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


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


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.


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.


Chocolate is happiness that you can eat.

Since the children are back at school, the days and weeks merge into one big busyness. There are days that I miss our lockdown days on the ranch. No distractions except the call of the jackal. No early morning rush except for coffee and Rusks on the porch watching the sun rise over the Kalahari savannahs. No frantic driving from one appointment to another except for a late afternoon game drive and a relaxing sundowner under the old camelthorn tree.

Even with all the distractions and the hustle and bustle of our new so-called normal, I remind myself of what I have learned during these challenging months. Live attentively. Give attention to what you are giving attention to. Life simply. The little things matter.

Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.

Ann Voskamp

We so easily get caught up in the mundane routine of every day that we forget to celebrate life in its fullest! So on this Monday morning, I am thankful. Thankful for living a beautiful simple life with Janneman and my ( taller and wiser) than me kids, a life-changing faith that keeps me grounded and focused, friendships that nuture my soul and the love of food (and chocolate) that keeps me sane! And on this Monday morning we are baking a delicious, chocolatey, gooey, silky ( did I say delicious?) easy chocolate fondant cake. This is a recipe that I always fall back on, especially on a day like today when I want to celebrate life. And shout out: God is good. Life is good!

I bake this Chocolate Fondant cake in a 8” cake tin and not in individual moulds. It makes for a thick, dense, creamy and deeply chocolatey fondant that bears a signature crust on top. After cooling down, I place it in the refrigerator ( in the cake tin) until an hour before serving. This is to properly set and firm up. I then remove it from the fridge, overturn it on a beautiful dessert plate and top it with fresh berries, chocolate shavings or serve just as a simple slice of cake! Make sure it is served at room temperature. With the soft chocolate cake exterior and a mouth watering melted centre, you will dream of this fondant cake for days after making it. But guess what? It’s so easy and quick, you can make it again!

Serve as dessert with vanilla ice cream, or as a teatime treat with double whipped cream. Yes, I am thankful for the simple things. Something like Chocolate Fondant Cake on a Monday afternoon! Chocolate is for sure happiness you can eat!

Recipe on page 2