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A Cherry Welcome to 2014

December 31, 2013

So I went forth and, finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night
And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So, heart, be still!
What need our little life, our human life, to know if God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things, both high and low, God hideth His intention.

The Desert 1908

Marie Louise Haskins 1876 – 1957

Where has the year gone? Months have passed since I did my last blog post. It is incredible to sit here and close my eyes and know that 2014 is knocking very loudly and insistently at the door of our lives and there is just nothing you can do to stop it’s entry! My 5 year old grandson Jay said the other day when he looked at a shiny new calendar that I had been gifted “I’m really going to miss 2013 Nan. I don’t know if I will like 2014!”  I smiled at him but it made me think that a year becomes a bit like a friend or companion…..something familiar that you become used to having around and getting comfortable with. That certainly has been the case for little Jay, he has really had a good year, has loved his teacher and class mates at pre-school and didn’t want that to end. Looking back on my year and at what has transpired is a good thing for me as I see how far I have come from where I was 12 months ago. I said goodbye to my 5th decade and embraced my 6th! I said goodbye finally, after two years and 6 surgical reconstructive procedures, to my facio-maxillary surgeon and slowly started doing normal things once again….simple things like visiting a mall and doing my own grocery shopping, like going for walks on the beach or through the wetlands with my hubby and hound, like attending functions and events again. Re-integrating back into society is something that I have found really difficult to do. After spending so long away from the social scene and being on your own it is quite a painful process of getting out there again. I also eventually got shot of all the medication I have been on for the past couple of years and starting sailing this ship on my own again! These past 2 1/2 years have been some of the hardest that I have ever lived through and without the love and incredible support of my precious husband and family and some wonderful friends I have no idea how I would have managed to get where I am today.

It was also a very wet winter here in the Western Cape and it was discovered that some of the local telephone lines become water logged during the rain so I have had to cope with very intermittent internet connectivity….a factor that stopped me blogging and also forced me to postpone the SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba until 22 February 2014. Which turned out to be a huge personal blessing because just after the postponement announcement was made my oldest brother suffered a massive stroke that paralysed him down his dominant right side. With the Indaba only taking place in February I was able to go to him and help care for him while his wife and son were at work during the days. I also took over most of the cooking and baking chores as Rey has always done all the cooking. I spent two months with them on the farm in the Eastern Free State, near the Lesotho border far away from the city lights, and it was the most special time ever for me. I have always been a very frustrated farmgirl at heart, living life in the city ~ and how often in this life does a girl get to bond in such a wonderful and personal way with a sibling, especially a brother? So being there for that time was an incredible personal journey for me. Yes, I was separated from Don and my kids and grandkids and sometimes in the dark hours I just felt I needed to get home but next morning the sun was shining again and I was so incredibly blessed, in so many ways….I long for those days now and I plan to go back again ….this time when the quinces and figs are ready to harvest! And hopefully the peacocks won’t be so vocal! Turning around while working in the pantry and seeing this sight at the window always made me laugh out loud and I laugh now looking back at the photos! 🙂

As you can see in the pic above there was a dreadful drought while I was there and every day when I spoke on the phone to my family I would ask if the south easter was blowing back home because, what we always moan about here in the Cape, the south easterly wind that blows incessantly sometimes, is what is needed to bring rain to the rest of the country! I look at the prevailing summer wind in a different light now, and when it starts blowing I excitedly call my brother Rey and tell him…..and sure enough a couple of days later he calls to tell me about the rain that is falling on the farm. It is all beautifully green now and his garden, that was virtually non existent, is back to its full colourful, blooming splendour. I wish I was there to see it!

One of our last family outings for this year was a drive to Ceres on Saturday to visit Klondyke Cherry Farm. We took Ty and Jay with us and we had so much fun in the orchard and returned home with over 5kgs of delicious freshly picked cherries.

I have also had fun working in the kitchen with part of the stash of cherries that we brought home. I have made some cherry conserve that I am looking forward to enjoying with some camembert on a cheeseboard one of these days, I plan to pickle some tomorrow and I also made this delightful dessert on Sunday evening when my son and his girlfriend came around for a braai.

 Cherry clafoutis! When I told my son what I had made he was like “Say WHAT Mom? Did you just swear at me”? Hahahaha…..but the proof is always in the eating and he was rendered silent while savouring and enjoying this classic French dessert. I scoured the web for recipes and eventually adapted one for myself based on recipes from Michel Roux and Raymond Blanc.  This is how I made mine…

CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

Serves 8 (you could easily halve the recipe)

Ingredients:

500g Ripe Cherries – washed, stalks removed and pitted
30ml Kirsch
15ml Castor Sugar
100 g butter, melted and slightly cooled
4 Free Range Eggs
100 g plain flour
100ml Fresh Cream
150ml Whole Milk
100g Castor Sugar
Knife point of Vanilla Seeds – I use the Vanilla Man brand
10ml Granulated Sugar

Method:

1. Pour the kirsch and the 15ml sugar over the pitted cherries, cover and allow to macerate for about an hour or so. This is optional. Use fresh cherries if preferred.
2. Preheat the oven to 180deg Celcius and butter a deep pie dish (22cm diameter round or 27x17cm rectangular). Add 10ml sugar to the dish and shake it around to coat the bottom and sides then shake out the excess.
3. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a whisk or standing mixer
4. Gradually beat in the flour then add and beat in the melted butter
5. Whisk in the milk and cream followed by the sugar and vanilla seeds (I like to stir my seeds through the sugar first so that they don’t clump together)
6. Add the cherries and their juices to the batter and stir through then pour the batter into the prepared pie dish – you can skip the macerating and use fresh cherries as they are in which case you need to spread them evenly over the bottom of the prepared dish before pouring over the batter.
7. Place dish on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until done but the middle must still have a slight wobble.
8. Sprinkle with the final 10ml granulated sugar and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.
9. Serve the clafoutis warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

YUM! Son and his girl went home with an extra generous portion each!

Christmas was a quiet family affair for us with the usual flurry of baking and roasting and cooking. I have had the pleasure again of taking care of my precious grandboys while their mom and dad have worked (I can breathe easily and say that now that the parents are on leave and I am freed from my duties haha)

It has become a bit of a tradition for me to begin each New Year on my blog with the beautiful poem written above and I encourage everyone to read it as you welcome 2014! We are off to participate in another ritual that is becoming a tradition for us….we’re taking a picnic up the mountain to watch the sun set on 2013. Hoping that the wind doesn’t do what it traditionally does and that is to blow so strongly that we end up sitting in the car drinking our champagne and I get out to take one or two pics while hanging on for dear life to my camera so that it doesn’t end up at the bottom of the cliff in the ocean!

This has become a firm favourite for celebrations in our home. The grandsons love it!

I wish all my readers an awesome celebration tonight. Stay safe and may 2014 be filled with all that you hold dear.

browniegirl xx 

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a new 365 page book…

Be sure to write a bestseller!  

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2014 8:22 AM

    I love your pantry photo. Brilliant one. Hope 2014 is good for you 🙂

    • Colleen permalink*
      January 2, 2014 11:03 AM

      Thank you so much Ruth. I have such fond memories of working in that pantry 🙂 Thank you for the good wishes too. Wishing you the best for 2014 xx

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