Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Thermal burn. Not paying attention while putting wood onto the first fire of the winter season and getting my arm in the way of the hot closed combustion stove door. For a diabetic, doubly silly.

Run across the railway bridge over the Brenton hill to the sea. The trail section demanding concentration so as not to trash ankles.

Food illustrations for the Vietnamese food recipe book. Cozy evening with good food and wine. Steenberg Stately, a pairing challenge with Pho Ga, made with cauli-noodles. The Chardonnay still a better match, particularly as the Pho doesn’t have any sugar in it, which the Chardonnay balances.

Another stunning Chef Hirsh evening. His menu (all five courses) worked out to cater for my diabetic restrictions. Salmon and avocado ceviche with micro-greens and a scrumptious 2015 Bellingham Old Vine Chenin. Second course, roasted peppers soup with an unusual 2017 Rustenberg Rousanne. A third course of grilled lamb ribs, served with Newton Johnson Full Stop 2015, followed by grilled pork fillet, wrapped in bacon with a green salad and sweet-potato fries. Raats Cab Franc. Bloc A9, Cabernet from Aarendsig with a delicious cheese platter rounded out a glorious evening. Blood sugars, perfect.

Run with the sunrise. Smoke from the fires burning in the Forest creating a Turner sky. Spectacular.

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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

‘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

Boating Pond

It isn’t the cleverest idea to burn ones fingers, and an even worse idea if you are a finger painter! Testing the edges of my limited ability in the kitchen, with Terry still out of action for another month with her broken wrist.

Fortunately, it’s only a couple on my right hand, which are more of a nuisance on the bicycle than in the studio. The singed fingers a result of not realizing how hot a pot from the oven stays after you have finished using it.

Ginger, garlic, chili (It needs a special warning about the lingering effects on your hands that burns your eyes after you have removed the pips) red onion, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, fish-oil, salt, pepper, sugar for the ‘banana flower’ salad, pork stuffed calamari and galangal carmalised fish. Sugar and flower free sponge cake and creme anglaise for the trifle.

Testing Vietnamese recipes, using local ingredients that are diabetic sensitive, for the recipe book we are planning. The influence of Vietnam, with a hint of Christmas!

Managed the chopping stuff without blood. My leg, however, a bit worse off from coming into contact with the painting racks and my arm from playing with wild-child. Somehow, managed to get blood and paint spread all over the place.

On the easel I have an old women from Hoi An in Vietnam. A very traditional looking women that is challenging as I strive for simplicity. Her weather beaten skin, full of harsh reality, however it’s the twinkle in her eyes that remain the essence of the painting.

Spectacular morning light shining on the waters of the estuary. Gazillion reflections from the visiting yachts as we headed out up Phantom as the sun was waking up.

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

Squeaky bits on my jog from Leisure after a week back on the bicycle. Bum complaining at the sudden abuse. At least I have lost a bit of weight with my haircut. No lice, either!
Beach. Prince a bit ‘freaked’ at the wave noise. The banging and crashing of maintenance work not helping.
Terry bringing tastes of Vietnam into the apartment. The hunt for local alternatives to some of the less common bits in the recipes. The surprise as to what is available, including cashew nuts from Vietnam.
spring rolls
Diabetic sensitive, Vietnamese ‘banana flower’ salad, with shredded cabbage rather than banana flower. Grapefruit, baby marrow, carrot, a touch of pineapple, deep fried spring onion, raw roasted peanuts (crushed), coriander and a dressing with lime juice, fish sauce, zylatol garlic and chili. Served with grilled pork belly. Smoked salmon on Parmesan crackers as a starter.
Fresh spring rolls with cauliflower noodles from Woolworths. Ham, lettuce, baby marrow, and carrots. Tasty and get to look at.
Butterflies from the Mekong Delta on small canvases in acrylics. Easier to manage than oil paints with the increased foot traffic coming through the studio. Phthalo blue-green mixed with Cerulean blue for the wings.
Paintings from Vietnam on one wall of the studio settling out the kinks from traveling. No damage, fortunately. My initial concept of using oil paints over the acrylic painting doesn’t seem necessary. The paintings, their own energy, and emotion.
Diary of an Adventure

Vietnam Adventures

Hanoi

A tad vacant from messed up body-clock. Rocket fuel coffee start

Demanding, rapid strokes of my fingers before the acrylic dries. Conscious I am of the criticism leveled at artists who depict Vietnam as the ‘cutesy’ worker in a conical hat and the village with rice fields. For my painting of the modern Hanoi, scooters, attitude, cell phones. On 50cmx40cm, 335gram linen from Amsterdam, that sultry Vettriano look in my head. Her curves flowing into those of the scooter. Roses added for women’s day and that hint of red for the Vietnamese national colour. White of the Lotus flower.

Terry went to the Hanoi Cooking Centre, and I enjoyed the scrumptious result.

‘Today I went to the Hanoi Cooking Centre to try and orientate ourselves to the food we see – or at least to try and understand the ingredients. A fascinating three hours that left me exhausted and with a stiff neck from listening like a budgie – my head cocked to one side trying to unravel the English from the accent. The cooking processes are much the same. Garlic is garlic and slicing, chopping, frying and marinating are the same in any language. Chili, garlic, ginger, coriander, lime, sugar, fish sauce and salt and pepper are the main ingredients. Rice noodles and rice paper were new to work with – thin and fragile to moisture. 

Meat (in this case chicken thigh) is coarsely butchered with bone splinters lurking. Prawns are halved to go a long way. Pork is sliced very thinly for the same reason. And salads make up the bulk of the meal – lettuce and bamboo shoots and banana-flower slivers marinated in lime water. And of course, rice and noodles to fill one up. And for our carb conscious or diabetics, a roast peanut and sesame seed dry dip (crushed in a pestle and mortar) adds flavour in place of the sweet chili dipping sauce.’

Music on the Beats Pill, with the French Doors of the apartment open to the sounds, and smells, of the street.