What if, today, we were grateful for everything?

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. I can imagine all my American friends are ready to slow down and take the time to gather with family and friends and reminisce on the months passed.

Yes, 2020 was a tough year. A year that challenged us as a family in more ways than one. But it was also a year of reflection, refocus, realigning priorities and rekindling family relationships. A year where we grew stronger together and where we were reminded to live attentively and thankfully.

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

So take the time this Thanksgiving to STOP. LOOK. GO. Make a list of everything you can be thankful for…a Gratitude list. (Numerous studies have shown that the acknowledgement of gratitude is positively correlated to happiness.) Be intentional about thanking God and others for the blessings that come our way (daily!).

Eucharisteo-thanksgiving-always precedes the miracle.

Ann Voskamp

I know you are tired of lists, but I ensure you this gratitude list will be a list that puts a smile on your face. And then there are these super easy, gorgeous and delicious Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls! Holiday entertaining has never been easier! Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s! (Can be made in advance!) It will surely bring a smile to all your loved ones gathered together during this festive time.

One just has to love cheese balls. Sweet, savory…I love mixing and matching flavors and coming up with new and exciting combinations that will please friends and family.

This cheese ball is perfect as a party appetizer while you prepare the rest of your holiday feast! It’s completely low maintenance. Just fix it up, pull it from the fridge when you’re ready, and set it out with a bunch of yummy crackers for people to serve themselves.

For the festive season, the winning combination of cream cheese, goat cheese, white cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, pecans, and chives come together for a pleasantly savory appetizer that is just as pretty as it is delicious.

Serve the mini cheese balls with a pretzel stick in them, as it makes them so easy to pick up and it looks cute too! I have covered the cheese balls in dried cranberries, chives, and pecans. I love how festive this looks! If you have an extra couple minutes, tie chives into bows around the pretzel sticks. Totally optional, but it gives such a Christmas feel to it!

I assure you your friends and family will go nuts for this make-ahead appetizer. And it will become a to-go-to recipe in your kitchen and a favorite on your gratitude ( and festive menu) list. Recipe page 2


What’s In My Cup?

It’s that time of year. Shop windows fill up with brightly-coloured, twinkly light holiday displays, and living room windows fill up with Christmas trees. Festive music plays on repeat. If you’re like me, this is the time of year when you realize Christmas is fast approaching and the year went far too quickly.

For many of us, this is also one of our busiest times of the year. If you have school kids, you’re swamped with Christmas concerts, school year end functions and the thick fog of final papers and exams. After lockdown it feels like we are still trying to make up for the missed months. In between all the busyness,you want to create the most perfect family vacation and a special Christmas celebrations. Yes, November/December season is packed with parties, decorations, presents, so many events and above all, meeting everyone’s expectations.

I love this analogy I stumbled upon this week. And it reminds me of the scripture that reads “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Because someone bumped into me!!!”

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

*Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.*

The bumping is simply the catalyst to reveal what was tucked inside.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled or busy or frazzled or overwhelmed.

So today we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace, joy and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Friend, I do not know what is in your cup right now but if you are in any version of normal, there is a lot of coffee-infused exam nerves and cinnamon-spiced holiday stress. The demands are overwhelming and if you are like me, this time of year also brings a reflection of all the ways that 2020 did not measure up to expectations.

So today, let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others. For life will bump into us. But a heart full of Jesus doesn’t get bruised when it gets bumped.

And when the hustle and bustle of this season seems to drain you from all your good intentions and you get bumped around, there is always ice cream and coffee. Affogato is an Italian classic dessert and means “drowned” in Italian as it is essentially drowning ice cream in coffee. The hot coffee starts to melt the ice cream and forms a thick foam at the top. The best way to eat an affogato is with a spoon, eat the ice cream first and then drink the coffee along with any melted ice cream.

Affogato is so good, you won’t believe it is so elegant, easy, delicious and only needs two ingredients. Perfect to round off any festive menu or as a late night treat. I am filling my cup now! Recipe page 2


Nothing brings people together like good food.

I really love to cook and bake, plan and prepare for special celebrations, holidays and high days but, there is something about weekday dinners. We all have those nights when we don’t feel like cooking anything complicated. There’s also times when we don’t feel inspired, or just simply did not put in any time or energy into planning a meal.

As a mother, we are continuously running around trying to balance work, laundry, car pools, homework and healthy eating. And all the while trying to stay fit, fabulous and fun! Hard work for sure!

Family dinners are non negotiable in our house, even if it is something simple like scrambled eggs on toast. On the ranch in the Kalahari or in Windhoek during school runs, we make it a priority to sit down as a family for dinner around the kitchen table and share our day and life together. Time to look one another in the eye, be vulnerable and be together, all around a plate of food.

A family that eats together, stays together.

But it is not that easy! Evening work commitments, late meetings, sport and school activities all compete for evening-time attention, not to speak about television, social media and smart phones!

So when life is busy and hunger knocks at the door…Open, sesame! Everyone loves a warm and classic casserole like Chicken Divan, or as it’s more commonly known, Chicken Broccoli Casserole.This is an easy family-friendly weekday favorite.When you need dinner ready under the hour, this Chicken Broccoli Casserole with the creamiest sauce will save the day. Say hello to your family’s new favorite!

I absolutely love this easy version of Easy Chicken Broccoli Casserole. Perfectly-cooked broccoli, tender and juicy chicken on the bone, with an incredibly creamy, garlicky sauce – what more could you ask for? Many recipes call for condensed soups to get that smooth and creamy sauce, but this one uses just cream, wholegrain mustard and honey– so it’s gluten-free, and healthier all around! Yes, no processed ingredients in sight! Awesome, right?

So set the table, light the candles even on this Thursday evening. Your Chicken Broccoli Casserole will be ready in the hour and you can prepare for a hearty, easy and relaxed meal with your family. For the best memories are made around the table. Recipe on page 2.


This Time of Year…All Roads Lead Home

Holiday season is fast approaching. A time filled with special memories and long family meals around my kitchen table. But it is also a time of frantic menu planning, crowded shopping malls and the struggle to meet everyone’s expectations. Yes, I am a people’s pleaser and want to ensure that everything is perfect and everyone around me is smiling and loving the celebrations ( and food!). For everyone is coming home.

Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame.

Gustav Mahler

So this time of year can be stressful. Add to that the restrictions due to Covid, the girls writing their final exams and all the year end madness, life can become quite overwhelming. I love the article of Jill Savage Let go of Holiday Expectations. If only I can learn to let go of control, opinions and expectations and rather embrace simplicity, connection and attentiveness. This way I will pass on the flame.

This holiday season we are going for simple yet delicious, easy yet deletable. ( Keep following My blog for some inspiring and stress free recipes during the next few festive weeks). Yes, we are going to look at simple, easy menu options. Meals that will be fit for a king but will also allow us time with our loved ones. So join me in my Kalahari kitchen and let us plan for a time of celebration, joy and thankfulness.

Now, I know lamb isn’t traditionally Thanksgiving food BUT I’m here to tell you it totally can be. It is a great option for all those “I ONLY EAT RED MEAT!” lovers in your life. You have those people in your family, right? In my case, those family members not only love red meat they also love all things garlic and all things fresh herbs. What can be better than the smell of roasting lamb wafting towards them as they enter your house with sparkling eyes and joyful merriment.

This garlic, anchovies and rosemary roast lamb and salsa verde can be prepared hours in advance. ( Recipe page 2) You can even prepare it the day ahead of your celebrations and reheat it on the day of the family gathering. The salsa verde is the perfect sauce for the lamb as it cuts the fattiness and gives a lovely fresh taste.

Serve a few hearty slices of lamb per plate, and drizzle the salsa verde over. Any kind of potato dish is also perfect with this simple feast, but I adore tossing hot boiled new potatoes in really good olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, mint and seasoning. They soak the oil and aromatics up and it’s hard to resist eating them before they get to the table. Another easy way to serve this delicious roast is with freshly baked bread. The bread will soak up all the deliciousness of garlic, herbs and lemon. Simple yet so delectable.

So let us do more than survive the next few weeks. Let us thrive. Remember, less is more. Keep it simple. Be intentional. And do not sweat the small stuff. Join me in my Kalahari Kitchen as we plan ahead for time full of special, enchanting memories and scrumptious, mouth-watering meals.

This time of year… all road lead home. And to My Kalahari Kitchen.

Recipe page 2


Where there is a perfect pancake flip (and rain),there is life.

The first drops of rain falls on the parched Kalahari soil…. dark thunder clouds creep closer with the promise of rain…. the thunder rolls in the distance. Excitement is tangible. The first summer rains are on their way!

Living in the Kalahari desert gives you an appreciation of every drop of water! Few things can compare with the smell of the red Kalahari earth when the rain falls on dry arid ground. It brings back special childhood memories with the three kids sitting on the porch, eating freshly baked cinnamon-sugar pancakes and watching the rain cascade down the thatch roof. The smiles of happy children and the thankful look on my farmer husband’s face, fill my heart to overflowing. God is faithful. God is good.

No matter how powerful a man, he cannot make the rains fall on his farm alone.

African Proverb

With the rain comes my mother-in-law’s ‘pannekoek’ (pancakes) recipe. Yes, when the first drops fall, one of the girls will start mixing the batter. Pannekoek is the Afrikaans word for pancake, but this is not like an American pancake. Flat and thin, a pannekoek is more like a version of a French crêpe than the fluffy, buttermilk pancakes we love to eat in America.

The pannekoek batter is runny and not sweetened — one pancake generally fills up the whole pan. It is cooked on both sides and then it can be filled with savory or sweet fillings for either entrées or desserts.

The Kalahari kitchen Pannekoek way is with plenty of cinnamon sugar, melted into the rolled up pannekoek with a dash of fresh lemon juice. With a pinch of nostalgia for good measure. The waft of cinnamon sugar literally pulls you towards the kitchen and the kids ( and dad) stand around for another round of freshly baked pannekoek.

First off, this is an easy one bowl pannekoek recipe that takes no effort at all. You simply add all the wet ingredients (water, eggs and oil) in a bowl with an electric hand mixer at the ready.

Next you just add the dry ingredients little by little while beating with the electric mixer until the batter is smooth. I let my batter stand for half an hour before adding the vinegar. I now scoop about a ladle full into a hot non stick pan.

Tilt the pan when you pour the batter in, to spread it out all over the pan. Once the pancake batter starts pulling away from the sides, with bubbles in the batter on top, it’s ready to flip and cook for a few more seconds. Now serve with cinnamon sugar and lemon juice or any other delicious filling your heart desires on this rainy Monday afternoon.

So armed with flour, eggs, milk, oil and a thankful heart, I am heading off to the kitchen to flip some pancakes. Because ‘Rain showers my spirit, and waters my soul.’ ~ Emily Logan Decens

Recipe page 2


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


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.


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.