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


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


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.


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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‘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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