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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday, 26 August '09: Easy Tomato Tart for Leona

Leona, my South African friend of over 30 years, now resident in Linz, Austria has asked me for the recipe for my quick and easy tomato tart which I baked for my birthday in July. Here it is:

Mom Hammond's shortcrust pastry
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
100g margerine or unsalted butter
One Tablespoon lemon juice

Rub margerine into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and lemon juice and a little cold water if necessary to make a pliable dough.

50 ml olive oil
20ml crushed garlic
4 baby leeks finely chopped
800g Rosa tomatoes halved
50 ml fresh basil torn
30 ml white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
50 ml grated mozzarella cheese

1 Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll out the dough and line loose-bottomed tart pan. Prick the bottom with a fork.
2 Spread the bottom of the unbaked pastry case with the basil leaves, leeks and mozarella in that order. Cover as evenly as possible with tomato halves.
3 Season and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.
4 Bake for about 30 minutes.

There you go, Leona. Hope Franz enjoys! (You can also mix in a can of tuna for a more substantial tart. Or add olives and/or anchovies to the tomato filling. Black olives look lovely among the red tomatoes.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tuesday, 25 August '09: Vuvuzela's buzz in My World

Love it, hate it? Makes no difference as the vuvuzela, that metre long plastic horn, blown by thousands at every soccer match in South Africa is here to stay. And that includes the 2010 World Cup which we are frenziedly preparing for over here in My World. Thousands of vuvuzelas together sound like a mass of angry bees, a sound carried clearly in the night air from the closeby Loftus Versfeld stadium through the windows of Thatchwick Cottage.

Up on Muckleneuck Hill, the Telkom tower boasts a giant soccer ball - spectacular at night. Maybe they need to add a vuvuzela!

The origins of the vuvuzela is said to be the horn of the kudu blown to summon African villagers to meetings. On 15 May 2004 when the announcement was made that South Africa would host the World Cup over 20 000 vuvuzela's were sold on the streets to blow in joyful anticipation of 2010 - a date that appears to have become a watershed as important as 1994.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! So I suggest you buy yourself a vuvuzela the moment you land next year at Oliver Tambo International airport to enjoy the World Cup. There will be plenty of vendors making a quick rand or two at every street corner. Or if you are just going to watch on the telly back home, send a mail order now so that your tubular package arrives on time. You can start early practising for couch-potato cheerleading in front of the screen.

Visit My World for other different ways of being across the globe.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday, 13 August: How many times do you...?

No, this is not another Kinsey Report. I am much too proper to use my blog for that improper purpose. I am just working at being an effective blogger within ever narrowing time constraints. I wondered if as many as drop by would share their blogging secrets, their habits and their routine - if any at all.

Do you blog on certain days - or as the Muse prompts?
Do you follow a well-laid plan such as local news on Mondays, recipes on Tuesday, book review every Friday? Or are you attached to memes: Blue for Monday with Smiling Sal; Tuesdays at My World , Wednesday Watery with whoever the creator thereof; Fridays Show and Tell with Carrie at Oak Rise Cottage or Skywatch; Sundays Spiritual?
Or are you haphazard like me?
If you are in confession mode, whisper how you manage to pay house calls so regularly and faithfully. My latest resolution is to pay five calls a day to friends and to strangers. See if I actually manage.
Do you keep note of how many comments you get and does your enthusaism rise and fall with the stats?
I don't. An AAA driven personality until the last few years when age and mellowing have set in, I resist the temptation to allow my competitive self to emerge. But I do love the nifty little sidebar map which shows how much of the world is reached by one's blog.
So, do kiss and tell!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday, 11 August '09: 'The young Victoria'

Cast your republican sentiments aside (if you should have them), indulge in romance and view The young Victoria.

It stars Emily Blunt as the young queen - self-possessed, obstinate and true; Rupert Friend as her sensitive and loyal lover and husband. The movie was released in Pretoria in July and I am so pleased that I managed to find the time to see it on the big screen. The interiors of palaces are sumptuous backdrops to scenes of political and emotional manipulation as Victoria's scheming mother and her ambitious sidekick, John Conroy endeavour to intimidate the young Victoria. The beautifully laid out formal gardens make a wonderful backdrop for Queen Vic's chats with the charming Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) and her self-controlled trysts with Albert.

The match between the young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg was a happy and fruitful one in all respects. They had nine children - four more than pictured in the portait above.

Albert died at just 42 leaving Victoria to carry on alone commanding her family and her Empire without her beloved husband. How refreshing that at least one British royal marriage was authentic. By the way it is not entirely a 'chick-flick'. Every man I've met who has viewed it has given it the thumbs up too.
Incidentally I am also reading Niall Ferguson's thought-provoking and meticulously researched history, entitled Empire, first published in 2003. Whether you live in the US, Australia, New Zealand, India or South Africa it makes for fascinating reading as he attempts to answer the question: How did an archipelago of rainy islands off the north-west coast of Europe come to rule the world? Now that can lead to endless discussion at a dinner table.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday, 6 August '09: Jasmine: the first scent of spring

What smell heralds spring in my experience? Undoubtedly, it is the sweet almost cloying scent of the jasmine. Those of us living in Guateng were shocked out of our complacency this year as we consistently experienced the coldest weather we have had for some years. Early mornings the lows hovered around zero; the days, sunny and clear, only reached 15 or 16 degrees. So I was overjoyed to see the first pinkish-white blossoms on the fence around the bowling club in William Drive. The blossoms from this little twig fill my kitchen with powerful perfume. And I know spring can't be far off.