Hog Hollow Bookclub: and on the Swedish front

Shame

By: Karin Alvtegen

Translated by: Steven T Murray

Published by: Canongate 2007

ISBN:  978 1 84195 937 5

“Fear … Sorrow … Anger …  Jealousy … Love … Shame”

Monika couldn’t be late – she had to take her mother to her  brother’s grave to keep his death vigil candle burning.  She couldn’t stay for the extra course at the seminar – she had to go.  Matthias, a young husband and  father, agrees to swap lifts with her.
That simple act changes everything: and the world of two completely disparate lives collide.

Monika is a medical doctor, her beloved brother died  horribly in a fire.  Her shame prevents  her from engaging meaningfully with others and prevents absolution.

Maj Britte is a monstrosity – for 30 years she has blocked  her violent and cruel past by feeding it quiet.  She is house-bound, isolated, shamed and looked after by the incredible
Swedish State services.  Her vicious & spiteful tongue drives her helpers away, hides her shame.

Pernilla, now a widow with a little girl lives in the same  apartments as Maj Britte.   And then, into this mix: Maj Britte’s oldest friend Vanya Tyrén – locked up in maximum security prison, for the maximum duration for murdering her 2  children and her husband.  And Ellinor,  young, resilient, kind and understanding.

It’s a riveting and quick read – although I felt there were times when it drags as we keep reliving Monika’s pain and inability to step forward.  Now I can’t wait to read the others.

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Hog Hollow Recipe Corner

PARFAIT with WALNUTS

Parfait – our executive chef tells us – is the French word for Perfect – and it commonly describes a type of frozen dessert.

In the USofA they take it a little further by layering the parfait, with flavoured jellies, whipped cream and all sorts of other things.

It can also refer to a smooth paste which is made from liver with added liqueurs.

However, for this recipe, we are going for the French version: the “perfect” frozen dessert:

 

WHAT YOU NEED

5 Egg Yolks

parfait with walnuts
Parfait with Walnuts

125g Castor Sugar

500ml Fresh cream

50ml Wild Honey

Handful of Walnuts, thinly sliced

 

WHAT TO DO

Whisk the egg yolks and castor sugar until light and fluffy.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then fold the cram and the honey into the egg and sugar mixture.

Mix in the Walnuts

Pour in moulds, or spread an inch or 2 thick in a flat ceramic dish

Freeze for 4 hours

Cut into slices

Serve

Easy …

 Bon Appetite!!!

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Hog Hollow Bookclub: meanwhile in North Yorkshire

All the Colours of Darkness

By: Peter Robinson

Published by:  Hodder  2009

ISBN: 978 0 340 83694 1

 

A brutal murder and a suicide: it seems like a straight forward case.  Jealous lover murders his boyfriend and in great remorse hangs himself.  But nothing is as it seems as DCI Alan Bates and his  motley, but talented crew in the Major Crimes Police department (North Yorkshire) discover.
Full of false trails, spooks, and pressure to stop the investigation from above!

The Time thinks that “Peter Robinson has for too long, and unfairly, been in the shadow of Ian Rankin …” (And, what’s more, Ian Rankin’s books have been made into marvelous little artworks which appear mysteriously in libraries too!)

I think that if DCI Bates spent more time thinking about the case rather than the music he was listening too (and thus subjecting his poor reader to it too!) and spent less energy on his lacklustre love life, the plot would have been a lot more interesting.

Easy to read, not easy to remember a while later.

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Jean’s Christmas Cake by Jo Melton Butler

I am not a fussy eater!  There are however two items of food to which I am NOT partial – one  being mince and the other raisins.  David says that I should add the other things
I don’t eat too and then you could make up your own minds as to whether I am a fussy eater or not.  But I think he’s just being a little unkind!

However, I digress.  I was invited to lunch with my prospective in-laws Jean & Guy one Sunday in early January.  So it was a bit of a fraught weekend!  Plus Jean & Guy were renowned for their wonderful dinners & hospitality throughout Grahamstown, so I didn’t want to let the side down.

Dutifully at noon, we presented ourselves at High Corner – David having no clue of the butterflies in my stomach – and in we went.

So to lunch – in the lovely sunny dining room, we sat at the long yellowwood table which Guy had made while Jean served up her renowned Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Faced with a large plate with enough to feed 2 armies – I was about to plunge in and do my best when David piped up & said “Jean, Joanna doesn’t eat mince!”

Well, that put the cat amongst the pigeons so to speak: “no, no, it’s absolutely fine!
This is great!”

“No it’s not, you hate mince,” said my darling, sweet, marvelous David!

“Well, let me see what I can rustle up for you,” said my gracious Mother-in-Law-to-be and bustled off to the kitchen to see what she could magic out of the air in 2 seconds flat, I am sure I heard her grinding her teeth.

So I had chicken and salad and the others tucked into their Spag Bol.

And after a pleasant conversation Jean goes into the kitchen to bring out the dessert – big plump slices of her famous Christmas Cake.

“Ah, Jean” said my erstwhile and helpful David “Joanna doesn’t eat raisins either!”

“I do eat the bits around them though” I defended myself

“Well Joanna,” and I definitely heard her teeth grind that time, “I am sure I have something you’ll enjoy.”  She rustled up peaches and ice cream for me.

Needless to say, every time we were invited around, there was a little phone call beforehand to check what was on my “eatable list”.

 

Jean's Scrumptious Christmas Cake

Apparently though, this is a DELICIOUS Christmas Cake, and easy to make – so although I cannot profess to have tasted it, David thinks it’s great and so did all the friends and family of the Butler’s who partook at Jean’s generous table:

 

 

 

Here it is:

FIRST:

Boil together for 15 mins in a covered pot 1 KILOGramme mixed fruit, 2 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons of biacarb, 250g butter, 2 cups of hot water

SECOND

Cool the above then add: beaten together:

4 eggs

5ml vanilla essence

5ml almond essence

5ml lemon essence

5ml rum essence

100ml brandy

 THIRD

Sift together & add

4 cups flour

15ml baking powder

3 ml salt

3 ml cinnamon

3 ml nutmeg

3 ml ginger

3ml mixed spice

MIX WELL

FOURTH

Add: 1 Tablespoon glycerine, nuts,  cherries, ginger.  Bake for 2 hours at 160° in a covered pot.  Keep the lid on for 1 and a half hours at the start.

 PS: Jean said it was actually Elaine’s Christmas Cake, but Jean made it so often for so many people over the years that it just became known as Jean’s Christmas Cake!

 

 

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Hog Hollow Recipe Corner

Executive Chef: Joe Booysen preparing his decadent dessertExecutive Chef, Johannes Booysen, likes to make people happy and content.  His menus are a constant delight to our guests.

Oohs, in the morning at breakfast and Ahh’s  in the evening as dinners are served.

One of the biggest Ahh’s come when presented with his Decadent Chocolate Dessert.

It is not fat-free and it is not approved by the heart-foundation, but it is TRULY delicious:

 

 

What you will need:

145 g Dark Chocolate

12 egg yolks beaten

250 g Castor Sugar

45 ml granulated coffee dissolved in 60ml water

100g Clear Honey

300g Unsalted Butter

145g Cocoa Powder

500 ml Double Thick Cream

METHOD

Mix melted chocolate into the egg yolks, caster sugar, coffee & honey.    Melt 15ml of the butter and grease the loaf tin and line it with plastic wrap.  Beat the reminder of the butter and Cocoa together and stir into the egg mixture.  Whip cream into soft peaks and fold into the mixture using a metal spoon.  Pour into the greased & wrapped tin and refrigerate for
24 hours.

Serve with an Orange Crème Anglaise.   Joe says it is important to have something tangy or citrusy to cut the sweetness of the chocolate.  The orange adds to the taste sensation, and makes your taste buds twinkle with delight.

But you have to wait for the recipe for that until NEXT week!  Happy practising!

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Filling in a Form:

Or How to go to Gaol, and pay for the pleasure

by: Ms Jo Melton Butler/Joanna Louise Melton Butler/Mrs Melting Butter/ Mr/Prof JL Retlub Notlem/whatever!

Once upon a time,  as many stories begin,  someone or some persons with clout and with nasty intent, possibly even someone who wanted to show his/her overbearing mother/father that he/she was indeed capable of greatness/infamy , decided that forms were the way to keep the world in check, or checked. Check mated actually.

The person/s that created these forms had very small, precise handwriting, similar to that of a Qwerty keyboard using the Times New Roman 10 font.   They (he/she/it) also
had a different logic when prescribing/proscribing what needs to be written in each block.  Perhaps they were failed crossword compilers.  Perhaps they were failed stand-up comics.  Or perhaps they were just evil.

Hospitals, Banks, anything vaguely Parastatal or Governmental, Insurance companies/houses, Traffic departments, anything Municipal, Home Affairs/Consulates passport applications and reapplications (yes, that is governmental,  but they are a particular breed!).     All have a seven or eight different forms to be filled in, in triplicate, duplicate, quadruplicate.

  • Forms often come in luminous colours – yellow, green, blue, white (no silver or gold yet) –A4 portrait or landscape.
  • Choose the correct form for your query
  • Use the correct code for your application
  • Only in black pen.
  • Don’t go out the line or use tippex – it nullifies the information on the form as it might not be you making the change!
  • And don’t worry if your signature looks nothing like it usually does, so long as it fits in the box, it’s FINE!
  • Don’t contact them directly – what an actual PERSON asking a question??  Why it could be tea time, or lunch time or anytime that is not convenient to assist you.

Of course the internet has been a total bonus to the form makers.  Now they can claim greenness to their actions.  They don’t print out the forms, the applicant does.  It is
however, recommended that the information pages are printed so as to make for easy reference when filling in the form.

Armed with about 50 pages of assistance (all on scrap paper of course), the applicant prints out the five-page form (definitely not on scrap paper) and diligently cross references each block – in pencil first in case of a mistake – sweating through the turgid explanations for each sentence/sub sentence/part of a sub sentence.   Each section is written in just such a way as to obfuscate the actual meaning.  Ambiguity reaches new levels.

By the time the 5 page document is ready to be paid/posted/couriered (that’s another story altogether),  the applicant is no longer sure that s/he understands his/her mother tongue sufficiently well and may have applied to spend the rest of his/her natural life in a Thai Gaol on drug smuggling charges.

And their last little joke at the bottom of the page:  ”If you have any queries, please contact us.   Fill in the form below….

passport application

Mr/Ms/Mrs/Dr/Prof/HRH/Other

First Names

Last Name

Type of Query

Query code

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

And for another bit of form-filling-in-fun:  try doing it ON-LINE!

 

 

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Hog Hollow Book Club – Jo Melton Butler Reviews….

The Messenger of Athens
by Anne Zouroudi
Published: Bloomsbury – 2007
ISBN 978 0 7474 8351 6

Beware the Gods – they keep watch … and they still interefere in the lives of mortals.

The setting: archetypal Greek Island – Thiminos – surrounded by the extraordinary blues of the Mediterranean. From afar, idyllic, but far from so!
The story begins with a dead body of a young woman being removed from the bottom of a cliff – suicide? Or Murder? The local police have their own reasons for not investigating and the locals themselves are saying nothing. Into this morass of silence, fear, betrayal, greed, brutality, lies, archaic codes of ‘honour’ and cowardice comes the mysterious Hermes Diaktoros.

He opens Pandora’s box – who is he and how will the Islanders of Thiminos fare?
Exceptionally good read!

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Hog Hollow Bookclub: A Bit of Spywork!

A Most Wanted Man

By: John le Carré

Published By: Hodder & Stoughton 2008

IBSN: 978 0 340 97797 1

A young Chechen Muslim illegal arrives in Hamburg, starving, yet with crisp hundred Euro notes secreted amongst his person.  Issa Karpov is the product of a brutal regime and a brutalized country.  The bastard son of a Russian general and beautiful Chechnya Muslim girl, his short life has seen little of the finer things: beaten, incarcerated and finally escaping with the assistance of his hated father’s Mafioso aide – he finds his way to Hamburg where he must find his father’s banker to inherit millions in ill-gotten gains ….

WHEW!

It’s a story of an unrequited love triangle between Issa, his ideological uptight civil rights lawyer, Annabel, and the English banker, Tommy Brue.  And it’s a story of how their
relationships and their lives unfold and are irrevocably changed under the minute scrutiny & manipulations of the dark world of espionage.  The “lovers” whirl within the whirls of the paranoid secret services that have their own tangled relationships and agendas.  It’s a bleak story of life as we don’t really know it post 9/11.

Double Whew!!

I came late to Le Carré’s works – the Cold War had been over for decades before I started with Smiley and Co.   Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was lightweight compared to his earlier books, a sort of “Spy Stories for Beginners”.   Even his central spy master thinks that the intelligence and skill of the spy game has been eroded, and seems to echo the skill of the storyteller.

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Sinethemba Gospel Choir Sings for Minister of Tourism…

The Sinethemba Gospel Choir, from the local Kurland Village community,  comprises several members of Hog Hollow Country Lodge Staff.  The choir forms part of Hog Hollow’s Community Upliftment Programme..  Sinethemba competes in national choir competitions and was listed as one of the top gospel choirs of the Western Cape in 2010.  Sinethemba was selected to perform at the launch of South African National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism by the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, in Knysna on 14 September 2011..

Minister of Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk and the Sinethemba Gospel Choir

 

 

Media Releases 2011

FTTSA MEDIA RELEASE                                                    14 September 2011

Industry responds positively to launch of South African National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (SANMSRT)

South Africa’s leading Responsible Tourism Non Profit Organisation, Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), today reiterated its full support of the new National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism (SANMSRT).

The SANMSRT was launched on 12 September 2011 by the National Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, at Featherbed Nature Reserve in Knysna. Jennifer Seif, Executive Director of FTTSA and Chairperson of the Technical Working Group that led the development of the SANMSRT, represented industry at the event. “South Africa has helped to pioneer Responsible Tourism on the worldwide stage — our job now is to mainstream it”, says Seif.

For more information on the launch of the SANMSRT visit the FTTSA Media section.      

 

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Why a Vegetarian should always attend a Braai – Jo Melton Butler’s take on it anyway…

South Africans LOVE meat – whether it’s charcoaled to death on the coals, or still dripping in blood –  on any given evening (for every evening is a braai-able evening) you are sure to see the telltale drift of smoke over the rooftops.

No other nation can do a braai like we can.  We don’t do Barbies  – that’s a doll for heaven sake and made of plastic, so, no, not edible!    And Barbeque, well that’s far too long & complicated to spell and BBQ is like the sauce you get in a plastic bottle which no self respecting Braai master would touch with a barge pole – or tongs for that matter.

This is not a sexist matter, but the truly great Braaiers are men.  The skill and dexterity they show when presented with building a fire, stoking the coals and cooking the
meat borders on eye watering perfection.

Consider the skills involved:  First the meat needs to be bought.  Worsies (little sausages), Karoo oysters (sheep’s balls wrapped in fat), Skilpadjies (sheep’s liver wrapped in neckfat),  boerrie (spiced sausage, South African style), tjops (chops),  sosaties (meat on a skewer), vleis (meat).  And, second, and probably most importantly, beer must be purchased to assist with the cooking.

So there is a lot of pressure.

On the any given evening, when the family gets together and some mates are invited round, the men gather around the braai area with the various tools of their trade, generally a braai grid, tongs and some beers.  The women relax as it’s their “night off”.  No cooking the meat for them, it’s not so much that they aren’t trustworthy, after all they prepare perfectly adequate food for the rest of the week!   This is different.

As they are having the night off, the women ensure that their braai masters are well  hydrated with bottles of chilled beer.  Which they have thoughtfully unpacked from the car and stacked in the fridge earlier in the day to ensure the temperature is just right.  And also, because it’s their night off, they’ve prepared the marinade for the meat and have it all in the pans covered with clean cloths ensuring the meat is at the correct room temperature for cooking.

The wood is lit: – there are some purists who just do wood, others who just use charcoals, and still others who use both.  The main point is, that the heat of the braai is of extreme importance to the success of the braai.  It’s not merely a matter of throwing the meat
on in a haphazard manner, it takes skill and technique to get the meat out in
the right order of the fire’s heat.

 Because it’s quite a process, what with building the fire,  getting the utensils out, shooting the breeze – the actual cooking doesn’t  start till quite late.  So to keep the  wolf from the door, or the children from fainting with hunger,  the women will have made some roosterkoek, which  are dough balls dry roasted on the fire, and then filled with butter and cheese  & tomato & onion (if you like).   And the good thing is the men like it too and nibble away on the ones  the kids don’t eat, so nothing is wasted.

Once the fire is ready, the appetite-whetters – Karoo Oysters and Skilpadjies – are grilled with a precision which breathtaking.  As they are lifted  from the grid, one of the women will bring out the chopping board with coarse  salt & a sharp knife, and the braai-master will slice the delicacies for  everyone to dip into the salt and snack on.   They are truly delicious.

Then it’s the turn of the sausages – the worsies are for the  kids, because they are quick to do, and then the boerewors gets laid down in  reverent coils on the grid sizzling in their skins.  The flame get’s quite high with the fat from  the sausage and beer is sprinkled over the meat and the coals to temper the  heat.

It’s important to keep an eye on  the meat at this stage because dry sausage isn’t nice, so the women are very  helpful here bringing out the dishes and taking the meat back to the kitchen  to keep in the warming drawer.  And as  they are already in the kitchen,  they  get the children’s sausages sorted out and put together the three bean salad (butter  beans, sugar beans & green beans); a leafy green salad with avocado, feta  cheese, a bowl of cocktail tomatoes and another of grated carrot, pineapple & raisins.

And now it’s time for the Chops – lamb chops are a sine qua non at a braai.  Tasty, meaty with a hint  of rosemary.  Again, it’s very important  not to have them overdone, a hint of pink in the centre and they are perfection.

So, while the Braaimasters are making sure the chops are not  in any danger, and because they aren’t doing anything else, the women will set the table, check on the pap & sous (cooked mealie meal with a tomato & onion sauce) and take the potato & leek bake out of the oven so it  can cool slightly.

With the chops and the sausage ready, the piece de resistance is about to be grilled – the slabs of rump or sirloin (depending on your taste).  It’s a very tricky business, this last leg, as everyone likes their meat grilled in a different way – the Braaimaster calls around and gets the orders and begins his Herculean task of getting it “right”!

The women have now set all the food out, and one of them has cunningly remembered to make Garlic Bread and even more cunningly ensured that, as some people ‘don’t do garlic’, that there are plain French Loaves too.

And finally the last of the meat arrives to ooh’s and ahh’s  and the Braai master sits at the head of the table and everyone applauds the great feast he has prepared for them.  The wine is opened and more chilled beers bought  to the table.  And the conversation flows,  and the evening slides gently onwards.

And that is why a vegetarian should always go to a braai.

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