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.


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.


A Spicy Perspective

We love our yearly visits to Texas. Yes- everything is bigger and better in this Lone Star State. When visiting Texas, there is no way to avoid the famous Texas barbecue. Then again, why would you want to? Texas barbecue is more than just a regional cuisine. Barbecue is a weekend activity, the passing down of family traditions, a community celebration, and a whole lot of Texan pride.

Here in Namibia, we share these special values and their love for family, barbecue, meat and extra large sandwiches!

This slow cooked leg of venison (or beef brisket) swims in a spicy barbecue sauce and is ultra-tender and finely chopped into small pieces. You never shred it if you are a true Texan-it must be chopped! But, to be honest, here in the Kalahari,we pull the meat apart with a fork… shredded venison! And we believe it is just as good! All a matter of perspective!

“Laughter is brightest where food is best.”

Irish Proverb

Hot,sticky, slightly sweet, fatty in a good way, dripping with sauce, melt-in-your-mouth, too-wet-for-the-bun-so-you-better-eat-fast awesomeness. Luxuriously rich, hearty sandwiches. Perfect for filling your hollow teenage son and feeding a crowd without firing up the grill or the smoker.

These barbecue sandwiches are super easy to make in the oven or in your slow cooker. Yes, the best comfort food at its most drool worthy. They’re also the ultimate stress free company dinner because the meat can be made days in advance then reheated for easy entertaining.

Dress them up or dress them down as you would like (or what your refrigerator allows). You can serve them plain with just a bun and smothered with barbecue sauce or add some cheese or tangy, light coleslaw or any other delectable and indulging toppings your heart desires!

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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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SETTING THE TABLE

My Kalahari Kitchen is born out of a love for food… and a girl that fell in love with a tall handsome farm boy. Never did I imagine a life of breathtaking sunsets with my toes in the red Kalahari sand, bright starlit nights making a canopy over our heads as we sit at a roaring log fire and herds of Zebra eating my carefully planted herbs… a beautiful, simple life in the Kalahari, Africa.

A sharing of memories, photos, Kalahari moments, recipes and life from my Kalahari kitchen…. this is what this blog is all about. Our journey together.

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