FROM THE TABLE TO THE PLATE
CELEBRATING THE SIMPLER THINGS IN LIFE
I am happy in these times to be accused of sunshine journalism, writing about what is positive rather than focusing on the reality. I am sure you will forgive me? Despite the stress of the uncertain times, I have in some ways, relished the opportunity of spending time in my kitchen, keeping updated on social media and having long, laughter-filled virtual coffee dates (video chats with my friends).
FORGING FRIENDSHIPS IN MY KITCHEN
Forging friendships with my kitchen appliances like my KitchenAid hand-held blender, the latest addition to the girls in my family, has been fun. It has included the ignition of a love affair with my husband’s biltong maker, given to him for Christmas. I have taken it over, and we now have dried apples and figs. After drying naartjie and lemon peels, and sage leaves, I made some citrus and sage salt. I have a line of salad dressings and flavoured olive oils made with our local, award-winning RIO LARGO olive oil. We will come out of the crisis more determined to support local, than ever.
Part of my weekend ritual was a morning visit to stock up on what is fresh and in season at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. I also love Richard Bosman’s charcuterie, so, determined to support the stall-holders there I mailed OZCFM and Richard. Sadly, within 30 seconds of receiving the mail, three of the four options of fresh fruit and vegetable boxes from OZCF were sold out, but Richard was happy to deliver to my door.
We are eating well, and I am grateful for the ingredients, and luxury of time to lovingly prepare them. Early-morning coffee is accompanied by homemade rusks, breakfast is a lemon and ginger shot, then homemade muesli (filled with all those dried fruits).
MEALS TOO, ARE LONG, DRAWN-OUT AFFAIRS
Fine dining has found its way to my table. Rather than a plate loaded with food, I love a series of little plates of small helpings, as in this way I can truly appreciate the different components of a meal. Instead of having meat and three veg I would rather have two of the vegetables as separate courses. Old-fashioned favourites like mushrooms stuffed with homemade beetroot-leaf pesto, followed by cauliflower baked with cumin, lime wedges and chilli (home-grown chillies, of course), before a protein main dish, has become de rigueur in my home. Pre-dinner sundowners are essential, usually gin and tonic made with interesting fruit or spice additions.
A HOT DATE
On Saturday evenings we have a drinks date with four other couples, on Zoom. Last weekend was to celebrate a birthday, so I baked a carrot cake and added candles. One couple wore party hats, and we sang happy birthday. This weekend we also have a ‘date’ with our neighbours, we plan to sit outside at sunset and chat over our wall. They have a small vine growing, all six metres of it, so they will sit in their ‘vineyard’ with a glass of wine and we will sit on our deck which overlooks them, to further cement a friendship. This is a time to celebrate the simpler things in life?
CHEFS STEP UP TO THE PLATE
I am thrilled to see how chefs of Plated restaurants have shown immense imagination and ingenuity, like Ryan Cole of one-plated restaurant Salsify who is preparing and delivering two-course meals and other freshly baked goods. Chantel Dartnall of three-plated Restaurant Mosaic, hard at work in her kitchen, is running competitions and giving away meal vouchers.
We are thrilled at the response to our food-writing course going online, as we know this is a perfect time for words to simmer slowly, then come to a boil. May that pot boileth over!
It will be different, but may this Easter weekend be a safe and happy one for you and your loved ones.