The Battle of Blood River and the Blood River Monument

Background

The Great Trek 1835-1838

Between 1835 and 1838 there was a great migration of about 10,000 Afrikaans speaking people (Voortrekkers, pioneers) from the Eastern cape Colony to the northern parts of South Africa. The migration is known as the Great Trek. They traveled into the wilds with their tent-covered oz wagons and their horses and they were armed with muskets. They were the first Europeans who traveled to areas later known as the Orange Free State, the Transvaal and Natal and one could say that they were the pioneers of western civilization in Africa from the south. In the two centuries that the Voortrekkers had been in South Africa they had developed their own identity in religion culture and language.
The main reason for the Trek was the discontent of the Afrikaans speaking farmers of the Eastern cape with the British Government. The banning of their language and the harsh labour laws made conditions unliveable. There were also problems with Xhosa who plundered their homesteads and raided their cattle. The British regarded the farmers as the instigators of all the trouble.
The Sixth Frontier war was the last straw. Forty farmers were murdered, 416 homesteads burned and thousands of horses, cattle and sheep were looted.
The Voortrekkers then decided to leave the Eastern Cape and travel to the north where they hoped to eventually be able to practice their own language and culture and to exercise their own government affairs free from British rule.

Prelude to the battle of Blood River

At least 6 different Treks or wagon trains moved in to the unknown northern interior between 1836 and 1838. They soon encountered hostile tribes and on 16 October 1836 the Trek of Hendrik Potgieter, with 35 men, decisively kept at bay an onslaught of 5,000 Matabele warriors. It was the first time in history that the method of a laager, a closed circle of ox-wagons, proved to be effective against an enemy of thousands.
Up until 1838 many disastrous encounters with hostile tribes left the future dark for the Voortrekkers. The Zulu king, Dingaan, gave instructions to his warriors to “Seek the White people’s encampments and kill them”

The Battle of Blood River

Late in November Andries Pretorius led a wagon train consisting of 64 wagons towards uMgungundhlovu the kraal of Dingaan, King of the Zulus. They had with them two 2 1/2 inch muzzle loading cannons. There were about 470 fighting men and 100 servants. In the teams of the 64 wagons there were about 900 oxen and the men had about 500 horses. The fighting men could each carry 3 guns and they were divided into 5 separate commandos. The muskets were very primitive and were loaded by pouring gunpowder down the barrel then ramming lead balls down with a gun rod. A pull of the trigger ignited the gunpowder and the shot was fired. A maximum of three shots could be fired every minute and the range was about 100 meters.
Prior to the battle of Blood River Andries Pretorius took a vow before God for deliverance that should they be granted victory that day would forever be celebrated in His honour. The 16th December is to this day being celebrated as The Day of the Covenant, mostly by Afrikaans speaking South Africans.
On 15 December 1838 Pretorius and his wagons reached the Ncome river and his scouts reported sighting a large Zulu army. Pretorius found the perfect spot to set up laager, on the western side of a large hippo pool, about 50 meters long and a long dry donga set at about 90 degrees from the hippo pool. He formed the laager of 64 wagons between the pool and the donga. The wagons were formed in the shape of a “D” with the straight side along the donga and the rounded side facing the north-west. Wooden barricades were placed in front of the the openings between the wagons to prevent direct invasion. The two cannon were placed in openings between two wagons. The 900 oxen and 500 horses were held in the middle of the laager.
Late that afternoon Pretorius and a cavalry of 300 men galloped to nearby hills and came across the Zulu army of 15,000 men. They decided to return to the safety of the laager and let the Zulus come to them.
Because of the darkness of the night the Zulus decided to attack at first light the next morning.
The front lines of the Zulu army took position about 40 meters from the wagons The 16th December dawned a clear, sunny day. The Zulus made two crucial mistakes, positioning their front line only 40 meters away from the wagons and waiting to long to give the attack command.
The Voortrekkers fired a first salvo which killed hundreds and immediately followed that up with a further two salvo’s before the Zulus could start their charge. The Zulus were hampered by the fact that the front lines were so closely packed and also the number corpses which grew with every salvo fired by the Voortrekkers. Inside the laager the dense cloud of smoke made visibility near impossible and Pretorius gave the order to stop firing. At the same time the Zulus decided to retreat to about 500 meters from the wagons. This was a blessing for the Voortrekkers as this gave the guns time to cool down before the second charge.
The second charge started and a wall of Zulu warriors descended on the laager. At short range the gunfire from the wagons was very effective as they were now firing 10 or more lead ball with every shot. A historian later said that the Battle of Blood River was the only battle in human history where more people were killed than there were shots fired. Hundreds of Zulu warriors forced their way into the donga and there they were mowed down as they stood so tightly packed together they they couldn’t throw their spears effectively. Once again the Zulus withdrew to about 500 meters from the wagons.
With the third charge the Zulus used different tactics, they attacked in a dispersed formation, not so close together which resulted in the Voortrekkers wasting bullets and killing fewer attackers. But the Voortrekker defense held and the Zulus pulled back again.
As the fourth charge started, Pretorius changed strategy and aimed one of the cannons to shoot as far as possible into the back lines of the Zulus and aimed the other one into the center of the front lines. The effect of this strategy was great, with the first shot two of the Zulu princes were killed. The Zulus now attacked en mass, those trying to cross the hippo pool had no defense and were killed in the water and the blood started to colour the water and from that day the river got a new name: Blood River.
Pretorius’ strategy was to sow confusion amongst the Zulus and he ordered his younger brother, Bart, to lead a mounted commando of 100 men to drive a wedge between the Zulu forces. Galloping between the donga and the Zulu forces, and firing from the saddle, they caused havoc amongst the Zulu warriors. At this stage the Zulu offensive degenerated into a blindfold charge of individual warriors. A second mounted commando caused more havoc and returning to the safety of the laager brought the Zulu army even closer to the laager enabling the marksmen to effect maximum damage.
A third mounted attack shot a path open and they started an attack from behind Zulu lines. An attack by another commando of 100 men split the Zulu army into smaller groups and eventually the Zulu army fled.
The number of Zulus killed at Blood River was estimated to be in the region of 3,500 while miraculously only 3 Voortrekkers were slightly wounded.
To this day, the covenant made in 1838 is still honoured in South Africa and on the 16th December remembrance ceremonies are held at the site of the battle and at the Voortrekker monument in Pretoria, where at exactly midday, the sun shines through a small hole in the roof of the monument and onto a cenotaph on the lower level of the monument.

No verbatim record of the vow exists. The version often considered to be the original vow is in fact W.E.G. Louw’s ca. 1962 translation into Afrikaans of G.B.A. Gerdener’s reconstruction of the vow in his 1919 biography of Sarel Cilliers (Bailey 2003:25).

The wording of the Vow is:
Afrikaans: Hier staan ons voor die Heilige God van Hemel en aarde om ʼn gelofte aan Hom te doen, dat, as Hy ons sal beskerm en ons vyand in ons hand sal gee, ons die dag en datum elke jaar as ʼn dankdag soos ʼn Sabbat sal deurbring; en dat ons ʼn huis tot Sy eer sal oprig waar dit Hom behaag, en dat ons ook aan ons kinders sal sê dat hulle met ons daarin moet deel tot nagedagtenis ook vir die opkomende geslagte. Want die eer van Sy naam sal verheerlik word deur die roem en die eer van oorwinning aan Hom te gee.
English: We stand here before the Holy God of heaven and earth, to make a vow to Him that, if He will protect us and give our enemy into our hand, we shall keep this day and date every year as a day of thanksgiving like a sabbath, and that we shall erect a house to His honour wherever it should please Him, and that we will also tell our children that they should share in that with us in memory for future generations. For the honour of His name will be glorified by giving Him the fame and honour for the victory.
cenotaph

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Curry Cook-off

Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better.
For those of you who have lived in Natal, you know how typical this is. They actually have a Curry Cook-off about June/July.
It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the Royal Show in PMB.

Judge #3 was an inexperienced food critic named Frank, who was visiting from America.
Frank: “Recently, I was honoured to be selected as a judge at a Curry Cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table asking for directions to the Beer Garden when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Natal Indians) that the curry wouldn’t be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted”.

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

CURRY # 1 – MOOSA’S MANIAC MONSTER TOMATO CURRY…

Judge # 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing slight kick.
Judge # 2 — Nice smooth tomato flavour. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) — What the hell is this stuff? You could use it to remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Indians are crazy.

CHILI # 2 – PHOENIX BBQ CHICKEN CURRY…

Judge # 1 — Smoky, with a hint of chicken. Slight chilli tang.
Judge # 2 — Nice BBQ flavor, but needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 — Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver! They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

CURRY # 3 – SHAMILA’S FAMOUS “FIREHOUSE” CURRY…

Judge # 1 — Reasonable curry with a slight bit of kick.
Judge # 2 — A bit salty. Reasonable use of chilli peppers.
Judge # 3 — Call 911. I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drain Cleaner. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting drunk from all the beer.

CURRY # 4 – BABOO’S BLACK MAGIC BEAN CURRY…

Judge # 1 — Black bean curry with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 — Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods. Not much of a curry.
Judge # 3 — I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Shareen, the beermaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 200kg woman is starting to look HOT…just like this nuclear waste I’m eating! Is curry an aphrodisiac?

CURRY # 5 LALL’S LEGAL LIP REMOVER…

Judge # 1 — Meaty, reasonable curry. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding some kick. Almost impressive.
Judge # 2 — Average beef curry, could use more tomato. The chilli peppers almost make a statement.
Judge # 3 — My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted
and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chilli had
given me brain damage. Shareen saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher.
I wonder if I’m burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.

CURRY # 6 – VERISHNEE’S VEGETARIAN VARIETY…

Judge # 1 — Thin yet bold vegetarian variety curry. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 — The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 — My intestines are now a pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames.
No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Shareen. Can’t feel my lips anymore.
I urgently need to sit in snow or ice cream.

CURRY # 7 – MOODLEY’S “MOTHER-IN-LAW’S-TONGUE” CURRY…

Judge # 1 — A mediocre curry with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 — Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chilli peppers at the last moment. (I should
take note at this stage that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing
uncontrollably).
Judge # 3 — You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’ve lost sight in one
eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with curry which slid unnoticed
out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least, during the autopsy, they’ll know what
killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing – it’s too painful. Screw it; I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need
air I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

CURRY # 8 – NAIDOO’S TOENAIL CURLING CURRY…

Judge # 1 — The perfect ending. This is a nice blend curry. Not too bold but just spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 — This final entry is a good, balanced curry. Neither mild nor hot.
Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the curry pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. Poor man. Wonder how he’d have reacted to really hot curry?
Judge # 3 – No Report

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Origin of the American Hamburger

In the previous issue I tried to trace the origin of Coke. This time it’s another great US institution, the hamburger. Let’s stick to the American hamburger, this is what I could find:

There is a diversity of opinion between the northeast and the southwest, with still another opinion coming from the midwest. In the northeast, they say that the burger was first grilled by Louis Lassen of New Haven, Connecticut who ground up some scraps of beef and served it as a sandwich to a customer who was in a hurry in 1900. In Athens, Texas, they say a man named Fletcher Davis fried a beef patty and put it between two slices of bread as a sandwich in the late 1880’s and took it to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. However, there is some evidence to support the theory that the hamburger got its start at the World’s Columbia Exposition in 1893 in Chicago. Other midwesterners claim that Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin invented it in 1885, introducing it at the Outagamie County Fair.

Most historians seem to agree that the popularization of the Hamburger as we know it today, was when Fletch Davis began selling the ground beef patty sandwich at the amusement area, known as The Pike at the St. Louis World’s Fair Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904. Fairgoers took their taste home with them and began experimenting with the Hamburg Steak tucked between two slices of bread. No one knows who thought up the hamburger bun, but by the time the White Castle people opened their doors in 1921 most of the country knew about hamburgers. In 1929 Elzie Crisler Segar was further popularizing hamburgers by giving his cartoon creation, Popeye, a sidekick called J. Wellington Wimpy who was rarely pictured without a burger in his hand.  (Could this be the origin of the Wimpy food chain? – Peter)

Anyway, in my humble opinion the best hamburgers in South Africa are made by Steers!

And…that’s the history of the American hamburger.

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The Real Thing!

If you were to mention U S A to me, the first I would think of would be my friends in the States and then Coke and Hamburgers. I managed to find a brief history of Coke, the REAL thing!

The first glass of Coca-Cola was served on May 8, 1886 at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, where it was sold for 5 cents a glass.
Made up of a thick syrup and carbonated water, this “medicinal” drink was not yet bottled but served as a fountain drink. Dr. John Smith Pemberton, a chemist, was the man responsible for this great soft drink created in a large kettle in his basement.

Since soda fountain customers liked this drink so much, Pemberton decided to produce and sell it. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, came up with the name Coca-Cola by taking the two ingredients – coca leaves and kola nuts. He then took just the words coca and kola and changed the “k” in kola to a “c”. He thought it looked better that way. He then connected the two words with a dash, and in his own handwriting, he wrote down the new name of this new soft drink; the best known trademark in the world. This way of writing never changed, and the color red has always dominated the logo. In 1970, the white, waving ribbon was added to underline the word “Coca-Cola”. Coca-Cola became a registered trademark on January 31, 1893.

The name Coke first appeared on bottles in 1941 and was registered in 1945.

“Doc” Pemberton never had any idea of the success of the syrup he made. He died on August 16, 1888 at the age of 57 after he sold his share of Coca-Cola. to a druggist by the name of Asa Griggs Candler, who became the complete owner of Coca-Cola and founded the Coca-Cola Company. He began the successful Coca-Cola campaigns. Candler’s first campaigns were based on Coca-Cola as a refreshing drink with medicinal effects. It was said that the drink was a good remedy for insomnia, headaches, and mental tiredness. In 1903; however, Coca-Cola stopped advertising as a cure for headaches and other ills due to the controversy of Cocaine being present in this soft drink. At this time, Coca-Cola began using only “spent” coca leaves.

In 1894, Joseph A. Biedenham, the owner of a candy company in Mississippi, first bottled Coca-Cola.

Much of Coca-Cola’s success, of course, came from its great flavor; however, its advertising campaigns didn’t hurt either. From day one, Coca-Cola’s promotion was supported by paintings on buildings, billboards, advertisements in bars, and free giveaways. Some of Coca-Cola’s famous slogans can be found here.

And…that’s the history of Coca-Cola. Today Coca-Cola is the leading soft drink company in the world. Coca-Cola products are consumed at a rate of over one billion drinks per day.

I’d say that proves that Coca-Cola is the Real Thing!

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Some Traditional South African drinks

Ginger Beer

4 1/2 litres water
30 grams root ginger, crushed
500 ml white sugar
15 ml active dry yeast

Boil the water then add ginger and sugar. Remove from stove and cool till lukewarm.
Add the yeast and leave, covered for 2 days. Strain through muslin and bottle in
sterilized bottles and seal. Refrigerate and serve chilled, will keep for up to 10
days in the refrigerator.


Pineapple Beer

Skin of 1 large pineapple, chopped (or alternatively use the whole pineapple)
7 litres lukewarm water
500 gram white sugar
75 ml raisins
10 ml active dry yeast

Wash and rinse the pineapple skin. Mix skin, water, sugar and raisins in a large
container and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Stir well, then cover with a tea towel
and leave for 24 hours in a cool place. Strain through muslin and bottle in sterilized
bottles. Cap after 12 hours and use after 1 to 2 days.


Orange Liqueur

6 large oranges
500 g white sugar
5 ml ground cinnamon
2 ml ground coriander
1 litre brandy

Remove the rind from the oranges and remove all the pith. Chop the rind finely.
Squeeze the juice from the oranges and mix with the sugar, cinnamon, coriander and
rind. Pour the mixture into a large jar then add brandy and mix well. Cover and
leave for 2 to 3 months. Strain through muslin into sterilized bottles, seal and
store. Will keep for months in a cool dry place.


Boerejongens (Raisins and Brandy)

1 kg raisins
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 pieces cinnamon
2 cardamom pods, crushed

Wash the raisins and place with sugar, water, cinnamon and cardamom in a pot and
heat. Boil slowly for 10 minutes and stir till sugar is dissolved. Remove the raisins
from the syrup and pack in sterilized jars. Fill the jars with brandy or a 50/50
mixture of brandy and syrup. Remove the cinnamon and cardamom. Keep for at least
3 months before eating.


Kaapsche Jongens (Grapes and Brandy)

hanepoot grapes
castor sugar
brandy or “witblits”

Use unblemished hanepoot grapes. Wash carefully taking care not to bruise. Prick
each grape with a needle and pack a layer of the grapes at the bottom of a
sterilized jar. Sprinkle over a layer of castor sugar, continue layer by layer till the
jar is full. Now take a good brandy or witblits, (mampoer, moonshine) and pour into
the jar till full, then seal and keep for at least 3 months before using.


Boeremeisies (Apricots and Brandy)

ripe, firm apricots
sugar
water
brandy

Wash the apricots and prick with a needle. Boil a syrup from equal portions of water
and sugar then mix with equal portion of good brandy. Pack the apricots into
sterilized jars and pour over the brandy syrup. Place the jars in water up to the
necks and bring the water to boiling point. Seal the jars tightly and use after 3
months.

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Some Recipes from Africa

Elephant Soup
from: Central Africa
cooking method: boiling-simmering
In African villages, a successful hunt means a share of fresh meat for everyone. After traveling in equatorial Africa one observer wrote, “…the gorge they all go in for after a successful elephant hunt is a thing to see–once”. (Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, 1897.) There can still be more meat than can be immediately consumed, especially when there are no refrigerators or freezers, so a tradition of preserving meat by drying or smoking has developed throughout Africa. Dried meat, called biltong (similar to jerky) is often eaten as is. This recipe shows how dried meat can be used to make a soup or stew, similar to what is described in the quotation from Baker, below.

What you need

one-half pound of biltong, or dried or smoked meat like beef jerky (the original recipe mentions elephant meat coated with salt and honey and dried in the sun)
six to eight cups of beef broth or beef stock
one cup of mirepoix [diced carrots, onions, celery and herbs sautéed in butter] (optional)
two onions, finely chopped
one cup shelled, roasted peanuts (or one-half cup peanut butter)
one cup boiled chana dal (or any lentils or dried peas)
one small leek, finely chopped
one cup of Wumubu mushrooms (or any kind of mushrooms), (the original recipe says that Wumubu are “a type of black African mushroom”)
two tablespoons of butter
salt, black pepper (to taste)
one-half cup cream

What you do

Wash the biltong or dried meat in hot water, and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

In a large pot or dutch oven (potjie) , combine the meat with enough cold water to cover it, and cook over a low heat for twenty to thirty minutes.

Add the mirepoix and beef broth and simmer for two hours.

Add the onions, peanuts, and dal (lentils), mushrooms, and leek. Cook until the dal are completely disintegrated.

Adjust the seasoning. Add the butter and cream. Serve.


Jollof Rice
from: Western Africa
cooking method: boiling-simmering
One often hears that Jollof Rice (or Jolof Rice, Djolof Rice) is a Nigerian dish; indeed it is often made by Nigerians. However, it has its origins among the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia who make a rice and fish dish they call Ceebu Jën. Since Nigeria has the largest population of any African country, it’s safe to say that most of the people who make and eat Jollof Rice are probably Nigerian.

There are many variations of Jollof Rice. The most common basic ingredients are: rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper. Beyond that, nearly any kind of meat, fish, vegetable, or spice can be added.

What you need

oil for frying
one chicken (and/or a pound or two of stew meat), chopped into bite-sized pieces
one or two onions, finely chopped
salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (to taste)
Flavoring add-ins (to taste)
chile pepper, chopped
garlic
thyme
bay leaf
ginger
cinnamon
curry powder
two cups chicken broth or chicken stock, or beef broth or beef stock (or Maggi® cubes and water)
two or three ripe tomatoes, chopped
Vegetable add-ins
sweet green pepper (or bell pepper), chopped
string beans or green beans
green peas
carrots, chopped
cabbage, chopped
four cups rice
one small can tomato paste
Meat add-ins
cooked ham
shrimp or prawns (or dried shrimp or dried prawns)
Garnishes
fresh parsley, chopped
cilantro, chopped
lettuce, shredded
hard-boiled egg, sliced

What you do

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Stir-fry the chicken (or beef) in the oil until it is browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the oil and set aside. Add the onions, the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and one or two of the flavoring add-ins (if desired) to the skillet and fry the mixture until the onions begin to become tender. Remove the onion mixture from the skillet and set aside with the meat.

In a dutch oven or large covered cooking pot, bring the broth and two cups of water to a simmer. Place the meat and onion mixture into the dutch oven and cover.

In the same skillet used for the meat and onions, stir-fry the tomatoes and one or two of the vegetable add-ins. Continue frying the mixture until the vegetables are partly cooked, then add them to the meat, onions, and broth in the dutch oven.

Again in the same skillet, combine the rice and the tomato paste. Over low heat, stir until the rice is evenly coated with the tomato paste. The rice should end up a pink-orange color. Add the rice to the dutch oven and stir gently.

Cover the dutch oven and cook the mixture over a low heat until the rice is done and the vegetables are tender (maybe half an hour). Stir gently occasionally and check to see that the bottom of the pot does not become completely dry. Add warm water or broth (a quarter cup at a time) as necessary to help rice cook. Adjust seasoning as needed. If desired, add one of the meat add-ins while the dish is cooking. (Shrimp cook very quickly and should not be over-cooked or they will become tough; ham can be added at any time.)

Serve with one or two of the garnishes.

Serve Ginger Beer or Green Tea with Mint with or after the meal.


Peanut Soup
from: all over Africa cooking
method: boiling-simmering
Various peanut soups are common throughout Africa. Some are very simple, others more elaborate. They are often eaten as a main course along with Rice, or one of the Fufu-like staples: Baton de Manioc, Fufu, or Ugali.

What you need

two or three cups chicken broth or chicken stock
one small onion, minced
one small sweet green pepper (or bell pepper), minced
one clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper or red pepper (to taste)
one hot chile pepper, minced (optional)
one carrot, chopped fine or one sweet potato or yams, boiled and mashed (optional)
one or two tomatoes, chopped or canned tomatoes (optional)
one cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (or make your own peanut paste, see the simple peanut soup recipe below)

What you do

If using homemade peanut paste, simmer it with the broth for fifteen minutes, then add all other ingredients and simmer over low heat until everything is thoroughly cooked. Stir often. Soup should be thick and smooth.

If using peanut butter: Combine all ingredients except the peanut butter and simmer over medium heat until everything is tender. Reduce heat, add the peanut butter and simmer for a few minutes more. Stir often. Soup should be thick and smooth.


Simplest Peanut Soup

The simplest Peanut Soup recipe calls for two parts chicken stock, two parts shelled peanuts, and one part milk or cream. Start by roasting the peanuts in a baking pan in a hot oven, or on the stove in a large skillet, turning often. Remove the skins from the peanuts and mash them with a mortar and pestle, mince them with a knife, crush them with a rolling pin, or use a food-processor. (Or you could use one part peanut butter, preferably natural and unsweetened.) Combine the peanut paste with the chicken stock in a saucepan and simmer for thirty minutes to an hour. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir in milk before serving.


Colonial American Peanut Soup

Make a roux by heating a spoonful of butter in a saucepan and slowly stirring in a spoonful of flour, then add the other ingredients (as above). Consider including a chopped celery stalk and a chopped leek along with the other vegetables. Also add some milk or cream just before serving.


Ntomo Krakro (Sweet Potato Fritters)

This should be great as a potjie side dish!

4 sweet potatoes
2 large eggs
1 tablesp. flour
2 tablesp. butter or fat
1/4 teasp. salt
Water (or milk if preferred)
Bread crumbs for coating
Oil for frying
Peel, boil, and mash sweet potatoes.
Beat eggs and add rest of ingredients.
Add enough liquid to mix into a fairly soft dough.
Make into flat cakes. Coat with beaten eggs and breadcrumbs.
Fry in hot fat until golden brown.
Drain well and serve hot with meat or fish stew.

 

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More Festive Food and Ideas!

Oysters with Pine Nut and Bacon

24 oysters

2 rashers rindless bacon

30g butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

125g rocket leaves

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp pine nuts, chopped and toasted

  1. Remove the oysters from their shells – clean and dry the shells
  2. Finely chop the bacon and fry for 2 minutes until just soft – remove from the pan
  3. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the onion and stir until soft
  4. Add torn rocket leaves to the pan and stir until just wilted
  5. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce
  6. Divide the rocket among the oyster shells, replace the oysters in the shells and top with the combined bacon and pine nuts
  7. Grill under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp

Glazed Gammon

3-4 kg gammon

1 x onion

1 x carrot

1 x stick of celery

2 bay leaves

6 peppercorns

500ml apple cider

glaze of your choice

cloves

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C
  2. Put the gammon in a large casserole dish together with the chopped onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and peppercorns
  3. Add the apple cider and cover with foil
  4. Cook for 20 minutes per 500g of meat  – allow to cool in the liquid
  5. Remove the gammon from the liquid and vegetables
  6. Remove the rind by running your thumb around the edge and carefully pulling the rind back, easing your hand under between the fat and the rind
  7. With a sharp knife, lightly score the fat to form a diamond pattern – do not cut through to the gammon, or the fat will fall off while glazing
  8. Spread half of the glaze of your choice over the gammon with a palette knife or the back of a spoon and press a clove into each diamond
  9. Put the ham on a rack of a deep baking dish and pour a cup of water into the dish
  10. Cover the dish securely with greased foil and cook @ 180°C for 45 minutes
  11. Remove from the oven and brush or spread the remaining glaze over the gammon
  12. Increase the heat to 210°C and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the surface is lightly caramelized – set aside for 15 minutes before carving

HONEY GLAZE

Mix 125g soft brown sugar, 3 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp hot English mustard together in a bowl

ORANGE GLAZE

Stir together 250ml orange juice, 140g soft brown sugar, 1 Tbsp French mustard, 175g honey, 2 tsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier in a bowl

MUSTARD & REDCURRANT GLAZE

Put 90g Dijon mustard, 315g redcurrant jelly, 4 crushed cloves of garlic and 2 Tbsp each of oil and soy sauce into a small saucepan.  Stir and gently warm over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the jelly has melted.  Take care the glaze doesn’t catch on the base of the pan.

Pork Fillet with Apple and Mustard Sauce and Glazed Apples

750g pork fillet

30g butter

1 Tbsp oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp fresh, grated ginger

1 Tbsp seeded mustard

60ml apple sauce

2 Tbsp chicken stock

125ml cream

1 tsp cornflour

GLAZED APPLES

2 green apples

50g butter

2 Tbsp soft brown sugar

  1. Trim the pork fillet and remove any fat and sinew – tie with kitchen string at 3 cm intervals to keep in shape
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the fillet and cook until lightly browned all over – remove and place on the rack of a baking dish – retain pan juices
  3. Add 125ml water to the baking dish and bake @ 180°C for 15 – 20 minutes – leave for 10 minutes before removing string and slicing
  4. For the sauce, reheat the pan juices, add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minute
  5. Stir in the mustard, apple sauce and stock
  6. Slowly stir in the combined cream and cornflour and stir until mixture boils and thickens
  7. For the glazed apples, cut the apples into 1 cm slices
  8. Melt the butter in the pan and add the sugar – stir until dissolved
  9. Add the apple slices and pan-fry, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and glazed
  10. Slice the pork and serve the apple and mustard sauce over it – serve with the glazed apples

NOTE

Pork fillets can be thick and short or long and thin and the time they take to cook will vary accordingly

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Sage Stuffing

2 x 1.2 kg chickens

4 rashers bacon

2 Tbsp oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp chopped, fresh sage

125g fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C – trim the chickens and pat dry inside and outside with paper towels
  2. Finely chop 2 of the bacon rashers
  3. Heat half the oil in a pan, add the onion and bacon and cook until the onion is soft and the bacon starting to brown
  4. Transfer to a bowl and cool
  5. Add the sage, breadcrumbs and egg to the onion, season to taste and mix lightly – spoon stuffing into each chicken cavity
  6. Fold the wing back and tuck under the chicken – tie the legs of each chicken together with string
  7. Place on a rack of a large baking dish, making sure they are not touching and brush with some of the remaining oil
  8. Pour 1 cup of water into the baking dish
  9. Cut the remaining bacon into long, thin strips and lay across the chicken breasts – brush the bacon with oil
  10. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a skewer

NOTE

This chicken dish is delicious served with a gravy with wine sauce and roast vegetables

Roast Turkey

3 kg turkey

1 quantity of stuffing – see below

2 Tbsp oil

500ml chicken stock

2 Tbsp plain flour

  1. Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey and wash the turkey well and pat dry
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  3. Make the stuffing you prefer and stuff into the turkey cavity
  4. Tie the legs together, tuck the wings underneath and place turkey on a baking rack
  5. Roast for 2 hours, basting with the combined oil and 125ml stock
  6. Cover the breast and legs with foil after an hour if the turkey is overbrowning
  7. Remove from oven, cover and leave for 15 minutes to rest
  8. To make the gravy, drain off all except 2 Tbsp of pan juices from the baking dish
  9. Place the dish on the stove over a low heat, add the flour and stir well
  10. Stir over medium heat until browned
  11. Gradually add the remaining stock, stirring until the gravy thickens and boils

NOTE

Do not stuff the turkey until you are ready to cook it.  Stuffing can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to a month in an airtight container.  If you prefer to cook the stuffing separately, press it lightly into a greased ovenproof dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Small muffin tins can also be used (bake for 15 – 20 minutes)  Alternatively, you can form the mixture into balls and fry in a little melted butter or oil, over a medium heat, until golden brown all over.

CITRUS STUFFING

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and cook 1 finely chopped onion until soft.  Transfer to a large bowl and cool.  Add 200g sausage meat, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 2 cups of fresh white breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons each of grated lemon and orange rinds and 60g finely chopped pecans, and mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix.

COUNTRY SAGE STUFFING

Melt 45g butter in a small saucepan and cook 1 finely chopped onion and 1 sliced celery stick over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the onion has softened.  Transfer to a bowl and add 10 shredded, large fresh sage leaves, 2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, 1 1/2 tsp dried sage, 4 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh parsley, 2 lightly beaten egg whites, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper.

CASHEW STUFFING

Melt 60g butter in a frying pan and cook 1 chopped onion until golden.  Cool, then mix thoroughly with 2 cups cooked, long-grain brown rice, 1 cup chopped, dried apricots, 1/2 cup unsalted cashews, 3 Tbsp chopped, fresh parsley, 2 Tbsp chopped, fresh mint and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slow Roasted Lamb with Cumin and Paprika

2.2 kg leg of lamb

75g butter, softened at room temperature

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

3 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika

1 Tbsp cumin extra for dipping

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C
  2. With a small, sharp knife, cut small, deep slits in the top and sides of the lamb
  3. Mix the butter, garlic, spices and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl until a smooth paste forms
  4. With the back of a spoon, rub the paste all over the lamb, then use your fingers to spread the paste and make sure all the lamb is covered
  5. Put the lamb bone-side-down in a deep baking dish and place on the top shelf of the oven – bake for 10 minutes, then baste and return to the oven
  6. Reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for 3 hours 20 minutes, basting every 20 – 30 minutes to tenderize the meat
  7. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then carve into chunky pieces
  8. Mix the cumin with 1 1/2 tsp salt and serve on the side for dipping

Ice Cream Bombe

1 large mango, finely chopped

1 cup canned pineapple pieces, drained

60ml Grand Marnier

250g fresh strawberries, pureed

400g can condensed milk

600ml cream

80g dessert nougat, chopped

35g roughly chopped unsalted pistachios

strawberries, extra, halved to garnish

TOFFEE BARK

90g caster sugar

  1. Lightly grease a 2 litre pudding bowl and line with plastic wrap, allowing to hang over the side of the basin
  2. Put it in the freezer until ready to use
  3. Drain the mango and pineapple in a sieve
  4. Mix the Grand Marnier, strawberry puree and condensed milk in a large bowl
  5. Whisk the cream to soft peaks, then add to the bowl and continue whisking until thick
  6. Fold in the drained fruits, nougat and pistachios

7, Pour the mixture into the pudding bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight, or until firm

  1. To serve, remove the plastic from the base and invert the pudding onto a chilled serving plate – remove the bowl, but leave the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 – 25 minutes to soften slightly
  2. For the toffee bark, line a baking tray with baking paper
  3. Heat the sugar over a low heat in a heavy-based saucepan for 2 – 3 minutes, or until melted and golden
  4. Carefully pour into the tray
  5. Tilt the tray to get a thin, even layer of toffee over the paper and cool slightly
  6. While still pliable, drape the paper over a rolling pin and allow to cool for 30 – 60 seconds before peeling away strips of toffee in  large irregular shapes
  7. Cool – to serve, remove the plastic and decorate the bombe with toffee bark and strawberries

NOTE

Dessert nougat is a soft nougat available at confectionery shops and some delicatessens

Summer Berries in Champagne Jelly

1 litre champagne or sparkling white wine

1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine

250g sugar

4 strips lemon rind

4 strips orange rind

250f small strawberries, hulled

250g blueberries (or any other blue berries)

  1. Pour half the champagne into a bowl and let the bubbles subside
  2. Sprinkle the gelatine over the top in an even layer
  3. Leave until the gelatine is spongy – do not stir
  4. Pour the remaining champagne into a saucepan, add the sugar and rinds and heat gently, stirring constantly, until all the sugar has dissolved
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir until thoroughly dissolved
  6. Leave to cool completely, then remove the rind
  7. Divide the berries among eight 125ml stemmed wine glasses and gently pour the jelly over them
  8. Refrigerate until set – remove from the fridge 15 minutes before serving

Rum Truffles

200g dark cooking chocolate, finely chopped

60ml cream

30g butter

50g chocolate cake crumbs

2 tsp dark rum, brandy or whisky

95g chocolate sprinkles

  1. Line a baking tray with foil
  2. Put chocolate in a heat-proof bowl
  3. Combine the cream and butter in a small pan and stir over a low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is just boiling
  4. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth
  5. Stir in the cake crumbs and rum
  6. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until firm enough to handle
  7. Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls
  8. Spread the chocolate sprinkles on a sheet of greaseproof paper and roll each truffle in sprinkles
  9. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm
  10. Serve in a small paper patty cup, if desired

NOTE

Truffles can also be rolled in dark cocoa powder.  They can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container

Sugar-Free Christmas Pudding

6 ripe bananas, mashed

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups (370g) mixed dried fruit

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

ORANGE CREAM

315ml cream

2 Tbsp orange juice

1 Tbsp grated orange rind

1 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Place a 1.25 litre pudding basin in a large pan, on a trivet or upturned saucer, and pour enough cold water to come half way up the sides of the basin – remove the basin and put the water on to boil
  2. Combine the egg, dried fruit and breadcrumbs in a bowl, then spoon into the pudding basin
  3. Cover the basin and make a handle as shown below
  4. Gently lower the basin into the boiling water, reduce the heat to a fast simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid
  5. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, checking the water after an hour and topping up to the original level with boiling water if needed
  6. For the orange cream, combine the cream, orange juice, rind and vanilla in a bowl and mix well – serve over the pudding

HOW TO CARVE MEAT FOR THE CHRISTMAS TABLE

The most popular Christmas roasts are turkey and ham.  Rarely eaten at any other time of the year, even the most confident of cooks sometimes battle when it comes to the correct method of carving these delicious meats.  Remember, if eating roasts hot, allow 15 minutes for the meat to rest before carving it.  Cover it with foil to keep hot.  The meat absorbs the juices, keeping it moist and tender.  Make sure your knife is sharp and try to slice, rather than saw.  A carving fork is also essential to help keep the meat steady.  Try not to pierce the meat – rather hold it with the back of the fork.    Always carve on a carving board, not a serving platter.  China and metal surfaces can scratch easily and can be quite slippery, causing you to lose control of the knife.  If possible, use a carving board with a rim around the edge.  This catches any excess juices, and prevents you making a big mess on the counter top or table.  The juices can also be strained off and used in the gravy.  It is also a good idea to put a damp cloth under the board, to prevent it from slipping while carving.

 

HAM

 

After it has rested, place the ham on the board with the bone to the left.  Use a clean tea towel to hold the bone firmly while carving.  Slice a piece from the underside of the leg, so that it sits flat on the board. (figure #1)

Slice into the meat about 10 cm from the knuckle. (figure #2)  Make another cut at an angle to the first so that it forms a wedge, then remove.  Continue cutting to the right, cutting several thin slices right down to the bone (figure #3).  The meat will still be attached to the bone, so to release the pieces, you have to run the knife along the bone, under the meat (figure #4).  Lift off the slices with the flat of the knife.  Cut enough slicing for serving, covering the slices with foil as you go if the ham is to be served warm.

TURKEY

 

After it has rested, place the turkey on a cutting board, breast-side up and with the legs facing you.  Use a carving fork to steady the bird and cut downwards into the skin and meat, where the leg meats the breast. (figure #1)  Bend the leg outwards with the carving knife until you can see the joint where the thighbone and the backbone connect.  Keep cutting at a slight angle towards the joint, then cut down and through it until the leg section (the thigh and drumstick) can be easily removed.  Depending on the size of the turkey, you can also cut through the leg at the joint to remove the thigh and have two separate pieces (figure #2).  Set the meat aside on a warm serving platter and keep covered with foil while you carve the rest of the bird.  This will keep it warm and stop it from drying out.  On the same side of the bird, find where the wing meets the body and cut down, again until you meet the joint.  You may need to pull the wing out with your left hand while you are cutting with your right to loosen the wing from the rest of the bird (figure #3).  Continuing on the same side, begin to carve the breast.  Start at the top of the breast, where it attaches to the ridge of the bone, and carve downwards in even slices, at a slight angle, towards the cutting board (figure #4).  Now repeat this process on the other side of the turkey.  To remove the wishbone, snip the sinews on either side.  Remove the stuffing from the opening of the carcass with a spoon and, depending on the texture of the stuffing, serve it either in slices or in spoonfuls.

 

STEAMED PUDDING

Steamed puddings can be made up to 3 months ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, stored in a cool, dark place, or in the fridge.  On the big day, steam in a greased basin for one hour.

PREPARING THE BASIN

It is essential that the capacity of the basin is the correct size for the recipe, so that the pudding has room to rise and does not expand out of the basing.  Check the capacity by filling it with water from a measuring jug.  Basins are available in many different shapes and sizes and are made or ceramic, glass, steel or aluminium.  Ceramic basins let the pudding cook slower, so it cooks through without overcooking the edges.  Metal basins cook quicker, so it should be checked 30 minutes before the cooking time is up.  Most metal basins come with a lid, but this is not essential and is often used as well as baking paper and foil.

STEAMING THE PUDDING

You need a large saucepan, which will hold the basin and enough room to fit the saucepan lid on properly.  If you don’t have a trivet (a small round or square metal rack, available at speciality stores), you can use a collapsible metal vegetable steamer (unscrew the handle), or an upturned saucer.  Place the empty basin on the trivet in the saucepan and pour water into the saucepan to come halfway up the side of the basin.  Remove the basin.

To help prevent the cooked pudding sticking to the basin, brush the basin well with melted butter and line the base with a circle of baking paper (even if the base is very small).

Make the pudding mixture according to the recipe and spoon into the basin, smoothing the top to make it level.  Put the saucepan of water on to boil.

To cover the pudding, place a sheet of foil on the bench top with a piece of baking paper the same size, and brush the paper well with melted butter.  Fold a pleat across the centre of the foil and paper to allow for expansion.  Place the paper and the foil, foil side up, over the basin (don’t press into the pudding) and smooth it down the side of the basin.  Tie a double length of string firmly around the rim of the basin, then tie a double length of string onto that string to form a handle to lower the pudding into the water.  If you have a basin with a lid, clip it on at this stage.  The paper/foil lid prevents any moisture getting into the pudding and making it soggy.

Using the handle, carefully lower the pudding into the saucepan and reduce the heat until the water is simmering quickly.  Cover the saucepan and cook according to the directions in the recipe.  Add more boiling water to the saucepan occasionally to maintain the water level.

WHEN IS IT COOKED

When the cooking time is up, carefully remove the pudding from the saucepan, using the string handles.  Remove the lid and paper/foil and test the pudding – a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre (if you hit a piece of fruit, the skewer may come out sticky).  You can also check by pressing the top gently – the pudding should be firm in the centre, well risen and moist.  If the pudding is not cooked, replace the top and continue cooking until done.  When the pudding is cooked, leave it in the basin for 5 minutes before gently turning out onto a large plate.  Discard the round of baking paper from the base.  If the pudding sticks to the basin, gently loosen around the edges with a palette knife to help release it.

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