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.


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.


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.


No Winter Lasts forever…no spring skips it’s turn

It has been a long winter… Cold crispy nights still linger across the Kalahari savannas and silently cover the landscape with frost. The evenings call for a blazing fireplace and special family dinners with candles burning deep into the night. Deep conversations about the times we live in, the challenges we are all facing and the unknown of a ‘new normal’. This is the time to warm our hearts with love and hope and live expectantly.

In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.

John Burroughs

Few things spell out COMFORT like a bowl of risotto. It is my favorite one-dish meal. Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish that’s as warm, comforting, and rustic as it is elegant and complex. While it is a simple and classic preparation, do not be fooled, as it requires utmost attention and care to perfect. When done correctly, risotto is creamy and decadent with a bite, and its layers of flavors meld together perfectly.

This recipe can be modified to your linking. Substitute mushrooms with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, butternut or any vegetables you have on hand. And it’s also an amazing dish to embrace leftovers: fresh herbs, leftover meat, fish and cheese, or anything in the kitchen that inspires you to be innovative!

Lastly, be patient with your risotto and you will be rewarded tenfold.

It soothes the soul. It is warm. It is creamy. It is comfort.

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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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Winter Warmers

It is late afternoon and the weak winter sun is casting long shadows over the savannahs of the Kalahari. Hungry hunters are returning home soon after a successful day in the bush. It is time to linger, to gather golden moments, to embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour around the log fire burning in the furnace.

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home.

Edith Sitwell

What is better than a venison curry in the heart of the Namibian winter? Whether I want something comforting for dinner or am hosting a winter gathering, this easy curry is my to-go-to recipe! Served with a bowl of steaming Basmati rice, tomato and onion sambal, warm Rotis and a glass of full bodied red wine…this is life in the Kalahari!

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‘Meating’ Expectations on a Monday night

Another week… another Monday. What to cook for the (always) hungry family? Chimichurri Sauce and Steak is a match made in heaven, arguably one of the BEST sauces for steak in the world! For me- a winning combination. Like tomato and basil. Cheese and wine. Strawberries and cream. They are just “meant to be”.

Yes- even here in the Kalahari with limited fresh produce, this fresh flavorful sauce made with fresh herbs from my garden, is a hit served with our grilled springbuck, gemsbuck or eland fillet. (You can use any beef cut- picana, rib eye or fillet.)

This famous sauce from Argentina is made with parsley, cilantro, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil. It’s quick to make and will take your next steak dinner to a whole new level!

This super easy Chimichurri Sauce recipe is made in the food processor and comes together in under 5 minutes.

Top your grilled steak with this fresh sauce and serve with homemade fries or flatbreads. I love adding some extra olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon wedges on the side. I assure you- you will have one happy family at the dinner table and will ‘meat’ and exceed all expectations!

Cooking is one of the great gifts you can give to those you love.

Ina Garten
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