I’ve moved here (hit on the image):

banner for maritasays

I was going to write a really long entry here but then got bored with the idea so I’m keeping it pretty short, but not sweet.

I’m dropping wordpress. After about two years of struggling with uploading pictures and adding links and generally feeling not-so-smart I decided to migrate back to blogger. Where I started out a long time ago. Yes, I know.

So to all of you who’ve faithfully followed me here you can now read up on what I’m up to at http://www.itinerantbordeaux.blogspot.com/

Oh, yes, I changed the name and the style and some other stuff. You know, it was just time for MaritaSays to go rest. And lots of people who read this blog think I’m a lady, which is very incorrect.

So thanks for reading and for commenting and do continue to do so at Itinerant Bordeaux.

Cheers,
b

meal in a cup

The other day while looking at BloggerAid’s website I came across this entry by Val in lieu of World Food Day, which will be taking place on October 16th. Here’s what Val had to say:

“As my way of raising awareness for the issue of hunger here in our own communities or worldwide I have created a recipe that can be served in a cup like the Red Cup representative of the School Meals Program. Serving food at school helps alleviate hunger among the world’s poorest children or enabling a girl to attend school rather than staying at home to help take care of her family. If even one child is allowed to go to school it provides them with not only food but with an education and the tools which are key to a better future for themselves as well as their community. If one child is educated imagine what would happen to an entire village. The future starts with our children!!!

I encourage you to raise awareness with your own voice by preparing a dish and posting it on your blog. Your dish can be inexpensive, it can be something that represents your part of the world or simply prepare something you enjoy and would like to share. Just serve it in a cup to represent feeding one child a healthy and nutritious lunch at school.”

Neat idea, right? Creating awareness by making something as simple as a meal that can be served in a cup. I never eat a meal out of a cup, my meals are always in big plates and deep bowls. there is always more than enough. But for so many, something as simple as a wholesome meal in a cup can mean an end to hunger.

I decided to do something simple, yet nutritional and filling. Something that would offer starch along with protein and that can be eaten at any time of the day. And of course, something that would be accessible.

This meal is a bit of a fusion between South African porridge made with corn meal and Chinese rice soup. I love both, but have never tried to combine them before. I used yellow corn meal or maize meal which is fairly common in South Africa and neighboring countries, but blue corn meal or rice would work as well, the preparation might just be slightly different.

For this meal you’d need:
1.5 cups corn meal
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt to taste

The process:
Put the meal into a small pot and add the 3 cups of stock/water. Bring it to a slow boil while stirring all the time. Be careful that it does not become to hot as it will burn or exploding porridge bubbles will land on your skin, which can seriously hurt. If the porridge is very tough, add more water as needed to turn it into more of a thick runny porridge. When it is cooked, stir in the egg until it combined with the porridge, add salt to taste and serve. You can also add any other ingredients at this stage like bits of cooked meat, some finely chopped vegetable or herbs to add to the flavor. I added a few drops of sesame oil and some soy sauce. Fill two large mugs (like I did) or 2 smaller cups, and serve.

* The BloggerAid Cook Book is pretty much ready to be sent to publishers. Excellent work done by all bloggers involved in this big undertaking!

Over the past two weeks we’ve been seriously jesting about packing it all up and start traveling again. Now, this might sound like it is just a temporary itch and we should just wait it out, but I’ve been suffering from a mild to serious case of the wanderlust since about June. And instead of dissipating like fog around Lion’s Head on a summer’s day it just grew and grew into the ‘dilemma’ we are in right now. I use the term dilemma even though it probably isn’t that serious. But it feels kind of serious.

We’ve been getting fairly settled into our apartment over the past few months, we finally have a washing machine and a Kitchenaid. We have furniture we like, some of which we restored ourselves. There is a nicely kitted out kitchen and we have regular magazine subscriptions. So basically, we have a home. Something we were both craving when we arrived back in SA this year after months of travel.

But, despite enjoying being pretty settled in our home, we feel something lacking. I miss going to foreign destinations on the regular, something I do not see being an option if we stay here long term. It is a very well-known fact that travel is just not cheap for South Africans. Also, our dream of opening a café does not sound so appealing anymore, it would mean a big time-investment from our side and the opportunity to just go away for a couple of weeks would disappear instantly. Even traveling within SA would be seriously limited.

So we’ve been fooling around with the idea of packing it up, putting our stuff in storage and start a journey working and traveling around the globe. Settling in a couple of destinations for a few months, working a bit and then moving again. I know I will miss having a solid home, but somehow I feel I would be happy if I can settle for bits and then travel again. So should I do the ‘adult’ thing and stay here, establish ourselves her for the long term? Or should I start saving towards those tickets calling my name and spend the next two years living itinerantly and accept that as life?

I do not even want to think about what my mother will say when she hears about these murmurings in my head! But I’d love to hear what you think.

sweet potato bread

One of the great things about this bag of organic produce we receive each week is that it forces us to use produce that we don’t always buy. Like sweet potatoes. For some reason we rarely ever buy it, even though I really enjoy it. The smell of sweet potatoes roasting in the oven or boiling on the stove- there’s something very right about it.

We received a couple in our first order from Wild and I decided to try something different with it from our usual roasted version. When Monday rolled around I felt like attempting bread and after hopping around online for a bit I found a recipe for sweet potato bread that sounded simple enough for me to manage. I tweaked the ingredients a little bit, using a mix maize meal and blue corn meal, giving it a South African/ New Mexican texture and flavour. The two kinds of meal worked together perfectly and complimented the chunks of sweet potato in the bread beautifully.

For this potato bread you need:

400g sweet potatoes

4 large eggs

1.5 cups plain yogurt

1 cup blue corn meal

1 and 1/3 cups maize meal (in South Africa) or yellow corn meal (elsewhere)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

The process:

Preheat the oven to 190C and prepare a square baking pan. Scrub the sweet potatoes clean and cook in boiling water until soft, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then mash it up, skin and all. Fill 1 cup with the mashed potatoes. If there’s any left you should just eat it like that. It’s delicious! Mix the eggs and yogurt together with the cup of sweet potato in a large mixing bowl.

Set aside, The next step you can do in a food processor if you have one, I did it manually. Whisk together the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add it to the sweet potato mixture and mix well until it all just comes together. Pour it into the prepared bowl and bake for about 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack and start enjoying.

If you cannot find blue corn meal, use yellow if available or maize meal.

We were going to give some to our neighbors, but enjoyed it so much that we ate most of it ourselves (I did give a big piece to a friend, so I was not entirely selfish!) with my dad’s kiwi preserves, butter and peanut butter.

Wild Bounty

It’s organic, it’s all grown in Western Cape and (my favorite part) if you don’t use it within a week it starts going all soft. It’s real food!

In an effort to eat better and to reduce our carbon footprint we started ordering a weekly basket from Wild Organics here in Woodstock. It’s a group of people who source and supply locally grown and organic produce to people in the Cape Town area. Every Wednesday they deliver the produce to a few select spots around the city where you can go pick it up.

Since then, Wednesday is our highlight of the week. After I’m done teaching in the morning we head over to Bird’s Café (on foot of course) to pick up our bounty. And what a bounty it is! In our first we got avos, salad leaves, baby cabbage, sprouts, spring onions, carrots, cilantro, apples, young potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas and strawberries. The meals we prepared with it were incredible, everything tasted right and fresh.

If you live in Cape Town and feel like food that’s real, get in touch with them. They deliver once a week and the prices are pretty comparable to local stores. You also support local industries and it’s a great opportunity to eat more seasonal.

We just received our new bag two days ago and already I am looking forward to the next one!

picnic site and spread

I suppose I should not really complain about the wintery weather we experienced during most of September, seen as most of our winter was actually pretty mild. Although there were some cold spells we actually enjoyed a pleasant cold season with some splendid days.

On one of those glorious Sundays we decided to pack up a picnic and enjoy the sun on Signal Hill. While Alexander prepared ginger-lemonade in Console flasks I quickly assembled some boerewors rolls (a very traditional South African meat sausage with lots of dry spices in it) with whole-wheat rolls and some of my dad’s home-made kiwi chutney. For dessert I brought along lemon meringue cupcakes I made the day before.

It was such a lovely day and if I remember correctly I even got a little bit of a tan on my arms. In winter!

After the first three weeks of spring were cold, wet and miserable, this week arrived with plenty of sunshine, slightly balmy days and the sensation that beach days are back. We were elated! So elated that we (finally!) bought garden chairs and lots of white wine and soda water to enjoy with dinner out on the balcony again.

But we awoke this morning at 5:30AM (to climb Lion’s Head again) to an overcast city. Despite a slight crispness in the air that was not there yesterday we went ahead with our climbing, enjoying the mist that enveloped us on the way up and down and the new flowers in bloom all over the mountain. The weather would clear as soon as the sun is out, I told myself.

Well, it’s much later in the day, I’ve checked the weather forecast for the weekend and I have shut all windows to keep the chill out. Spring has been taken from us! And this on the day my northern sister is coming to visit us from Gauteng. I’ve been so excited to show her what she’s missing by not moving here; lazing at the beach, picnics in the Gardens, sunshine shopping sprees at Milnerton Market and a lazy cheese and wine tasting at Fairview.

I wish I had one or three of these to enjoy now… 

salted cashew cupcakes

…salted cashew cupcakes.

I made these a while ago, tweaking a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook for maple walnut cupcakes. They tasted incredible, especially after Alexander decided to throw pinches of sea salt on each to balance the decadently rich frosting. They were incredibly good, so much so, we had to give some away as we were risking eating the whole giant batch ourselves.

Yes, one of those would make me feel better now. But instead I’ll be baking banana and strawberry muffins for sis’s arrival and prepare cookie dough for Saturday nights dessert with friends. Hopefully all of that will lift my spirits and I’ll be sharing the recipes with you in sunnier weather.

trou soen

I gave myself a month to do an entry about our wedding, but now it’s been about two months and something tells me if I delay it any longer it’s only going to happen around the time of our paper anniversary.

From the start we decided it was going to be a small and simple affair. A few family members and some friends, an informal lunch and just a laid back afternoon. Our guest list, including the guy who married us, came to 21. So altogether there were only 23 people attending our wedding. Which made things very easy for us.

We decided to do almost everything ourselves and to host it at our apartment. With some borrowed furniture and the bedroom turned into a serving room it worked out perfectly. And since the weather played along and we had a gloriously warm winter’s day we could open up our balcony so guests could hang out there as well.

trou pret

Our theme was South African with a lot of Karoo in it. On the road trip we took with Alexander’s family prior to our wedding we passed through the Karoo and picked up lots of local preserves, cheese and two lovely legs of lamb (thanks Abe!). My parents brought some produce from Limpopo province like butternut and more preserves. On the morning of the wedding we all went for breakfast at the Neighbourgoods Market and picked up some bread, more preserves, mini-milktarts and were given a couple of fresh sprigs of flowering rosemary by another vendor.

trou blomme

We rushed home to get everything in order, giving our families (who helped in preparing the lamb and doing the flowers as well as arranging the house the previous day) strict orders to stay away until just before noon. I finally started feeling nervous (for some very strange reason I was extremely calm and relaxed the day before- very unlike me!) and was worried about flipping out in front of everybody moments before I get married. A shot of gin when we got home helped steady the nerves though! Together we prepared some salads and laid out the table. We were just in time for the arrival of our guests.

trou kostafel

Next thing we were wedded. A strange feeling, yet really sweet and nice. I enjoyed every moment of standing there with Alexander, knowing we are taking such a huge step in our relationship and feeling totally at ease about it.

After the ceremony the feasting began. Guests helped themselves to the spread of roast leg of lamb, butternut salads, curried bean salad, pickled onions, bread, cheese and preserved figs. There were not a lot of seats so everybody just found a spot and made themselves comfortable. If I may say so myself, I think the food was excellent and all really delicious.

trou kos skep

We set out a variety of desserts in the kitchen for after, some heart-shaped milk tarts from the market, koesisters (spiced and deep-fried balls of dough rolled in coconut) from the Bo-Kaap and boeremeisies (farm-girls, peaches preserved in brandy).

trou nagereg

We had a relaxed lunch and afternoon, enjoying the food and great company. At around 3:30 I was beat and we left our families and two friends (thank you!) with the mess to go spend the night at a nearby hotel.

When I look at the pictures of our wedding I want to do it again, exactly as it was. The only thing I wish I could change would be the guests attending- there were a few people, family and friends, who live too far and could not make it, so if we could do it again I’d wish for them to be here too.

trou gaste eet

Thanks to all of our families and our friends for all the help and lending and being here to celebrate our very special day with us. It was fantastic!

trou familie

downtown

Whoa! I’m neglecting my blog again. I gave myself a deadline for doing a wedding entry, which came and went and still no sign of it. Oh well.

I’ve been busy missing Taiwan. It’s my home, even though I’m neither Taiwanese nor was I born there. I only spent about 6 years of my life there, and during that time it grew into me and became the place I miss. I’ve never missed South Africa the same way I miss Taiwan.

This does not mean I do not like SA. I think it is a pretty neat country. I feel great pride when our athletes and sports teams win international competitions or when a great movie or book comes out of the country. I get angry when people diss on South Africa or make ignorant statements about us. I am South Africa. But I miss Taiwan the way Alexander misses the US. I cannot explain it, it just is. Since I left for good in 2006 I’ve been back once a year except for this year.

A friend offered me the opportunity to go back and teach there for two months in October and November. In my head I went over the numbers and figured that it might make financial sense to go back. But it would have meant leaving Alexander behind for the whole time as someone would have had to stay and keep the Piesang market stand going. And it would also have stalled any potential plans for us to open up a place if I’m not here to help with that. And having done long-term in the past there was just no way I was going to leave Alexander here and be on my own for two months. I would have been much too miserable without him always close by my side.

temple wishes

Sad sigh. I console myself with the knowledge that both of us are missing home. He the US, me Taiwan.

Luckily we could still approximate some things from Taiwan in the form of food and drinks. So when I recently saw this post and recipe for this soupy tomato and egg dish I often had for lunch at school on EatingAsia I decided to make it. I tried to follow the recipe as well as I could, but the tomatoes were not nearly as juicy as they should have been, so my attempt was not exactly great. But it helped with the homesick. The cucumber salad was near perfect though.

tomatoe egg soup

We also heard about a store in the Northern Suburbs owned by a Taiwanese couple, so we decided to go check it out. We chatted a bit to the owners who are from Chiayi and Tainan in the south and reminisced about home. I found they sold the little balls found in pearl milk tea. Of course, the way you get it in Taiwan is mostly from scratch and not from bags with the words ‘starch balls’ on them. It was not right, but it made me feel good having some milky tea with tapioca pearls again!

pearl milk tea

I miss you Taiwan, I miss you all of my friends in Taiwan.

sundown beach

For more about the amazing food in Taiwan and other things Taiwan, go check out these posts on EatingAsia and Primitive Culture.