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Today I wept…

I wept for my dear sister whose husband decided he didn’t love her anymore after many, many years of marriage… for their little girl… for my parents, they’ve lost a son…

I wept for my in-laws as I realised the pain they carry with them everyday when they remember their dead son…

I wept for a colleague whose husband was shot in the face… and a friend who lost a loved one to a botched up car hi-jacking…

I wept for my child because I can’t be sure that she has a future in South Africa, that she will find her place here…

I wept because I miss all my friends who have left South Africa, either for work, to follow a dream, to be with their beloved, or because they just couldn’t take living in South Africa anymore…

I wept because a deacon at the church where my child will be baptised reminded me that I’m a white Portuguese South Africa, the descendant of the perpetrators of slavery, and by simply being a white South Africa, a perpetrator of Apartheid. I’m tired of the guilt.

I wept for a friend who lives a life of quiet desperation, wanting to do so much more… but doesn’t… I wept when I realised I’m like that too…

I wept for the Earth, because not many people seem to give a damn about the fact that she’s suffering at our hands… I wept at the realisation that I’m not doing enough to change that…

I wept at my own sense of failure – as a mother, a career woman, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a home maker, a cook, a gardener, a labyrinth maker, a knitter, an artist…

I wept as I accepted that I’m capable of hurting people, very deeply… and sometimes I don’t even realise I’ve done it…

I wept for I am no longer the maiden, I am now the mother.

I wept because I don’t know where my soul is… or how to connect to it anymore…

I wept…

It was a good day… a day of release…

Quick beef and mushroom stroganoff

I’ve made this dish twice, the main difference being the mushrooms.  On the first occassion, I used button mushrooms and an asian mix of mushrooms (enoki, shimeji, and shiitake). On the second occassion, I used button, black, and porcini mushrooms.

What you need: Beef stroganoff (I used beef cut into strips for stir fries), paprika (I didn’t have plain paprika the second time around, so I used smoked paprika – turns out it’s yummier), salt and pepper, olive oil, chopped onion, sliced garlic (I confess I cheated here, I used the prechopped garlic… and lots of it!), mushrooms, thyme (again, I cheated here… my little thyme plant was destroyed by frost this winter, so I used dried thyme instead), greek yoghurt (I used greek style yoghurt because when I phoned my beloved husband to ask him to pop into the store on his way home and get some, all he could find was greek style yoghurt… I imagine it’s pretty much the same thing…)

How to do it: Toss the beef with the paprika, salt and pepper. Fry this in a little olive oil until it’s browned.  Set it aside (I took this to mean remove the cooked meat from the pan, but leave the juices behind.)  Fry the onion until it’s soft (I fried it in the meat juices, adding some water so that the onions became sweeter).  Add the mushrooms and the thyme. Cook the mushrooms through.  Stir in the beef and yoghurt to allow it to heat through, but don’t allow it to boil (I imagine this does something to the texture of the yoghurt). 

I served it with white rice the second time around, but the first time around it was served with mashed potatoes and peas. Yum!  

Source (i.e. give credit where credit is due): Fresh ideas July 2010 – Winter comfort 27 delicious recipes to suit your lifestyle

In my last post I whined about how I find it difficult to settle on a recipe and simply cook the dish… mostly because I get carried away with the idea of cooking that I don’t actually get down to doing the cooking. 

You’ll be pleased to know that I did indeed cook the beef and mushroom stroganoff – and my beloved husband liked it so much that he went back for seconds.  Horay!  There’s hope for me yet!

I got to thinking though – wouldn’t it be nice to keep a journal of my cooking adventures?  So, me thinks I shall write-up the recipes I try, and add my odd notes to it, then post it here for your edification. 🙂

It will be interesting to see how the entries progress over time, and perhaps one day I’ll actually feel confident about cooking!

I saw the film Julie & Julia* and thought to myself: ‘What a lovely idea… I could do that too!’  But then I looked at my cookbook collection and all ambitions came to a grinding halt – which cookbook to choose? I could devour any one of Tessa Kiros’ cookbooks (they’re delicious just to look at!), or I could try my hand at one of my Portuguese cookbooks, or perhaps a British cookbook… but then again, there’s also my medieval cookbooks… I have a little fixation with muffins and cupcakes – so I could saunter through one of those cookbooks… and of course there’s Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home, which would fall in nicely with my grand ambition to start a vegetable patch… Oh, how to choose, how to choose?!

Then I realised that I didn’t have to choose… it’s not about what I’m cooking so much as the experience of cooking.  For too long I’ve wanted to capture that gorgeous sense of nurturing through the food I make… that earthy warmth that comes from enjoying a hearty, robust home-cooked meal (especially since we’re now in winter – a perfect time for comfort food and comfort cooking)… that joy of sharing, of experimenting, of connecting… and of course, that sense of childlike surprise when the dish I’ve prepared actually tastes good!

I’ve heard it said: ‘the universe applauds action, not thought’ – clearly I just need to start somewhere, anywhere!   Perhaps I should try making my mother’s famous orange cake (no one makes it quite like she does…), or perhaps I could make some crunchies (haven’t made those in ages!)… or… um… I could try that delicious-sounding herb and lemon roast chicken…

Do you see my problem?  I get so carried away with the possible delights of cooking, that I don’t actually get down to doing the cooking… Oh, to be that domestic goddess Nigella Lawson writes of, Tita of Like Water for Chocolate, Babette of Babette’s Feast, or Vianne of Chocolat!

Oh fiddle sticks! I must just choose one recipe and cook it – just one.  How does beef and mushroom stroganoff sound?

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* A film about Julia Child’s cooking profession, which is intertwined with Julie Powell’s challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and to blog about it.

This is my beautiful, adorable, sweet, gorgeous little munch-kin of a daughter.  My little darling.  My ray of sunshine.  My schnookums.  My little love muffin.

Isn’t she just too cute for words? 

Okay, I’ll stop.  Sorry…

As I rocked Sophia, my baby girl, to sleep, I remembered a book on my shelf: Romancing the Ordinary – A Year of Simple Splendour by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

The jacket cover reads: ‘Romancing the Ordinary celebrates the sprituality of the senses, seasonally and monthly. Ban Breathnach believes that women are endowed not with five senses but with seven. In addition to rediscovering sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch, readers will come to cherish their sense of “knowing” – a woman’s intuitive sense – and “wonder”, her sense of rapture and revernce. Ban Breathnach encourages each woman to discover what moves her to tears, makes her blood rush to her head, her heart skip a beat, and her soul sigh. By encouraging her to delight in the often overlooked gifts of every day – from the aroma of simmering homemade spaghetti sauce to the sensation of freshly laundered linen against bare skin – Romancing the Ordinary is sure to help every woman fall in love with Life.’

I’d like to fall in love with life… I’ll let you know how it goes.

I have a file. I wrote the words ‘Book of Possibilities’ on the spine of said file.

It’s a file containing pictures of the things that represent what I’d like to create or experience. It’s a thick file…

This blog represents my attempts to make these pictures real… it should be a fascinating journey… hmmm…