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


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


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


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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