Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Agapanthus Blue’, my painting for the Knysna Arts Festival ‘Unblocked’ exhibition where each artist is given a 20cmx20cm block of wood on which anything can be created.

Studio packed up to allow the contractors to get in an start the changes that have been under discussion for ages. The wall cladding and fragmented space being opened up with the removal of the partition wall and closing up of the window spaces.

A wide open space to discover and enjoy the paintings, and provides the opportunity for innovative hanging and displaying my work.

Vietnamese Steak au Poivre sauce with fillet, without the blackened veggies, more balanced. Leftover sauce and steak, with cauli-rice, made a tasty stroganoff. Pho ga (Vietnamese chicken broth). The spinach noodles together with julienne zucchini a great alternative, and a diabetic option, to the traditional rice noodles. The bottom of the bowl a treasure trove of flavours.

Felt like I was pounding the earth on my jog. Huge effort without a great deal of forward momentum, my body temperature soaring without the cooling wind that was nearly as lazy as Prince first thing in the morning.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Flame Lilie

Oil on canvas 76cmx102cm

An abstract approach to the painting of summer flowers in Steenbok Park. Responding to the abstract painting that Kirsten is doing that buzz with vitality.
The flowering coral tree reminiscent of Klimt’s painting with his ‘waterfall’ of blooms down the canvas, I struggled with dull, flat red colours on the canvas. The yellow of the hibiscus gave way to the orange-red curves of the flame-lily flowers. I softened the painting with the gentle colours of the agapanthus flowers.
Enough.
One of those perfect mornings for a run, winding up through the forest with a light rain falling. Even the hills felt manegable.
Vietnamese food preparation. Oodles of time needed for all the fiddle bits. Terry modified the pork stuffed squid to account for my diabetic restrictions. Eliminating the sugar and first reducing the pineapple and tomato sauce to a tasty gooiness that also looked amazing.
The Pho was delicious, and much easier to eat at a table with decent sized chairs on a cool day, rather than the humidity of Saigon. Tasty fried Spring Rolls (using the air-fryer rather than oil) with crab, pork and prawns. A dry version of the ‘dipping sauce’ with crushed seeds and peanuts. The first of the recipes for the Diabetic Sensitive cookbook.
Knysna Art Society. Loved the clean, simplicity of the revitalized Old Goal space. Wondering how I can replicate the feeling with the modifications planned in the studio to create a larger area, and still manage all my stuff. Far too much stuff!
Somewhere I missed recording the sweet potato gratin recipe.
Sweet Potato Gratin

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk together the cream, cheese and nutmeg until smooth.

3. In a 10-inch square baking dish, arrange an even layer of sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the cream mixture and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cream, seasoning with salt and pepper, to form 8 to 10 layers. Press down on the layers to totally submerge the sweet potatoes in the cream mixture.

4. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking until the cream has been absorbed, the potatoes are cooked through, and the top is browned, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Boug blossoms.jpgSundowner open evening at the studio, as the holiday season gets underway. Terry organized a large bowl of olives and hunk of cheese, their own focal point in the studio and excellent with our sponsored Steenberg Chardonnay. During the evening, I did a small painting of bougainvillea flowers that will be auctioned for charity.
Pestle and mortar for grinding pepper corns for the Vietnamese Steak au Poivre. The steak sauce, scrumptious. Mayonnaise dressing for the salad, a tad too rich for the dish and it didn’t have the clean, crispness of Vietnamese dressings. Will try again using the classic Vietnamese dressing. Carbonara, with spinach and cauliflower noodles and the leftover Vietnamese Steak au Poivre.
7km jog around Thesen on the time-trial route that Craig has set up, with Prince in a cool overcast day. His first run on the lead, managing cars, other dogs, kids, bicycles and my lack of coordination. The water bowls along the route helping him to cool down.

studiosteenbergbanner

Blue-black agapanthus flowering on the back patio garden. Indigo blue from Van Dyk the tonal colour with Ultramarine blue and permanent Megenta. Light lemon yellow against the pale grey background. Fighting to achieve lightness.

Orthopod happy with how Terry’s wrist is healing. No change to the cast, which will stay on until the 16th January. Christmas dinner could be a test of my dubious cooking skills!

Vietnamese Steak au Poivre

This fish sauce–spiked steak au poivre is chef Chris Shepherd’s nod to the French influences in Vietnamese cooking.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  1 large onion, thinly sliced
  •  2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  •  One 1 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
  •  1 star anise
  •  2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  •  1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  •  2 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
  •  1/2 cup heavy cream
  •  2 teaspoons black peppercorns, crushed
  •  Kosher salt Pepper
  •  1 1/2 pounds small heads of broccoli, cauliflower
    and/or Romanesco
  •  3 tablespoons canola oil
  •  1 cup mayonnaise
  •  1/4 cup yellow mustard
  •  1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  •  1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, preferably Tabasco
  •  1/2 medium red onion,
    thinly sliced (1 cup)
  •  2 tablespoons roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  •  Four 6-ounce center-cut beef tenderloin steaks

How to Make It

Step 1

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the cinnamon stick and star anise and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the fish sauce and sugar and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and simmer over moderately high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

Add  the cream and simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes longer. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl; discard the solids. Return the sauce to the saucepan and stir in the crushed peppercorns. Season with salt and keep warm.

Step 2

Heat a large cast-iron skillet. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli, cauliflower and Romanesco with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Working in batches, cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over and crisp-
tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a work surface and let cool. Cut into bite-size pieces and wipe out the bowl. In the bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the mustard, vinegar and hot sauce until smooth. Fold in the charred vegetables, the red onion and sunflower seeds and season the salad with salt. Wipe out the skillet.

Step 3

In the skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 125° for medium-rare, 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the peppercorn sauce and the charred-vegetable salad.

studiosundown

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Terry out of action with a broken wrist after being knocked off her feet by over exuberant playing dogs at Steenbok Park. My schedule now around ensuring Prince gets his exercise and we have easy to eat, one handed, meals.

Dorado with a basil-pesto crust on the weber grill. An almond flower diabetic-sensitive substitute for bread-crumbs. The fillets were a tad thin, which I cooked for 3 minutes too long, despite the fire not reaching the recommended temperature. Fortunately they were full of flavour and weren’t too dry.

Moving trucks, full-moon, owls, holiday makers, mozzies, dog patrols. All driving Prince a tad crazy. Making for disrupted nights.

Paint smeared across the canvas. A couple of studies for a larger commissioned piece. The agapanthus on the patio garden coming into flower. The most amazing shades of purple-black petals. A painting that I have had in mind for awhile, waiting for the plants to come into flower. The shadow. A mixture of Titanium white, Magenta, Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.

“I feel such a creative force in me: I am convinced that there will be a time when, let us say, I will make something good every day , on a regular basis….I am doing my very best to make every effort because I am longing so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things mean painstaking work, disappointment, and perseverance.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Porchetta. Or rather, a suggestion of porchetta-style from a pork belly, basil pesto and basil leaves, rolled and cooked on the Weber. Silver-oak wood pieces on the coals to add that slight smokiness. Served with a hint of blue-cheese and basil leaves. ‘Gorgeous, melting pork belly and blue cheese is a genius combination invented by Iain Graham of Urban Caprice to go with Mumm champagne’. No Mumm, but Kleine Zalze Vintage MCC, probably better!

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

Like many traditional Italian foods, porchetta is prepared differently from region to region but is generally defined as a dish of boneless roast pork stuffed with filling and then rolled and roasted, usually over wood. In the town of Ariccia in the Lazio region of Italy, porchetta restaurants abound, leading to a close association with the dish, though variations of it are made across the country.

Add, a twist with the melting pork belly and blue cheese combination invented by Iain Graham of Urban Caprice to go with Mumm champagne.

Pork Belly and Pork Loin

• 1 piece pork belly with skin, about 10-by-20 inches

• boneless pork loin

Pork Roast

• 1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus more

• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more

• Pesto

• 12 smashed garlic cloves

• 12 fresh sage leaves

• Herbs (recipe below)

• Blue cheese

| Preparation – Pork Belly and Loin |

With the pork belly skin-side down, score meat in a cross-hatch pattern. Turn pork belly over, and using a sharp knife, score skin deep in a cross-hatch pattern. Turn, skin-side down, and set aside.

Place the pork loin skin-side down. On the tapered side of the loin, make a cut about 1-inch deep and then cut straight across to butterfly, continuing to make 1-inch cuts until the loin folds open like a book. Set aside.

| Preparation – Pork Roast | Season skin side of prepared pork belly with salt. Turn belly skin-side down and place flat on a cutting board with the short end facing you. Season with pepper and more salt.

Spread half of the pesto over the belly, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides.

Lay butterflied pork loin in the center of the pork belly and spread remaining pesto over loin. Arrange garlic and sage on top of loin. Season with salt and pepper.

To roll the roast, begin at the end of the pork loin where you finished the initial cut, slowly rolling and packing ingredients in tightly. When finished rolling the roast, use butcher’s twine to tie roast at 1-inch increments so it will cook evenly. Set roast on a platter and refrigerate overnight.

| To Cook | Remove roast from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking.

To estimate the cooking time, measure the roast through its thickest part, and cook for 1minute per millimeter. Hence if it’s 90mm thick, cook for 90 minutes.

An indirect fire (two equal piles of coal on either side of the charcoal grate, with a drip pan in the middle to catch the rendering fat), topped with a couple of pieces of hard wood.

Place roast on the grill, turning every 10 minutes until the skin is browned and crisp.

Reduce the temperature (325ºF) by closing the vents halfway and leave until the loin reaches 140 degrees. (1½ to 2½ hours)

Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Just before serving, top with a sliver of blue cheese and a tiny button of redcurrant jelly.


Herbs

• 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves

• 1 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves

• ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

• 3 tsp roughly chopped fennel fronds

Diary of an Adventure

Vietnam Adventures

Hanoi

Pho, at the upmarket Huyen on Cau Long Street, clean with regular size tables and chairs. Chicken amongst the noodles (which I skipped) and broth. Tastes of lemon-grass, garlic, ginger and lime hidden within the depths of crystal clear broth, delicate enough to make a French Chef envious. Translucent onion moving between the noodle strands like exotic sea creatures.

A tad squeaky and weary of the noise after five hours of weaving through the old town searching out Thuy at Lily’s Travel to pay for the air tickets and booking to Ha Long Bay. All without getting lost! Located the hotel we will stay at on or return and finalized the arrangements after getting dates all muddled. Helpful and patient with my concerns and questions. 

Hoan Kiem Lake with a stop for coffee at the trendy Cong Caphe across the road from St Joseph’s cathedral. The temple of the Jade Mountain, Ngoc Son Temple, was crowded with tourists. The best feature (even without reflections), the scarlet bridge. Surprisingly, it’s the first time I have sent the small table flying trying to get out of the chair. Broken bottles across the pavement.

Escaped to the apartment for a spot of quiet and to mess about with paint after a stop at the market. Excellent pork spring rolls, with tomato and their small patties.

Small painting of lotus flowers working better. Frenetic, expressive smearing of paint onto the linen canvas and paper. Craziness after a heart-beat walking through the traffic? Terry’s photo of a lady playing cards gave me the opportunity to do a couple of paintings of the same subject simultaneously. 

Diary of an Adventure

Vietnam Adventures

Hanoi

The train arrived on schedule at 03h30, leaving us 4 hours before we could drop our bags. Lemon tea, a car park disco. Small taxis with impressive hooters and sound systems.

Polite taxi driver, whose meter seemed to be of the ‘non-rip-off variety’. Defined as: a meter that turns faster than your heart beats!, brought us to the AirB&B at 60 Nguyen Truong To, Ba Dinh. The Circle K shop our reference point.

Cafe Linh, the first one to open near our apartment, for a rocket fuel coffee start to the day. Random art on the walls, ‘Art studio’ sign on the door of our apartment block. Smoking, never my best, an issue, with cafes filled with smoke. I did manage to get a portrait photo to use as a painting reference.

Ten hours of pavement pounding, a bit like ‘Gulliver in Lilliput Land’, through the Old Town of Hanoi. Senses assaulted by noise, dirt and uncontrolled chaos. A stop to orientate the map, before heading off at a tangent that didn’t end where expected. No worries, another dozen wrong turns and a helpful cyclo (three wheeled bicycle taxi) driver had us pointed in the right direction. Glad for the calmness of a brunch at Pan Pacific hotel. Total wimp that I am. There is absolutely nowhere to walk, other than the street as parked scooters take up every inch of space on the sidewalk. Perhaps 6am is the best time to be out walking in the city? Cool, quiet and somewhat magical. 

Saigon cafe along Truc Bach bustling with a bunch of scooter riders that seemingly fell out of the musical ‘Grease’. Leather jackets, studs, slicked back hair and attitude. The trendy women on Vespa’s, designer brand clothing, red lipstick and even more attitude.

Chopstick skills scrutinized Not sure what level proficiency was assessed. Chopstick Grade B?

Diary of an Adventure

Traveling diabetic #4

Hi,

Jan here.
Hanoi.
Walk through the market to get an idea of what greens were available
Tofu, negligible carbs, needing all the help it can get from the soya sauce infused with chili, and the betel leaf (?) it was served with. Didn’t manage the fermented anchovy sauce.
For a diabetic, the colorful drinks menu at Manzi, the artist-lead art space, cafe and gallery located amongst a leafy garden in an old house near the apartment, didn’t appeal and we had already had enough coffee to fuel a moon launch. The light eats were carb rich, however, we enjoyed the cozy atmosphere away from the frenetic streets.
Cafe Villa, lunch stop to rest weary feet. Ginger, garlic and lemon grass soup with a heap of bamboo shoots and strips of delicately flavored pork. Didn’t worry with the rice. Nothing crazy. Subtle flavours waiting to be uncovered. 
Blood sugars

High 6.3 mmol/L

Low 4.6 mmol/L

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Boundless energy released in a spray of sea sand and water. The RAV, an instant sandbox. Legs hammered from the sudden increase in walking demanded to keep Prince from bouncing off the walls.

Not quite managing the ’30 paintings in 30 days’ September challenge, however I did get a few small paintings finished, with help of a puppy in the studio.

The ‘hose-clamp’, google fix for the Weber ash collector seems to have solved the problem. Achieved without blood, quite something. Under a full moon, with hardly any wind, we sat out on the patio for our braai, with a smidgen of delicious Crozes Hermitage.

Phantom cycle after early cappuccino walk, the mist coming off the water and the air full of jasmine scent. A stop at the newly opened Café du Bois (formally Throbb) in Grey Street.

There was a simplistic beauty and freshness to the new exhibition at Avo Pomme. Radically different from the vibrancy and energy of my paintings.

The new works are hints of green on small white canvases against the white walls of the gallery. Minimalist naivety? Bernice did a magnificent job of mirroring the simplicity, different shades of green and sculptural forms of the paintings in her canapés. Artistic brilliance.

Full studio for the Tuesday movie evening. Extra chairs squeezed into random spots that will need to be repeated for the next movie being held to support the Knysna Basin Project.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Slowly emerging from the canvas, ‘A Touch of Spring’, morphing from a sunset into spring flowers. Not sure how that happened, but such is painting.

My head doing too much, as I strive for the minimum that suggest where the flower should be amongst the splotches of colour. The horror of that ‘upholstery fabric’ look. The red too brown, the yellow too washed out.

A touch of nostalgia. Surreal perhaps. Train, within arms reach, passing the old station building, which is now home to the ‘Trans-Karoo’ restaurant at Klein-Brak. Definitely worth taking the turn off from the N2 and stopping for a hearty Karoo country meal.

Sun out after a couple of days of storms. Wind off the mountains seriously chilly, leaving my fingers (already prone to be cold from the diabetes crazy blood sugars) bits of ice. Fortunately, the doctor has cut my medication in half which has lifted my blood sugars, which should help.

The results for the ‘growth’ on Prince’s nose have showed nothing of concern and he is on a course of antibiotics to clear up any infection. The tablets seem to include some sort of steroid as he went bouncing through the agility course like he was Usain Bolt! Hilarious, except for the serious dog training types.

Legs, impossibly stiff as they toiled up the hill. The indigenous forest winding down the Pass to the Gouna River, spectacular after the rains. Full of mystery. Time needed to pause and reflect.

Small painting of a rowing boat on the estuary.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A bit of fun with the underpainting of the portrait using both hands to cover the area as quickly as possible. Without creating a mess, the real challenge.

 

French country pate and red wine for lunch, after spending the morning messing about with paint.

Cosmos flowers, one of those subjects not to touch. Partly as there are a gazillion paintings depicting cosmos, and partly as they are an autumn flower that don’t occur on the Garden Route. However, stopping at Delish in Heidelberg, there was a bank of pink cosmos flowers, full of happiness that screamed to be put onto canvas.
An abstract approach with an underpainting based on Monet’s ‘The path through the Irises’ (My canvas of 50cmx60cm nothing like Monet’s monumental 1,8mx2m work) of different layers of Naples yellow, raw Sienna, gold oxide, and hints of crimson and cadmium yellow. For the wispy leaves of the cosmos plants, an intense green mixed from French lemon yellow and cobalt blue was applied in short dashes. Turquoise and cerulean blue the darker stems.
Managed to cut my thumb on a sharp knife, which isn’t anything spectacular or surprising. A nuisance!
Tanzania Exhibition.jpg
In the studio, my paintings from Tanzania are up for the first time as a collection. The paintings are full of mystery and vibrancy that somehow transcend the emotional strain I was under while there.
NSRI Station 12.jpgCrew training evening at National Sea Rescue, Station 12, to hand over the painting I did for their 50th commemorations. The painting itself is dark and brooding with big skies and seas swamping the small red rescue craft. Fortunately the seas were only marginally lumpy and warm for the training exercise, as we were soaked by the wash of the boats as they did a high speed crew transfer.
Inspiration, a collection of the photos and the fabulous article     http://www.backroadtours.co.za/product/not-so-secret-kenton/
  from our Kenton Adventure, for my next portrait painting of the guitarist outside the Wharf Street Brew Pub in Port Alfred.