52 Week Challenge nr 3: Kameel Veld plants

On Heritage Day we spend the day in the veld looking for something different than the usual. Decided to put on our camera strap and walking boots and get going.
After six months of living in the North West Province of South Africa, we thought that it is time to learn more about the heritage plants in the Kameel area.

There is grass and what we know as Vaalbosch but as you will notice the red sand is always visible.

We need to get a guide to learn us more.

Our area is very dry with red sand and the summer temperature rises to 45 degrees Celsius. This year the summer rainfall was less than 100 millimeter. The grasslands are very dry and the wildflowers are far and in between. There are no big fields of flowers but when you find one it is almost an ecstatic experience.

It was a special experience to just wander and experience beauty.

A walk in our back yard park. 
The plants are all part of nature and everyone grows on its own time and energy.
This was one of the strangest plants we came across. It grows not higher than 35cm but has this almost to big for its size seed pods.

If you can identify any of our plants we will appreciate it.

Till next time

Sandra

Stoepstorie 4: The abundance of pears

There is a pear tree in our neighbor’s garden but we are fortunate that a couple of branches arched into our driveway. On a windy day the pears would end-up on our driveway and were to bruised to eat or use. Every year we would safe some but end up with a bottle or two chutney or perhaps a starter of blushing poached pears.

This year there was a good crop of little Hood pears hanging over our driveway.

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A little research and we were ready for our harvest. Pears ripen from the inside out. Left to ripen on the tree, they may become mushy. They ripen quite nicely once harvested. The old trick of storing the pears in a cool, dry place and the add of bananas did the trick. I put the bananas on top of the pears—and the more bananas, the faster the pears ripen.

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Yesterday was Mulled Pear day.

We peeled and core the pears and let is sit in a bowl with salt water to prevent the pears to turn brown.

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First the oven needs to be preheat to 150oC.

Then it was time to make the Mulled syrup. I used crab apples to give the syrup a nice pink color. Once there was a nice pink color in the water. The crab apples were removed.

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Then cinnamon, star Aniseeds, gloves and allspice were added to the crab apple water.

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The water was put to a rapid boil and then sugar was added. The sugar was then added and once the sugar dissolved a good bottle of red wine was added. A Merlot is a fruity wine that add to the flavor. The smells from the big pot was divine. It reminded we of my Mom and the many bottles that she filled during the summer months. Her specialty was canned whole peaches. We called it cling peaches because the pip was left inside and when eating the whole peach you really have to cling on to it or it would flew over the dinning table.

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The syrup was then strained through a muslin cloth and I must say the color was looking just right.

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The pears pack into warm, sterilized jars. Pears are very bottom-heavy and I find that you have to fill the bottles with more pears than originally though. Heat the syrup to boil and pour into the jars.

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Cover the jars with lids, but do not tighten it properly. Place the jars about 5cm apart in the oven for about 2 hours. This will also depend on the size of the jars.

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Remove from the oven and seal properly and place on a wooden surface. Leave undisturbed until completely cool and check the seal the following day.

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It will last for about 12 months on the shelf of your canning cupboard.

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Proof is always in the tasting. For an early evening we had mulled pears, with Parma Ham and Goat’s Cheese Salad

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Christmas and Plums

There is some connection with Christmas and Plums
“The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads”
Even the sugar plum fairy from The Nutcracker didn’t give a clue as to what to expect from plums.

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The cherry plums in the gardens of our establishment

The plums are looking good.
So what is it with plums
Sweet and juicy, a delicious ingredient to cook with and to bring a wonderful, rich flavour to your food.
And they are healthy too.

What will we do with the abundance of plums that are ripening in our garden.  We are thinking about a plum and almond ricotta cake. plum-almond-ricotta-cake

While writing this page the plum relish is gently boiling on the stove.
I have used 7 cups of plums, halved and the stones removed.  But then it seems as if the halves looked a bit big so I quartered it.
2 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar (preferably white to keep the color)
2 cups of treacle sugar (brown sugar will also do)
About 3 tablespoons of preserved ginger, chopped and then add some of the sugary syrup.
3 tablespoons of last year’s plum liqueur.
Bring very thing to a bubbly boil and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Add plums and boil gently till liquid is reduced by halve.
Bottle as usual.

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Regarding the Plum pudding.  It is a steamed or boiled pudding served at holiday times. Plum pudding has never contained plums. The name Christmas pudding is first recorded in 1858 in a novel by Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire novel Doctor Thorne.

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A please the crowd plum pudding

Our Christmas was a Christmas tree and Christmas cracker affair. We prefer to celebrate the Season of Joy. Joy for the forgiveness and release from our Sin, Joy for the chance of a life without war and generally Joy for being able to live a relatively carefree life.

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Grandma Hester Fincham and also fondly remembered as Mrs Vic.

If the celebration was held at Granny Fincham, the table would be laid with a damask cloth and silver and we would have venison and wild bird.  She would use her beautiful crockery and you can see more on this post of the Grindley dinner set  There would always be baked potatoes – a la Fincham. Dessert was thick custard – the original home made custard, definitely not box custard. This would be served with bottled peaches which would be given a quick turn on the griddle pan and accompanied by a cognac sauce which as children we were allowed only a little of. In my grandmother’s home a Plum alias Christmas Pudding was also known as a ticky pudding.  (Named after the ticky coin that was steamed with the pudding)

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So why is a Plum Pudding called Plum Pudding when there are no plums in it?

In the 17th century, plums referred to raisins or other fruits. Plumb is another spelling of plum. Prune is actually derived from the same word as plum – the Latin word was pruna, which changed in the Germanic languages into pluma. But the terms were quite confused in the 16th and 17th centuries and people talked about growing prunes in their garden.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

 

 

 

De Oude Huize Yard an Eco-friendly Establishment

As our natural resources become increasingly depleted, there is more awareness about the need to preserve and protect the environment. To go this route we have implement progressive eco-friendly practices. Our efforts to run a sustainable establishment may inspire you to make your own home more environmentally-friendly!

De Oude Huize Yard sits on a 3000m2 stand in the beautiful town of Harrismith in Eastern Free State. We have scenic views over Platberg mountain. Platberg is one of the most famous landmarks in the Eastern Free State and is 9 kilometer long and 2,394 meter high.

 

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The view towards Platberg

We believe in protecting the earth and aims toward making travel and living sustainable. The establishment was originally built in 1860 with mud bricks. When the establishment was remodeled and restored, we reused and recycled as many materials as possible. 

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The uneven mud bricks is clearly visible.

We managed to get the original building plans and the alterations were made using the old footprints of the stables and regenerated building materials. The cut sandstone was collected and re-used. We have sourced old building materials like doors, windows and ceilings.De Oude Huize Bou 2-1

It is also an extremely eco-friendly and sustainable establishment. Solar power provides the heating of the water and outdoor lighting. All bathrooms here have low-flow toilets and aerated low-flow shower heads. Non-toxic cleaning products are used and we make use of an outdoor clothesline to dry sheets, pillowcases and towels. The linens, towels and robes in guest rooms are eco-friendly and are made of organic cotton.  Only non-VOC paint is use for the property. Guests are even provided with reusable glass water bottles during their stay to avoid waste. During winter months we use chopped wood of invasive species for our fire-places. Energy-efficient lighting is used throughout and natural light is utilized instead, when possible.

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Sun power water heating 

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The landscape lighting is 100% solar-powered or rechargeable

We harvest water in three tanks. This reduce the daily water usage for the gardens. During water shortages the water is treated with reverse osmosis rather than chemicals for use in the establishment.

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All garden and kitchen waste go to our sustainable earthworm farm. The compost and fertilizer are utilized in the organic gardens.  Here we grow vegetables without chemicals. We have planted olive, quince, figs, plum and pomegranate trees.

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Hennie busy inspecting the compost in one of the earthworm containers.

Our guest dine on fresh organic produce from the our own garden at breakfast and dinner.  We also serve local ingredients and no processed food.

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Our vegetable garden is under shade cloth and the raised beds were made from old wooden pallets. Sawdust has been sprinkled as a ground cover to minimize weeds and pests. We have planted only heirloom seeds. 

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Stone packed gabions as boundary walls.

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The workshop has been fitted with regenerated floor board doors.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra