Joan’s recipes and Peter’s

Another recipe from Joan’s …Peter’s mum and her scrumptious cakes.

But before I start on this recipe, I would like to mention that today Peter has made the most delicious roast ever. He grabbed a recipe from a site called Cuisine- Facile (a french site which has many languages tho). Mind you he decide that I should have a break from the cooking…Truly appreciate it. And since I am going on a short trip with some friends he thought he’d better start early!

He defrosted one of our own beef roast, (yes we do raise our cows) and marinated it with all sorts of herbs overnight. Then, the next day or should I say the next  night , he put it in the slow cooker for 7 hours. During the night aromas drifted up to the bedroom. I am not sure wether I liked that,  but I fell asleep and after a while of course did not noticed anything. The next day just an hour before eating he lit the BBQ and roasted it for just 20mns. With it, he arranged next to it some potatoes, onions and Jerusalem Artichokes from the garden. I could not wait to try it. The smells invaded the house and my stomach could not wait. I was asking him: “c’mon, is it ready yet”  “just a few more minutes” says he.  Finally,  the roast arrived on the table garnished with all the vegies. I could not restrain myself and plunged the knife into it. But the knife was useless.The fork did a splendid job…It was like butter. A real success and with a nice drop of Cabernet Sauvignon from the hills of Adelaide in South Australia, Richard Hamilton, the whole meal went down like a dream.


Now for the cake recipe from Joan:



125g of Butter

150g of Honey

Together: rind and juice of  One lime, one Orange and one Lemon

3 eggs, beaten

300g of Semoulina

200g of ground Almonds

3 teaspoons of Baking powder

To make the syrup you will need:

150g of Honey

5 Tablespoons of water

2 teaspoons of Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

3 Tablespoons of orange juice

Blend all the the ingredients for the syrup

How to proceed:

cream butter, honey+ citrus rind till pale and fluffy

Beat in the  citrus juices + eggs ( a little at a time) continue to beat then, fold in the semoulina with the ground almonds and baking powder.

Put in a tin with baking paper before so that it does not stick. A normal baking tin.

Bake at 210 degrees for 10mns then at 180 for 30 mns.

When you get out out of the oven pour the syrup slowly onto it .

Enjoy! It is just marvellous with a nice cup of coffee!

Till next time!

Random talks with my father in 1999 on a trip back from Cambodia

13th April, 2013

Intellectualism is a point of fixation.

Can we really capture our first feelings? Is it really possible? Can we really re- live old feelings? Are we really trying to recreate what we have lost? Feelings change one may say.  They change with life events, as we experience new situations, these move with it. One mixes up changes with disappearance. One has to change. One can’t live with someone without changes that occur on an every day basis.

Imagine, if every time you wanted to make love with your partner you tried to recreate the same feelings that you had for instance 20 years ago. Is that possible? Do you have to make an effort to love something or someone? As soon as there is effort, you only pretend to love. It is not natural at all. If every time to have to search for that first feeling when you are trying to make love then you are making all sorts of efforts to fix that first feeling. As soon as there is effort there is a lack of authenticity.

Thought has taken too much preponderance and has to be put back in its place.

Thought is the choice of the data bank if you like, it draws from memory. When a thought arises it is expressed through language and that is how it expresses itself. Hence it is always the past. It is the expression of memory. It has arisen from it and it becomes conscious. Its function is to fix. 

There are two sides to that. It is lucky and unlucky at the same time. On the one hand it is very adept at functioning in our everyday life…food production, house building, orientation. It evolves. Look at our ancestors and what we are today. It may have taken them ages to light a fire; today it is done with a flick of a switch. It has a practical function. It allows action, it is action.  On the other hand thought by itself is damned. It can never have all the information. Today it is totally overwhelmed with information…data.

We can see how we fix our description of the world in our mind, and take that model into the relational field we live in. The description becomes our reality; a set of labels projected onto the vibrant relational field that is life. One has to be careful of labels. Labels cover the content, so that we see the label rather than the content. One has to discover that, and our attitude to this field is to resist it by all means.

Can we seize our ME? It is impossible. Why is it impossible?  If you point your finger at me and ask:  what is this ME  that you occupy, that you live? What is it?  The question sounds simple, but when I try to look around the mental space that I inhabit, my consciousness you could say, I am stumped when I try to say just what it is. I can’t say what it is, nor can I say what its boundaries are. When I want to seize ME, I don’t realise that I am creating another ME. And if I want to seize the one that I have just created, I again create another one. Because to grab this first one, there must be another one that does it also. Hence you can’t never catch it or grab it… It is almost unconscious. One is not aware of it.

Talking about the boomerang. How was this instrument invented? How did it happen? How did it come into existence? The Aboriginal people of Australia were living with their environment. They lived close to nature and all that it meant for them. A sense of being related with everything that brought them their food for survival. An osmosis with the trees, the earth, the sun, all the elements that surrounded them. Today’s western civilisation has lost this intimacy with all that. Not the idea of a relation with nature, but for them it was living like that on a daily basis. They were not living with the idea of nature, they were nature, they were aware of the common interest that they had with their surroundings. And that their survival depended on these relationships. They were not exploiting nature, no property. We have lost this today. And we try desperately to find it. Hence the idea of devising a boomerang arises from this tight intimacy with nature and their deep relation within it. In this relational movement of interdependence, there is possible emergence of creativity. If this relationship, in this exchange with one’s environment is non-existent, there will be little or no creativity. If I am not integrated and isolated how can I become creative? It is incompatible and impossible. It is in the depth of my relation with all my surroundings….here we can see how it is difficult to transmit through words this feeling of total relationship. “Surroundings” has very little meaning unless it is lived. There is no inside and outside even if the word transmits that.

Now we can understand the duality of language. One can understand how language can seem inadequate to express this feeling of osmosis. This vision is not an image; it is this deep feeling of interdependence…Even the word “vision” is misleading. One can’t exist without the other and this immense interrelationship that created our organism and it is working in total osmosis. An exchange that is beyond what we can see with our naked eyes. Thought cannot even start fathoming what is taking place in this immensity. It is an incredible world in itself.  And we should not forget that our body is made of that world…. continual exchange and relationships and communication with all the molecules and particles. We are not even aware of what is taking place within us. Hence, we are not “surrounded” by our environment; we are an integral part of that. No outside, no inside. No separation.

 When we separate, we only have an idea of that separation. And it is this idea that separates…but even that is not correct because, thought is totally part of that also. It is a continuation of these exchanges. For humankind this is a very difficult passage, to see this separation, which is not a separation. It is only created by thought. The multitude of differences that thoughts creates, the profusion of characteristics, and it is all these processes that we are entirely part of. Thoughts, words are only a frame that is useful.  And it is this totality that allows every one of us to be what we are. Each one of us has his own distinction and beauty …without being separated.

 Thought has created marvellous things, but by the same token has also created immense problems that we are facing without any decent solutions for today.

This photo bellow is where we used to sit down and have our talks. Image

Till next time …and thank you Peter for your editing and your support.

Family recipes

After my thoughts on Words and Events, I decided to start a collection of recipes. Why is that you may ask? Easy, the other day as I was cleaning some old books and shelves, I saw an old exercise book containing recipes that my husband’s mother (Joan) had RELUCTANTLY parted with. But we had, for some reason managed to appropriate  from her. Peter did, I never got one. So, I resolved that it would be interesting to change tack for a while and write what she had given us.

I will add also some of my favourite ones. But I do not guarantee any of it. I have this tendency to make a lot of recipes on the run. I go into the garden and see what is growing and imagine what I could do with what nature has to provide for this day and what I feel like adding or what inspires when I get into the kitchen. SO, there will be a hotchpotch of many different things. Or just make up something on the run that would turn great, then will forget all about it and never reproduce the same thing twice. Many people curse me for that…anyway, it will also take me quite a while to finish, but that I do not mind at all and I have to start somehow. So here we go without further ado!!!

This particular cake also was made by husband when I had a catering business and sold hundred of them to health food shops around the city.

Will start however with Joan’s FRUIT CAKE…Slightly modified to avoid  sugar.

Weight of cake: 1kg

For the first step


Spices 1/2 tea spoon each of ground cinnamon, cloves, star anis,all spices. You can also add the proportion you like, but don’t over do it!

250g of Butter or Margarine ( I prefer butter)

200ml Apple juice concentrate

I cup of Orange juice

900g of mixed dried fruits (try 300×3)

A good nip of spirit

1TSP of salt

1TSp of bicarbonate of Soda

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 5 mns, let it cool then add and stir gently  then add :

200g of self raising flour

200g of plain flour

3 eggs.

Mix all the ingredients till all is well incorporated.

Line a tin cake with greaseproof paper or baking paper.

Bake slowly at 150 degree for up to 3 hours.

Try it and tell me if you like, but I am sure all of you will have their version of a fruit cake and there are no doubts thousands on the net by myriad of people from all over the world. But it does not matter really does it? Find you own.

Here is the book where it was written 20 years ago.IMG_0364

Til next time or next recipe.

Events and words

I have been thinking recently about words and what they mean, especially when someone passes away. We feel most obliged (at times)  to say “I am sorry for your loss” I am really sorry ” “my condolences” .  We write all sorts of formalities on cards also, some are already pre arranged/pre formatted  for us so that we don’t have to think too much of what we could say. We buy flowers if needed be, we attend funerals and look solemn. Even wear black…mind you for the Chinese it is white.

Now all these little things are as I said above etiquette and things that we should say or do during these times. I have been asking myself after seeing all that,  if they really convey our sorrow, our grief, our hurt, our loss. Do we really mean it? Of course you would say we do. It is terrible to loose someone, like your mother, father, son, daughter and dear friends or any other family member that was close to us. It is normal to express through words the extend of our feelings.

I recall an incident that happened many years ago. I was just around 8 or 9 and my uncle who was living in the same building passed away. The whole house hold was in turmoil. women crying and lamenting, tears flowed freely. My grand mother was very distraught, it was her brother. All the family members arrived at 10 o’clock in the evening and everyone was surprised. How did it happened? Why now? My uncle,  Phallo,  was so nice…that was not true in my eyes, he was such a stingy man, severe, opulent, strutting in the street with the first black car in the area. A chauffeur by his side and at his beck and call. He owned a candy wholesale business that was located  right under the house on the ground floor. You could imagine a little girl at the time passing in front of his door  almost everyday after school and seeing mountains of lollies and biscuits all piled up. I used to say to him when I came back : “Good afternoon uncle” he hardly replied and went counting his stock. Day after day was the same routine.  Mind you, he could have thought that it was in my interest to say such things. He hardly uttered a word and the thing that used to afflict me… or should I say   …yes, you guessed it, was the fact that he never ever came out and offered me a biscuit or a lolly. I was really horrified at his stinginess. In my mind I would think “why is he like that”? But I never got a response to my questions. I remained perpetually baffled by the attitude of this man…a member of the family! Mind you, I used to sneak in the big room and look at the packets of goodies just gloating when he was at the back talking to clients, he never heard me or saw me….I supposed.

So, that night when he passed away, I never felt anything and  my first thought was, what was going to happen to all the packets of lollies and biscuits?   I did not feel the need to cry or felt sorry. But when the funeral went underway, everyone in the street was crying, screaming a real concert of lamentations. I was not allowed to go to the funeral as I was too little ( so I was told) and I stayed on the balcony watching the procession slowly coming out the house.  I started to feel uncomfortable, my God! I am not crying,  what should I do? The maid was also shedding some sort of tears, so I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a big onion and started rubbing it on my eyes. Yes, I started to cry and join all the people in their “suffering”. Could be genuine of course. When they came all back to our home and talked about it my grandmother and parents asked almost in unison: “You have such red eyes was it because of uncle Phallo ? I must have overdone it with the onion I thought.  I did not answer as I was a little scared to say the wrong thing. I just stood there and just looked at everyone. All their eyes were on me. Dad came around as well as grandma and put their hands around me. I was really not at ease at all. So I ran to my room while the adults stood all dressed in black were milling around with cups of teas and coffees and other food that was on tables. Candles were lit everywhere for days on end. It was really nice to see all these lights. But as you can imagine, I was in a turmoil inside. People really believed I was crying for my uncle while in fact I despised him with all my heart. A few days later or maybe weeks, stories starting  filling our house about all his Scrooge like approach, penny pinching and worse. Oh!boy I thought, I am not the only one. They thought the same I though all these years about him, but were they faking their crying too? I never asked them. Dad told me many years later that he was a real mean man and recalled some stories of his own. I felt vindicated. I told him the story about the onion. Mum and dad burst into a belly laugh for quite a while.

I asked myself then, how is it that people behave in such a way and pretend like that?  I do not have an answer to that today. People are what they are and behave indeed in a strange way, I guess just hypocrisy I suppose. They have to. We all have to do weird things and pretend. Do we do that all the time?

How can we really put ourselves in other people shoes in such event? What words can we convey in times such as these?  I also suppose that everyone shows their grief in a very particular manner. For me words are just a tool to describe something. an approximation of reality. Never the event itself. They are the map not the territory as someone would say. They only try to convey a fragment of what is taking place. If you are at the scene of an event and have 100 persons witnessing the same thing, not one recalling of that event will be the same. We all have a different perception of what took place. What are we seeing then?  Of course, I am speaking on the psychological level, not in the realm of building a house for instance, where we need exact measurements and tools to perform the job.

If I were to describe to you the taste of an exotic fruit such as a durian, I will use all the vocabulary that I know of to describe to the best of my abilities the taste, the texture, the form, the consistency, the appearance. I will use all the imagery that is available to convey MY experience. It will stop there. Until you, yourself, go through the experience of it,  it will have very little meaning. That is where I see the limitations of words. In the psychological realm, they are only an indicator, a pointer. Hence a limitation.

So, sometimes it is best to say nothing in moments of grief. A kiss, a touch, a look and above all a silence. Silence may communicate more than words. But we are all addicted to words and already made sentences, already made cards, already made formula,  already made attitudes, already made reactions and beliefs.  Of course,  if we send some flowers or a card, the other person is going to see that we thought of her/him. they might be pleased or touched. What I am saying is that we are have to be AWARE of our actions at the time of doing so. Where does it come from? What is the motif behind it?  Is it out of obligation?  Just being aware of that,  may change our response to many situations. Easier said than done hey? But,  it is the stalking of our movements, our actions, our sentences already pre determined by our upbringing that is going to liberate us of our loaded ego. The incredible lightness of being has some merits.

I “ll leave you with a photo taken at dawn of a spider web in front of our veranda taken by Sulma Warne

Till next time.

Spider Web