Plain Buttermilk Rusks

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These are super tasty. I got the original recipe from my friend Nicola Johnson. This has been a “fail safe” recipe so to speak. Unless you, like Paula when she was 8, decide to use regular flour instead of self raising! Now that when you get rocks for sure.
I have other variations of Rusks (Health Rusks with nuts, seeds and raisins, will put the recipe up soon, it’s still at the typing pool)

Ingredients

  1. 500g butter or Margarine
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1tea sp salt
  5. 500ml buttermilk
  6. 1.5kg self raising flour ( one and a half kgs)

Method

  1. Combine self raising flour, sugar and salt.
  2. Melt butter and add buttermilk then add beaten eggs.
  3. Mix into dry ingredients and knead.
  4. Press into two large roasting tins bake 160 degrees about one hour. (I use my one large rusk pan and it makes 84.)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely
  6. Cut into fingers and return into oven straight onto the racks.
  7. Dry in a very low oven(100 degrees or so) for at least 2 hours. If you want them super dry, I guess you can dry them longer.

 

Baking Powder Biscuits (Scones)

These are quite easy to make. When we made them today we didn’t have baking powder so we used self raising flour and they came out just as perfect as when we used baking powder.

we are going be enjoying them later tonight as we watch Pride and Prejudice  

We are renting it on Amazon since the video shop is closed. You may click here if you’d like to watch it during this lockdown period.

Below is the link for the scones,

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/baking-powder-biscuits-recipe

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I Don’t Need Reading Glasses

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I Don’t Need Reading Glasses, or Do I?

To my two friends, Holly-In-Denial, and Dawn-Been-there-Already.

 

So, after our conversation about deteriorating eyesight, I thought much about going to get my eyes checked, just to confirm my worst fear…that I am losing my sight.

I prepared the girls (I didnt prepare George). The girls’ biggest concern was I would get prescription glasses and get the absolutely wrong kind. The kind that old mom’s wear. See, they can’t stand the thought of me being an old mom. They are about to completely take over my wardrobe choices, but thats a story for another day!

 

Last Thursday, we had an appointment for physical check-ups for our work permit papers in RSA.  In the same hall as the doctors’, there’s an an eye clinic. So while we were waiting to be called in, i walked into the eye clinic to make some enquiries. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the truth yet, so I thought I would ask how much they charged, hoping it would be too much and I would say, “Ah, I can’t afford it right now.”

I was determined to skirt around the issue as much as I could. See, I was in denial about the deterioration of my eyesight (aren’t we all?)

I first told them I had heard they do free eye exams for kids and they said, “yes, once every year, but we are booked till October.” My first thought was, “Yes, I can delay this just a couple more months, and book my appointment together with the kids in October.”

 

Then I asked how much they charged for regular eye exams. It was R495. That was quite affordable, I thought. But just then, we were called in by the doctor and I had to leave. A good excuse for me to postpone making the appointment.

 

After our medical check-up, George had to go take care of payments and all, so we had more time in the waiting room. I gathered up all the courage I could, and walked into the eye clinic office and told the lady that I wanted to make an appointment for the girls for October and mine for the coming Monday. I was secretly hoping they wouldn’t have an opening that soon. But they did. Monday, 6th August, 2018, 9:30am.

 

Friday and Saturday flew by and before I knew it, it was Sunday.  I started worrying about my appointment. “What if i go in and the eye exam reveals that I am going blind, and they tell me I have only a few months of vision left?”

That night in bed I said to George, “I have an eye appointment tomorrow at 9:30”

“What for?”

“To get an eye exam”

“Why?”

“Because i feel like I am losing my eyesight. I can’t seem to read  the fine print clearly”

“When did this all start.”  (He sounded like a doctor trying to interrogate me about a serious condition.”

“Mmmmh. I cant really remember when it all started. I think its been gradual.”

“Oh, ok!”

Then I turned around and asked him, “Do you feel like your eyesight has deteriorated?”

 

“I don’t even try to read the fine print any more these days.” He answered quickly. “But I’m going to wait till I can find a free eye exam. I’m not paying for an eye exam!!!”

I burst out laughing. Here I had been thinking i was deteriorating faster than he was!!!

Anyway, we said our good nights and went to sleep.

 

The next morning after breakfast i hopped into the car and drove to the eye clinic. “I wonder what I will find out. Please God, let me not be legally blind,” I thought.

 

When I arrived at the clinic, the lady at the reception did all my paper work and told me to have a sit and wait. I gladly did. The longer I could delay this, the better. After about 20 minutes she apologized to me, telling me that the first patient had arrived late for his appointment so I had to wait a bit longer. I was happy to wait! (I didnt tell her that).

 

About 10 minutes later, the optometrist walked into the waiting room escorting the previous patient. She didnt say anything to me, but the receptionist mumbled something to me. I thought she said I could go in, but wait, don’t they need to clean up the equipment between patients? She couldn’t have asked me to go in right away could she?

 

I sat in my chair, wondering if I could cancel my appointment this late. About what seemed like 10 minutes later, but really less than a minute later, the optometrist came out again and asked me to go in (She had that face that seemed to ask, “why didnt you come in the first time we asked?”)

 

I walked into the room, and every gadget looked so ghastly. These gadgets were shortly going to be used to declare me legally blind!!! I hate them so! The walls were littered with letters, numbers and contrasting shapes that seemed to appear and disappear (confirmation that my sight was kaput!!!)

 

The optometrist was really nice. I just wondered why such a nice lady would doom herself to such a work that necessitated her to break such dire news as she was about to break to me. But oh, well, someone has to do it, don’t they?

 

After about 30 minutes of rigorous eye exams (reading out disappearing numbers and letters aloud, and announcing which circle seemed sharper, etc etc) the optometrist looked me in the eye and said, “your eyesight is super. You just have the natural deterioration that comes with age.” (Yeah thanks for reminding me that I am about to clock in 5 decades on this earth).

She continued, “you are just having difficulties with the fine print but all you might need really is reading glasses, which you would only wear when reading. You don’t even have to get them right away as you are doing pretty fine.”

 

She then showed me a small placard which had some ‘disappearing” words and then had me look at the finer print words. I looked at them and was able to read them without any trouble.

She then handed me a pair of reading glass lenses and told me to put them on and try reading the words.

I did, and i perkily announced, “Oh, they just look the same as when I didnt have the lenses on”.

“You really think so?,” she asked, skeptically.

“Positive! I don’t need reading glasses!!!” I replied confidently.

She reached for my face and grabbed the glasses. I looked at the words. It was a bunch of gibberish!

“I DO need reading glasses,” I hung my head and said!

She chuckled.

 

I got a prescription for reading glasses but the price was a bit prohibitive, plus she said i didn’t have to get them right then, plus the kids were not there to help me to pick the coolest frames on the block. So i wasn’t going to buy them right then.

 

I left the clinic feeling on top of the world. As i walked to the parking lot, I wanted to jump up and down shouting, “I’m not blind! I’m not blind”. However, I may not be blind, but I am not that bold. So I just screamed the words in my head.

 

I went home and announced to the family that even at 47, I still had 20/20 vision, but just needed reading glasses.

 

I know you think that’s the end of the story but its not.

 

Do you believe in coincidences? I am not sure where I stand(as far as coincidences go), but George is pretty clear…He doesn’t believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.

Today, we went to the Hospice shop to look for books and flower vases.

And right there staring at me in the book section was Virginia Ironside’s “No, I Don’t Need Reading Glasses.” The picture on the book reminded me of Holly trying to read the instructions to make the rice that night at Dawn’s house 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

I bought the book. I will find time to read it. But I’m glad i didnt see it before my eye test. And now, maybe I can find a reason in the book to delay the acquisition of reading glasses. We’ll see.

 

The truth of the matter is, I can’t be in denial about the evident deterioration that comes with age. So I hope to embrace every change that comes (including the devilish hot flushes that come with menopause!!!) and take them in my stride.

 

 

 

More soon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapati

                                                                        Chapati Recipe                     

Recipe makes 8-10 chapati

You will need:        

  1. 1 cup warm water
  2. 2 tablespoons butter 
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 3 cups flour ( I use 1/3 unbleached white flour and 2/3 whole wheat flour, but for the recipe, I used all white)

To make the dough,

  1. Pour 1 cup warm water in bowl, add 2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs sugar and 1 tsp salt 
  2. Gradually add flour and mix with wooden spoon until its too thick to handle with the spoon. 
  3. Continue adding flour and kneading with hands until the dough is soft and no longer sticks to hands.
  4. Cover with cling wrap and let the dough rest (resting time for me depends on how much time I have. Sometimes when I am tight on time I will skip this step altogether)

To fry the Chapati 

You will need

  1. Some flour for the surface
  2. Light frying oil  in a bowl with a spoon (olive oil is a bit too heavy and doesn’t do a really good job, but you can try it if you like. I however suggest you first try with the lighter cooking oils)
  3. Heavy bottomed skillet
  4. Flipper
  5. Knife
  6. Plate to put your chapati when done. 
  7. Rolling pin (not shown on pic 😜)

  1. Put some flour on the surface and with the rolling pin roll the dough into a round circle (not too thin)
  2. Spread the oil around the circle evenly with a spoon or your hands (I am assuming they are super clean)
  3. Grab one end of the circle and roll it over (as if you are making cinnamon rolls)
  4. Cut the rolled tube up into 8-10 pieces, and place on one side of your work surface.
  5. Turn the stove on so the skillet can start heating up. 
  6. Take one of the pieces (which should be oily-ish) and roll into nice thin circle.(as thin as you can get without breaking, or if you like fat chapatis, then don’t roll too much)
  7. Place your rolled circle on the (now hot) skillet, and let the chapati cook just a little.
  8. Flip to the other side, and with the back of your spoon, put a little bit of oil on the cooked side, and spread. (Depending on how hot your skilled/pan is, you need to do this pretty quickly as the other side could easily burn)
  9. Flip back to the oiled side, oil the other side, flip ack again and let this side cook a bit.
  10. Your chapati is ready. Repeat with your other chapatis. 
  11. As you get more seasoned, you will be able to stack 3 or more chapatis and cook them at the same time. The weight on top helps the chapatis cook faster. 

Cinnamon Rolls.

Ingredients

  1. 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. ½ cup butter divided in 2
  4. ¼ teaspoon salt
  5. 3 cups flour (you might only need 2 ½ )
  6. 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1/3 cup Demerara cane sugar
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Instructions

  1. In a medium sized pot heat the milk and ½ of the butter until warm and melted.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool to about 45 degrees C (warm to the skin)
  3. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the yeast.
  4. Let activate for 10 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons sugar and the salt and stir
  5. Add the flour in ½ cup increments, stirring as you go. When it gets too sticky to stir, knead as you add flour, until it’s soft but not sticky.
  6. Cover bowl with cling wrap and let the drought rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or till it doubles in size.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle (I make mine 50cms wide)
  8. Brush the top with the the melted butter that’s you set aside.
  9. Top with sugar and then the cinnamon
  10. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down.
  11. With a serrated knife, cut the dough into 5cm section and place on a buttered square pan 20X20 cm
  12. Brush the tops with butter and cover with cling wrap and let rise while you preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  13. Once the oven is hot, bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

 

While the rolls are baking, make the icing

 

Icing ingredients

  1. 4 tablespoons cream cheese,
  2. 6 tablespoons icing sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons milk

 

Instructions

  1. Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese till it’s soft
  2. Add the icing sugar
  3. Depending on the consistency, add the 2 tablespoons milk. The icing needs to be a little runny.

Once the Cinnamon rolls are ready, take out of the oven and smother with the cream cheese icing.

Don’t forget to lick the icing container clean, you can’t afford to waste even a bit of this precious icing.

Best enjoyed warm, but can be re-heated in a warm oven. Ours never last long enough to need re-heating.

I found the original recipe here but changed quite a few of the ingredients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s A Boy! No it’s a girl!

Originally written as an update to my friends in March 2009.


A  few of you may not know yet, but I am 28 weeks pregnant with our fourth child. An 
“Ooops”. But that’s not the update!

In the Kenyan tribe where I come from (Meru) there is a mythological tree, far, far away which if you go around a few number of times (7 times I think), your gender switches. You become a girl if you are a boy and a boy if you are a girl. I have met a few people who have tried to go around but freaked out when they got to round 6. So, I don’t know anyone who has successfully had a gender switch from this tree.

Until now!!

About 10 weeks ago, I had a sonogram (ultra-sound scan) done and the sonographer said,

“It’s a boy!”  I screamed with delight, but was careful to ask her, “Are you sure?”
“90 % sure” She replied, “Unless something falls off,” she added the disclaimer. This was at a “high risk” (due to “advanced maternal age”)  prenatal clinic, so their sonogram machines are pretty high tech and sophisticated, so we thought, “90% is pretty good! It must be a boy.”

Yesterday, March 25th, 2009  we went for a 4D sonogram, and before the sonographer started doing the sonogram, she asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” “A boy…,” I quickly and proudly told her, “…but we are gonna confirm today,” I added, thinking nothing of it. She started on the sonogram and we were all enjoying the “baby in utero movie” (My husband and two younger daughters were with me). I lay on that bed in total bliss savoring every image of the “little boy”.

Then Joy, (for that’s the name of the sonographer) said, “Well, I can’t confirm that

it’s a boy.” “What do you mean?” I asked her in utter disbelief.

“I don’t see any boy parts (that’s what they call them). Indeed, I see girl parts!!!,” she

said, wide eyed, goggling at the computer screen.

I screamed! “You better find those boy parts. Look everywhere till you find them.” Up to this point, I really thought she was kidding. “We’ll come back and look again. Lets take some other pictures.” She took a few more “poses”, and went back “a-searching” for the boy parts.  Nada, Nothing, Gone!! “All I see is girl parts.” She repeated.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“100%,” she said.

She even showed us, and since this was a 4D sonogram, it was clear enough that even I, with no sonography training, could see the girl parts. Also, the facial features were quite feminine….But who am I to know?

The whole sonogram was taped in 4D on a VHS tape, and we brought it home, so we can replay it.

To cut the long story short, either SOMETHING fell off, completely dissolved and vanished or the boy discovered the Meru tree and went around it enough times to become a girl. We are happy it’s a girl (our fourth). However, I still have about 10 weeks before I am due, so if during that 10 weeks she goes back to the Meru tree and goes round it and the “boy parts” mysteriously re-appear, then, that will also be welcome.

George took it in his stride…He actually took it better than I did. His response, “At

least we had 10 weeks of hope for a boy.”

My response, “Another head of hair to do!”. I was really looking forward to a head I could shave clean! I had even started shopping for a head shaving machine!!!

Liza, our eldest has always said she wanted a girl since we found out we were expecting, so when we initially found out it was a boy, she wasn’t particularly excited. Today, when I picked her up from the school, I told her the news, and she jumped up and down, and said, “Yeeeeeaaaaaah!!!”

I asked her, “why do you want a girl?”

“Because girls like pretty things.  Boys like guns, Pokemon, Batman, Spiderman and transformer” (what’s transformer???? I’ll have to find out from a boy mom)

I shared the news of the “sex change” with my 20 year old nephew, who lives with us , and his reaction/response? “How did it happen?”….And my answer… “Who am I to know?”

Thanks for reading….I will keep you updated in case things change, or even if they dont.

 

Mind your Language

Mind Your Language 

Language is a very interesting thing. A word, phrase or statement can mean different things to different people depending on culture, context and other factors. I think the English language especially lends itself to a myriad of interpretations depending on who is speaking, who is listening and in what context it is being spoken or interpreted. 

I remember when I was younger, (I’m now in the late 4th decade of my life) we used to watch a show called “Mind Your Language” It is a comedy from the late 70s and 80s about a teacher trying to teach English to foreign students (wonder how they defined foreign then, because today, in this global village we call home, nothing is foreign).

Being a great lover of language and linguistics, I enjoyed watching the show. And now, in hindsight, I dare say, maybe watching the show made me love language and linguistics. I don’t know which came first…watching the show, or loving the language. It’s sort of like the chicken and egg scenario. 

2 funny real life examples.

Sleeping Around?

This first one is different meanings based on culture?

My cousin(my real cousin) lives in the United States of America and he recently married a beautiful  American lady of Caucasian descent. The marriage wasn’t considered complete until they had a ceremony in Kenya. So, after their American wedding, my cousin, his newly wed and quite a few of her affluent relatives hopped on the plane and flew to Kenya for the Kenyan wedding. I did not personally attend the wedding but was well briefed by those who attended. Everyone had lots of food and fun, and the couple had planned for an overnight reception aka evening party. There was going to be free booze and dance all night long for the young and old alike.

When the daytime festivities were completed, one of my nephews who had helped coordinate events grabbed the microphone and cleared his throat purposefully.

“Ahem! Attention. Attention everyone.”

Everyone was silent as a very important announcement was about to be made.

My nephew continued, 

“All those who are sleeping around, please join us for the evening party at such and such a place.” 

While all the Kenyan guests cheered excitedly at the prospect of free booze and dance, the American guests dropped their jaws in utter shock! I wasn’t there, but I have pictures in my mind of white women choking on their chai moto (hot Kenyan tea typically served at weddings)  in complete dismay. 

One of the white ladies, her face ashen, leaned over to another of my myriad cousins and asked her shockingly “Do you people talk about such things openly?”

“What things?” My cousin calmly replied wondering why the white woman was so shocked. 

“Sleeping around.” My cousin let out one of those deep, long African Woman laughters and said matter-of-factly, “Oh, no. Sleeping around here means spending the night in the area.” 

“Oh, I see.” Relief was evident on the woman’s face. 

I however can’t help but wonder what the other white guests thought…those who didn’t have the courage to ask why anyone would specifically invite sleep-arounders to attend an evening of booze and dance. 

Are you Bipolar?

The following incident/exchange happened in 2009 between our then 7 year old daughter and myself. 

I am not sure how to categorize it.

Two weeks ago, my neighbor and  good friend whose son is in the same class with Liza, our 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I dont remember us talking about it in front of the children, but the word “bipolar” was at the forefront of my mind when the following conversation took place at our house last Sunday as we were positioning ourselves for family movie night.

“I am Bipolar”, Liza announced.

“No, you are not,” I told her, matter-of-factly. Thoughts were racing in my mind.

“Mami, I AM Bipolar”. She almost shouted.

“NO YOU ARE NOT BIPOLAR” I shouted back.

“YES I AM.”

I was starting to get exasperated. “Liza, do you even know what “Bipolar” means.?”

“Yes, I do. Look! I am sitting by Paula (our 3 month old daughter).”

Your guess is as good as mine.  I sighed with relief, as I am sure you just did.

(So all this time she was saying that she was sitting next to Paula…Talk about “cross-purpose conversation”)

Later, we talked about bipolar and what it means. It was hard to explain…even after using many different ways to describe it, at the end of it, she said, “I dont understand”.  Which is ok with me, at least I was glad she was “by Paula” and not “Bipolar”

Lemon Bars

These lemon bars are tangy and refreshing.

Ingredients

Crust

  1. ½ cup icing sugar 
  2. ½ cup butter 
  3. 2 cups flour

Mix ingredients. Take half and put in a baking pan (approx 24cmX34cm). Press into place and bake at 180 degrees until brown. 

Filling

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 2 cups white sugar 
  3. ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  4. 6 tablespoons flour

Mix filling ingredients and pour over crust.

Take the remaining flour mixture and add enough flour to make it flaky, then sprinkle over the filling. 

Bake at 180 until brown or until filling is thickened. 

Let cool then cut into desired size bars. 

Bean & Lentil Chilli Soup

This bean soup is super hearty. I’d you like it really hot, add more chilli, If you like it milder, add less chilli.
The original recipe was from a newspaper cutting but I tweaked it a lot. For example, it didn’t call for celery, so you can leave that out if you are not a fan.

Ingredients (Makes about 6 litres of soup)

  1. 1/4 cup Butter and 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 2 medium onions
  3. Crushed chilli (3 TBS, or as little or as much as you can handle)
  4. 5 cloves of garlic
  5. 6 grated carrots
  6. 6 sticks chopped celery
  7. 2 cups dry lentils 
  8. 3 cups boiled red beans
  9. I packet (500 grams) white beans, boiled.
  10. 3 cans diced tomatoes
  11. 200 grams tomato paste
  12. 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  13. 5 tablespoons dried parsley
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon brown sugar. 
  16. 5 cups water

To cook.

  1. In a large pot, melt butter and oil fry the onions till clear.
  2. Add chilli, garlic and parsley and cook a few minutes.
  3. Add carrots and celery and cook a few more minutes
  4. Add the lentils and cook till lentils are a bit soft. 
  5. Add the beans, tomatoes, paprika, and tomato paste
  6. Add  water, salt and sugar .
  7. If the soul is too dry, add a bit more water.
  8. Simmer the soup and cook till the colour turns into a rich red. 

Garnish with fresh or dried parsley, a dollop of cream, or yoghurt, and enjoy with rice, Chapati, bread, or just by itself.
My husband likes to grind extra chilli into the soup, using that lovely grinder from our friend Greg. You can order yours here.