Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Schools Out’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

A small study of the adventures that lie beyond the wall at Kuilfontein Farm in the Karoo.

Afternoon sunshine, a civilised time to be out cycling through the Forest. Particularly civilised as after the ride, it’s possible to stop for a beer. Or rather a glass of white wine. Actually, a glass of chilled red wine. What was I thinking?

Not concentrating.

One of those silly things, not concentrating while out food shopping. A special. Seemed like a good idea. Dinner. Blood sugars sky high. The contents of the sausage an unknown. Despite being from our favourite butcher, no idea what he used.

If there isn’t a nutritional information breakdown, I should know not to buy.

Border Collies turning the apartment upside down. Prince, with his leg in a plaster to sort out a ‘hot-spot’, thrilled to have his friend Ricco visiting.

A touch of rain. Puddles to stomp through.

Looking at where we need to sort gaps in the Vietnam recipe book, I have gone back, and reread parts of Colour: Travels through a Paintbox by Victoria Finlay, intriguing stories on the pigments in Artists colours.

The yellow of Hoi An Old Town, is revered in the culture of Vietnam. It is a symbol of luck, splendor, wealth and respect. A color that is identified with imagination and enlightenment, glowing with the intensity of sunlight itself. Most Vietnamese families have an ancestral altar decorated with flowers and yellow objects.

In all likelihood, the yellow pigment has its origins in Gamboge yellow, also known as Rattan or Wisteria Yellow, Gummi Gutta and Drop Gum, is an organic pigment. Well know for its transparency, the warm golden pigment derives its name from its country of origin: Cambodia, itself named after the Latin word for pigment gambogium.

Made from the resin of the Garcinia evergreen tree, found across South East Asia, trees need to be at least 10 years old before the trunks can be lacerated or the branches broken to collect the tree’s milky yellow resin. The poisonous resin is collected in empty bamboo shoots, and roasted over fire to evaporate moisture, after which the bamboo shoots are broken to reveal dull yellow resin cylinders. Only when this resin is pulverised does it become a brilliant yellow.

Excerpts on Yellow from Colour: Travels through the Paintbox:

Dipping a paintbrush in water and waved it lightly over the unappetizingly brownish rock, he released a miraculous drop of the brightest yellow imaginable, almost fluorescent.

During the horrific Khmer Rouge regime in the 1980s, and then earlier in the Vietnam War, the color was almost impossible to find. This pretty paint can be dangerous in other ways. Winsor & Newton have been receiving small parcels of gamboge from their Southeast Asian suppliers since before anyone can remember, and probably since the company started in the mid-nineteenth century. When it arrives at the factory they grind it up carefully and sell it in tubes or pans as one of their more expensive watercolors. But some of the packages that arrived in the 1970s and 1980s from Cambodia and possibly Vietnam were different: the gamboge contained exploded bullets. The company’s technical director, Ian Garrett has five of them displayed in his office now. A reminder that some of the colours that are taken for granted, come from places where people have lived through unimaginable suffering.

Knysna fires

https://youtu.be/z9vDoPJX7Xg

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Karoo Skies’, oil on canvas 1,0mx1,5m. Kuilfontein farm. Mesmerising. Startling light. Autumn trees. Brilliant yellows. Huge blue skies. Windmills. Clouds, freeing imagination. Carried with the wind. Dreams.

Dark and chilly for my run. The owl also thought it was a daft idea to be out rather than sitting next to the fire with an espresso.

A year ago, our world went mad. The strong wind carrying a hint of smoke an unpleasant reminder of the chaos caused by the fires.

The first draft of the Vietnam recipe book printed. The colour photos of my paintings and illustrations not the best and there are a gazillion glitches that need sorting. Still, something to work from.

Sweet potato gratin, with a rack of lamb on the Weber grill, served with green beans and asparagus the menu for Terry’s welcome home dinner. Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg filling the kitchen with the scent of decadent goodness.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Makes 8 servings

◦ 2 cups heavy cream

◦ 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

◦ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

◦ 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

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F

2. Whisk together the cream, cinnamon, cloves, 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 minut

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

My balance isn’t the best. My coordination nonexistent, and I tend to get lost a great deal of the time, yet cycling through the Forest, some thought it a good idea to let me find a path through the mud. The Forest, after the rain, breathtaking.

With the fire keeping the apartment cosy, the weather seemed to dictate a comforting salmon-pasta sort of meal. Pasta, of course, not an option. However, some genius has developed cauli-noodles that are simply fabulous. In a cream and wine sauce, the calorie count was probably off the charts. Scrumptious.

Low tide on a perfect morning for a beach run along Brenton. Prince less sure about why his normal beach play, turned into a 10km run, with minimal stone-chasing play time. The subject of a small painting, while I prepared the new larger canvases for my painting of the Karoo skies.

Diabetic, mohair socks, something special as temperatures head into the winter levels of uncomfortable.

Small elephant painting sold. Always special to have a painting head to its new home.

Creamy pasta (cauli-noodles) with salmon

INGREDIENTS

• 3 packets of cauli-noodles (pasta)

• Half an onion finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter

• 1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine

• 2 tubs (500ml) cream

• 1/2 cup (125 ml) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• 1/2 cup (125 ml) mixed chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil, oregano)

• 2 cups (500 ml) salmon with chili flakes

PREPARATION

1. In the butter, cook the onions, stirring constantly, until transparent. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Add the cream and bring to boil.

2. Stir in the cheese, and herbs and add tons of ground pepper, add the salmon and reduce for 5 minutes until it thickens.

3. Switch off the heat, and add the cauli-noodles, to the pot and toss to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Spectacular sunset on a still evening. The early mornings shrouded in mist. Silence. Nespresso. Magical.

The ‘theater that is art’, the largest canvas I have painted on at 2mx1,5m, set on two easels. Surface preparation with a diluted matt glaze medium. Burnt Seinna, Cadmium Yellow medium and Primary Magenta. A grey from Cobalt Blue with Burnt Sienna the underpainting for the two elephants.Not sure about the composition which I think is too low on the canvas.

Feel like one of those collapsing ‘push puppets’, with none of my parts working together, but rather collapsing in an uncontrolled heap. The result of a charging cycle up Phantom Pass that turned my legs to mush and a day of painting the large canvas in the studio that turned my shoulders and arms to jelly.

Beach isolated, the brilliant sunlight at the studio hidden by a bank of mist. Prince, brave enough to face the noise of the menacing waves, throwing themselves at the beach.

Last of the summer flowers along the roads through the farms of Rheenendal. Blue plumbago and purple sage between pink and white Erica’s.

No blood. Paintings safely packaged in their crate heading to their new home. Special.

He Ain’t Heavy

Oil on canvas 2,0mx1,5m

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

SOLD

‘The Yard’

Oil on canvas 100cmx80cm

Rolling the pork belly, with pesto and a butterflied pork fillet to prepare the Porchetta is a messy business. I managed to make an ever bigger mess of the Weber fire, which meant only half of it was ready. Not nearly hot enough to cook the thick roll of pork. It did do a bit of the skin crisping before the oven came to the rescue. A bunch of wine while we waited the extra hour for it to cook.

Forgot the anti-chafing cream. That extra, last, glass of wine, probably didn’t help. Neither did the, failed, rescue attempt of the storm trapped bird in the midnight hours.

Puddles after the rain. Sock dye. Black nails. Heart rate marginally elevated. 12km easy fun alongside the estuary with the rising sun

Discussing composition, tone and the use of technology to untangle the frustration when a painting isn’t working. Art teacher looking for inspiration and assistance for his art class heading into a new semester.

Spectacular sunrise. Skirting the magical forest at Bibby’s Hoek. Tearing down sharp descents, powering up the steep inclines. Or at least until my legs faded. Body bounced into jelly.

‘Blue House’, an acrylic and marker pen illustration on paper of one of the houses in old town Hoi-An, Vietnam. The blue startling amongst the yellow which dominates the town.

Rain. Diabetic sensitive bobotie from Coreta’s kitchen. Three Graces, oozing grape berries. Prince squirming himself into the contours of the sofa.

‘Monochromatic’ exhibition at the old jail complex gallery. A couple of amazing works amongst the conservative. My painting ‘Boudoir Study 2’, fabulously positioned.

Porchetta

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

Harbour Town Adventures

Happy Easter

‘Plogging’, the Swedish craze of picking up litter while out jogging is easier on the stretch out along the lagoon as there are frequently placed rubbish bins to deposit the trash and the street lights help on the darker mornings. I don’t collect the messy stuff!

Eye tests for new glasses to adjust for the diabetic changes to my prescription. An almost 20% reduction, which may also account for the ongoing headaches. Although, my trampolining blood sugars wreck their own havoc with my eye sight. At least the eye tests didn’t show any diabetic related diseases.

Easter. An explosion of chocolate bunnies, and various types of chocolate eggs, wherever I look. The one I was given I passed in to a street kid. Delicious looking hot-cross buns also not an option. However, a diabetic hot-cross bun experiment? A quick count of the carbs in the ingredients of the recipe I found has each bun at about 5 grams.

Not a great success. Heavy, dead things that even butter and the glazed orange peel crosses I did couldn’t rescue.

Sunrise run with Prince to Seattle. He wouldn’t deviate down the red brick road, but did manage the chase around the staircases at The Quays.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The world is quiet on a late summer evening. Sky full of stars. Glass of excellent red (La Vierge ‘Nymphomane’). Hint of jazz. Lights along the lagoon. Owl hooting somewhere amongst the roof tops.

Legs weary after their cycle through the forest. The ride along the ‘Coffee Pot’ trail beautiful through the indigenous Forest, full of life after a couple of days of rain. Which made the ride, with the strong men, demanding. My bum a tad bruised. Glad for the extra control afforded by the wider handle bars and new grips that kept me from being thrown from my bucking bicycle. Nothing elegant about my wrestling over branches, stones and through the mud.

The trail follows the route of the old 2-Ft. narrow gauge railway line that transported timber (mostly Yellowwood) from Diepwalle to Knysna for milling and shipment. Affectionately known by the people of Knysna as the ‘Coffee-Pot’, for the engine that was fitted with bulbous spark suppressors to prevent forest fires from the steam engine.

Thrilled to see my art used to illustrate stories in the Kalahari Review. The studio quiet after the craziness of the past few months. My heads sorting the ‘monochromatic’ parameters on Fabriano paper.

Stunning crisped chicken skin, with cauliflower mash, chicken breast and a Venetian duck ragu at the J9 kitchen. Don’t think the Master Chef judges had anything that tasty, and the Graceland 3Graces was delectable.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Butterflies. Sweat. A bit of blood. Howling wind. Dust. Homtini Pass. Four hours. The longest ride in many years. Breakfast at the Garden Route Trail Park halfway through the ride ensured that my blood sugars didn’t go crazy.

Homtini (The name is apparently of Khoi origin and means either “mountain honey” or “difficult passage”), is one of the more beautiful of the passes in the string of passes between Knysna and George. Covering 5km, it winds down 45 corners and curves through the thick indigenous forest.

‘Pincushion Macro’ Small acrylic on canvas paintings I have been trying to get done for ages, based on the photo’s Kirsten took of pincushion protea on the table at River Deck after our walk on the wild side. Do wonder how they would work at 2mx2m!

Vietnamese dinner with the last of the recipes for the book on Diabetic Sensitive Vietnamese food. Ga Rang Gung (Ginger Chicken) and a fish option, served with the classic Vietnamese salad and dipping sauce. A starter of the pork and prawn rolls, with a couple using salmon rather than pork. Good Hope Pinot Noir (Stellenbosch) and Chardonnay (2014) from Newton Johnson (Hemel and Aarde), and Stoney Brook (Franschhoek), with a 2013 Radfordale (Paardeberg) all worked well with the subtle flavours of the Vietnamese dishes.

The ‘Wall Easel’ hanging system installed in the studio. Flexible for the various canvas sizes I have used over the years, it can also be used as a painting easel for the 2m canvas I have waiting.

A great feature in the Kalahari Review of a collection of my small paintings.

https://www.facebook.com/KalahariReview/posts/1510364305707383

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

With the alterations to the studio out of the way, and the new track lights not available for another week, the hanging system for the paintings still needs to be sorted.

A trial, ‘Wall Easel’, aesthetically pleasing and practical. Both for wind and for adjustments to take paintings that need to dry. This while maintaining the clear simplicity of the new space. The trestle table top planned for the studio a tad frustrating.

Sunrise Phantom cycle. So pretty riding down a ribbon of light. Sunlight playing in the dust.

Test Kitchen. Vietnamese fried wantons from Hoi An, and fried spring rolls from Saigon on the menu for Wayne to sample. Wet, or dry? Cook immediately, Or they stick turning into stodgy balls of mush.

The fried oil thing, horrible to work with. The air-fryer didn’t give the greatest results.

Tomato, pineapple and onion sauce not necessarily the best as a diabetic sensitive meal. When they work. Scrumptious. Champagne a definite.

‘Sleeping Rough’, an acrylic and marker pen illustration of boys outside the station in Knysna. I managed to do the underpainting for the portrait of the women in Hanoi.

‘Catfish and Mandala’ (Andrew Pham). A poignant, crafted book that brings our experiences of Vietnam into shimmering reality. The chapter headings are particularly fascinating, the Hyphenation in Pham’s journey. A depth of story in themselves.

http://phangvictor.blogspot.com/2009/11/catfish-and-mandala-analysis.html

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A New Year, full of promise and mystery.

Madelaine’s, or petit Madelaine, those delicious, delicate, golden crumbed, cookies, local to the Lorraine region of France, that have launched a thousand memories. With a classy, literary reputation, having served as Proust’s muse in his famous Remembrance of Things Past (À la recherche du temps perdu) Hence, perfect for New Year’s Day. Best served, as fresh as possible.

Of course, they needed to be diabetic-sensitive. Fortunately, the one Banting sponge cake recipe worked well, resulting in light, fluffy Madelaine’s. Excellent with bubbles, red wine or coffee.

Wind howling, after storms overnight blessed us with New Year rain. Prince bouncing off the walls at being confined.

Fabulous ride through the Forest at first light. The Forest quiet after the rain. The Jeep track a perfect surface, so you can go that touch quicker and be a tad more daring into the corners. Legs, hammered after the steep climb, fading before I could get into any real trouble. Even did the tree blockage removal thing.

Not impressed with needing to deal with an new complication to my diabetes. ‘Dawn phenomenon’, or Somogyi Effect. High morning blood sugars from the liver dumping glucose during the night. It does make exercising early much easier as I’m not running into the low blood sugar zone I was having to watch earlier, but trying to identify what is causing it is an added nuisance. (Could be poor sleeping given the holiday noise levels and a one year old Border Collie puppy going nuts as a result) Frustrating my goal of eliminating the diabetic meds, through lifestyle management and playing havoc with my eye sight.

‘Works on Paper’, my January challenge, to paint the everyday of Knysna, using the illustration technique I developed in Vietnam.

‘Woodmill Lane Artist’, Acrylic and marker pen on 350gram paper, the first such painting. A familiar sight in Knysna, he stands daily in Woodmill Lane with his brushes, pallet of paint and canvases that never seem to progress.

‘St George’s’, the beautiful old small Anglican Church in Knysna, built with sandstone that turns golden in the morning and afternoon light. Mystical on mornings when the mist swirls down from the forests.

Madelaine mix

ingredients

125g butter

125g cream cheese

2 Tablespoons of xylitol

5 eggs

1Tablespoon lemon juice

1t vanilla essence

1 3/4 cups almond flour

1t baking powder

METHOD (easy)

Mix the butter and cream cheese together

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until fluffy

Add the rest of the ingredients to the butter and cream cheese mix and gently mix together

Add the eggs and mix, without over mixing

Cover and store overnight in the fridge

-Bake at 180 C for 8 minutes. Turn the pan and bake for 5minutes. Leave to rest in the pan for 2 minutes before turning out onto a tea towel