Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Almost 2010

Photos: Ryan Wienand Photography

I hope that everybody had a GREAT Christmas and that the time with family and friends were very special!

After a lovely visit in Kenton and St. Francis with my in-laws and their immediate family – at one stage I counted 29 people! – we arrived at a small coastal town called Kleinmond.

Since I can remember, my family has been coming to Kleinmond for the December holidays.  Driving into Kleinmond, familiarity strikes as I recognized the little coffee shop on the corner, the pharmacy – where I always bought all the Christmas gifts on my parents account – the one and only Spar and all the places from my childhood.

So special, so fortunate to be able to come back to this and show our little Moo where I grew up.

And as per always – with summer holidays you’ll find us (and about 24 other friends) on our stoep enjoying seafood and wine in abundance! I’m hoping to get Impi’s famous Crayfish Termidor recipe and send it on to you!

Watch this space for further developments……

I wish you and your families a WICKED 2010!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas!

Today is my mom's birthday. I am so glad that I am at home for this event!
My mom is one of the strongest, most amazing women that I know! The older and wiser (!) I become, I realize the many many sacrifices she has made over the years for her children! We never had loads of money growing up, but me, my sis and my brother had a wonderful childhood never needing anything!
And when times became really though, my mom rolled up her sleeves and started baking rusks on the kitchen table for some extra mola. Today, she employs 7 woman, together with my sister in her own bakery! You will find her rusks (under the Melissa's label) in most Pick and Pay's or Spar shops around South-Africa. How amazing is that for a little plaas vroutjie (farm lady)!

I talk a lot, and I always have something to say, but when I get really emotional, my words tend to fail me...I can never express the admiration, respect and love that I have for my mother...
Happy happy birthday mom!

It is so wonderful to be at home! All of us girls are in sunny South-Africa at the moment, so we are signing off for a while. We wish you and your families a wonderful and blessed festive season! We are going to enjoy our time with our loved ones and will be back soon enough to keep you informed of love and life in general...


Friday, December 18, 2009

December Madness

So the long awaited December break (or should I say life re-evaluation period) has arrived for most people and its with mixed feelings that I embrace this one.

There is essentially something wrong with the fact that we yearn for these blissful two(or if you are lucky three) weeks of peace, where work and its issues are but a distant memory, for the whole year just to start the process all over again as the clock strikes 00:01 on the 1st of January. Is this the life we are meant to live?

It was literally an exodus of expats the morning we flew back to SA, even Desert Rose and her beautiful family was there. The mood was jubilant as we returned to the 'Hom' land. I mean we have spent a whole year complaining, and reminiscing over the 'braai vleis vuur' about the pros of SA and the cons of TZ and this was the happy return.

But as they scan your temperature for swine flu and you wait for immigration to stamp your passport the striking differences between SA and TZ is already apparent at the threshold of entry.

You are not greeted by a friendly 'jambo, habari ya leo?' (hello how is your morning) but instead your friendly 'morning' is ignored. Granted we are lucky in TZ that there is only one official language (kiswahili) where SA is blessed with (is it?) 11. So where do you start to build kinship with your fellow countrymen? Learn 9 languages? Can work.

Driving back from dinner with friends I can't help but compare the feeling of literal fear(hijacking, armed robbery, horrific accidents) with the feeling of peace I had a week ago walking down a deserted african street alone, at 12 at night after dinner with a friend to find my electric windows stolen(we are trying to buy them back, its not the windows itself but the motor that powers them) The car was still there, the door neatly closed and only my windows and expensive organic muesli (which will probably end up as chicken feed) gone.

I am probably oversensitive, almost like a tourist but I still like feeling safe at night without electric fencing, three dogs, alarm system, armed response AND a paintball gun loaded with Kevlar and pepper spray bullets.

So although I have not left the shops (catching up on year without shopping) and love spending time with my family I already miss the peace of my second home and the friendliness of her people.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Its all in The List

It's incredible! It works! It's the only way forward.

Its the spoon of flour when your mixture is curdling, it adds the clarity to your consumme. It all becomes clear again and the way you want it to be, for fucks sakes you can uncurdle your life with a list! So everyone, anyone, with any little problem whatsoever, I urge you to write a list.

I wrote the list about 3 months ago, and have now come to the conclusion. It's a beautiful feeling, the cake is no longer a curdled mess it's a smooth voluptuous consistency. All ready to be baked and I cannot wait to see the outcome.

The great thing about writing the list is we bloody well know it anyway, for some reason the words on paper or blocks in excel just confirm it for us....

Happy listing, and wishing you all a Merry Christmas - may the presents be many and the wine flow generously.

~ hibiscus

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Sexy Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe

                               (Image:  Google Images)

I first tasted this incredibly delicious gazpacho in Lukula Camp, Selous Game Reserve. (www.selousproject.com).  I was pleasantly surprised, in the middle of the bush, to have such a delicate, but at the same time rather bold gazpacho.  I later found out after several questions that this is actually from a friend of ours that helped out in the kitchen. She found it in a food magazine! 

On hot and humid summer nights, this is the most perfect refreshment and starter to an evening under the starts…..

I’ve added one or two things, I dare you to try this!


Watermelon Gazpacho


1 watermelon cut into chunks

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

½ red onion cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves roughly chopped

50 g ground almonds

50g cashew nuts

15ml red wine vinegar

1 chilli seeded and chopped

2 tbsp of lime juice

250 ml ice cubes

salt and pepper


Roughly chop half of the cucumber and half of the onion together and toss in a little bit of olive oil. Roughly chop mint leaves and add to salsa. Taste for seasoning.



1. Make sure there is power in your area for the next half an hour – phone Tanesco if you are in Dar to double check:            0784 768584

2.  Grab a wine glass, fill it half way with a smooth, cold KWV Chenin Blanc and add ice cubes to taste.

3. You can’t waste time, so search for your dusty blender that has been residing in some or other corner cupboard since your wedding and dust carefully.

 4. Take a big sip of wine

5. Plug the blender in . Now you are ready for action

6. Gently toss the watermelon, onion and cucumber in your brand spanking new shiny blender

7. Do not cut your fingers off trying to hold the lid on and trying to press the correct “blend” button.

8. Blend ingredients and do NOT open the lid while heavy machinery is operating.

9.  Take a big sip of wine

10.  Add garlic, almonds, cashew nuts, red wine vinegar, lime juice and chili

11. Press “blend” button and watch how your masterpiece is coming together

12. Take a big sip of wine

13.  Add ice cubes bit by bit

14. Take a big sip of wine

15. Make the important decision on what your consistency will be and stop heavy machinery accordingly.

16. Take a big sip of wine

17. Pour this masterpiece in your sexy espresso glass cups and garnish with cucumber salsa

18. Serve to your guests with a big I’ve-done-this-myself smile and melba toast

19. Refill your wine glass and enjoy!!!



 ~desert rose~


My Kind of People

{Image from africanhistory.about.com}

Maisha wrote a post about “home is where the history is”. My history and my home is in a small town in the Western Cape called Ceres. Until last year it was actually on a farm in the Koue Bokkeveld but then my parents moved into their dream home in town.
I arrived in the land of milk and honey late Saturday night after a day of traveling from Dar to Zanzibar to Johannesburg to Cape Town. Since then, I have been relishing all the things that I have missed living in Dar especially speaking my mother tongue 24/7.

I have an interesting love/hate relationships with my past. Being back in my parents' home and reading Max Du Preez's book “Pale Native” has made me think about that again. I am “trots Afrikaans” (proudly Afrikaans) but the history of the Afrikaans people, what they stood for and what they believed in has never endeared me much to my forefathers. I do not wish to go into that now.
What I would like to talk about is what I love about my people and what will always make me miss home in the country side. Last night, sitting around a big table loaded with good food and wine, surrounded by friends and family embodies that for me completely.
Around here people don't call weeks in advance to arrange a social gathering. These happen often and unplanned and usually the intension is only a cup of tea after church which inevitable ends in a lazy Sunday lunch.
People greet you on your name in Pick and Pay and inquire about the health of a relative or how business is doing. If someone new moves into the neighbourhood they will receive before the end of the day a bunch of freshly picked flowers or a jar of apricot jam. Children still play in the street and grown ups sokkie (dance) to celebrate the end of the harvest season.
Very dear friends of mine from here have been going through a tough time recently. The husband is sick and has been in and our of hospital for the past year. The way that the community has rallied around them has left me once again appreciate where I come from. The sense of community, the sense of friendship, the sense of family run deep in the veins of these people.

I grew up in a very liberal household, but the above was imprinted on me from a young age. When you are a teenager it is not very cool to hang out with the parents. Now, my favourite thing to do is sit on the stoep with my mom and dad and talk about life in general. I tell them about Dar and talk longingly about the bush and the palm trees, but they also know that I miss my people every day that I am away.


Monday, December 7, 2009

'I thought you could use this...'

One thing I have never really understood is yard sales, you try to sell the stuff you don't want anymore to people who don't actually need it! 

We recently had something similar happen to us. 

Good friends left (for countries unexplored) and with sad good byes they handed over THE BLACK BAG, a bag of medium size, slightly roughed up and splattered with mud. Interesting...




1. One blank note book  - USEFUL

2. Three Novels, in Swedish - NOT USEFUL

3. Five Novels, in English - USEFUL

4. One bread knife - USEFUL

5. One cutting knife - USEFUL

6. A used candle in wood - USEFUL

7. Two thermo coffee mugs - IN NEED OF A WASH

8. SeaSpa facial scrub, facial mud mask and aftershave balm(half used) - STILL DECIDING

9. Some 'beauty milk' in a different language - DANGEROUS

10. Half a pot of Rose Velvet Body Cream - STILL DECIDING


12. One HEALTHY Magazine, six months old - USEFUL

13. Finally - a bag within a bag...maybe to give all of this back to other unsuspecting friends when we decide to explore the unknown!


This transferal of useless STUFF is something I still struggle to understand in expat culture. You are leaving Dar for adventures afar...but still have a few odds and ends you dont want to sell or, for some reason leave behind without a happy home(or as someone recently said, feel to bad to throw out yourself). So, ceremoniously you hand it over to the friends that have been closer than family with a parting shot something along the lines of 'I thought you could use this, but otherwise throw it away'. 


So warning to all friends out there...I am now the owner of a BLACK BAG full of useless stuff...waiting to be given to someone 'I thought could use it!'


Friday, December 4, 2009

The thrill of the chase...?

There was a time not too long ago that I was completely oblivious and na├»ve to “big game hunting”. The first time that I picked up a hunting journal I was horrified at the sight of gorgeous felines hanging limply in the arms of a smiling hunters and huntresses…people who consider spilling blood a recreational activity.

In the few months that I’ve been in Dar I have learnt more about hunting and its place in conservation. I have seen that the plethora of hunters who inhabit Mill House throughout the season are game-loving bush boys that care for the environment and for the well-being of the animals with whom they spend their lives in the bush. It requires skill, patience, and an acute awareness of nature, as I have learnt.  I still do not understand the psychology behind the clients’ desire to undertake such an expedition, but realize that it does have economic benefits too.

And so, the pilot has asked me to join him on a hunt this weekend. After careful consideration and desperately wanting to spend some time with him I have decided to go. My current frame of reference is late night springhare hunting or leisurely outings into the Eastern Cape farmland in search of antelope. Does my going now condone it? Probably… The moral dilemma still stands but by going into the bush I will now see what the ‘hunt’ is all about. Will I now not be able to take a more informed position regarding the sport?


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Tomato Jam

Well finally back from sunny London! A trip to the Uk in November is always good for a dose of the Christmas spirit, hence my mind is moving on now to all things red n gold...

Inspired by Frangipanis post below about Tanzania’s incredible tomatoes – here’s a recipe for any excess you find in your possession. Although this method of preserving is generally used when tomatoes are going out of season, there seems to be no such time in Tanzania. Also a goodie as we run up to Christmas. Apart from the deep ruby glisten which almost sings Christmas carols, I am always in favour of a home made gift that’s a doddle to make.

Christmas Tomato Jam

Makes: 1 large jar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp grated ginger

2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar

1 cinnamon stick (from Zanzibar if possible)

12 large, red, ripe tomatoes

2 chillies, whole

180g dark brown sugar

150ml white wine vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

· Heat the oil in a large saucepan.

· Fry the onion, until soft but not brown.

· Add the garlic, ginger, coriander seeds and cinnamon stick. Stir for a minute or two.

· Mix in the chopped tomatoes, whole chillies, dark brown sugar and white wine vinegar.

· Turn down the heat and cook on a low heat for approx 20-25mins, until the jam has thickened and turned a deep red colour.

· Have a little taste – if needs be add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

· Allow to cool, remove the whole chillies and then place in sterilized jars.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Red Light with Green Arrow

Photo: www.xafricachallenge.com

Aaahhhh, do you drive, do you stop, the dala dala is coming at  you with  the speed of white light….. aaaahh, but the light is red, what do you do!!!???

Covered in kebab sauce from a catering event which I had to wake up for at 3 am this morning to make sure everything is in order,  I find myself sitting half asleep at the intersection close to Dar’s Game Department. There are currently 4 lanes of cars (in real life only just 2). I look in my rear view mirror at this special shocking pink and mint green dala dala racing down with two wheels on the pavement and two wheels off the pavement,  wondering to myself, this guy is SERIOUSLY not going to drive this dangerously to gain a whole of 3 cars to get to the front…..….. inevitably, he comes screaming past and turns the corner…. We had 5 lines for a moment there!

Every Dar es Salamite (if there is such a word) will know that you secretly cringe when your beloved family or your dear friends from somewhere in the world, state with a hop, skip and a jump in their voice, that they’ll be arriving in Dar at 14:00 on a Monday for a two week visit……. Don’t get me wrong – you don’t cringe because they are coming, your heart miss a beat, because you’ll have to drive to the airport to go and fetch them. Upanga Road – probably my least favourite road in this colourful city.

You have to bob and weave through the lanes (2, 3 or 4 , depending on the dala dala situation) and make sure you don’t find yourself in the lane where there’s a feed off to the right or left, because then your in for a long wait! I created my own lane today, a dala dala was dropping people off at a road side station and there was a car coming from behind, luckily it was a Maruti Suzuki – known in my family as a loaf of bread – and I could ssqqquuueeeezzze past.

Driving in Dar is special as is. One of my first lessons by Impi, was to drive LIKE THEY DO, otherwise you are going to have many many accidents. So I proceeded to drive LIKE THEY DO for the last 6 years. And I must admit, touch wood, I haven’t had an accident!

General rule of thumb, if the light is red and there a green arrow to the left and your on the straight lane – DRIVE. If the light is orange, DRIVE. If it’s late at night and the light is red – DRIVE!

…….. but in saying this, my dear friends, please please be very careful.

 ~desert rose~