September 2009


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.