"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Saturday, 31 December 2011


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I think most of us find it hard to believe that 2011 is all but over.  I must say I am not that sad to say goodbye to 2011 and I am looking forward to what 2012 has to offer.  It is has been a difficult year for so many of the people closest to me.  It has been so hard to see my sons broken and grieving after the death of their dad; to see my father-in-law, always strong and larger than life trying to come to terms death of his youngest son; to see four close friends cope with illness and cancer and the effects that chemotherapy has on their bodies; to watch my 91 year old mother-in-law trying her best to manage with day to day living while suffering with dementia; to hear of the death of my aunt in the UK after a short illness.

But through the sadness there is truth in the cliches that "life goes on" and "time will heal" and the fact that we have to deal with these sad happenings, learn from them and then try to live our lives as best we can because (as Korky always says) "life is not a dress rehearsal".

There has too been much fun and happiness in 2011 - babies being born, big birthday celebrations, weddings, overseas visitors, family, friends and get togethers.  I have been blown away by the love and support given to Gareth, Nic and Matthew by family and friends but even more so by their friends.  Where would we be without our friends?

And actually life is wonderful.  It does not have to be perfect to be wonderful and we are so blessed to live in the country we do, to have a family to love and care for, to have wonderful friends around us, to find things to inspire us every day and to love and be loved.

The new year is also a time to reflect and and as I looked back this morning to my first posting in March, I also realise how far I have come and how much pleasure I get in writing and putting together this nonsense. I add a few pictures, perhaps a song or two along the way, press "publish" and it is done.  I have lost the ee cummings vibe, I am no further with my book than I was in March but I have found a commitment to follow through with regular ramblings because (for some strange reason) many of you do read this "stuff" (and enjoy it).  Thank you for the support.

I am moving on though.  Gareth has set up a website for me and I hope to have it all working properly next week.  It is so much better to work on, the pictures do not take ages to upload and it is so much easier to edit.  I do however, have to wait for Gareth to return from his holiday as I am having trouble sizing the pictures and some of it is pretty technical (but I am willing to learn).  It will not be much different for you either and it will be easy to click on the new link through this site.  So watch this space.

For now I thank you for all the love, encouragement and positive input you have given to me over the year.  I hope you will all have a special evening and even if your loved ones are far away that you will wake up to a new and happy 2012 tomorrow.

And while I am not into resolutions, I think this is a pretty awesome and easy motto to live by:-

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Thursday, 29 December 2011

the "mouth of your home"

I was chatting to my friend Fay yesterday and I was telling her that way, way before I even met her I had watched with interest her beautiful home being built in Lynfrae.  It was on our "short cut to school" route and together with the brand new modern style and the wonderful position of the house in Water Street, it was (and still is) a dream home.   When the front door was fitted I was as green as the wooden paintwork on the house.  It had a pivot door!!  The first one I had ever seen up close.  How weird that now, nearly 25 years later we are good friends and I frequently have the pleasure of knocking and entering the wonderful pivot door.
Your front door is apparently the "mouth" of your home - the entry point where abundance and energy enter.  In feng shui "talk" your house gets it's "chi" (energy) through the front door.

Too funny when John (my late ex-husband) was going through one of his "spiritual and meditating" phases, he paid a (pretty) feng shui consultant (a fortune of money that we did not have) to come and evaluate our home.  He was very impressed and taken with all her ideas but when she came up to the bedroom and told him that all his books had to go, he quickly lost interest.  "Oh no, no John, bad, bad feng shui having books in the bedroom - it creates too much energy, the bedroom is your sanctuary to sleep, breathe and restore your energy".  John without piles of books around him, would have been hard to imagine.  She then proceeded to tell him that the en-suite toilet should be chipped out and moved to another wall in the bathroom as it was facing in the wrong direction.

So I am not big on feng shui except I really like the idea of the feng shui money frog.  I have one positioned at our front door (Caroline sourced it on her travels with Charl(ie)).  A metal frog with an open mouth (facing towards the door) and a whole lot of coins in his belly.  This is supposed to help the money flow in through the front door.  Whilst I am still not a believer (and still waiting for the flow) it seems a silly idea to move the frog (and he is rather cute) and tempt fate.

Now about my front door.  When we were busy renovating our new house the front door caused much debate amongst family and friends, the majority saying "It has to go".  We were moving the position of the front door as well and enclosing and knocking out the existing entrance hall.  This is what it looked like before:-

The builder Shadley and I had developed a good understanding and early one morning I went to meet him on site.   I entered the house alone, the house still had stippled walls and awful carpets but as I walked into the lounge that morning, the sun was shining in through the glass front door (with its very 70's glass) and it was something in the way the light shone through the door that made me fall in love with it.  When I told Shadley that we would keep it, he said that he was pleased because it is "just stupid to put a pivot door on a 50's house".   Michael was happy too as it had just saved him a couple of thousand rand!!
The door today
Now while writing this post, I am also reminded of one of Gareth's first pre-school birthday parties.  He was invited and the family were having the party at the very wealthy grandparents home in Bishopscourt (squash courts, the works).  I was quite sad not to be taking him as he was collected by another friend (his first party without his mother).   When I collected my darling 4 year old he was full of stories about He-Man and swords but I did not hear much about the house and the squash courts.  However, later while he was in the bath he called me:-

Gareth:  Mom those people are sooooooooooooooo rich
Mom:    Why so Gareth?  (expecting to now hear all about the squash courts and swimming pools)
Gareth:   Mom, they have a huuuuuuuge door knob.  It was so big that I had to use 2 hands to turn it open (now demonstrating with two chubby hands)
Mom:    Door knobs are not that expensive Gareth
Gareth:   Silly Mom, this door knob was a real diamond!!

it was probably something like this
Moral of the story?

No moral really, but your front door does make an impression whether you are a harassed 27 year old housewife with 3 little boys and dreams of house with a pivot door or an impressionable 4 year old at his first birthday party without his mother.

Monday, 26 December 2011

family and christmas and the joys that go with it

I hope most of you are on holiday without your computers and internet and have not been too fussed or worried about my lack of communication (no SMS's and SOS's from Aunty Norma either - she must be on a beach with her feet up - Hope you are well Norms??) . Besides being busy trying to close up at office, I have been fighting battles with Telkom about the "uncapped" internet that we signed up for and the fact that we seem to run out of bandwidth every month - GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.  Nothing worse for me than thinking (and knowing) that we cannot be out of bandwidth (because we pay for the uncapped package and have been told that the "unused gigs will be carried over to the next month"), then being unable to connect and trying to re-set every setting, restore to previous dates, re-boot, unplug and re-boot again, only to be told when you eventually get through to the helpline that "you are capped".  Double GRRRRRRRRRRR.

It is all sorted out for now and as I sit here late on Monday night (and now Tuesday afternoon) after our "hot dog" and champagne office party on the 23rd, an awesome Caribbean Christmas Eve family celebration, a Christmas day lunch with our older generation and then 2 birthday parties yesterday - Lucie, my brand new sister-in-law and Carolyn vV - my sister's sister-in-law (but kind-of my family too).  Happy Birthday to twin sister Aimee as well - the first birthday that the sisters have been apart, so to make Lucie feel better we drank festive Pimm's Royale in twin quantities.  Quite something having your birthday on Boxing Day and it getting lost in the mix of Christmas and holidays and over-indulgence but these ladies were making sure that we did not forget about their special day and a great day (and night) was enjoyed by all.

Matt and his Nanna
Caribbean Amy

Garrett (as my Grandfather used to call him) the Parrett
Amy, Hayley and Nic the Pirate
Lucie and Kelly (holding her new puppy) which looks like this:-
Strange........to have paid for one could have been called an error in judgement,
then to get a second and now a third (which has replaced the second) is just a weird devotion
to a very strange breed. (Sorry Gill and Van V's but these things should not be called a dog)
This is Cody van Vlaanderen
(pretty cute, for now)
Dalene won the Talking Parrot in the Christmas game
(Yes, you are right in thinking so, Kathy bought the parrot and everyone wanted it)
Dalene and Kathy (licking her lips in anticipation for taking the title, yet again (she should be yawning))

It was a great evening.  Nic and Matt were in charge of cocktails and we drank Pina Colada's out of coconuts, we listened to music from Copacabana to Kokomore and from Red Red Wine to Redemption Songs.  The food was great, the company good and the turkey juicy.
Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs

My house is getting back to normal (thanks to a visit from Ivy this morning), the wrapping paper has been packed away until next year, the table has been "unset", the cracker toys and paper hats (that never fit) have been thrown away and the leftover Father Christmas serviettes packed away with the wrapping paper (probably only to be found on Boxing Day next year).

How many Christmas cards did you get this year?  I only have 5, 4 of which are from my new Scottish family and friends.  Thank you so much.  There is something special about receiving a Christmas card and when I started wondering why I received so few, I reminded myself that it probably had something to do with the fact that I don't send cards anymore (and haven't for at least eight years).  Every year there seem to be a few less and now this year, thanks to my new friends, I have a couple more this year.
Okay, I have you wondering.  Where is the fifth card?  I received this little bit of magic from Shelley Steyn (in Cape Town for Christmas all the way from Australia).  They came around for dinner last week, so great to see Shelley (and Colin and Candice (Gill, I see most days!!)), we had a lovely evening and as she was leaving Shelley pulls out a bag of gifts - for Amy, Kelly and myself.  A lovely watercolour of the Sidney Opera House for me, huge pencil cases for Amy and Kelly and with my gift, this card:-

Dachshund Christmas Cards

I mean, really!!  The Steyn's (like the Vans and the Vincents) have a passion for these little pet rodents.  Shelley you are definitely off my Christmas card list for next year!! ;) ;)!!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

never have i ever....

Another interesting game...................

I read my niece Janet's posting a while back about the game she calls "I HAVE NEVER..." and which I remember being called "NEVER HAVE I EVER.........." (and having to have a drink if you uttered the words "I have never").  It was a drinking game from days past which turned into a kind of confession game.   For those of you who have never played it (Could it be another Christmas family game?? - Maybe not) even Wikipedia knows about it (THE CAPITALS IN BRACKETS ARE MY COMMENTS):-

"The verbal game is started with each player getting into a circle and putting up all ten fingers. Then, the first player says a simple statement starting with "Never have I ever". Anyone who has done what the first player has not must drink and put down one finger. Play then continues around the circle, and the next person makes a statement. The game is finished when any player ends up with all ten fingers down. There is an alternative form of the game in which the players drink indefinitely. (THIS IS THE ONE WE PLAYED). An additional rule - uncommon, but beneficial to the game - is that if there is no one taking a drink (IF NO ONE HAS EVER DONE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE), then the one who said that particular "Never have I ever............."  must himself take a drink (OR WE PLAYED IT THAT YOU MUST EXPLAIN IN MORE DETAIL EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAD DONE). This rule often forces the players to strategise more and makes for less disposable/pointless suggestions. 
Games such as never have I ever "reveal interesting things about the participants and help build friendships", according to one American college student. Players often admit to things that they previously had not. As with Truth or Dare, the game is often sexual in nature. In some variations, the game may be incorporated into other drinking games."

Example:  If the you say "Never Have I Ever Hooked up with Someone in this Room" and only two of your party goers drink.  You just learned a secret.... If only one drinks then you know someone is lying and you get the story.  Can get pretty personal.

It brought back memories of Fuzzy Duck, Fizz Bang and Fizz Bang Pop all which involved sitting in a circle and either confessing or reciting 2's, multiples of 2's and then throwing in multiples of 5 as well for Fizz, Bang, Pop, hand signals were involved as was drinking strange drinks (sometimes out of the gardener's veldskoen (bush shoe)).

This is a nice new "veldskoen".  Unlike the old and battered one that I once had
to drink Old Brown Sherry out of.

Now as I type about "NEVER HAVE I EVER..."  I realise just how very stupid I have been all these years.  I have never played this game with Kathy.  It is going to be an absolutely brilliant game to play at our next girls lunch.  It is going to take some serious strategy on my part but I am sure that I can work a way to get Kathy to confess to exactly who "Velvet" is.  (I have to start getting clever and find ways to outwit for winning "present game" again on Saturday night).  Pay back time!!!

I  hope I don't have to wait this long (but look at that look of glee on my face).

But back to Janet's post.  She did admit to playing the drinking game but she used "I have never..." as a means to "confess" to the books she has not read and movies she has not seen.   I am now busy making my list, which I hate to confess, includes movies such as Shrek, the Harry Potter books, Lord of the Rings (book and movie) and it goes on and on.  I would like to do a blog post on it (thanks Janet) and look forward to comparing lists with you.

Oh, getting seriously sidetracked again and I still have to give you the Egg Nog recipe.  I have always made it with raw eggs.  However, I read recently that homemade mayonnaise and egg nog with raw eggs is now not allowed to be served in many restaurants overseas because of salmonella.  I then found a recipe where you make an egg custard with the raw yolks - quite a lot more fuss - but I must say it is absolutely delicious.  You know me, I always mix things up a bit.  So this is what I did:-

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12 egg yolks
3 cups of sugar
vanilla essence - a dash

Beat until fluffy and light coloured

In a saucepan heat:-

2 litres full cream milk
1 can evaporated milk

Remove before it boils and add slowly to the egg mixture (whisking as you do so - I found out a bit later that it was easier to do if I poured the hot milk into a jug first).   Return to the pot and heat slowly (stirring all the time) but don't let it boil.  It thickens slightly.

Beat 500 ml cream until firm.

Beat 6 of the egg whites until they form peaks (was not in the recipe but cannot bake meringues and did not know what to do with the egg whites)

Allow Nog mixture to cool down and then fold in the cream and egg whites.

Now the fun part.

I am pretty versatile and have used Brandy, Whiskey (and whisky (the Scottish kind)), Southern Comfort, Bicardi White Rum, Captain Morgan Spiced Gold - not all at the same time (but often a combination of 2 of the above).

This year I have used Captain Morgan and Bicardi - decided on the rum because we have a Caribbean theme going.  Captain Morgan also has a nice Christmassy, spicy smell (and taste).

This too is where we may differ as my Nog is very boozy.  So just add as much as you think you need - at least half a bottle of each!!!

Then add nutmeg and cinnamon.

I have also added ice cream to the mixture with the cream (if the weather is really hot - bit like a Dom Pedro), served it over ice cream and best of all made Egg Nog french toast on Boxing Day morning!!! (if there is any left)

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Here is the raw recipe for those of you with no fears of salmonella

Traditional Egg Nog

12 eggs, separated
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy/ thickened cream
2 cups bourbon
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the colour of butter).
Very slowly, add in the bourbon and brandy - just a little at a time.
When bourbon and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you're making the eggnog).
30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture.
Stir in 1+ 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.
After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.
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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

the christmas present game

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Not much time left and so much to do (and sadly work is trying to interfere with the fun).  I have made my first batch of the new Egg Nog recipe and will share it with you tomorrow after I have sampled some tonight.   Nicholas and Matthew have gone away with Tom, Dalene and the girls (brother, new wife, mother and Rob are joining them later in the week).  They have gone off to Rusty Gate (where we celebrated Dalene's 50th earlier in June).  Clever crowd they are, they arrive back on Christmas eve in time for the celebrations.  The lists have gone out, everyone knows what their job is on the catering front, they know what the value is of the present they need to buy and hopefully all their shopping is done.

The "Christmas Game" is foremost in everyone's mind.  It is the one thing that most of us get pretty revved up about and we are all out to have the funnest, cleverest and most wanted present on the night.  I have kind of given up because Kathy wins most years.  The game causes tears (not so much since Kelly has grown up), has Matthew in a tizz because he ends up with the bottle of Bell's which Gareth has decided to sample while in his possession for a round or two and has people forming alliances to make sure they get what they want.  Sounds pretty awful but we love it.

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The van Vlaanderen's started the game many years ago and Dalene brought it into our family when the boys were little.  It has progressed through the years both in thought and value as buying Christmas presents for everyone has fallen by the way.  The "Christmas Game" has also become our presents to each other.  It works out well because if Kelly really, really wants the new Zac Efron DVD she can buy it for herself as unless there is a teasing Grinch around (hello Gareth) who tries to steal it for himself (not because he wants it), she usually wins though and is so happy with her "gift".

We mix things up from time to time but basically the rules are as follows:-

1. Set a price for the gift.   We went up to R120 last year but have brought it down to R75 this year because it is more about having some fun as well.
2. The rules are basically that it must be something that you would not mind being left with (it has happened before), so unisex is also kind of necessary but not entirely.
3. You wrap the gift nicely.
4. We sit in a circle and start rolling the dice.
5. Throw a 1 or a 6 (to speed things up a bit) and you can pick a present
6. You do not open until everyone gets a present
7. Open your presents and then we go around the room, trying to sell your gift to the others (or trying to put them off the gift if you want it for yourself).
8. Set a time limit - half an hour is usually enough
9. Whenever you throw a 1 or a 6 you can swap with whoever for whatever you like best.

All good fun but be prepared to get ripped off if your present is not up to scratch. 

There are many ways of playing and many families have their own variations to the same game.  I have heard of a "White Elephant Christmas" where you give an old, bad taste or unwanted gift.  You wrap it up beautifully and no one is allowed to open it until the end.  A bit like "Deal or No Deal".

I have introduced the game to the office.  This year we have people who are on leave but they  want to come back on Friday for "The Game".   Franc (Michael's partner) is the best to watch in action.  He has been out shopping every lunchtime and is like a little child at this time of the year (even although he does not enjoy spending money and keeps looking for bargains upstairs at Boardmans).  He had the cheek to ask us today if it was R100 and is now half price can he spend R50!!   However, all the time he spends shopping and he usually buys the stupidest present (a shot glass and ping pong ball game one year).  Then he gets upset if you don't all fight over it.  So it ends up that (to keep the little boy happy) we fight over his present for a bit and then gang up against him and make sure he takes his own present home!!  Thank goodness he does not read my blog (and don't you dare tell him Wansburg).

Best I get myself off to the shops.  I have quite a lot of shopping to do.  Watch out Kathy, I am going to beat you this year (unless you have cheated again and been shopping for Big Lebowski or Honey Badger T-shirts at the $10 shop in New York).

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Monday, 19 December 2011

a kiss is just a kiss

Or is it?

"I wasn't kissing her. I was whispering into her mouth." 
Chico Marx
"What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?" Robert Browning
"Were kisses all the joys in bed, One woman would another wed." William Shakespeare
"She kissed me, and my mouth wrote a poem of welcome to her lips." 
Ward Elliot Hour
"I ran up the door, opened the stairs, said my pyjamas and put on my prayers - turned off my bed, tumbled into my light, and all because he kissed me good-night!" 

How can a kiss be just a kiss?  Saw quite an awesome kiss in the movie "New Year's Eve" on the weekend. 
I think it is worth going to see - plenty of "good to look at" characters, lots of story lines which all tie in at the end - all been done before but it was not too stale and being transported back to New York (even if only for 86 minutes) was well worth the R22 (thanks to Discovery Vitality) and also worth it for the kiss (actually maybe there were a couple of kisses but the one sucked you in a little bit more than the others) and for the amazing performance by Robert de Niro (a really small cameo part (most of them are in the movie) but he is a true master.  Going to the 5.30 show on a Saturday has it disadvantages.  I had a young girl of about 14 sitting next to me and she did not stop eating - lucky for her she was not a noisy eater but the hand in and out of the popcorn box was a bit distracting.  Lucky for her too she had her mother with her or I may have felt the need to ask her to move down a seat or two.  She however, was not as distracting as the whole row of teenage girls behind us who screeched every time Zac Efron appeared on screen.  Quite sweet really but I hope that they were not friends of Amy's because at one point I turned around to screech back at them "Please can you stop talking for 5 minutes!".  Wicked menopausal woman.

Your best on screen kiss? Mine has to be Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdam in the Notebook.  Oh my word a kiss in the rain (think that happened in Breakfast at Tiffany's too) or in the shower (Johnny Depp and Angelina, Jane Fonda had one too (forget the movie)).  Alright Gareth, this is a family blog, so before I get wrapped over the knuckles lets put it in the box (and seal it).  Here is the kiss again to remind you - wasn't it the most awesome movie?  I think it is time to watch it again.
And then you can't talk about kissing without this song:-
Where does Play it again, Sam come from?  Clearly it is "Play it, Sam".

If all this talk of  kissing has got you searching for your mistletoe and a place to hang it where you can get wet in the rain at the same time, you have to take a look at this clip:-
When a kiss is not a kiss?

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Wonder if John Maytham knows this one?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

looking for the spirit

I have had the box of Christmas decorations hidden under my table for about 2 weeks now. On Wednesday night after drinks with Bielle and Storm for their graduation (how lovely for their mum to have both lovely daughters graduate at the same ceremony) and a lovely meal at our playgroup reunion (Ginny, Judy, Nicci and I started a playgroup over 25 years ago and we still meet whenever we can for a meal and a catch up), I came home (and did not feel very tired) and decided that now was the time to see what was in the box.  It is always a surprise package and as I had turfed out the lopsided tree some other form of decoration was needed.
 This is now my tree - a bit small but it will do the job
 Fairy lights and the Nutcracker on the mantlepiece
 Angels hanging on a heart with fairy lights
 Do you like my alternative angel for the top of the tree?  She is gorgeous and all
dressed up in her winter woollies (not unlike us in Cape Town at the moment)
Our mammoth table with the white Christmas trees I bought at the @home sale years ago
(also note my "brand new old" lace tablecloth - thanks Colleen)

So last night I turned off the big lights (much to Michael's dismay) switched on the Christmas lights and we ate our fish and chips takeaways to candlelight and Christmas lights.  Matthew is arriving home this morning (he phoned from Beaufort West last night).  So happy that he does not have to do the long drive from Bloemfontein in one day.  Kathy is having a party for her niece who is arriving from Hong Kong this evening, Michael and I are heading out in a bit (he is nearly ready and  waiting for me and I still have to shower - oops) to do some shopping.  Top of the list is a new hosepipe, some oil for our new table (which has had to withstand the winter conditions and rain of the last couple of days).  So things are happening, it is a public holiday and I think I have found some spirit (and I have not started making my potent eggnog yet!!).

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

some smiles for a wednesday (sorry it's thursday)

Well we are heading for the weekend again.  Hard to believe but true and unfortunately things have been rather crazy at work (and at home).  I had a wonderful mix of a day today and have stories to tell, however it is after 12 and I should be heading for bed, so the stories will wait.  In the meantime, here are a couple of things to make you smile (I hope) and think (I know you think).

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and then to think about:-
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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

coronation chicken, my way

Last year my mother made heaps of Coronation Chicken for our Christmas day lunch.  We had a double Christmas in 2010 with our usual Christmas Eve family supper and then a really big Christmas lunch party as well because we had our Canadian family in Cape Town (hard to believe it was a year ago).  If I remember correctly we had 38 people for lunch and we turned my lounge into what looked like a beer hall in Munich.   On Sunday we had Michael's cousin and his wife for lunch and I decided to make my own variety of Coronation Chicken.  I don't know why but is a dish that I always forget about.  It is so easy and tasty and it looks the part for the Christmas table too.

Firstly a bit of the history of the dish thanks to Wikipedia:-

Constance Spry, a florist, and Rosemary Hume, a chef, are credited with the invention of coronation chicken. Preparing the food for the banquet of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Spry proposed the recipe of cold chicken, curry cream sauce and dressing that would later become known as coronation chicken.
Coronation chicken may have been inspired by jubilee chicken, a dish prepared for the silver jubilee of George V in 1935, which mixed chicken with mayonnaise and curry. Additionally, for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002, another celebratory dish was devised, also called "jubilee chicken".

Coronation chicken appealed to a Britain that was not quite ready for the ready meal: it was easy to make but it still gave the cook something to do. In the 1950s, eating in front of the TV became commonplace, but television viewing was highest among the over-forties, who were more likely to be accomplished cooks. For this new generation of TV viewers, dishes such as coronation chicken offered the right blend of convenience and culinary skill. It is not quite such a voguish dish today, and is most often encountered as a filling for shop-bought sandwiches.

One thing I do not enjoy about preparing the dish is poaching the chicken fillets.  It always looks so gross. The bubbling white meat floating in the chicken stock and it is inclined to get tough and stringy and look all curdled.  Also very easy to overcook.  I had a flashback to a Masterchef episode where they rolled the fillets in clingfilm and then poached them in boiling water.  Time for me to try it and it worked like a dream.  I even took pictures as I went along:-
Salt, pepper, lemon juice and I decided to use Thai spices (Exotic Thai and Five Spice) as I was going to use coconut milk instead of cream for the sauce and thought it would compliment the curry nicely.
I made a sandwich of 2 fillets and rolled in cling wrap (like a Christmas cracker)
A row of chicken polonies.  I used two layers of cling wrap because it felt a bit flimsy.  The second layer I wrapped diagonally and could then knot the ends easily.
I poached them in boiling water for 30 minutes.  I tested after 25 minutes and they were still a bit pink so re-wrapped the one I had tested and let it go a while longer.
Allow to cool.  Remove wrap.  Plump and juicy.
I cut them into thickish slices but they did fall apart.  Not really a problem as I wanted them in bite slice portions.  Perhaps my knife was not sharp enough because the guy on Masterchef definitely had them in medallions.
Added the sauce:-

2 onions braised until soft
with 2T mild curry powder
1t cumin
1 t turmeric
1 small tin tomato paste
4 large tablespoons apricot jam
Bay leaf
Cinnamon stick
Juice of one lemon
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise (I used Lite)
1 tin coconut milk (you can use cream or greek yogurt instead)
salt and pepper

This you just cook this together, let it simmer a bit and throw it over the chicken (take out the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks, Silly).  Put it in the fridge for a couple of hours (overnight would probably be even better).

I had also experimented again with the old fashioned "Sampkoring" salad.  Basically just threw together whatever I had in the fridge into it but it consisted of:-

1 bag Sampkoring (cooked according to the directions)


Half a cup maple syrup (or honey)
Half a cup soya sauce
Some of the juice from the canned peaches.
Lemon juice

Then I chopped:-

mint leaves
spring onions
peppers (should have had red, but didn't)
pecan nuts
1 tin of canned peaches
some dried apricots
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
seedless raisins
I could have forgotten a couple of ingredients but it is extremely versatile.  Mix all the stuff together and add the marinade.  It keeps well for a couple of days as well (just don't put in any tomato or watery things).

Together with a bottle of wine bought in Riebeeck Kasteel on Saturday:-

(Ooops, not great.  The Graham Beck Sauvignon Blanc that Alan and Cynthia bought along was far better)
 Bar Bar Black Sheep - Riebeeck Kasteel
Die Drankwinkel