Sunday, February 9, 2014

Slow Living in January

January, month of anguish for a mother-heart, has passed. Remembering the days spent in Cape Town, settling my beloved daughter in for the new season of her college life and then that long, long drive home to the farm, is something that I have not been able to confront until today. I am sitting on our verandah, the heat of the day overpowering the shade as I look out over the green fields, thunderclouds building in the hazy sky. Katy Melua serenades the late afternoon along with an impertinent hadeda. So join me as I revisit the past month along with Slow Living Essentials.

My soul was nourished with family, friendship, love and meals shared this month. Precious moments all of them....

*A sundowner meal of crackers, chips, dips, watermelon and goodbyes on the hill overlooking the farm, shared with farm friends on her last night before we left.
*Welcoming comfort of my sister-in-law's homemade Spaghetti Bolognese and gorgeous salad lovingly prepared with my nephew in anticipation of our arrival.
* Organic chicken from my dear friend's teenage son's meat business, braaied by the boys
accompanied with ratatouille picked and prepared from her urban homestead, and splashing children shouting, and chilled drinks.
* Bring and share chicken, salad, pizza lunch with my family, cousins laughing and swimming.
*Chocolate croissants, a continental breakfast with my beloved Dad and Merle, looking out over a drizzly Noordhoek valley.
*Mom and daughter fruit shakes and hard mothering time.
*Boy's school buddy reminiscing over curry and anecdotes with Decadent Dad.
*Nana's cook all night curry and popadums served with love and kindness.
*Girls' treat of earl grey tea and chocolate cheesecake for me in a vintage tea shop full of trinkets and heart time. Sisters, daughters and cousins, above all, friends.
*Fish, wine and sushi with old friends, celebrating getting older together and longstanding friendship.
*Perfect fish and chips and a beer with our family at Fisherman's in my heart-home Kommetjie followed by a long walk with loved ones on my Long Beach.
*Braai at the beautifully decorated home of my faithful friend and her family, the boys big and small amusing themselves by hanging a swing from the too high branches of an oak tree in the garden. Lemon meringue pie baked by the 14 year old birthday boy.
*Cherished moments with old valley friends, sumptuous deli lunch, with her daughter's homemade cheese and tea with cakes and happy laughter.
*Gourmet dinner with cousins on a long, lovely Summer's evening in their magnificent new home.
*Birthday cake - chocolate meringue and strawberries baked by my sweet niece and a surprise visit  and gift from a still young, looking-gorgeous, good old friend.
*Surprise birthday lunch spoiling from my Dad, scrumptious butternut salad in a pretty garden.
*Cocktails on the beachfront for sundowners followed by dinner for two, a foodie adventure of note, decadent dinner at Cheyne's in Hout Bay, Asian fusion restaurant. My birthday party for two. Me and my man.
*Coffee, Lindt-romany-creams and awesome catch-up after the years with one of the four C's- bff's from school.
*Blueberry cheesecake and tea under the trees in the Tokai Arboretum alongside sincere heart sharing with a dear friend.
*Roast organic chicken and roast potatoes with caramel birthday cake for a 17 year old young man and family friend, cake baked by his younger sister. After dinner brother and sister demonstrated their ballroom dancing finesse in the lounge.
*Tea and treats with hot chilli muffins and heirloom seeds with my sister and my fabulous uncle and aunt in Gravel Garden.
*Family, abundant chicken and porkie braai at my brother- and sister-in-law's home, cute Jack Russel-child antics and fun photo memories.
*Painters' Saturday lunch of fancy cheeses on bread at my talented Dad's studio. Alpaca wool for felting, a take-home gift.
*Muizenberg Surfer's Corner beach picnic of grapes, chicken-mayo rolls, chips and surfing lessons for the kids with my brother-in-law from the UK.
*Kalk Bay ice creams and then chilling at Cape to Cuba with my brother-in-law. Mojitos, nachos and pizza watching kids down in the fishing harbour dancing to the loud music.
*Comfort coffee with my husband when my mom-heart was breaking.
*Fish braai with family, yellowtail kindly bought by my mom-in-law from Kalk Bay harbour because I miss fish on the farm.
*Kirstenbosch walk and  precious talk time and scrambled egg breakfast/tea with another one of the four C's - bff's from school.
*Appletizers on Constantia Nek sharing parent hearts with our precious daughter.
*Delicious potjie with my brother and his family, naughty cute mischief of my adorable nephew and precious last moments with my family.
*A step into my teenage years in the childhood garden of the third of the four C's from my school days, orange cake and tea with her unchanged, fantastic parents and a walk down memory lane with them.
*Heart-healing tea with a faithful friend, tear salted muffin, healthy green juice and promises of prayer surrounded by antiques, herbs and hearts.
*Popcorn, apples and Egyptian geese at Kirstenbosch with my sister and the boy-cousins. Picnic blanket and chill time.
*Tasty butternut, tomato, spicy sausage pasta and tears with my sister-in-law.
*A tray of heart-lifting Cassis patisserie petit-fours, all for me, for tea, lunch and tea again, and then for midnight snack. I did share a very few.
*A cup of interrupted coffee and not enough time left with my sister.
*Last night sunset picnic of our usual crackers, dips, photos and cheeses on the beach with my most precious three, a fitting farewell to my only daughter on our last night.
*The long drive home to an empty bedroom, heartache, lots of eggs and tomatoes and a comforting frittatta for our first meal for three back home.

Our city visit involved stockpiling of a different kind...
In Cape Town we visited Atlas Trading in the Bo-Kaap to stock up on authentic Cape spices, hard to find where we live, Malay curry spices, missed and needed in my cuisine. A Cape curry is not the same without a good masala. I use a lot of cumin in my feta, rare in our local shops. Decadent Dad is hoping to try his hand at sausage-making, so he stocked up on paprika. I also visited the Ina Paarman Factory Shop for some inexpensive condiments. Our little town has only one, rather inept book shop, so I trawled the bargain book stores, picking up a few treasures. My delighted hubby restocked his wardrobe with some wonderfully inexpensive clothes at a factory shop sale too.

Back on the farm, the wonderful, amazing Blantina, who was housesitting for us, spent many hours making cheese, and blanching and freezing, or pickling garden produce during our abundant harvest time, so nothing went to waste.

My sister, noticing one of my older slow Living Green comments a few months ago,  gave me a new deodorant to try out. It is natural and works beautifully, but rather pricy. I see that the main two ingredients are water and bicarbonate of soda... mmm I have a plan for when it runs out.

I thought the veggie tunnel was a jungle when we left for Cape Town, well Jane, you'd better hold onto your hat, our jungle became almost impenetrable. We came home to borage swamped by tomatoes, nasturtiums climbing up cucumber tripods, abundant beans ambushed by marigolds. The exuberant garden has generously provided more than we can eat.

Sadly our tomatoes and pumpkins took strain while when the water pump to the house malfunctioned for too many days, so I have subsequently spent many an hour attempting to salvage some of the 36 heirloom tomato plants that were looking rather devastated.

While in Cape Town, I collected a whole heap of plastic yoghurt containers, milk bottles and jars (many saved by my thoughtful mother-in-law) to bring back to the farm for preserving, milk sales and storage.

We created happy, treasured memories, we re-created a beautiful bedroom for our daughter in her new home, my generous sister-in-law's house, and Decadent Dad converted her garage into an art and photographic studio for the two of them.

He also made  our daughter a jewellery holder from a saved piece of driftwood collected off the rocky shore during our Gansbaai days.

I have been reading the entertaining and enlightening e-book all about bread baking, 52 Loaves by William Alexander, a story of "one man's relentless pursuit of truth, meaning and the perfect crust", a delightful account of his baking one loaf a week for a year, and all that his fascination with peasant bread led to, that has taught me plenty about levain, sourdough, poolish, lames and the like. Alongside this, I am also reading the book Bread Revolution by Duncan Glendinning and Patrick Ryan of the Thoughtful Bread Company whose focus in on using local, seasonal ingredients and getting people back to appreciating the art of making bread. The book is full of excellent recipes for breads as well accompaniments. Between reading the two books, I have become inspired and found myself involuntarily kneading a loaf of rye bread last Sunday when I should have been preparing for my son's first academic day of the year. It was delicious served with farm butter and my niece's jigi-jolo jam.

My sister and I took a day trip to Gravel Garden, an heirloom plant nursery and seed supplier in Somerset West. Every Friday morning they hold a bartering morning where customers can trade various goods from vegetables to home made goods.

We met up with our aunt and uncle there. It was a worthwhile outing and although we had nothing to trade, we supported them through our purchases. I have subsequently collected some Asian adzuki bean seeds from my veggie tunnel to post back to Shannon. My brother-in-law gave me the bean seeds originally bought from Gravel Garden quite a few years ago. So what goes around comes around.

We came home to a nine-week old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, little Kariba.

She has brought me plenty of slobbery kisses, surprise puddles, night time wee-wee walks and sweet snuggles when I needed them most.

There is never enough time when one is saying goodbye. I enjoyed seeing my daughter finding her way in her new city life, the new-found freedom of her own generously gifted car, the way that she was embraced by friends, family and her new church in her old/new home town,  and it was special to share in her excitement of starting college.


  1. Absolutely fantastic! Loved reading it. xx

  2. I know you were longing for home by the time you left, but for me it was too short. We will be diligent in loving and watching over your precious girl, as we know Our Father in heaven is as well.

    1. I was trying to figure out how to fit our foodless forest walks into the 'nourish' category. Miss you.

  3. Ah Cath, too many tears reading this. Precious memories. Love the breath of sunshine P is...always laughing and cheery when she visits. Impressed with her diligence too. Miss you!

    1. My precious sister, miss you loads too. So much water has passed under the bridge in the last two weeks, Cape Town feels like months ago already.

  4. Your post had me choked up, Cath. Sending all of my best wishes to your daughter as she enters a new chapter in her life. Your hubby has done an amazing job on the photography studio. Keep well and give that gorgeous little pup a big pat from my part of the world. xx

    1. Thanks Christine, I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Now that we're home again it's back to business in a big way.