Hot Kalahari Days and Milkshakes

What a crazy busy day…week… All I want to do is make myself a double-thick milkshake, kick off my shoes and sit on the porch and breath! It is Lorene’s long awaited prom this Friday and it is all the last minute craziness ( throw in the stylist that calls to say she is in hospital with Covid!)… a heatwave that drains all the last energy from everyone and finals that are looming around the corner.

I am reminded time and time again to stand still…take a deep breath and give attention to what I am giving attention to. Life is not to be lived in overdrive… always running on empty. Life is to be lived to the fullest. But it takes time…time to stand still. To reset and renew and refuel. Refuel on milkshakes.

Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.

Paul Cezanne

So on this hot Thursday, I am grabbing the ice cream tub ( I never need an excuse for ice cream!), glass of milk, a shot of liqueur and a red and white straw. It is time for a milkshake with a twist.

Don Pedro is one of South Africa and Namibia’s most popular cocktails. You can practically find it on almost every single restaurant menu in the country. A Dom Pedro is normally found on the drinks menu, but it is more often ordered as a dessert. It is for sure my favorite dessert after a big evening meal. And the perfect drink to see you through a heatwave like today!

This is not your average milkshake or cocktail. It is made with a mixture of ice cream and cream or milk, laced with a shot of your favourite cream liqueur, and sprinkled with grated dark chocolate. It is normally served in a wine glass, with a straw wide enough to allow the bits of ice cream to flow through. Pure bliss.

In fact, the Don Pedro drink is very similar to the typical Irish coffee beverage, just minus the coffee element. Just think of a Don Pedro cocktail as a milkshake for adults or a delicious ice cream cocktail.

The addition of smooth Amarula liqueur lights up the Don Pedro and lends it a fruity undertone. The best part is that you can alter the portions of the ingredients and make the beverage as strong as you want. You can also experiment with other types of alcohol like coffee liqueur, kahlua, and brandy. This homemade cocktail is best served immediately topped with grated chocolate, cocoa powder or a stick of chocolate.

It is double-thick, ultra creamy, fabulously boozy, laced with liqueur and topped with dark chocolate! What is not to love?

So I am thinking this is a perfect dessert for a celebration of any kind. I’m thinking a Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas Eve Celebration or just a normal hot busy Thursday evening would be a pretty great time to serve one of these special cocktails. Because every day needs to be celebrated!

Recipe page 2


Under the Olive Trees

I love the olives trees behind my house. It reminds me of Psalm 128:3 “Your children will be like young olive trees around your table.”

This week was Lorene’s last week at school. 12 years of schooling went by in the blink of an eye… no more packing lunch boxes, no more driving around Windhoek with sport gear cluttering the car, no more weekends spent next to a netball court cheering her on, no more impromptu mother daughter lunch dates. It is now the last weeks of preparation before her finals start in November. And then she is off to college, far from home and my Kalahari kitchen table.

I will miss our late nights drinking tea and solving the world’s problems. I will miss our noisy family lunches after school, hearing about all the day’s news and girls’ drama. I will miss our weekend baking marathons and experimenting with new recipes. I will miss her. But she is so ready! Ready to face the world and to spread her wings.

Children desire our presence, not our perfection.

James Dobson

Here’s a classic Mediterranean lamb stew recipe that’ll recall memories of fun, busy, noisy days with a house full of teenagers. Made with lamb shanks, or lamb neck and using green olives, fresh tomatoes and strips of lemon peel, it has a rich but piquant flavour. Think of lamb neck as a mini oxtail: Once braised, the meat just falls of the bone. Not only is this a delicious off-cut, but it’s an inexpensive option, making it a great alternative to beef short ribs or lamb shoulder for a dinner party menu. Finish with sprigs of coriander to add a fresh and aromatic scent and serve with a generous hunk of sourdough bread to mop up any remaining juices. It will bring a smile to your face and ensure happy family memories around your table. Recipe page 2


Well Kneaded Therapy…with a Touch of Pumpkin

We are already in middle October. We’re two months away from Thanksgiving. We’re so close until the start of another year. Can we pause for a moment? Some days it feels like I am still stuck in the month of March, before Covid-19 entered our world. Now Christmas decorations line the grocery aisles and everywhere I turn to on social media,there are pumpkins of different colors, shapes and forms. And every recipe on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest hero’s the pumpkin!

I just want to stay home, take a deep breath and make the time to cook homey food, homemade from scratch. Yes, cooking or baking something that requires my full attention… my love and care. I am a big fan of homemade bread. I love to bake it and I love to eat it ( fresh out of the oven). The process of kneading and working the dough is both a thrill and therapy and brings a big smile to my face! So today I am adding some mashed pumpkin to my bread dough. Yes, if you can’t beat the pumpkin movement…join them! ( Also see my delicious Pumpkin Pie recipe for more pumpkin inspiration.)

Peeling these warm pumpkin dinner rolls off one another is such a satisfying feeling, and slathering butter on the warm rolls and watch it melt, ahhhh. What is not to love?

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods;and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.

James Beard

These pretty little (decently sized, actually) bread rolls are a perfect accompaniment to any meal… whatever it is you are cooking this season, the seasonal sage-squash combo just can’t be beat.

Whether you’re dipping them in gravy, using them to scoop up mashed potatoes, or simply spreading them thickly with the sage butter and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt as an after dinner snack, they’re utterly delicious pumpkin perfection. A bread roll that’s melt in your mouth good…and oh so impressive. Great for any night of the week from Sunday night supper to an upcoming fall dinner with friends. You can’t go wrong with these soft rolls.

So set out the time and roll up your sleeves. Bread- like real love- takes time, cultivation, strong loving hands and patience. Well kneaded ( excuse the pun) therapy in times like these.

Recipe page 2.


All I need is more time… and pasta

It was a crazy week! I miss the quiet days on the ranch… the slower pace…. the time for slow cooked dinners and long nights. This was a week of quick dinners, easy recipes and no time for grocery shopping, so it was a fall back on family favorites and basic ingredients. And what is better than a bowl of homemade pasta with an easy, quick, beautiful ( I eat with my eyes) and flavorful sauce.

We love Pasta Alla Vodka – perfectly hearty and tender spaghetti pasta ( it is usually made with penne pasta but the men in my kitchen love spaghetti), tossed with a creamy and vibrant tomato based and vodka infused sauce that’s seasoned with fresh herbs and parmesan. Talk about a delicious, quick and easy dinner recipe! You can make the sauce while the pasta is cooking! And if you have time, make some home made pasta.

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.

Sophia Loren

So what flavor does the vodka add to the vodka sauce? Well, since a lot of the alcohol is cooked off you aren’t left with a alcoholic vodka taste, rather it just boosts and intensifies the flavors of the tomatoes. And then I really believe the key to making the vodka sauce extra amazing is using tomato paste. I’ve tried everything from fresh tomatoes to canned tomatoes (sometimes this is all I have in the pantry and it is also works and tastes great), but tomato paste (also known as tomato purée in some places) gives the best taste and consistency. It’s a vibrant and concentrated tomato flavor. And the added bonus is that you don’t need to spend ages cooking the sauce down.

So, looking for a quick & tasty weekend dinner?

Looking for the perfect meal for date night?

Want a dish with a little zing to it?

Then this Pasta alla Vodka is for you! Recipe on next page.


Game, Set, Match… and some glorious French Toast

I just love watching the French Open. The loud French crowd, the sipping of French champagne, the red clay courts offering exciting tennis. This tournament is usually scheduled for May, but due to the world-wide pandemic, the tournament was moved to the month of October and crowds are limited to a thousand people per day.

Yes, watching tennis at Roland Garros is still on my bucket list. Who does not want to visit Paris, the City of Lights. I imagine taking strolls along the River Seine, visiting world-famous landmarks and museums and eating buttery croissants and syrupy french toast at an outdoor cafe.

Until then, I have to be satisfied with the daily broadcasts of matches played. Between the seven rounds needed for a championship, the slow-playing surface and the best-of-five-set men’s singles matches, the event is widely considered to be the most physically demanding tennis tournament in the world. And these two weeks demand many cups of coffee, quick easy meals and a plate of the best baked french toast for breakfast ( or even lunch)! Yes, French Toast for the French Open!

I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast

But I am intercontinental when I eat French Toast.

Mike D.

Golden caramelized toasts on the outside; creamy soft and pillowy on the inside with the perfect cinnamon syrup in every mouthful. All of the flavours of your favorite French toast made easy in a baking dish? YES, I’ll take it! It is game, set,match!

So on this Monday afternoon, I am using the left over bread from the weekend and preparing ( while I am watching Djokovic play!) this delicious and easy baked french toast.

No dipping or flipping or frying, comfort food doesn’t get any better than throwing it in the oven. Imagine a dish full of warm and custardy French toast on this weekday morning… while watching nail biting tennis. And drinking another cup of coffee ( or maybe a glass of French champagne). Recipe on page 2.


Live Life with A Little Spice

Midweek madness. Why do the days feel shorter (even though we are a month into Namibian spring and the days are getting longer)? I am so looking forward to a long weekend away at the coast with the family, a break from the ‘new normal’ that engulfs us so quietly yet so effectively. Time so slow down. Regather. Rest.

Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list.

Patti Digh

So today is for a quick lunch, before an afternoon of rugby and netbal practice and the never ending to-do-list. You call it Chili, we call it Chili Con Carne. Whatever you know this as, the alluring smell as a pot of Chili bubbles away on the stove is a universal language!!

Whip it this up as a quick meal, though if you have time to slow cook you’ll be rewarded with ultra tender beef and an extra luscious sauce. It looks like Bolognese ( see my Lasagna recipe) and is cooked like Bolognese – except there’s a load of Tex-Mex spices added.

My favourite way to serve Chili is with corn chips with sour cream, cheese and coriander, guacamole and fresh tomato salsa, because it’s a crazy good combination. It’s like a deconstructed Nachos – but saucier. You can also serve it with flour tortillas, rice, or on top of baked potatoes – whatever you have on hand on a Wednesday afternoon. This comforting and filling recipe for Classic Chili Con Carne is a great family meal or for serving to friends for a casual dinner party. I can assure it is a great crowd (and teenager) pleaser- perfect for game day!

Recipe on page 2


Chocolate is happiness that you can eat.

Since the children are back at school, the days and weeks merge into one big busyness. There are days that I miss our lockdown days on the ranch. No distractions except the call of the jackal. No early morning rush except for coffee and Rusks on the porch watching the sun rise over the Kalahari savannahs. No frantic driving from one appointment to another except for a late afternoon game drive and a relaxing sundowner under the old camelthorn tree.

Even with all the distractions and the hustle and bustle of our new so-called normal, I remind myself of what I have learned during these challenging months. Live attentively. Give attention to what you are giving attention to. Life simply. The little things matter.

Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.

Ann Voskamp

We so easily get caught up in the mundane routine of every day that we forget to celebrate life in its fullest! So on this Monday morning, I am thankful. Thankful for living a beautiful simple life with Janneman and my ( taller and wiser) than me kids, a life-changing faith that keeps me grounded and focused, friendships that nuture my soul and the love of food (and chocolate) that keeps me sane! And on this Monday morning we are baking a delicious, chocolatey, gooey, silky ( did I say delicious?) easy chocolate fondant cake. This is a recipe that I always fall back on, especially on a day like today when I want to celebrate life. And shout out: God is good. Life is good!

I bake this Chocolate Fondant cake in a 8” cake tin and not in individual moulds. It makes for a thick, dense, creamy and deeply chocolatey fondant that bears a signature crust on top. After cooling down, I place it in the refrigerator ( in the cake tin) until an hour before serving. This is to properly set and firm up. I then remove it from the fridge, overturn it on a beautiful dessert plate and top it with fresh berries, chocolate shavings or serve just as a simple slice of cake! Make sure it is served at room temperature. With the soft chocolate cake exterior and a mouth watering melted centre, you will dream of this fondant cake for days after making it. But guess what? It’s so easy and quick, you can make it again!

Serve as dessert with vanilla ice cream, or as a teatime treat with double whipped cream. Yes, I am thankful for the simple things. Something like Chocolate Fondant Cake on a Monday afternoon! Chocolate is for sure happiness you can eat!

Recipe on page 2


All Fired Up about a Braaibroodjie

Braai—the unifying tradition of good, old-fashioned, gather-round-the-fire barbecue. The word braai (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”; plural braais) is Afrikaans for “barbecue” or “roast” and is a social custom in South Africa and Namibia. Braai, a linguistic as well as cultural translation—it’s both a cuisine and a national past time. Whether you speak Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa or any of our native languages, we all braai! As with the word barbecue, you can throw a braai and braai a steak. Its usage is fluid, and omnipresent.

In backyards and on patios; in the suburbs and deep in the bush; atop shining new grills and on beds of thornbrush: To braai is to gather with friends, often on long, lazy afternoons, and grill meat. Okay yes, it’s similar to a barbecue, but it’s so much more than that. Traditional braai’s are cooked on local wood, such as kameeldoring wood, instead of coal or gas to give the meat a distinct flavour.

You can get more with a kind word and a braai than you can with a kind word alone.

Al Capone

Braaing is very much part of the Southern African DNA and it should come as no surprise that South Africans and Namibians have perfected the art of having a great braai. We even have a National Braai Day! This event, which takes place annually on National Heritage Day, 24 September, gives South Africans ( and Namibians… we need no excuse or encouragement to braai!) an opportunity to celebrate the country’s cultural heritage and diversity of traditions.Thousands of South Africans ( and Namibians!) will head outdoors, get the fires going and celebrate the nation’s favourite pastime on National Braai Day.

Learn from yesterday’s braai, live for today’s braai, hope for tomorrow’s braai. The important thing is not to stop questioning why people would boil ribs.

Albert Einstein

What do we braai? Lamb is popular and little can compare with a salty fatty lamb rib grilled slowly over the simmering coals. Then there are steaks of all cuts and sizes, grilled to perfection. Chicken is barbecued with or without peri-peri sauce. Side dishes are reliant on sausage ( here we call it boerewors or “farmers’ sausage) and an ingenious variation of the grilled cheese, the famous braaibroodjie.

The traditional South African braaibroodjie certainly deserves a few drum rolls, pom-pom shakes, whoops, and whistles as it enters the stage squarely in the spotlight. While the braaibroodjie will make no speeches of its own, many a long night around the fire has been enjoyed with one in hand. No braai is complete without the ultimate braai side and a braaibroodjie is just that!

Braaibroodjies, yes, grilled cheese sandwiches –South African/Namibian Style. It might just be your new favorite this season. Oeey, gooey, smokey, cheesy, creamy, spicy, sweet and crunchy. Need I say more? This sweet and savoury sandwich is inserted into a foldable grid with handles that keeps it contained and can easily be flipped and grilled to perfection.

A braaibroodjie tastes its best eaten outdoors at the end of a long day of barbecuing, but it is still pretty stellar indoors at lunchtime, and would also make a welcome surprise snack at the end of a cocktail party or as a late night snack.

So on National Braai Day, grab your family and friends, light the fire and braai! And remember to enjoy the humble braaibroodjie with its cheesy soul or give it a special gourmet twist. The choice is yours! From our Kalahari camel-thorn fire to yours, we wish you all a tasty Braai Day!

Recipe on next page.

Best Braaibroodjie ( African grilled cheese sandwich)


MONDAY: Bring it on ( with a juicy steak)

Back to reality! After a relaxed weekend on the ranch we are back in Windhoek with the children back to school. For months during this pandemic, we had the children in our Kalahari kitchen, working online and filling the house with laughter and dirty dishes! The girls baked and experimented with new recipes and Janneman Jnr loved break time with freshly baked muffins and banana bread. No rushing between school and activities, lazy mornings on the porch watching the herd of sable drinking water and reflecting on a year that has been turned on its head.

Now it is early frantic mornings, grabbing a cup of coffee and off to school with a boring lunch pack. Yes, I love to cook and I love food but I do not like packing a lunch box for school breaktime! I cannot think past a peanut butter sandwich, an apple and a bag of cheddars. Lorene has long decided that she is better off with no lunch for break time. Luckily they are home at lunch ( school closes at 1pm) and mom can prepare a healthy meal for her starving teenagers ( before we rush off again to netbal, rugby, golf and track practice).

As it is Monday, and I am still in ranch-relaxed-mode, I am keeping lunch simple and yet it is always a family favorite. Juicy steak, crispy chips or some garlic mashed potato and an easy creamy mushroom gravy sauce with a great big whack of pepper to it. It’s a classic combination, quick and easy to make.

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
~ Socrates

Here in Namibia we are exceedingly blessed to enjoy Kudu, Oryx, Springbuck, Eland but to mention a few of the 18 different plains game roaming free on our Kalahari ranch. For today’s meal, I am using a matured eland fillet. Venison is one on the easiest and quickest of meats to cook. Treat it similarly to a good cut of beef and keep the flavors basic and simple. Hero the meat and do not overload it with too many spices and sauces.

I am of the opinion that the simpler the seasonings the better, especially with with the tender cuts as the tenderloin and back strap of the animal. Seasoned liberally with salt and pepper and cooked over high heat with a little olive oil is the best eating you can desire ( especially on a Monday afternoon!) Allow to rest a few minutes before slicing and then serve with potato chips and this delicious mushroom sauce. Happy kids! Happy mom! Happy Monday.

Recipe on next page.


Love of Food

Over 25 years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman penned the New York Times bestseller “The 5 Love Languages.” It was a revolutionary concept that’s still relevant today, and in case you haven’t read the book ( I can really really recommend it!) here are the cliff notes: humans express love and want to feel loved in return in five different ways — words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch.

Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.

A Ian D. Wolfelt

Here’s the modern-day twist: some experts believe there’s a sixth omnipotent love language — food. “Food incorporates all the other five languages and all five senses. It’s a very powerful way of creating a connection and expressing love,” relationship and human behavior expert Patrick Wanis, Ph.D. says. I cannot agree more!!

I love this! Yes! Quality time along with food is my love language! What can be better than sitting around a beautifully set table with your loved ones, a delicious homemade meal and sharing life together!!!

The love language of food has a way of bringing down walls, because you’re less guarded and more trusting when sharing a meal.

So on this Saturday, I am setting a table under the Camelthorn tree and lighting the candles for an intimate dinner under the starry Milkyway. Dinner with my loved ones. My love language in action.



As Easy as Pie

I am a city girl. I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa in a non-hunting family. I have never tasted venison until I married Janneman, moved to the family ranch and it became part of our daily diet. I had to call my mother-in-law to ask her how to cook the unfamiliar meat in my freezer. Yes, I was clueless! But what a delightful introduction. Over the past 20 years, I have come to love cooking with venison and it has become the king of meats in my Kalahari kitchen.

Knowing where your meat comes from is so necessary these days. Venison is the healthiest of all meats. Venison is low in fat and an extremely good source of protein. It has twice as much iron as beef and lamb, is easily digested and is full of essential omega 3 fatty acids. Venison is often maligned for being extremely lean, and therefore dry. I believe that, with proper preparation and cooking methods, venison can be lifted to glorious heights.

Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are.

Oscar Wilde

A delicious way to make the most of your venison meat in season, is to make a homemade pie. So easy to prepare ( easy as pie!), it freezes perfectly, this venison and mushroom pie will fast become a family favourite. Ideal for using up all the leftover venison cuts in your freezer, these individual deep pot pies are creamy, comforting and full of flavour.

This is really a beautiful venison pie and the kind of dish that makes me dream of good home cooking. The venison will cook to be delicious, tender and sumptuous. When topped with flaky puff pastry, what can be better on a spring ( or fall) afternoon. After all these years of cooking, a meal like this still gets my pulse racing, yes, even as a former city girl. Recipe on next page.


The Best Time for New Beginnings (and cake) is now.

Good morning from a beautiful flourishing Kalahari. Everything is in bloom and spring is jumping and skipping through the savannah landscape. Thorn bushes are softened by blossoms, and the night echoes to the calls of amorous barking geckos (the quintessential sound of the Kalahari). Meerkat pups venture outside their dens for the first time, gemsbuck calves and springbuck lambs frolic in the dry grass. There is a palpable sense of anticipation as we await the summer rains.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

Isaiah 35:1

Yes, it is a challenging year and we are all ready for change and new beginnings. Everywhere I go, I cut off a flowering branch full of blossoms, as a reminder that spring is a period of renewed beauty. Spring breathes upon us the spirit of hope and promise. There is the realization of new beginnings, new energies, and new life.

So today I am celebrating all the beauty around me. We may have missed out on family gatherings, birthday celebrations and memorable events but still we baked! It seems like we were all #quarantinebaking through the coronavirus pandemic. On Instagram, Facebook and Youtube everyone is sharing their new baking skills and recipes. A scroll through my social media feeds is akin to a trip to a local bakery!

But, no matter the reason why everyone is baking ( for who needs to justify making an amazing cake), I am sharing my mother’s ultimate, best, amazing, easy carrot cake recipe with you. This is most probably the cake recipe that I have had the most recipes requests for. There isn’t another recipe that I’ve ever tried that even comes close to this carrot cake recipe for flavor, moistness, and texture. It is topped with an easy homemade cream cheese frosting. Yes, this is hands down the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Period.

So if you are looking for an easy, delicious foolproof cake to turn your day into a joyous celebration, grab your apron. All I need today is an excuse to sit on the porch with a cup of coffee, a big slice of moist carrot cake and a heart of thankfulness because of a new season.

Recipe on next page to ensure easy sharing and printing. Happy baking!


Hugs and Quiches

Today was a day filled with emails, errands, playing mom’s taxi and getting the ever present to-do-list done! Yes, we all have days where the last thing on our mind is food. Lorene has been accepted to medical school at the University of Stellenbosch and with all the celebrations ( we are so excited for her) and the paperwork involved with her admission, the pantry is empty and the inspiration is lacking.

What to feed the family?’ is a question we as mom’s ask ourselves a few times a day ( if you have a teenager boy that does not stop growing or eating). Sometimes I wish they could survive on hugs and kisses!

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life.

Albert Einstein

Time is of the essence on a day like today, so this easy, quick and foolproof quiche will still the hunger pains and have the entire family asking for more. Perfect for late breakfast, early lunch or even a simple dinner, this easy quiche will not disappoint. Even the men in your house will love it! Yes, these days real men eat quiche.

You can make any adjustment to your filling: chicken, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped spinach, chives, chorizo, different cheeses, but a classic bacon and mushroom quiche stays our family favorite. Do not be put off by the homemade cheese crust. It is so easy to make and also freezes very well. Make an extra crust, blind bake it and freeze it for another hectic busy day!

With the flaky, cheesy, buttery crust and just-set creamy filling, this quiche is sure to please no matter what the occasion. You will find this simple and decadent quiche downright delicious. What do the French say? Bon Appetite.


It is a beautiful time of the year for a new beginning ( and homemade granola)

I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa.The change of seasons is something I love and that is very visible in this part of the world. Warm summer beach days and barbecues under the starry night…. fall bringing a transformation of colors and oak trees throwing off their summer leaves… cold rainy winter evenings snuggling around a log fire cooking curries and comfort food …and then spring arrives…the new oak leaves showcased against the crisp blue sky, welcoming beautiful lazy alfresco days. Seasons change and so do we.

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.

Henry David Thoreau

Now living in the Kalahari, the change of seasons is not so vivid to the eye. Summers are hot, winters cold and short ( not this year though!) and fall and spring are reminders that change is a constant. September is the arrival of spring ( or rather summer) in Namibia. Days are warm and suddenly you are looking for healthy recipes and summer dishes. A bowl of granola with fresh berries and a spoonful of full cream Bulgarian yoghurt, just spells the correct start to summer.

But if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent hours in the granola aisle at the grocery store, trying to find just the right kind. Mom of three teenagers with very different tastes- this one does not like raisins, this one loves nuts with shredded coconut, this one loves it baked with big clusters that you can nibble on as a snack- this can be an impossible task. Yes, you know that it’s nearly impossible to find the perfect granola at the store.

So here is my homemade granola recipe. Super easy to make and also very customizable, a yummy template for whatever dried fruits, spices ( cinnamon) and nuts you might ( or might not) be craving. Enjoy as an after school snack or simply add it to a bowl of milk or yogurt in the morning with a handful of fresh berries. It is the perfect combination of flavors and texture for all ages! Jump to the next page for your easy homemade granola.

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Lasagna like Nonna makes it!

I am a pasta lover. Any shape or size of pasta…everyday is a good pasta day. This is a classic recipe of one of the most loved foods in the world. Yes, the ultimate comfort food in my Kalahari kitchen is definitely homemade lasagna. If I do not know what to prepare for dinner or how to feed an army of hungry teenagers, I will most probably be turning to this delicious dish. And with organic venison ground meat always in my freezer, it is the perfect to-go-to recipe.

A big warm comforting hug within layers of homemade pasta, tomato sauce, white sauce and melted cheese ( no ricotta needed). Crispy edges, a gooey, cheesy centre, perfectly cooked fresh lasagna pasta sheets in between a creamy parmesan white sauce and an abundance of cheese. That definitely spells deliciousness!

I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size O.

Sophia Loren

I also want to note that this recipe isn’t difficult at all to make technique-wise. It just requires a solid hour or so of prep time as I believe the secret is in the simmering of the meat sauce until it has a rich thick consistency. So find an evening when you’re not in a rush, turn on some music, maybe pour yourself a glass of wine or some good fizzy water, and let’s make a pan of the most delicious lasagna together.

We love making it a whole family affair…. like the Italians do! Adding the flour and eggs, kneading the pasta dough until smooth and silky and then rolling it out as thin as possible. A pasta machine works great for this! Let the pasta sheets rest and then you are ready to assemble a great lasagna! And if you are in a rush ( or the teenagers are running around ravenously), you can make use of store-bought lasagna sheets. Either way, I’m certain you’re going to love it.


Say Cheese… Cheesecake!

I love a baked cheesecake! It is my number one cake and dessert and something I love baking. The decadent mixture of cream cheese and sour cream…the excitement and thrill of removing a smoothly baked, no cracks- cheesecake from the oven…. pure bliss. Simple. Elegant. Decadence.

The intense enjoyment and appreciation of cheesecake dates back far, very far… as far back 230 A.D. according to John J. Sergreto in his book Cheesecake Madness. Rumour has it that the Romans were first introduced to cheesecake on their quest to concur Greece, which seems to be the first enjoyer of cheesecake.

Sources say that cheesecake, in ancient Greece, was believed to be a good source of energy and even served to athletes during the Olympic games. We have no Olympic Games this year due to the pandemic, but that does not mean we can not indulge in a slice of creamy, silky, smooth baked cheesecake!

Because you don’t live near a bakery doesn’t mean you have to go without cheesecake.

Hedy Lamarr

My mom has been baking this recipe for years and we still call it a family favorite here in my Kalahari kitchen. You need look no further for a creamy and ultra smooth classic cheesecake recipe! A buttery cookie crust, with a thick layer of creamy cheesecake and a whipped sour cream topping, if you like.

Once you have a stellar base recipe, you can alter it with different ingredients and flavors. Get creative or keep it simple. Either way, it’s going to impress. Say hello to your new favorite cheesecake recipe!


Red Sunsets and Dancing Tumbleweeds

It is a windy August afternoon. The thirsty Kalahari experiences temperatures as low as 3° Celsius in the morning, warming up to about 30° C during the day. As we approach spring, some plants and trees have started flowering, including the sweet thorn. It is another kind of beautiful. Golden grass dancing in the wind, tumbleweeds blowing across the Kalahari savannah. Flaming red sunsets as the dust covers the horizon.

In Africa you feel grounded in an indescribable way… It forces you to be in the moment…There is a constant sense of awe and surprise.

Karen Banks

Nothing can be more true. The Kalahari has grounded this city girl. The little things count, there is an appreciation of life in its simplest form. God is good! I continually live in awe and surprise of what this thirst land deliver. Moments, memories, memoirs, impressions, imprints in the red Kalahari sand.

As I reminiscence about my footprints in the Kalahari, I am reminded of my first venison recipe. Venison Schnitzels! I knew nothing about preparing or cooking venison but with this recipe, you cannot fail. It is perfect for a busy weeknight. The meat ( I use a venison backstrap) is usually thinned by pounding with a rolling pin ( how difficult can that be?) and then breaded before frying. I assure you this will be a crowd pleaser and a great way to use some of that venison in the freezer. Enjoy! Recipe on next page for your own delicious schnitzels.


Muffin Monday says NO to Monday blues!

We are in another week of lockdown on the ranch…. It has been a time of soul searching… digging deep to stay positive and keeping the faith… venturing into unknown territory of what is called the ‘new normal’.

A home still silent of excited hunters returning after a day in the field, the glow of the African sun on their cheeks and the thrill of the hunt in their eyes. We miss our hunting friends, sharing meals and memories around the dinner table in the heart of the Kalahari.

But it has also been a time of creating special home memories as a family. Laughing at our own silly jokes till our stomachs hurt, playing board games till late in the night, cooking and baking together in my Kalahari kitchen. A taste of home, for all of us.

Nothing smells home like the smell of baking.

Pinterest

As I walked into the kitchen this morning, I was greeted by the smell of bacon and cheese. Lorene and Janneman were baking savory muffins. Minutes later we were sitting on the porch, drinking coffee and devouring these quick and easy to make, so more-ish, savory muffins. They are buttery with golden crusty tops and fluffy moist insides. What can be better on a windy Monday morning than a fresh-out-of-the-oven cheese and bacon muffin with my family. A true taste of home.

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Life is like a box of chocolates

During the last few months, we have all been forced to reset, rethink and refocus. It has been a time of regathering our thoughts, re-evaluating our lives and realigning our goals. As a family, we were blessed to spend our lockdown weeks on the ranch. With our three kids all home ( as universities and schools had to readjust to e-learning) we once again had special family times around our kitchen table… laughing, learning and loving life together as in years long passed.

This has been a time of creating new recipes and remaking family favorites. And yes, baking chocolate brownies EVERY weekend! My son, Janneman LOVES ( and that is an understatement) brownies. Cakey on the outside and fudgy in the middle, this easy brownie recipe really is the best!

So wrap around your apron and get ready for some chocolate therapy! The batter itself is to DIE for! Good luck NOT licking the spoon and bowl clean. Because chocolate is happiness that you can eat.

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Pumpkins, warm fluffy sweaters, crackling fires…and pies!

It is sooooo cold! The Kalahari is covered with frost like a white woolen blanket. Animal herds huddle together under barren Camel thorn trees, trying to get away from the freezing south winds. The African sun struggles to bring some warmth to the savannah landscape, throwing short shadows across the red sand dunes. Dried leaves dance around the house as a gentle hush covers the land. It is quiet as we light the log fires and gather around the kitchen table. Happy and content our family cherishes these moments.

I know my American friends are all longing for colorful Autumn (or Fall) days, cooler weather and pumpkin recipes! Browsing the internet, I am met with everything pumpkin: pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, pumpkin soup, pumpkin waffles and pumpkin french toast. Yes, in the northern hemisphere, fall is everything pumpkin!

They who sing through the summer must dance in the winter.”

Italian Proverb

In our culture, we do not eat pumpkin as a sweet but as a savory dish.

Which brings me to the question! Is pumpkin pie a delicious sweet dessert or a side dish, because the recipe I’m sharing with you today is a versatile sweet and spicy baked pumpkin pie recipe. It is a perfect side to match grilled meats and I especially love it with barbecued venison or lamb. So here in my Kalahari kitchen, I would say it goes down well as a side dish at any dinner of buffet table (and you can eat the leftovers as a dessert when served with whipped cream.) No one needs to know!

So enjoy our Namibian version of pumpkin pie. Fall is on it’s way… and spring in the Kalahari.

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The Welcoming Smell of Choc Chip Cookies

It is a typical Monday in the Kalahari….cleaning the house after a fun filled- house- full -of -teenagers- music -thumping-weekend, doing loads and loads laundry and staring into empty pantry cupboards!

Lockdown has allowed the time for rekindling friendships,creating new memories and having a daily dirty kitchen!

But, I just love seeing my children develop special friendship bonds, making true connections and seeing them thrive in their ‘tribe’. I love that their friends walk into our home and straight into the kitchen. I love the sound of the coffee maker making the umpteenth cup of coffee, the sounds of laughter filling the house and the welcome smell of (yet another) batch of fresh choc chip cookies!

Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love.

Zig Ziglar

I believe a warm welcome invites connection. So until my kids are grown and gone ( or lockdown allows them to return to college), I will keep the door wide open. I will have something baking in the oven (or have enough choc chips in the pantry!) and embrace the latest music trend- because all will be quiet before I know it!

So on this Monday morning, I am making a cup of coffee and taking a moment ( between laundry and dishes) to cherish the memories of a house filled with kids. A house full of love, laughter and life! And of course, I am having another choc chip cookie!

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Coffee and New Beginnings (and more coffee)

It is another beautiful crisp morning in the Kalahari… day is breaking. As I am drinking my first cup of freshly brewed coffee, gazing over the savannah landscape, I am reminded of one of my favourite scriptures:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” Lamentations 3:22-23
These last few weeks and months have been challenging ( to say the least) and all of us have been stretched to our limits. But again and again I have been reminded of His love, His mercy and His faithfulness! Yes, I can smile with the morning sun on my face and look expectantly to the week ahead!

I never woke a morning in Africa when I was not happy

Ernest Hemmingway

But what is a cup of morning coffee without my Ouma’s delicious rusks? Yes, these are biscotti with attitude!

According to the book “Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos 1652 – 1806” by HW Claassens, the Afrikaans word ‘beskuit’ was borrowed from the French, meaning “twice baked”. All our Kalahari Safari guests know that no morning coffee is complete without home baked rusks. Every family has a recipe that comes through the generations and has been perfected over the ages.

This is my version of our family recipe; a recipe that can be changed with the addition of nuts, dried fruit or any dry cereal you may have in the kitchen cupboard. Pour that cup of coffee and get baking!

Today’s goals: Coffee and kindness. Maybe two coffees (and rusks), and then kindness. And together we will keep faith.

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ULTIMATE VENISON RAGÙ

Yes, this is Italian week! I long to stroll the street of San Gimignano, Tuscany… sipping an Italian espresso and buying fresh produce at the village market. I am dreaming of long summer nights in an Italian village, drinking wine and eating pasta with my loved ones.

But, due to international travel restrictions, we will make do with our own delicious take on pasta with ragù, served in my Kalahari kitchen. Life is still good!

Ragù (meat slow-cooked with vegetables) originated in Bologna, Italy.
A proper ragù Bolognese needs a wider noodle like fresh pappardelle or
tagliatelle, or a more robust shape like penne or rigatoni to soak in all the juices of meat, wine and vegetables.

This recipe is a beautiful, thick, rich and wholesome Italian-style ragù but made with our wild venison (Springbuck or Black Wildebeest are my choice venison meats used in this recipe). You can use any beef brisket or roast. And remember to pour a glass of red wine and have a rustic ciabatta bread on the side!

Mangia Bene!

The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing.

Eva Burrows
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Some Italian Inspiration

Our family LOVES everything about Italy. It is our number one vacation destination (if not traveling across the beautiful African continent).

The Italian people, the history, the quaint old walled towns, the strong espresso served on the square, the delectable cuisine using fresh ingredients, the gelato in every flavour and colour, the delectable pasta made by an Italian Nonna, char grilled vegetables soaked in olive oil, full bodied red wine, long family dinners around the dinner table…what is there not to like?

This beautiful fresh salad embodies all that Italy represents: al dente pasta, extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes bursting in your mouth, proudly fat olives, vibrant green basil leaves… all tossed together and served as a special side dish with a relaxed afternoon lunch.

The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.

George Miller, Director

ITALIAN PASTA RICE SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 Cup uncooked pasta rice (orzo)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp toasted pine nuts + more for serving (optional)

1 small red onion finely chopped

12 kalamata olives pitted and sliced

1 Cup Feta cheese, cut into small cubes

Handful of cherry tomatoes cut into quarters (I like the rainbow mix available in some supermarkets)

The juice of half a lemon

1/2 Cup basil pesto

Black pepper and sea salt to season

1 Fresh Avocado, chopped

A small handful of fresh basil chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook the pasta rice according to the packet. Once cooked, drain in a colander then rinse under the cold tap.Stir in half a tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and leave the pasta to cool fully.Transfer to a large bowl or serving dish.
  2. Add the pesto to a small bowl, pour in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a large lemon, stir well.
  3. Once the pasta has cooled add the chopped onion, cherry tomatoes, feta and the kalamata olives to the pasta.Pour the pesto dressing into the bowl then add the basil and pine nuts and toss carefully.
  4. Season with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste.
  5. Top with more basil leaves and fresh chopped avocado
  6. Serve at room temperature

Making ahead – This can be made a day ahead, just store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Add avocado before serving with fresh basil leaves.