Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red lentil curry

This has got to be one of my favourite recipes.

It is my go to recipe when I am short on time and ingredients at home.
It is also very nutritious.

I love it.
The children love it.
Sohail, obviously loves it!

I will give you the recipe as I got it.
I don't put the chilli in.
I also don't always have coconut milk at home, so I often leave it out.

It tastes just as good.

This is also super easy to make.

Red lentil curry

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
50g ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk

Place the lentils, stock and turmeric in a large, heavy based pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Stir occasionally and check the mixture is not catching on the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a small frying pan and add the onion. Cook until soft and golden and add the garlic, chilli, cumin and coriander. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Stir the onions and spices into the lentil mixture and then add the tomato. Simmer over very low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the coconut milk until heated through. Serve with naan bread or rice.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy birthday

I am 32 today.

I have just been completely surprised by these gorgeous flowers sent from my in laws who are living in South Africa.

I don't know if it was planned, but the bunch has
Anthuriums from Mauritius
Proteas from South Africa
Native flowers from Australia.

A mixture of beauty, beautiful like my life.

I feel really settled in who I am.

Confident as a mother.
Happy with the life choices I have made.

Truly wealthy, I have so much to be grateful for.
And hopefully wiser than I was a year ago.

I am looking forward to my gorgeous friend coming to visit tonight.

I have an amazing husband.
Beautiful children.
An amazing school community that I am part of.
Fabulous friends all over the world.

 And a truly wonderful family to miss in South Africa.

What a great day.
What a great life.

I hope yours is great too!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Everywhere I go, I am seeing signs.
Signs that we are coming out of our Winter slumber.
Spring blossoms.

My body is growing tired of all the slow cooked stews that have been nourishing me lately.

I am looking forward to asparagus.
I am reading about raw food.

I have ordered a hand made, custom doll for Annie's birthday in December.
I now need to decide what I would like the doll to look like.
How exciting.

I am looking forward to my birthday tomorrow.

My oldest friend is coming to visit me.
She is coming from Sydney for the weekend.
We have been friends since we were three years old.
We are going for a spa day as my birthday present.
We might even go and watch Eat Pray Love.

It's still freezing over here.
But, I see glimpses.
Glimpses of renewal.

What are you seeing at the moment?

Friday, August 20, 2010

20 August, 2006

I have never written about the death of my mother.
It is four years ago that it happened.
I feel ready to tell the story as I experienced it.

It was a Saturday morning.
I was at work.
I was one of the managers on a major audit and we were approaching our deadline.
I would have much rather have been at home with Sohail and Annie, who was only eight months old.
 But everyone had been working a lot of overtime, so I had to pull my weight.

I got a call from my brother.
It was his matric farewell that night. His year end dance, it was his final year of high school.
He asked me to phone him back.
I remember laughing, thinking that it was funny that he didn't have money on his phone and his big sister had to phone him back.
I phoned him back.

The rest is a bit of a blur.

Something has happened to mom. 
Dad found her in the bathroom. 
She was unconscious. 
He has given her CPR. 
We are rushing her to the hospital.

My friend drove me home. She didn't want me to drive myself. I phoned Sohail on the way. I told him that he had to pack.
We had to go to my parent's place.

Something had happened to my mom.

I got home. He had hardly packed anything. I was irritated. We had to go now. He was so laid back about all of it. Eventually we got into the car.
We drove the one hour drive to my parent's house.
I sent a text message to all of my friends.

My mom has had an accident.
Please pray for her.

We got to the hospital.
My brother's friend was there. His parents came to us. Told us that they would watch Annie.

We saw my dad in the ICU.
There was a body lying in the bed.
 Covered in tubes.

It was my mother's body.

She was no longer there. 
Her essence, her spirit was gone.

The doctors showed us the x-rays of her brain.
She had had a brain haemorrhage. Or stroke. Or aneurism.
I still don't know.

It doesn't matter.

The black was the blood that had leaked into her brain. 
Her whole brain was black.

My dad had kept her body alive with the CPR. And now the machines were keeping her body alive.

But, she was gone.

I knew it.

I went and sat with her.
I told her, "Thank you for being my mommy."

I must have said it about a hundred times.

Thank you for being my mommy.
Thank you for being my mommy.
Thank you for being my mommy.

That night, we tried to sleep in my parent's house.
I have never heard my dad wail.
My dad wailed for her the whole night.
His wife was gone.
The epicentre of our family.
We were all lost.
She was our leader.
Our team captain, as my brother said.

The next day, we went to turn off the machines.
I knew that no amount of praying was going to bring her back.

Her time had come.

There was no point in trying to drag it out.
Wish it away.

She was fifty years old.
Always precise, my mom was.
Even in deciding her age to die.

We are given a limited number of breaths when we enter this world.
When we take that last breath, our time is up.
My mom had taken all her breaths.

Too quickly, I think.

I sat next to her.
Held her hand.
The nurse pressed a bunch of buttons.

I was waiting to feel her spirit leave her body.
For some sort of heavenly moment.
Angels singing.
Her ghost appearing.

I felt nothing.
I noticed her fingers turing blue.
Her body going cold.

I had done what I had come to do.

I was not going to stay until her whole body was blue and cold.

It was hard enough seeing a body.
And not my mother lying there.

She died the day before.
On the 19th of August.

We switched the machines off as a technicality.

The moment I stepped into that ICU the day before, I knew.
She was gone.

She left a void in me.
One that will never be filled.
She was the oak tree in my garden.
That had been uprooted.

It has been the worst period in my life.
I have never known a pain as deep as the pain of losing my mother.

I write this.
And I still don't believe it.
I feel like I am watching someone.
Who has lost their mother.

She is in my heart.
I carry her heart in my heart.
And her heart beats in the hearts of my children.

I wear her clothes.
I wear a necklace she gave me.
Of the Virgin Mary.
Maria, was my mother's middle name.
I connect to her and her mother and all the mothers that came before them and to our heavenly mother.
And our earthly mother.
And I mother my children in her spirit.
And I mother as a tribute to her.

She is in my heart.
I carry her in my heart.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More baking and the joy of childhood

So, it is African week in Annie's classroom.
Annie's classroom is like the United Nations.
Children with heritage that is American, British, Swiss, Middle Eastern, Asian, and the list goes on and on.

This is one of the reasons I love Melbourne, it is so cosmopolitan.

Today, Xavier and I went to do baking with the children.
We made Malva Pudding, a traditional South African desert.

After the events of the past few days, I am feeling that my heart has been filled up once again.

The children made me and Xavier feel so welcome.
They were so enthusiastic to cook.
Almost every single child in the class chose to help.
In a Montessori classroom, children choose the activities they wish to do.
There is no pressure to do anything that you do not want to do.

Everyone had a turn to mix, whisk, add, measure and pour.

We discussed life in South Africa.

I showed them a model of an African lady holding a baby on her back.
Question time.
The all time favourite question about the lady: "I like it".

Then it was time for the cake to bake.
Annie made me a cup of tea.
She asked if I could taste her love.

They looked after Xavier. Played with him. Patted him on the head.

Then it was time to eat.
They all queued up for their cake.
Brought me a piece.

They came to tell me that they liked it very much.

They went back for seconds, thirds and fourths until it was all gone.

I said goodbye.
They all thanked me for coming.

I thanked them for having me.

I have heard that a Montessori classroom is a little community.

I got to experience it today.

Children who are joyful, confident, kind, caring, loving and warm.

They take care of each other.
They take care of their classroom.
They take care of their guests.

I came home, so full of joy.
I would have loved to spend the whole day there.

Annie's teacher is phenomenal.
She radiates joy and love for these little people.

I told her how lucky she is that she gets to experience this every single day.

I think I may just have to become a Montessori teacher one day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vegetarian cottage pie

I just thought I would share these.
I would have never bought something like this 2 years ago.
It would have been too country.
Too homey.
Not chic enough.
Not modern enough.

I absolutely love my chooks.
They are so fun and playful.
A side of myself I am discovering. 

This was our dinner tonight.

Vegetarian cottage pie.

I have never been a meat eater.
But I have always loved Spaghetti Bolognese, cottage pie, chilli con carne (without the chilli of course). 
Since I have become a vegetarian,I have found it imperative to find some good meals to get my minced meat fix.

So I stumbled upon Rachel's site.
And her wonderful vegetarian cottage pie.

Go have a look around. 
Her photos are so mouthwatering and she cooks amazing food.
Did I mention that she lives in Italy?

Here is my version of her recipe, which is becoming a favourite in our home this winter.
I don't think that I write very good recipes, I tend to decide what to do as I go when I cook. Tasting, smelling, sensing. 
My meal evolves as I cook it.
So I have done my best to tell you what I have done. All quantities are estimates. You know what tastes you like, so do what feels right as you go.

  • 1 stalk of celery chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (don't worry about the alcohol, it cooks away)
  • 200g cooked chickpeas
  • 200g cooked borlotti beans
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • flick of tabasco
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mashed potatoes, made the way you love them
  • lots of grated cheese

Fry up your celery, carrot and zucchini in a heavy based frying pan until translucent.

Add the can of tomatoes, vegetable stock, red wine and tabasco.
Add chickpeas and borlotti beans.
Simmer on a medium heat.

The length of cooking will depend on how long you have soaked your beans for, or if you have them in a can. I had chickpeas in a can, but I had soaked the borlotti beans overnight. I could have cooked my stew for longer, as the borlotti beans were still a little hard in the end.

But I had screaming children in the kitchen.
They were hungry!
We had to get this thing in the oven.

My stew cooked for about an hour, but it could have done with another 30 minutes.

Your stew should now be nice and thick, but still saucy. Don't be scared to add more stock if it seems to dry out too much.
Taste your stew and adjust to your taste with salt, pepper, more tabasco, or any other herbs and spices you use when making bolognese.
Pour into a pie dish and even out with the back of a spoon.

Top with your home made mashed potatoes.
Sprinkle grated cheese on top of your mash.

This is not the traditional way to do it, but I actually have a love affair with melted cheese, so I pile it on. 
You can omit this step if you are watching your waistline. I love cheese too much and am breastfeeding, so I feel no guilt. Life is meant to be lived, isn't it?

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for about 30 minutes or until your cheese is browned and the stew is bubbling out from the sides.

Serve with a green salad.

My children love this and I always go back to sneak in some more cheesy mash.

Bon apetit!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Still fragile

Thank you for all the kind words about my brother.
All the support has eased my spirits.

I am still feeling very tender after what happened to him.
I can only imagine what he and my dad are feeling.
I wake up and the first image that comes into my head is of a gun pointed to my brother's head.

I feel like it has happened to me.

What this has made me realise is that even though I am building my life with my family in Australia, half my heart is in South Africa.
I do not feel complete.
I am a walking train wreck.

I am feeling truly unsettled.
Like the ground is no longer stable.

The practicalities of moving them over here loom inside my head.
The frustration of not being able to pick them up and just bring them here.
I am truly worried about their safety.

All the time.

But my spirits have been eased slightly today with the arrival of an early birthday present.

I have been lusting after a decent camera ever since I started this blog.
Looking at what people are able to do with their photos has inspired me.

It has also frustrated me.

My gorgeous little point and shoot only takes good photos during the day in really good natural light.
Considering that Melbourne is quite dark and rainy and I spend a fair bit of time indoors, it has not proven to be the best candidate for capturing the moments of my life in a beautiful and poetic way.

My Canon EOS arrived today.

Sohail has been playing around with it today.
I thought I would share one of the photos with you.

This was taken in a darkened room.
And has not been edited at all.

My point and shoot would not have been able to do this.

I am excited about the possibilities!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Some bad news

I just spoke to my brother on Skype.

He was sleeping last night.
Three men entered the house with guns.
The one put a gun to his head.
Asked if there was anyone else at home.
Proceeded to steal what they came to steal.
Tv, laptop, computer.

My mom's jewellery.

My brother's treasured photos on his laptop.

They tied him up.

Told him that they were not going to kill him.
Said they were sorry to hear that our mother passed away four years ago.

He was lucky.

This time.

These men were not the murderers and rapists that terrorise people sleeping in their beds at night.
The animals that rape babies because they believe it will cure them of AIDS.

These were just the men that were out to make a quick buck to feed their hungry stomachs.

Yes, he was lucky.
Very lucky.

That is why we left.

Such a beautiful country.

That we called home.

Because the national culture has become one of take before it is taken from you.
This is not all the people.
Don't get me wrong.

But when your government is corrupt, people feel it's ok.
To take your life.
For a cellphone.

I have been crying.
Deep sorrow from my heart.

They are there.
I am here.

I can't even give my brother a hug.
I have to watch him breaking down on a computer screen.

That is what the situation in the country has done.

It has broken up families.

It has broken up our family.

I wish for them to be safe here with me.

I wish.
I wish.
I wish.
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