Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Photo credit Elle Redman

Sunshine for a beach play at Buffels. Whales in the distance Prince not well. We can only guess that he ate something at the beach that made him so ill.

Defined by beauty, in the Forest, there is a world where imagination has no boundaries. ‘ForesTree’, the new exhibition at the Old Goal has beautiful works that captivate. Tranquil. Absorbing. Energizing. I didn’t find a flow through the curators hanging of the works. Something I will go back and search for. Thrilled that my paining ‘Forest Walk’ is part of the exhibition.

First sea swim after a run to East Head. Fingers a tad transparent from the less than warm water.

Stomach muscles pulverized by the ride through the forest. The bicycle doing its best to throw me off through the wash-always, and drifts of sand washed down by the storms. Tree blocks and stretches of water – of unknown depth – keeping us alert. Valleys of yellow flowers and gazillions of butterflies. Spoilt we are.

Coconut-chocolate fudge squares a winner. Terry’s has been searching for a fuel ‘fat bomb’ that is diabetic sensitive for the afternoon blood sugar slumps and during long rides. That they are tasty enough for a coffee desert an additional bonus. A dessert spoon of local honey in the mixture, cut into 1 cm squares, ensures only a nominal amount of natural sugar in each square.

Dairy Free Coconut Chocolate Fudge

A delicious dairy free coconut chocolate fudge made with coconut oil and almond or coconut milk. This low carb chocolate fudge makes a tasty fat bomb snack.

Course Snack

Cuisine American

Keyword low carb candy

Prep Time 5 minutes

Total Time 5 minutes

Servings 16 squares

Calories 77 kcal

Author Lisa | Low Carb Yum

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1/2 cup coconut oil softened

• 1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

• 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk. Can add 1/2 cup if you keep it in deep freeze. Don’t use coconut cream. Does not work.

• 1-2 tablespoons honey

• Depending on how sweet you like it

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• Optional. A pinch of salt.

Instructions

0. Melt coconut oil and combine with cocoa powder. Blend well.

0. Add all other ingredients and use hand beater to blend well

0. Spread out into a small square or rectangular container lined with parchment paper.

0. Refrigerate until fudge is hardened.

0. Remove fudge from container and cut into squares.

0. Place in deep freeze

Recipe Notes

Makes 16 small squares

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘At the Zeitz MOCAA’

Oil on canvas 90cmx60cm.

A random moment. ‘Tell me your story. My name is magic fused with life purpose…” Story telling by Vusumuzi Mpofu amongst the bricks of Kendell Geers’ ‘Hanging Piece’.

Poetry transcending the horror of the hangman’s noose. Red ropes made ordinary by the red of clothing. Bricks, of terror fading into life, with purpose.

One of those evenings when I have managed to break, mess, and destroy. Nothing I can blame on crazy blood sugars. Or even too much wine.

Temperature regulation quite an issue on my Kamado Jan. Once that machine gets hot, it’s kind of impossible to get the temperature down. The monster chicken, while full of flavour was heading towards the charcoal side.

Order placed for the first batch of silk scarves. Time now an issue to finalise designs, sort pricing (exchange rate more erratic than my blood sugars) and get delivery before the holiday season.

Sold. South Sudan. Exhausting.

Stunning cheese cake that is diabetic sensitive. Tasty, and indulgent. A taste sensation amongst the week of amazing food indulgence. Chicken livers (which I don’t eat) at Chef Hirsch. Subtly tangy and perfect with the Newton Johnson Pinot Reserve, as well as the Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend. Beef fillet curry at Chef Coreta with a Delheim Vaaldrei Cab Franc that was better than my favourite Raats Cab Franc.

Remarkably privileged to have my painting of the migration ‘On the Plains’, hanging in its new rebuilt home after the fires. Particularly after an evening visiting a home that proudly shows its scars of the fires that tore through Knysna.

Lemon Cheese Cake

This banting friendly lemon cheesecake from Jump on the Bant Wagon, by Nick Charlie Key, R265, (Human & Rousseau), is the ultimate indulgence, without the guilt

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

1 cup almond flour

2T melted butter

3T xylitol

For the filling

680g cream cheese, at room temperature

310ml xylitol

1t vanilla extract

A pinch salt

4 eggs, at room temperature

60ml lemon juice

1T lemon zest

60ml whipping cream

Topping

250ml sour cream

30ml lemon juice

1T lemon zest

4T xylitol

1/2t vanilla extract

Try this dark chocolate cheesecake recipe

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

2. Prepare a springform cake pan. Put some baking paper over the bottom of the pan

1/3

and snap it into place when you tighten the sides of the pan.

3. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan (and the baking paper) using butter.

4. Mix all the crust ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Once it’s a

doughy, crumbly and moist texture, press it into the bottom of the prepared pan.

5. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.

7. For the filling, beat the cream cheese until it becomes fluffy, making sure to scrape

the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the xylitol, vanilla, salt and two of the eggs. Beat

well, then scrape the sides of the bowl again.

8. Add the remaining two eggs. Beat well and scrape once again. Add the lemon juice,

zest and cream. Beat well, scrape and pour the filling mixture over the pre-baked

crust.

9. Place the springform pan into a bigger pan that has been pre-filled halfway with

boiling water, and then place into the oven to bake for roughly 1 hour. The

cheesecake should still be a little wobbly in the centre when it comes out.

10. While the cheesecake is in the oven, mix all the topping ingredients together in a

mixing bowl.Get the recipe for the cheesecake topped with frilled honey buttered

peaches

11. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, spread the topping evenly over the

cheesecake and then return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

12. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool. Once at room temperature, pop

it into the fridge for a few hours to chill properly.

Serves 10–12 people

Diary of an Adventure

Calitzdorp Cycle Adventure

First time I have spent so long on a bicycle, with three days of cycling into the red mountains. Groenfontein. Kruisrivier and Seweweekspoort.

Beautifully restored houses from the days of the Ostrich Barron’s. Blue skies. Green valleys. Dust. Gut wrenching climbs. Legs turned to mush. Bruised bum. Exhilarating decents. Demanding terrain that challenged yet left you excited for the next day.

Soeterus guest farm. Roaring fire under the stars. Space for Prince to run. Warm showers. Comfortable beds. Breakfasts to fuel the starving and close enough to the wine cellars of Boplaas and De Kraans, an incentive at days end.

A new technique for cooking fillet from Coreta. 80 degrees for 4 min per 100 grams of the largest fillet. Stand for an hour. Then cooked over a hot fire for ten minutes, turning continuously. Delicious.

Terry, Coreta and Clair, with careful menu planning, ensured that my blood sugars over the demanding days didn’t spiral out of control. A touch of hyperglycemia as I waited too long before refueling with blueberries. Particularly on the afternoon rides when my sugar levels seem to fall quicker. Carrot cake very tempting!

Blood sugars

Day 1

Before ride 6,7 mmol/L (target 4 – 7.8 mmol/L)

After 47,9 km 3,8 (2h 11m)

2 hour after ride 5,3

Daily carbs 31 grams

Day 2

Before ride 4,8 mmol/L (target 4 – 7.8 mmol/L)

After 32 km 4,1

After 64 km 4,3 (3h 18m)

1 hour after ride 6,4

2 hour after ride 4,4

Daily carbs 30grams

Day 3

Before ride 4,9 mmol/L (target 4 – 7.8 mmol/L)

After 22 km 4,1

After 42 km 5,4 (2h 17m)

1 hour after ride 5,2

Daily carbs 30grams

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The sample silk scarves of my ‘Wearable Art’ have arrived. Quality much better than expected and the colour saturation extraordinary. Perhaps a tad too much.

Not sure where the ‘edge’ is between a cycle that allows one to enjoy the waves, sunshine and incredible privilege of being in this part of paradise, and the blood-pumping, muscle straining, ambition to go that slight bit faster that has sweat streaming into eyes. An oblivious focus on numbers. A bit of both??

Sautéed foie-gras. Generally, I find foie gras too rich, however this slightly seared way of serving slices was delicious. As was our dinner at Le Marquis. The calamari tube starter was stunning. I might even get to like the stuff! The house speciality, duck confit lived up to its reputation, even if the cranberry sauce was too much for my diabetic constraints. Remy brought the table a duck breast in Lagrange that I hope finds its way into the menu, as it was outstanding.

Nothing Impressionistic about the top 40 Sanlam Portrait Award exhibition. I actually preferred the other portraits in the gallery to those of the competition. The quality, particularly of the draughtsmanship in the charcoal works was outstanding, and in general the exhibition wasn’t morbid or soul stealing, but rather well executed portraits. I didn’t come away inspired or with new techniques, or radical insights into composition. Grateful that the exhibition has been in Knysna, uplifting portrait painting.

Long narrow canvas (200cmx70cm) for a painting of irises based in a couple of the iris paintings I have done and the wild irises that are flowering along the route we walk Prince. Acrylics, for a minimalist, sketch style that I’m also hoping will work well as a silk scarf painting.

Hot off the easel

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Sautéed Foie Gras Recipie

Sautéeing duck foie gras is not hard to do, but be careful; otherwise, you’ll end up with a puddle of very expensive melted fat.

INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 lb piece raw Grade A duck foie gras at room temperature, cleaned and deveined

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2 tsp canola oil

• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

. Special Equipment

• a 10-inch heavy skillet

PREPARATION

. After deveining, cut the foie gras crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, then season with salt and pepper.

. Heat 1 teaspoon of the canola oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

. Sauté half the foie gras until golden, 45 to 60 seconds on each side (it will be pink inside). Quickly transfer to a paper towel to drain and discard fat in skillet.

. Sauté the rest of the foie gras the same way, then discard all all but 1 tablespoon of remaining fat in skillet. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Serve foie gras with sauce.

. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/v

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

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

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

SOLD

‘Flower Sellers’

Acrylic on canvas 150cmx70cm

King Arthur’s carousel horse from Disney. Music box playing in the early hours. Wind stirred memories.

‘Pushing the oars’, a dance of purple. Sampan boat rowers. Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The initial scratching on the canvas conveying so much that the subsequent painting only seems to detract.

A bowl of ripe tomatoes, ideal for the feta and tomato tart in the Taste magazine. The philo-pastry base not an option, or the flour that the recipe called for. Fortunately, aubergine an alternative, with a cream-cheese and cremefraiche filling.

Wines from the J9 collection, Newton Johnson, Walker Bay Pinot Noir and Radfordale ‘Frankenstein’, 2013, with the crispy Weber grilled duck.

A tad clumsy. Cold fingers. Headache. Slurred speech. Been awhile since my blood sugars have stayed this low.

Riding on the Jeep track above Simola, that heart-stopping moment when passing what could be elephant dung. Sweat stained glasses and a bit of imagination. Dislodged earth from the embankment.

My painting schedule thrown out of kilter to make space for the Garden Routes summer brilliance. Cascade of red. Yellow hibiscus on the patio. Purple agapanthus at Steenbok, and delicate red flame lilies, with their ‘tongues of fire’. Watsonia in dazzling shades of pink on the drive through to Nature’s Valley.

AUBERGINE QUICHE

1 hour 15 mins

TOTAL TIME

1 hour 15 mins

An Aubergine Quiche with roasted cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Recipe type: Dinner or Lunch

Cuisine: Vegetarian

Serves: serves 4

INGREDIENTS

• 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1 cm slices.

• 150g halved cherry or baby plum tomatoes

• 300g feta cheese crumbled into little chunks

• 150g cream cheese

• 60 ml cremefraiche

• A good grating of parmesan

• 5 free range eggs

• Generous drizzling of olive oil

• salt and black pepper, garlic salt

• basil or parsley leaves for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 180

2. Line a quiche or lasagne dish with foil and brush with a little olive oil.

3. Lay the sliced aubergines on the oiled foil, and brush with more oil and seasoning , making sure they get a good coating on both sides.

4. Put in the oven and after 20 mins or so, add the tomatoes, which should also be oiled and seasoned.

5. To make the quiche mixture, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and cremefraiche together, whisk in the eggs one by one and add seasoning and a good grating of parmesan.

6. Whisk together to make a smooth creamy custard and lastly crumble in the feta cheese,

7. After another 20 minutes when the vegetables are softened and browning around the edges, remove from the oven.

8. Make sure the aubergines are covering the bottom to form a vegetable base.

9. Pour the cheesy quiche mixture over the vegetables, allowing some bits of veg to poke through.

10. Sprinkle over the fresh herbs and cook in the oven

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.

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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.

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