Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Crown for a King

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Prince’s second birthday. All his friends, including Licorice and Popcorn visiting. Benji and Hobo for a beach play. A boereworse braai with new squeaky toys. Chaos.

‘Craig’s and Coreta’s Charity Challenge’, a team run, and MTB jaunt out to Brenton. For the runners, across the iconic Train Bridge, while the cyclists went around over the historic Red Bridge. The climb up the Brenton nights, negotiated by all. My bothersome Achilles reducing me to an ambling shuffle.

A fisherman has been wondering about outside the studio, followed by his corgi type companion, called ‘Come Along’. They have been homeless around Knysna for awhile, having come from Cape Town. The little dog, a ‘Yoda’ personality, and it’s just possible that Obi-Wan lurked behind the facade of the fisherman. After all, the mists on the water could hide any number of worlds.

Christmas. Food shelves and magazines packed with delicacies I can’t touch. Particularly with my current blood sugars that are too high for comfort.

Decided to try and make a diabetic sensitive bûche de Noël. Whipping the egg whites proved to be quite a chore, while separating the egg whites still proved challenging, even with the special separator gadget. I didn’t want to use the cranberry jam that was in the recipe as it has too many sugars. Rather I opted for slow cooked blueberries with a few bits of fresh thyme.

It tasted surprisingly good, needed more cream filling and Im not sure that the 20min cooking time wasn’t a tad long, as it felt too firm which meant i struggled to roll the warm cake. I also used a tea towel as the wax paper was too complicated.

bûche de Noël (CHOCOLATE YULE LOG)

AUTHOR: ANGELA COLEBY

Makes 8 slices

Nutritional Info per slice:

272 Calories,

24g Fat,

8g Protein,

9.6g Total Carbs,

4.3g Fibre,

5.3g Net Carbs

INGREDIENTS

SPONGE

• 6 eggs separated

• 1/3 cup 38g coconut flour

• ½ cup 107g erythritol (or sugar substitute)

• 1/3 cup 28g cocoa powder, unsweetened

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

• ½ teaspoon salt

FILLING

• ½ cup 60g heavy/whipped cream, (whipped into stiff peaks)

• 2 tablespoons cranberry chia jamoptional

TOPPING

• 4 oz 112g butter unsalted, softened

• ¼ cup erythritol or sugar substitute

• 6 oz 168g cream cheese, softened

• ¼ cup 22g cocoa powder, unsweetened

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F degrees.

2. Grease and line a long rectangle baking tin with parchment paper. My tin is about 8 inches by 12 inches.

3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.

4. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks and erythritol together.

5. Add the remaining cake ingredients to the egg yolk mixture and combine well.

6. Fold in the egg whites to the cake mixture.

7. Spoon into the baking tin and smooth evenly.

8. Bake for 20 minutes until firm.

9. Remove from the oven and place a piece of parchment paper over the cake whilst still warm (be careful not to burn yourself!).

10. Remove the cake from the tin, keeping the parchment paper on the bottom of the tin so that the cake has parchment paper either side of it.

11. Gently roll the cake from the smaller edge into a swiss roll shape. This will make it easier to unroll and fill later.

12. Set aside to cool.

13. Once the cake is cool, gently unroll the cake from the parchment paper and spread with the cranberry chia jam. Add an even layer of the whipped cream.

14. Gently roll the cake back into the swiss roll shape.

15. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to help keep its shape.

16. Make the topping by blending the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.

17. Add the erythritol and cocoa powder and beat until smooth and blended.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The panorama outside the window shifts daily with visiting yacht arrivals and departures. Fleur de Passion of the The Ocean Mapping Expedition, our new neighbour on the estuary.(http://www.omexpedition.ch/index.php/en/)

King Protea on the easel. Small canvases as I sort different approaches from the crazy, to the abstract.

Doing my best to look after my Achilles that thankfully has eased after a painful few days. My running shoes growing mould and my bicycle rusty as a coffee walk the extent of my activities. This does mean, with all the fabulous food and wine I have enjoyed with visiting friends that my new, super slick, high vis cycling top has a distinct ‘silk-worm’ snugness!

Silk scarf craziness as the borders seem to have changed with the file transfer of the updated images to the manufacturer. The option of including a tag that indicates that the scarves are 100% silk, and a card the tells the story of the painting, to be considered. Even for the glamorous French woman who was so thrilled with her scarf that she wore it out from the studio to dinner.

Lunch menu on the Kamado Jan. Herb crusted rack of lamb, with roasted cauliflower in browned butter. Grilled aubergine and Caprese salad. Radfordale Chardonnay. Piekenierskloof Grenache with the Colmant MCC Rose, the star. A starter of Courgette Bellini with cream cheese and salmon.

A second night of storms. The rain welcome. If not by the tourists who are having their expected sun filled holiday turned to mush.

For Prince, it’s a frightening time of noise in an energy charged atmosphere. Compounded by the storm driven high seas of the full moon. Hence, disturbed nights that have me a tad grumpy.

Roasted Cauliflower with Brown Butter

• 1 cauliflower

• 1 tablespoon canola oil

• 3 ounces/80 grams butter, at room temperature or softened

• kosher salt

1. Preheat your oven to 220˚C.

2. Cut the stem off the cauliflower as close to the base as possible and remove any leaves. Rub oil all over the cauliflower.

3. Put the cauliflower in an oven-proof skillet. Slide the pan into the oven and roast the cauliflower for 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven and smear the soft butter over the surface. Sprinkle with a four-finger pinch of salt. Roast the cauliflower for another 30 to 45 minutes, basting it several times with the butter, which will have browned. The cauliflower in the picture has about 15 more minutes of roasting. It’s done when you can insert a paring knife into it and feel no resistence. It should be completely tender.

4. delicious thing to do with the browned butter: whisk in lemon juice, minced anchovies, and whatever chopped herb you prefer

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Air reverberating with the sounds of helicopters heading to the fire front, the news that one of my collectors homes had burnt down. 3 generations of memories lost, and my paintings.

Blood sugars suddenly trampolining all over the place (7.8 mmol/L -3.8 mmol/L) after a month of being stable. Averaging 6.0 mmol/L with a standard deviation of 0,7. Diabetic carbs at 23grams, well within the 50 gram range. Particularly noticeable an hour after exercise, with cycling creating the biggest swings. Dehydration with the onset of warmer weather?

‘A Pair of Kings’. A small painting of the King Protea on the studio table that reminded me of Van Gogh’s ‘Still Life with Two Sunflowers’ painted in Paris, 1887.

After the contortions to create the small works my shoulders and hands are straining with the demands of covering the large surface for my painting of dolphins. The rough canvas blistering fingers already a tad sensitive from not concentrating when changing hot braai grids on the Kamado Jan for the slow cooked fillet.

The Forest. Full of magic. Roses of every hue, perfuming the world. Ghost tendrils. Air plants in the setting sun. Timeless laughter with excellent wine and an exquisite dinner under a star filled sky. Woodcutters Cottages, another gem in our part of paradise.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

First ‘Wearable Art’ 100% silk scarves with my paintings sold and heading to new homes. Orders for the next batch received with a few adjustments made to the art work. ‘Irises’ design painting finished, adding an additional option to the range. Working on an elephant painting that is also designed to be used as a scarf painting. The link to the website sorted and the international purchase pricing adjusted to include free shipping.

https://janraats.com/wearable-art/

Running with my shadow in the early morning before the storm made being in front of the fire the more sensible option. Getting Prince out that much more challenging, as he didn’t see the need to move from his warm bed before the birds were awake.

The painting of ‘Irises’, a simple, abstract approach. Colours clean and vibrant. The long rectangular format, challenging. Working in acrylics allowing for a fast application of paint. The course canvas trashing a couple of layers of skin on my fingers.

Bicycle cleaned, ready for the 3 day Karoo Tour in Calitzdorp. First, birthday weekend lies ahead. One of those life milestones.

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?