It’s a Portuguese tradition to have a salt-cod dish on Christmas Eve. There are as many ways of cooking salt-cod as there are families. In Portuguese salt-cod is called “bacalhau”.

In our family salt-cod has a mixed reception. My Dad loves it done the uber-traditional way – boiled salt-cod, boiled potatoes, boiled onion, boiled cabbage and boiled egg. It’s presented on a large platter filled with the steaming food. Once on the plate, olive oil and vinegar is drizzled over, and some people like putting chopped garlic on as well.

Most of us don’t enjoy it like this because it’s very bland. It really is! I prefer a more eclectic dish.

My hubby made Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa. The “bacalhau” is boiled and the bones taken off. Then the bacalhau is layered in an oven-proof dish with onions, potato rounds, olives and green pepper. Before popping it into the oven copious amounts of olive oil is drizzled over. My hubby caramelises the onion and green pepper beforehand and this lends the dish huge depth of flavour.

Caramelising onions


Caramelising green peppers

He doesn’t use as much olive oil as the original recipe – he drizzles over white wine and cream as well. This then gets baked until the potatoes are cooked and the top wonderfully crispy. It’s garnished with sliced boiled egg before serving. This variation went down a treat with our very mixed family.

So as you can see today I had a boring day hence the paucity of material for my blog. Bland just like the boiled variety…

Shapes, light and shadow in Freedom Park

I recently visited Freedom Park. It is worth a visit for many reasons. It sits on a hill overlooking Pretoria and provides a spectacular view of the city. There’s a lot that I like about Freedom Park, not least of which is the acknowledgement and celebration of our heritage as a diverse South African nation.

I was struck by the naturalness of the building materials, the merging into the environment and beautiful shapes in the construction of the facility.

Freedom Park – I love these stark angles and the play of light and dark, sun and shadow


Freedom Park – natural stonework on the wall, blue sky, shade, curves and lines

It was there that I met a sangoma who had some very interesting stories to tell. We sat there, like kids, listening in fascination, as she demystified the modality. I don’t know why people are afraid of them, or why they are looked down upon as a lesser form of healing. Like all modalities, there are the good sangomas and the ones that aren’t good and prey on human fears (remember those flyers that are handed out at robots promising all sorts of improbable things). Like homeopathy, naturopathy and chinese medicine, to mention but a few, it has its protocols, processes and materials for healing (e.g. herbs). There are cultural belief systems surrounding sangomas, ancient ones. I wouldn’t hesitate to make use of one. A whole lot of us went home with her business card :-).


Things I found in the veld

The other day I went for a walk in the veld, bush actually. I found some very interesting things, not the kind of things one would normally find in the veld. The fact that they are in the middle of a camping resort construction site didn’t make it any less bizarre.

I recently bought a really nice camera, my first serious one, and I’ve been having fun, learning…my husband has nicknamed me Paparazzi because it is always with me and I snap away. I love snapping people when they are not posed, when they are at their most relaxed and natural. I love photographing children, they are such gratifying subjects.
I have yet to find a child who does not like being photographed. Cameras are such a ubiquitous part of our existence, phone cameras being the de-facto point and click devices, that most people are used to being snapped. I read that the traditional point and click market is diminishing due to mobile phones having such good cameras. And they have the added benefit of immediate sharing.
Anyway, below are the bizarre things that I found when I went for a walk in the veld.
Loos, all in a neat row, the pipes all connected. Not much privacy at the moment. These stalls are going to be very narrow!

Someone’s shoe and piece of clothing. The huge pile of hay makes for a great place to take a snooze after lunch…(yes, a snooze, not what you’re thinking!)

A cast-iron pot…! Really?

Now this had me confuddled…team-building thingy-madjig thing probably. Or target shooting…?

There’s a kudu in that picture, right in the middle, hidden by the veld, LOL! Seriously, there was, I saw him.

The end of the sticky tape

Christmas present wrapping normally presents with some interesting problems. Like wrapping irregular shaped presents, and being left over with pieces of paper that fit no present and can’t be used for much.

And what about those big presents that need more than 1 roll to wrap and you don’t have matching paper (for those OCD types this must pose quite a conundrum). And running out of paper on Christmas Eve must count as one of the worse things ever! Oh…and what about running out of sticky tape?

But the one faced yesterday in a certain Knysna household involved the end of the sticky tape. Like, where is it…?

A certain Granny Greene comes into the dining room at 1am and the following is what transpired. Jethro Tull is blaring in the background so the voices are slightly raised.

Granny Greene: I’m going to call it a day, because I’m p&%$ off. My eyes are tired, I can’t see properly anymore and I can’t find the end of the sticky tape.

My husband: I think that’s the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard.

Sister-in-law: We’ve got no trouble finding our end, we’re holding up our end of the bargain. (holds up the roll with the end sticking up).

Granny Greene: Well I’ve lost it, I’m like the lost lambs.

My husband: I’m reconsidering going to Mass on Christmas Day with you because you’re a bad influence.

Granny Greene: I dropped the tape on the carpet and it got stuck on the carpet. I can’t find the f&%$ end.

My husband: Oh well, now you tell us you dropped it on the carpet. Then it should be obvious which is the end – it’s the furry end.

Granny Greene: Next year I’m going to give money, you can all get your own and wrap them.

My husband: Here’s the queue…(pointing behind him).

The following morning Granny Greene announced that she was the last to finish wrapping presents.

So here are 5 awesome tips to prevent losing the end of the sticky tape…and your mind:

  • Go Mythbusters and use duct-tape.
  • Use green Pick and Pay bags.
  • Don’t wrap presents.
  • Give money.
  • Try not to wrap presents at 1am.

It was all tears-running-down-the-face funny.

Trust me.

Ok, maybe you had to be there 🙂

Crab for the risotto

I don’t remember the drive from Joburg to Knysna taking so long! The quickest we’ve ever done it was 9 hours – sans roadworks, petrol queues, rain and N1 closure and diversion. Yesterday it took us 13 hours – with roadworks, petrol queues, rain and N1 closure and diversion.

At Willowmore we met a female biker filling her Honda superbike with petrol. She had left Joburg at 2pm – we spoke at 7pm – 5 hours to travel 1000 kms (by that time we’d been on the road for 10 hours). That’s some low-level flying. My beautiful car doesn’t do too badly, and my beautiful bike will do better…

Despite the tediousness of the drive we had some interesting experiences with the local wildlife. Just outside Willowmore we rounded a curve and this humungous tortoise was crossing the road and had managed to make it right into the middle of our lane in the narrow road. It was dusk and it blended into the grey tarmac, I sensed something move in front of me (can you believe it :-)) and swerved to avoid it. Thankfully there were no oncoming cars or any one behind me. And I wasn’t even speeding – well, not too much anyway. In the split second it took to swerve thoughts of the kiddies story about the tortoise and the hare came unbidden to my mind. I assume that race didn’t take place on a lonely stretch of highway in the Karoo because I didn’t see any hares or rabbits. Only lots of sheep and goats.

Just outside Uniondale, 2 guineafowl decided to cross the road in front of us. Again, we were the only car on the road at that time. I slowed down, HOPING that they would realise the folly of their decision and quickly scuttle back to the safety of the veld on the side of the road – but NOOOOO! They continued on, one behind the other – but they got to the middle-line and slowed down. I didn’t, however, see them turn back. A few seconds later we passed a minibus taxi towing a Venter trailer…as I write this post I am unsure as to the fate of those guineafowl.

The last interesting experience was on the N2 close to Wilderness. It was dark already and there weren’t many cars on the road then either. I thought I saw a crab, big and red, crossing the road in front of the car. I wasn’t driving at the time which was probably a good thing.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: Eddie, is that a crab crossing the road in front of us?

Eddie: Ummm… weeeelll…act-u-a-lly that looks more like a fanta can to me (he says this to me very slowly, as though taking to a child LOL)…but IF it looks like a crab to you, then we HAVE to stop RIGHT now and rest…but if it’s REALLY a crab, then let me know when you see another one, and I’ll grab it for the risotto!

This last experience with the local wildlife sums up my experience of the road trip to Knysna – tiring and mind-numbing – and it felt like I was in a twilight zone which stretched on for over a 1000 miles.

Next time I will fly…