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.


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.