SOMETIMES, I unknowingly set alarms for myself. Simply because I push buttons I shouldn't be pushing. I mostly forget about them before I can cancel them.
At midnight after Freedom Day on April 27, such an alarm awoke me in the middle of the night to a news broadcast on Radio 702. The woman's voice talked about this day's origin, 29 years ago.
Immediately, I was transferred back to that queue at Monument Park Primary School with my father, not knowing he would be gone a few months later. I'm glad he was able to experience that day. After all, it was the future he had told me about since I can remember.
I grew up knowing there was no future in apartheid. I am grateful to my parents for that, as well as for the world view of tolerance and equality that has been part of my life from an early age.
I think about how different things look today. The dream is not quite the dream. Also, the shocking difference in my looks: the past 29 years etched everywhere on my body and my face, as they are on the country. I am already a few years older than my father was on that day. It makes me think that only the here and now is truly real.
For me, taste and smell go hand in hand with certain events. The day of freedom tasted like chicken curry, marog and stywe pap. It was thanks to my friend, Roux Crafford, with whom I celebrated the election that evening with a delicious meal and good South African red wine, also known as Tassies.
I recall other days with tastes and flavours, the dates not necessarily so clear in my memory.
There was my grandmother's pot roast and dumplings with rhubarb and custard for dessert on Sundays. My mom's lemon, rosemary and garlic roasted chicken pieces on a Saturday night in front of the TV with Chief Inspector Derrick. My brothers and I eating Portuguese canned sardines with raw onions and lemon juice on thick, buttered wholegrain bread with our parents on a weekday afternoon sometime in the late 1980s. My mother's melanzane with mortadella and provolone cheese on ciabatta on a Saturday afternoon. Chips and white bread from the café on the corner on a Thursday night when my mother went to drink white wine with her friend. Many more recollections stick in my memory.
My mother was a fantastic cook. The last time I enjoyed her food was less than a month before her death on a sunny winter's day in July on a Bushveld farm, when she made me her bobotie and rice for my birthday. My mother always cooked with a smile and a glass of wine.
I would like to share my mother's bobotie recipe, according to her the best in the world. I agree, unequivocally. And my grandmother's sweet dumpling and rhubarb recipes. They all offer guaranteed joy on any plate.
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 40 ml melted butter
- 60 ml Malay curry powder
- 7,5 ml salt
- 2 slices of white bread
- 300 ml buttermilk
- 100 ml cream
- 4 eggs
- 30 ml lemon juice
- 1 kg ground beef
- 15 ml sugar
- 100 ml seedless raisins
- 40 ml fine apricot jam
- 1 grated apple
- 20 ml peanut butter
- 1 tin peach slices
- 8 lemon leaves (optional)
1. Sauté the onions in butter, add curry powder and salt and fry for two minutes. Remove from the heat. Soak the bread in the buttermilk and cream mixture, then squeeze out most of the milk and break the bread into pieces. Add two beaten eggs to the milk mixture.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the peaches, lemon leaves and milk mixture, to the bowl and mix well, but don't overmix. Pour into an ovenproof dish of about 2,5 litres and level the contents. Pour the milk and egg mixture on top then press down the peaches and lemon leaves. Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 1¼ hours.
3. Serve with yellow rice and chutney of your choice. I have also served the dish with fresh chopped spinach from my garden, with a bit of lemon juice and salt.
Grandma Mary’s Dumplings & Rhubarb
- 500 ml cake flour
- 15 ml baking powder
- 60 g brown sugar
- 1 ml salt
- 50 g butter, cubed
- 3 eggs
- 200 ml milk
- 5 ml vanilla extract
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together into a bowl.
2. Rub the butter into the dry mixture until the dough begins to resemble crumbs. Mix the eggs, milk and vanilla extract together and add to the flour mixture to form a thick dough.
3. Heat a half-filled heavy-bottomed pot to boiling point. Scoop tablespoons of dough into the boiling water, leaving enough space between the balls of dough. Cover and simmer quickly for six to seven minutes: the dumplings will float to the top once they are ready. Do not lift the lid during this time, otherwise the dumplings will fall flat.
- 350 g rhubarb stems
- juice and zest of one orange
- 70 g sugar
Place all the ingredients in a deep pan and cook slowly over medium heat until the rhubarb is soft, but doesn't fall apart.
- 500 ml cream
- zest from 1 orange
- 4 egg yolks
- 120 g sugar
1. Whisk all the ingredients together, pour into a pot and heat slowly, continuing to whisk with a hand whisk to make sure it doesn't burn. The custard is ready when you can draw a line over the back of a wooden spoon with your finger.
2. Drain the dumplings and serve only with melted butter and cinnamon sugar (as in the photo), or with the rhubarb and custard.
♦ VWB ♦
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