll be dead and I won't actively be feeling any sense of loss, but...

I always think that the very week after I die scientists will pull the Loch Ness monster out of the Loch or whatever, and discover that not only is there a for real, 100% certain, monster in there but that monster has family and monsters are real. That would be annoying...

I also really worry about missing that inevitable House Hunter International scandal. I mean I am pretty sure that show is completely fake but wouldn't it be awesome if those couples weren't couples at all but strung out sex workers being paid with crack or something? And then the media seeks them out like a bloodhound tracking a corpse and discovers them living in down-town slums and all that talk of first world budgets was completely fake and I don't have to be annoyed about being from a third world country.

Also, my mom. She means well but she does those 'this person has died' brochures or orders of service (or morbid death book or whatever) with sad looking pictures of our departed loved ones where she not only embellishes everything, and conveniently changes major aspects of someone's life and character but she also makes so many spelling mistakes. She loves the melodrama. It's hard because I am sure she thinks we'll seem like better people if she adds heaven's metaphorical embroidered cloths to our tapestry but sheesh. I know I am not perfect and I like it that way. I cringe when I picture my death brochure in comic sans saying something mom-like above the worst picture of me in existence via a totally shitty crop job.

I also worry about what she'll speculate about me to put some meat on the bones of my death release...something like...

"Yolande (or as we called her 'Chubby Childless Angel') loved the music of Mariah Carey and we will play her song 'Hero' to commemorate CCA right now. Also she often read from the bible and loved giving entire salaries to the church. She very much loved orphaned children and forced me to bring an entire orphanage to her death bed where she sung her other favourite song 'Barbie Girl' from the Venga boys to them to cheer them up. She always smiled and never had a bad word to say about anyone. I will miss her because she was my best friend and we were extremely close."

I mean I am speculating here but I am pretty sure that's how it will go down. Then she's likely to cremate me and stuff my ashes in a wooden box and keep it in her office next to the photo of my least favourite uncle and that nephew I just can't get along with.

This my friends, above all else including pain and long months of suffering, is why I am afraid of dying. I am afraid that if there is an afterlife my funeral will shame me in front of my new friends and long lost relatives and seriously impact on my after life popularity. I won't be puffing on the spectre of a cigarette in the ghostly mirage-like glimmer of the boys' bathroom with all my cool new friends. I will be alone in the ghost library reading Jane Austen and sobbing audibly into the real world. Maybe those ghost sightings are just the ones who didn't make friends and their long-lost relatives pretended not to know them?


Sunday, 15 September 2013

All that glitters!

DOWN chips are a good way to decide if you have made the right decisions in life.

As it turns out, I have.

Vet bill bonanza (the latest being Bishop trying to make a jump into an adjoining camp and landing up on a dropper) has seriously hamstrung us financially. Of course it doesn't help that things aren't great at work.

And yet, we come through. I feel like we have found loads to love in little things. The orchids and other household plants affirm my love of caring for living things. They are glorious. As it happens I only ever purchased two orchids but I am caring for six - all those unwanted birthday gifts left to wilt and then passed off to someone who is interested.

I have managed to save them all convincingly. I also care for two succulents, a pretty bonsai, two strange flowery plants and a love bamboo. And that's just in JHB. On the farm I have every plant Silman and I put into the ground. All that jasmine, lavender, herbs, veg, succulents, daisies, dianella, wild garlic, saplings, irises (almost time for them to bloom) the list is endless. With the help of my fantastic groom and all-round excellent person Silman. He deserves a picture on here, I'll remember to take one.

Last night I was lying in bed while Tristan read Lovecraft out loud to me. I fell asleep eventually and slept until this morning. It was glorious! My first proper sleep since spring leapt upon us. In fact I'd argue summer is here entirely.

Later we shoot off to the farm so I have to get my bags packed. I can't wait.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

love, pub quizzing, picnics and other memories

WARNING: this post rambles.

I have been loathe to sit down and write a blog. We have really been living - eating terribly and drinking too much. It saps your energy levels and seriously ruins your sleeping patterns. Guys, I am totally going to own the fact that my new love is chicken and mayo pizza and that my diet has gone out the window.

 I know you have been rooting for me Wolfie, so I'll add that we are going to start training for a marathon soon - in aid of mobile mammography trucks to travel out to less advantaged communities and get those women some much-need early detection facilities and educate them. I am PUMPED to be a part of it :)

I have been ablaze with ideas for my masters, but I ran out of momentum lately. A long farm visit and a few wonderful memories an amazing experiences to throw into the memory banks have derailed my obsessive thinking and I happen to think that might be a good thing.

But of course, knowing me, the process was riddled with the odd calamity or three. And some of them were rather shameful. Shameful or not though, we have to make time to create new memories.

On the topic of memories I am cooking this blog post inspired by the 40 Days of Dating saga that lead me to ask a few exes about our relationship - with the aim of posting it here and talking more about past experiences and LOVE (a key aspect of this blog). The responses were a mixed bag. One wonderful account that literally had me smiling, one encounter with a douche bag I can't believe I felt anything for and a new discovery on my journey with Tristan. Amazing heh? More on this later.

So Monday we snuck out of work early to go and have a picnic in the park. We took a few bottles of beer, a cooler box, loaded Big Dog into the car and picked up pizza en route. We had a wonderful time. Unfortunately where we decided to set down all our gear was FAR away from any, erm...ablution facilities.

I got to know that tree a little better later during the picnic

What were we thinking??

I need to ditch this filthy habit

But we got some serious relaxing done

Seriously, this guy slept through most of the picnic
We had trekked to the far corner of the park with a heavy bag containing extra layers of clothing, sunglasses, hand sanitizers, napkins you name it we had it, a heavy cooler box, a bucket with a 5 litre supply of water for Big Dog and some doggy treats for him, my massive camera bag, our matchy hats that make us look like a lame couple, a big heavy duvet, the box containing our pizza lunch and probably a few other things I forgot about. It was heaps of stuff to trek away to the bathroom.

Ooooh yes, we have cheesy matchy hats!
 So I did it, I peed behind a tree. It was liberating... and I never want to do it again!

Then, last night we went out to dinner, got a little tipsy and decided to do a quiz. A pub quiz. I am ashamed to admit we are no good at quizzes and we came last along with three other teams. Ahahahaha! Look, I don't know anything about rappers or how many babies Gwen Stefani has had - so I don't feel too bad about it.

(Un)Dead Parrots will be back for a rematch next week, sporting a third team member. The nerd is strong in that one
 I think All My Friends Suck came first, so there you go. But of course the two-prong team that comprised (Un)Dead Parrots has a serious set-back in the second to last round. As my guts started to ache immeasurably and I felt an overwhelming burn in my stomach I at once realised my chicken might have been passed it's sell-by date. That's right, I was started to go through the first stages of food poisoning. Right there! The plot thickens. I needed to dash off to the loo too many times, and when we got home the party started in earnest. I haven't been to work today and suffice it to say I am full of medicine and glucose energy drinks.

Le Sigh!

Stay tuned for the second instalment - we will rise again!