Builders, and my shoulder being out of action, turned the patio garden into a sad, neglected, forlorn bunch of pots. Water pond cleaned out. Jasmine balls pruned into shape. Old plants replaced with new herbs. Transformed.
Acrylic on canvas 20cmx20cm
In the studio, a canvas for the larger painting of irises and foxgloves. A peach colour underpainting of Indian Yellow and Quinacrine Rose, with touches of Permanent Carmine, in bold sweeps. The blue of the Iris flowers seemingly beyond grasp. In my box of magic paints, Indigo Blue. (Van Dyk Ferrario No. 57) and Mineral Violet Deep (No 47) that touch of inspiration. For the foxgloves, I used a mixture of Alizarin Crimson (Winsor&Newton Artists) and Violet Rose Madder (Ferrario No 48)
Some dishes are surprisingly tasty. Certainly, the Yotam Ottolenghi Eggplant, Lamb and Yogurt Casserole is one such meal. ‘ … noisy yet peaceful, lip-smacking yet warm, simple yet daring.’ The flavours, definitely moreish. Particularly on a chilly evening, with the wind still howling. The heavily wooded Chardonnay from Constantia Uitsig a much better food companion than the young red I had.
With the sunrise, first 10km run after the collar-bone surgery. Nothing too crazy.
Yotam Ottolenghi Eggplant, Lamb and Yogurt Casserole
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 2 hours
For the eggplant and lamb mixture:
2 or 3 eggplants (aubergines) (about 1 1/2 pounds/680 grams), cut into 1-inch/3-centimeter cubes
1 pound/450 grams ground lamb (lamb mince)
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup/15 grams fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup/80 milliliters olive oil
1/4 cup/65 grams tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 (14-ounce/400-gram) can whole, peeled plum tomatoes with their juices
3 cups/700 milliliters chicken stock
1/3 cup/20 grams roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the topping:
2 cups/450 grams plain Greek yogurt
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lightly packed cups/70 grams finely grated Parmesan
1 cup/100 grams roughly crumbled feta
Scant 1/3 cup/40 grams pine nuts
2 packed tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit/240 degrees Celsius.
2. Add the eggplant, lamb, onion, oregano, oil, tomato paste, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, red-pepper flakes, 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper to a 10-by-13-inch/26-by-34-centimeter (or similar) roasting pan (tin) and mix well to combine. Bake until the mixture is well browned, stirring twice throughout and breaking apart the meat with a spoon, 30 to 35 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and continue to break apart the meat very well (don’t worry if you break apart some of the eggplant, too). Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, lightly crushing the tomatoes by hand. Stir in the chicken stock and parsley then return to the oven and bake for another 35 minutes, stirring twice throughout, until the sauce is thick and rich and the eggplant is very soft. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit/250 degrees Celsius.
4. While the casserole is in the oven, prepare the topping: Whisk together the yogurt, yolks, flour, garlic and half the Parmesan with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Once ready, spoon the yogurt mixture over the lamb and eggplant, gently spreading to cover. Top evenly with the remaining Parmesan, feta, pine nuts, parsley and red-pepper flakes.
5. Bake until golden and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
And to Drink …
This variation on moussaka calls for a lively red wine that won’t be drowned out by the dish’s assertive flavors. Why not a Greek red, like a xinomavro, if it’s not made in too oaky and tannic a style? Limniona is a rare red grape that’s been resurrected; from a producer like Zafeirakis, it would be ideal. You could try a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from the Adriatic coast of Italy, or a frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Sicily. If you happen to have an older Château Musar around, from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, this may be an ideal time to serve it. Or, if you want to be bold, why not try one of the new wave of retsinas, Greece’s traditional white infused with pine resin?
‘On the estuary’
A small painting of a yacht on the estuary. The reflections in the water the focus of the painting. However, the multiple folds of the sails, entrancing. I used an underpainting of Naples yellow, with an initial painting in acrylics, before finishing the painting in oil.
A different perspective walking through town at the start of the day to start my stint at the Old Jail for the Knysna Arts Society new exhibition ‘Woman’. I had one painting in the exhibition ‘Customs Market’, painted during my time in South Sudan.
A homeless man and his dog walking along the pavement, searching through dustbins for food scraps, an all to familiar sight in our town. What was remarkable was that he picking up litter along the way and placing it in the rubbish bins.
‘Saving Kandinsky’ by Mary Basson is a fabulous read into the world of Gabrielle Münter, Kandinsky’s partner for the years he transformed into abstraction. The notes accompanying her paintings are absorbing and inspirational
Freedom! Ortho happy with the healing progress of my collarbone. No sling required, although no cycling, lifting, or anything that requires power, from the shoulder for another couple of months. Physio not required either, which is fabulous. Sleep, still problematical, with sleep time discomfort, exponential.
Cobwebs dusted from my running shoes, an easy 7km jog through the islands to start the day. The first in eight weeks. Mindful of the one-to-three days between running sessions. My wildly fluctuating blood sugars, a complicating factor.
Chef Hirsh did an amazing Kingklip fish dinner, with bacon, chili, yogurt and lemon. The sauce, fabulous. Fingers sufficing in the absence of bread. A starter of labneh and Thai pesto, zucchini spirals with salmon. Terry did a diabetic-friendly almond ice-cream that was definitely moreish.
A Precious Life
Oil on canvas 50cmx50cm
In the stormy, chilly weather. My smashed clavicle aches. As do my diabetic toes. Yet, this seems trivial. Compared, to the unfathomable, concept. Reality. That my sister Is gone. From, this world. Impossible.
The paintings from Pringle Bay are back after being put onto stretchers. Grouped together, they create a wall of tumbling energy. Radiating heat from sun warmed beach sand. Hip, knees and elbows employed in holding the canvases against the wall easels for one handed securing.
East Head Cafe, on a stunning day the best spot imaginable to reflect on the privilege of having had an angle amongst us, even if she has gone too soon. Sunset champagne to celebrate her life.
Ortho still not thrilled with the healing of my shoulder. Antibiotics for the infection and more time for the bones to knit. Blood sugars adding complexity.
‘Where Travel and Trade Meet’. A frenetic, 6 minute, speed collision. The challenge, ‘I’m not done yet!’. The opportunity to engage with tour operators and destinations in, this, our part of paradise.
It’s Iris time of the year, and although I can’t manage the large canvas I have in my head for a painting, I’ve settled for a manageable size. A touch of inspiration from the magnificent Irises from our trip to Japan. The purple-blue petal colours, elusive.
‘Surfers in the sky’
Oil on canvas 60cmx90vm
Delicate, quick strokes, ethereal, sensitive. My painting for the Sanlam Portrait submission. An emotional journey.
The estuary is still, a reflecting pond for the lights of the town as evening settles into the mist that promises another warm autumn day.
A last glass of Shiraz rescued, while the dishwasher hums. The collection of empty wine bottles consigned to the recycling bag.
Camembert, wrapped in prosciutto, a runny ooze of delicious. Bacon wrapped chicken, with a green salad and roasted tomatoes, a simple dinner with friends that bubbled with joy and laughter. The Lourensford Viognier, definitely the wine pairing star.
Our tranquil world hurtled into the chaos of screaming engines, burning rubber and testosterone. Race weekend, with the Simola Hill Climb.
A haute-cuisine afternoon, where the art of each dish, with its selected wine was a counterfoil for the exquisite art and the light changing across the estuary. Special moments of sumptuousness.
PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED BAKED CAMEMBERT
Suggested 250g Camembert: Use either Dalewood Wineland Chefs Camembert™ or a Dalewood Traditional Camembert 250g
6 fresh sage leaves
1 large 250g Camembert
6 large slices prosciutto
12 slices French bread stick (baguette), toasted
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Arrange 3 sage leaves on top of the Camembert. Place 3 slices of prosciutto over the sage.
Carefully turn the Camembert over and fold in the ends of the prosciutto slices to enclose.
Repeat with the remaining sage and prosciutto to completely enclose the Camembert.
Place the Camembert on the lined tray.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the prosciutto is crisp and the Camembert is soft.
Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the bread.
Rose stopped past the studio to see the painting of the Oyster Collectors that I painted from her photograph
Erica’s in purple and pinks between banks of grey salt-bush alongside the paths through the Forest. Enough rain to turn trails into rivers that extra element of fun.
Colours swirling on the canvas for my painting of the Heads. Getting a tad lost in the water of the estuary.
Easter treat damage limitation with a run to the bottom of Phantom Pass. Ile de Pain, hot-cross bun with its apricot jam glaze and icing sugar crust (52grams of carbs) probably wasn’t sensible.
Bunch of people visiting which gave us the opportunity to try a couple of different places in our part of paradise. The late afternoon ferry out to the rebuilt Featherbed restaurant for their forest dinner. The building spectacular, and while the food might not be memorable there was plenty of variety, even for a diabetic.
Parmesan crusted kingklip, with a chilly/butter stuffing at Fatfish, looked amazing and was delicious. No less so than the tempura-prawn salad, with a great selection of wines by-the-glass.
Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm
Our part of paradise being transformed with building next to us undergoing a massive rebuild. A modern update to what has, to-date, been constrained architecture along strict low-impact guidelines. As with the rebuild of Ile de Pain, the building itself is set to become a destination. A year of chaos and noise ahead!
Not the best, for a sensitive Border Collie.
Stopped playing with the portrait of ‘Ben’, the racehorse. The muscles of the horse a guide for the direction of my finger strokes to add power and breath life into the painting. Constrained by the small 50cmx60cm canvas.
Ben is beautiful mixture of dark brown, gold and red. Indigo (Ferrario No.57) for the iris of the eyes with Mineral Violet Light (Ferrario No.46) highlights. Raw Umber (Ferrario No.76) for the dark brown. Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Orange for that touch of sparkle.
A gap before a world turned crazy. Storms ripping across the estuary. Insides turned to mush on Homtini Pass cycle. Not much time to enjoy the stunning indigenous Forest, as keeping going forward was all consuming.
Small elephant painting sold, and the new silk scarf samples of the dolphins and King Protea have been shipped. While most are already pre-sold, it will be fascinating to see how they have turned out
A series of small paintings of various rowing boats, yachts and fishing boats against the backdrop of the Knysna Heads to replace those that have been sold.
A pleasant lunch under umbrellas, protected from the wind, at the Girls on the Square, in Wilderness, before taking Kirsten to start her long trip back to the States. The wine list takes a bit of time to sort through as it’s interesting and extensive. While many of the dishes aren’t suitable for a diabetic, we shared a bunch of stuff from different parts of the menu. Interesting flavour combinations and delicious.
New Year celebrations in China. The new sample designs from my paintings of the King Protea and dolphins now only expected towards March. A tad frustrating and something I will need to factor into our unpredictable tourist season.
Achilles sort of behaving. Zooty red Kinesiology Tape stripes up my leg that sort of mach my running shirt, holding things together. Bunches of overnight rain making for fresh, beautiful rides through the Forest. A gazillion shades of green between sweat, and mud stained glasses.
From Lucy’s kitchen, roasted nutmeg cauliflower from a Levi Roots cookbook, with a surprise delivered by the addition of chilli powder. Served with Filet Au Poivre (the bacon tied with nifty silicon ties) and oodles of wine. Mouthwatering
Beach walk with wild seas to soothe battered souls. The graveside committal for Dad, simple and sensitive. He rests, overlooking the golf course and across Montagu.
The Kalkveld Lounge at Zandvliet. Stylish, comfortable, fabulous wines and a tasty cheese and charcuterie platter (the olives were frighteningly salty), with a view to the arched gables of the Cape Dutch Homestead. There is not much to criticize. Particularly, with the excellent service from Leslie, the Lounge Manager.
The gallery space, carved from long buried concrete wine tanks creates a heightened sense of anticipation. The discovery of the amazing. Confined, intimate contact with the artworks.
Marsanne, France. ‘French Door’, a small, acrylic and charcoal on 300gram paper SOLD, amongst a bunch of paintings and scarves on a busy week in the studio. The ‘Pushing out the oars’, scarf sold out.
Our introduction to the trendy ‘Poke’ (pronounced POH-keh), one of the main dishes in Hawaiian cuisine. Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish — usually tuna — which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces.
Clare did tuna and salmon, with black rice (carb clever noodles for me), carrots, peas, mushrooms, peppers, onion flakes, spring onion, avocado, pineapple and toasted sesame seeds. A light cerviche of lime and soya for the tuna and salmon bits. Tasty and colourful on a fabulous summer evening. (Photo credit: Craig Smith)
Summer. Haviananas. Cracked heels. A diabetic nightmare. Particularly for one who hates shoes anyway.
Acrylic and charcoal on paper
Beach play before a day of bubbles and laughter. The ‘pizza’ base getting better. A humongous number of empty bottles, probably adding to the, somewhat, bizarre decision to hold an e-bike Challenge up Phantom Pass. With the proceeds to Animal Welfare, a more than expected bunch trundled up the pass. The Challenge, somewhat lost in the enjoyment of a fabulous day to be out riding in paradise.
Rain bringing holiday makers into the studio. Humbling, and thrilling to have paintings heading to new homes in Oslo, Rome and London. The silk scarves, a popular option.
Backup hard-drive crash. The gazillions of photos from our travels, which I use as reference sources for my paintings, the major loss. Perhaps a data-recovery company can retrieve them? Or perhaps. It’s one of those. Clean-slate. New-year. Start-afresh. Moments.
Friday market. A Cheloist that touch of amazing with the last of the daylight and the storm moving in.
Diabetic Sensitive ‘Pizza’ Recipe
170 grams grated mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp butter
½ cup fine almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
• Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Lightly grease the liner.
• In a large saucepan, melt the cheese and butter together over low heat until they are melted and can be stirred together. Remove from heat and add almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.
• Add the egg and stir everything together until a cohesive dough forms. Use a rubber spatula to really knead it up against the sides of the pan. It may still contain some streaks of cheese.
• Transfer to the prepared pan and knead a few more times until uniform. If your dough is very sticky, work in another tablespoon or two of almond flour. Cover the dough with another piece of parchment and roll out to a 12-inch (30 cm) circle.
• Spread olive oil, salt and herbs over the dough before putting in the oven to co