No-fuss “fusion” flavours

January 12, 2017

Have you ever thought of adding Colcannon as a side dish for a braai? Turns out it is the perfect accompaniment to chops ‘n wors. This deceptively simple yet delicious little Irish dish is quick, affordable and easy to make. My daughter turned her nose up when I suggested it – but then mashed spuds and cabbage does sound rather council-flat – however, trust me … once you’ve had it you’ll be a life-long convert.

All you need: Potatoes, onions/leeks/shallots, cabbage, butter and cream.

Simply boil the potatoes (I leave the jackets on – might not look as pretty, but sure tastes good), roughly mash/squash and keep on one side. Add a generous amount of butter to the pot and gently sauté the onions/leeks/shallots – this is not traditional, but I like it. Add milk and/or cream – last night I used a combination of milk and crème fraîche – and the finely sliced cabbage. Boil gently for a couple of minutes, add a touch of nutmeg if you like, stir in the potatoes and season. Done!

Tip 1: As this is a side for a braai I have not added any bacon/ham – but one could do this to make a complete meal-in-one that would melt anyone’s heart.
Tip 2: Make extra and use this to make extraordinary potato cakes the next day 🙂

Read the history behind this delicious yet simple dish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colcannon

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Mammogram

September 29, 2014

This room so carefully prepared –

I’m touched.

But the warmed pastel gown soon betrays my breasts

And provides scant shield from prying x-ray eyes.

Soft, sweet drapes in peach are sharply negated

By needle-stick bins.

And opaque, flat film reduces my femininity

To predictive shadows.

Nov 2002

Up-cycling Recipes: Left-over Chicken and Potato

July 7, 2013

To avoid serving up yesterday’s supper again today, try ‘up-cycling’ your left-overs into something completely new. Your family will love you for it!

Due to these being left-over recipes, I will not be giving measurements – they are all up to you and dependant on what goodies you have left in the fridge.

Ingredients (just a guide – you can add or subtract as you so wish):

Cooked chicken and potatoes

Cheese – I recommend mature cheddar, but whatever you have will do – in fact, feta might work quite well too

2 – 3 eggs

Flour (self-raising or add baking powder) or Maizena and baking powder

Seasoning and herbs

Courgettes / carrots / parsnips / butternut

Spray and Cook or marg / butter / olive oil for the baking rays.

Method:

Turn your oven onto 180⁰C and grease muffin pans or baking trays.Chick & Pot 1

Grate the boiled / baked / roasted potatoes and an onion. Add grated cheese, two or three beaten eggs, a spoon or two of self-raising flour (or Maizena and baking powder). Chop the cooked chicken fairly small and stir in with seasoning and lots of herbs (I used salt, pepper, paprika, fresh parsley and coriander). I also grated in 4 courgettes (sneaky veggies) – but you could grate in carrots, parsnips, or whatever you fancy. If you have any left-over veggies that would work – add them too.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin pans or place large spoonfuls onto a baking tray and squash each one a little … make sure they are the same size and thickness to ensure even cooking.

Chick & Pot 2

Bake for about 45 minutes (this will depend on how big your patties are) or until brown and cooked through. Serve with veggies or salad and a glass of chilled white wine.

Organic White

Mother

April 9, 2012

Mother, I was your egg –

You cracked me.

With your hard-boiled opinions

And stiff competition…

Even for my Father’s affections.

Why would you begrudge me that?

 

I longed for separation,

But remained yoked by birth.

Finally released by death.

Alien Invasion

February 22, 2012

“I’ve been assaulted by a gynaecologist!” My heart stopped. What had my mother done this time? How could a woman of nearly 70 find herself in such an awful situation?

After some cautious questioning, it became apparent that the ‘assailant’ was actually an old man who was already retired, and no longer practising as a gynaecologist. Looking for a peaceful place to relax and enjoy his richly-deserved golden years, he had chosen St Francis Bay. He planted his garden lovingly and pottered about keeping it trim – enjoying the comfort and peace it bought him. Until my mother came along…

My mother is very passionate about the environment – to the point of rabid fanaticism. Woe betide the litter bug or water-waster! Needless to say, no alien plant is safe within a 100km radius of her … she comes equipped with hacksaw and poison, plus an eagle-eye for anything threatening the indigenous flora and fauna!

Turns out my mother and father (also retired in St Francis Bay) were out for a stroll in the serene suburbs of this snugly-thatched seaside resort when they came across said doctor’s property. My mother, sensing a threat to the natural environment, decided that the plants on his verge were dangerous aliens – and so without further ado, proceeded to pull them up.

Note – this is not uncommon practise for her – she has pulled up plenty of people’s gardens, and even managed to dampen a Christmas day celebration at my parents-in-law when she tried to cut down and poison one of their most beloved trees in the garden – the tree in whose welcome shade we were all sitting at the time.

There was also an incident closer to home when she roped my unsuspecting husband into cutting down ‘a few weeds’ at a school around the corner from our house. These turned out to be huge plants/trees that he was inveigled into removing – resulting in him being inclined to wear a disguise when leaving our house for the next few months.

And then there was her poor unsuspecting neighbour who was busy landscaping his garden… she reported him to the Department of Environmental Affairs because he wanted to leave an ancient guava tree at the bottom of the garden – an invasive alien! When nothing came of this, she went into his garden one day when he wasn’t there, and instructed the labourers to remove it. The central piece in his landscape. He was not pleased.

At one stage we considered giving my mother a balaclava as a present, since she was creeping into so many people’s gardens at night to remove the plants that she considered offending.

On this particular occasion, when my mother took it upon herself to save St Francis Bay from the retired doctor’s heinous aliens, he, not unexpectedly,  took exception to this and told her in no uncertain terms to desist. Which of course she just took as a challenge, and took more vigorously to her self-appointed task of protecting the planet by uprooting his seedlings.

After a few polite, and then a number of impolite requests that she cease her unwanted activity – he finally resorted to pushing her off his property. Scandal! An unwarranted attack! This was further exacerbated by my father refusing to defend her honour by beating her vicious assailant to a pulp. In fact, from what I understand, he infuriated her by continuing to amble along, and muttering under his breath that she had probably deserved it!

Thus the incensed call to me about the ‘gynae attack’. Passionate property protector or crazed climate crusader – which side of the hedge would you be on?

Reviewing my words for 2011on 11/11/11

November 13, 2011

In February this year I put together my “11 words for 2011”. Being the eleventh day of the eleventh month I think it timeous to review these. After all – there is still time to work on any issues I have strayed on. As I said back then, these would be ‘a list I can refer back to through the year and check that I’m still heading in the right direction’.
So … here are my “11 words for 2011” – in no particular order, just as they came to me – followed by my thoughts on how well I have done thus far:
1) CALM – oh yeah! Done good! Yes! Calm. Yeah right … calm like a jitterbug on uppers.
2) PEACEFUL – as per number (1) – didn’t quite get this one either … about as peaceful as a Jack Russell with a squeaky toy.
3) THOUGHTFUL – oooohhhmmmmm … still thinking about this one…
4) GENEROUS – I have a newly acquired generous spread around my middle – does that count? Generous with my thoughts though! Actually, I think this one I can give myself a thumbs-up on.
5) SUPPORTIVE – hey, now I’m 50, supportive means underwear – got that. Have had to do quite a bit of supporting this year, more than expected.
6) UNCOMPETITIVE – what was I thinking? Do any of you actually know me? That was dead in the starting blocks – right?
7) MENTORING – yip, but room for improvement.
8) CONSOLIDATING – have managed to keep my head under the parapet this year … next year will be time to move and shake a bit!
9) KIND – kind of. My thoughts often escape out of my mouth before I have time to hammer them into a softer shape though…
10) FAMILY-ORIENTATED – done that, got the T.
11) FOCUSSED (on my 11 words.) Don’t think I’ve done too badly – plenty of room for improvement too. My focus has had balance, evidenced by growing my work portfolio, growing the CSI initiatives at work, getting my mother through discovering her cancer has returned, joining our local neighbourhood watch and actually getting to blog, see friends, spend time with our six wonderful animals and loving my beautiful girls and incredible husband as often and as much as possible. 2011 has been great so far – let’s head off and celebrate it this festive season!

Springtime

October 28, 2011

I noticed – when was it, and why?
That Springtime only comes with age.
The abundance, the fertile flamboyance
An unseen life delivered in another room.
It unfurled around me
And announced its green arrival in silent notes
To ears too young to hear.
Now it seems the air aches with the
Desire to send its fresh, green message full.
To widen my eyes and captivate me,
To distract me with its daily bouquet
That once noticed is astoundingly everywhere;
And an awareness that I can softly bring
To those once sprung from me.

(23 March 2000)

What goes around … comes around!

September 9, 2011

I was chatting to some friends this morning about camping – and the merits of enjoyment, rather than survival, in this regard. I am all for enjoyment! I want a nice big tent with a veranda/afdak in the front in case of rain or too much sun, fold out chairs and table, a blow-up mattress and a great big lantern. Don’t put me in a two-man tent (see … it tells you – no room for a woman in there!) with a spork and varkpan, and a spiky log to sit on.

During the conversation I recalled a ‘camping incident’ from my late teens. A friend and I went camping one holiday, and the tent that we had belonged to my parents (the one they bought for the Bazaruto trip – see my blog: https://simmelman.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/paradise-island-…-not-for-me/ ). It was HUGE, extremely heavy and difficult to erect. The tent bag took up more than half the boot, and then there was a great big bag of poles to go with that.

We arrived at the campsite in Hermanus in the middle of a stinking hot summer’s day, and immediately set about putting up our shelter … much to the amusement of four young men sitting next to their Golf on the campsite next to us – boot open and music blaring.

Between the two of us we managed to heft the bulky tent bag out of the car – and that already had us breaking a sweat.

The chaps grinned and cracked another beer each.

I volunteered for the dreadful job of burrowing under the canvas whilst my fair-skinned friend braved the burning sun and fed the framework of poles through tiny holes in the top corners of the quadrilateral tent to me.

After enduring the sauna created by being sandwiched closely between heaps of solar-heated canvas and the plasticky built-in floor, I was very grateful when the centre pole was finally introduced and the structure lifted to let in some air. Only to discover the poles were not correctly assembled, and we would have to break down the frame and start again. I dragged my sweat-soaked, soggy self out of there and swapped roles with my friend – who by now closely resembled a boiled crayfish.

The guys smirked, nudged each other and stretched out with another icy one.

I scowled, lit a cigarette and got back to work.

What a relief it was when we finally got the tent up, moved in our table, chairs, lantern, sleeping bags and refreshments … lots of ice-cold liquid refreshments. We needed them to replace the litres we’d lost in getting our shelter up! In no time our campfire was ablaze and we settled in to enjoy ourselves.

As it turned out, it was just as well we started our fire at sundown and didn’t wait … because by 9pm the heavens had opened and the campsite was soaked. We were comfortably ensconced in our wonderful, weather-proof tent – lantern shedding a warm glow, whilst we quaffed red wine.

Our peace was interrupted by a hesitant knock at the tent door, followed by a pitifully damp request for shelter. Apparently our lazy, unhelpful neighbours had no tent … and nowhere to sleep …

My friend and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. With one unified roar we told them exactly where they could go … and it wasn’t anywhere near our tent.

The next morning we emerged, blinking sleepily in the early morning sun and stretching our well-rested limbs in the fresh, rain-washed air. Alongside our site was the Golf with two of the men sleeping uncomfortably in the front seats, one six-foot-somethinger curled on the back seat, and the fourth was shivering under the car.

We smirked, nudged each other and sipped our steaming mugs of condensed milk coffee…

Catch-22

September 8, 2011

How’s this for a Catch-22? (Do you know where this expression comes from? Ask Joseph Heller …)

My mother has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia (apart from metastatic cancer) which means that her shrink has prescribed Ebixa (much like the Aricept my Dad was on for his Alzheimer’s). This is not only to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, but to improve her current mental health, and also to protect her from rapid deterioration.

BUT – the medical aid has deemed this to be ‘Acute Medication’ … like what – she’s going to get better next month and not need it anymore? As it is fairly expensive and my mother’s Acute Medication limit has already been exceeded, we are hoping that the medical aid will reconsider their decision, and move this on to Chronic Medication.

Since my mother will need to take this for the rest of her life if she wants to maintain some independence and limit her confusion – and since this medication would be prescribed as Chronic Medication if she had already deteriorated to the point of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (which comes with plenty of other medical costs – such as full time care), one would think that the sensible thing to do would be to agree to fund this protective and delaying prescription. One would think …

Her psychiatrist has motivated for this previously, but the request was rejected. So yesterday my mother went to him for a re-assessment. Here’s where it gets really odd. On one hand we were hoping that her mental state had declined sufficiently for the medical aid to deem her need “Chronic” – but at the same time hoping that she has actually retained her mental faculties, and that the medication has, in fact, been working.

I tried to tell her to mess the tests up … but you try telling someone who is already confused that she needs to purposefully come across as confused – when she is trying hard to prove that she isn’t! The shrink called me after the appointment to report that she was actually better than last time – which is great news! Only he fears that now our chances of getting the necessary medication covered by medical aid are slender-to-nothing – but no one wanted the results to be worse in the first place!

So like I said … a bit of a Catch-22, or what? In order get the medication required to stop my mother from losing her marbles, she actually has to lose them first … and since she has only lost a couple of them, she is not capable of convincing anyone that she’s lost them all already, and thus get the marble-retention meds!

[Wikipedia says: The archetypal Catch-22, as formulated by Heller, involves the case of John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier, who wishes to be grounded from combat flight. This will only happen if he is evaluated by the squadron’s flight surgeon and found “unfit to fly.” “Unfit” would be any pilot who is willing to fly such dangerous missions, as one would have to be mad to volunteer for possible death. However, to be evaluated, he must request the evaluation, an act that is considered sufficient proof for being declared sane. These conditions make it impossible to be declared “unfit.”
The “Catch-22” is that “anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”[1] Hence, pilots who request a mental fitness evaluation are sane, and therefore must fly in combat. At the same time, if an evaluation is not requested by the pilot, he will never receive one and thus can never be found insane, meaning he must also fly in combat.

Therefore, Catch-22 ensures that no pilot can ever be grounded for being insane even if he is.]

Eeny meeny miny moe…

August 31, 2011

It was lovely to bump into an ex-colleague of mine today who asked me why she hasn’t seen one of my blogs for a while. She said she missed them – and hoped that this would inspire me to get back to blogging again.

And it did.

The problem has been head-space. First I got sick, then my mother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, and I just did not feel in the right frame of mind to share. The one blog I wrote was censored by my diplomatic husband – and that kind of put a damper on my writing for a while.

The subject I have decided to explore here is one that has arisen frequently over the last couple of months – that of whom one should invite to what. Many of my friends are having big birthdays this year (as in marking the beginning of a new decade), there have been friends’ children’s 21sts, farewells, weddings and even funerals.

For major events there seems to be a different criteria with regards to who should make the guest list, compared to that of a more low-key celebration – like when you turn 28 or 43. If you are turning 30, 40 or 50 – who should be there?

Big families make it difficult to invite many friends without bankrupting the birthday boy or girl – but in some ways that makes it easier. Just a few really select, close friends are invited – those who almost count as family anyway.

Small families mean that you may want to invite a few more friends to make the occasion suitably festive. Herein lies the nub of the issue – how far open do you want to pry that can of worms? Someone I know suggested that you should only invite people who would come to your funeral.

On reflection, people who work with you would probably come to your funeral – but that doesn’t necessarily make them friends. What about people whose house you’ve been invited to (how recently?), or people whose cell numbers you have saved on your phone? Or do you weed out the ‘not necessary to invites’ by identifying which of those people you would call at 3am if you were stuck?

Once you start with x – someone you like, someone you’ve kept some kind of contact with since you last worked together, then you have to invite y and z … then there’s a, b and even c (who you don’t really like and would never phone – not even if you were stuck outside their house – not that you would know it was their house, since you’ve never been invited there). After all, we were all in the same department. Or all went to the same class at college, or we all attended that wonderful quilting bee together. It would be impossible to leave out just b and y (the ones who make you want to eat your own underpants as entertainment) … so wouldn’t it be easier not to invite x in the first place?

Do you decide on the ideal number of guests for your party and then add people to the list until you reach the perfect quantity (and then start cutting and substituting when you remember closer friends that you left off by mistake – or Aunty Fanny who you simply would not be forgiven for not inviting)? Or do you just write down everyone you can remember, then work out if your budget and venue can accommodate them? Or if the list looks a little on the thin side, do you need to bulk it up with some second-grade choices (like a, b and c – whose house you hope you never get invited to)?

Hang on … was I a second-grade bulk-up invite to that last party? Or did I get on the A-grade, number 1 list right up front, and survive all necessary cullings and substitutions?

Hmmmm – I think we all know deep down which list we were on. And that makes the creation of your own list simple. Only invite the A-grade, number 1 friends. Leave off the rest. Don’t cut down the original list ever – they are the people you want to share your special moments with – and the people who would want to share them with you.