Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Never Enough Pudding

I have shared before, that as a young bride my cooking skills were best described as basic but enthusiastic. What I lacked in skill, I made up in research and a fearless spirit that I could do anything if I tried hard enough.

I guess it was all the research and experimenting that helped me gain confidence and an ability to prepare meals that no longer leave my family wondering if they could still get Mr Delivery.

One of the first pudding recipes I found, I tried out for my first dinner party (non family). I had never made a pudding before and at that stage we were still addicted to the ready made Wooloworths chocolate pudding. The couple we invited had been married a while and the wife was an accomplished cook, so you can see why I was keen to show my skills (however non- existent they might have been).

I am proud to say that it the pudding was a huge success and as since been served at many a winter dinner party. The rich chocolate sponge with a sweet thick dark sauce never fails to impress. I can not remember were I found this recipe, so I can't give credit - but I will highly recommend it to any novice wanting to impress dinner guests.

Chocolate pudding with Sauce

250ml Flour
65ml Butter
200ml Sugar
1 egg
15ml Baking Powder
2ml Salt
30ml Cocoa Powder
200ml Milk 2ml Vanilla essence

500ml Water
375ml Brown Sugar
30ml Cocoa Powder

First make the sauce
Mix all three ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and starts to boil.
Boil for about 5mins and remove from the heat.

Cream together the butter and the sugar.
Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the sifted dry ingredients alternatively with the milk.
Stir in the vanilla essence.
Spoon the batter into a greased glass oven dish (1.5l -2.l dish with a lid)
Pour over the sauce and place into a oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes.
Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.
This is one of those "magic puddings", where the sauce disappears under the sponge.
As the pudding cools, the sauce becomes very thick, so it's best served hot.

I leave you with the sage words of William Blake

" You never know what is enough
unless you know what is more than enough!"

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Photos are coming back!

I have managed to restore some of my pictures. I deleted an album from my computer, and without knowing ended up deleting 2 years worth of pictures from both my blogs!

I will try to restore them slowly - but it takes ages and I do try to complete some work (for which I get paid for) each day, no matter how hard it is some days!

Thank you for your patience and if there is something specific you want to see, just give me a shout and I will load it promptly!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A Girl in a Canyon - Part 7

Waking up on the last morning in the Canyon was best described as "bitter sweet". Before this I had never really appreciated what that expression meant, but now I do.

It is sweet because you know you have achieved something you never thought possible and bitter because you know that life is supposed to return to normal - with all the expectations and complications.

Cellphones, TV's and computers will once again become part of my life, and no matter how hard I try, I still have to accept them as part of my life. I have to find out about plane crashes and children raped and murdered by their uncles. I have to be at certain places at certain times, listen to people I have no interest in.

So it's with a heavy heart I packed my bag one last time.

The last day was an anti-climax. It only lasted about 3 hours and the last hour you are very aware of civilization as you walk along a water pipeline.

Much of the way we spent talking about cold beers and cheese burgers. But while we were excited to finish, we all had a feeling of - "What now?".

How do we explain the beauty? We were all different people to what we had been just 6 short days ago. I was scared that I would not be able to express myself to people, to show them just how wonderful the absence of civilization is!

Instant gratification is not how life is supposed to be. You supposed to work for things, you supposed to stop and rest, you supposed to listen to silence. It's not about finding yourself - it's about loosing yourself. Just being happy that you have lived another day, not made another million!

I realize that this all seems very "airy fairy" - and until you have gone to places that are totally out of your comfort zone, you'll keep thinking that. It's actually so on the ground and real - there is nothing mystical about it at all.

I end with a quote from Bill Bryson:

“. . . I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town.”

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Girl in a Canyon - Part 6

This is a day of miracles!
On the 5th morning I woke up and as usual did the aches and pains inventory. As I lay there I was not sure if I was dead or paralyzed! I felt nothing, not one single pain anywhere!

For the first time I jumped out of my sleeping bag (instead of the usual leopard crawl) and did some squats just to check - nothing! Where was the pain? It was a real miracle.
The going was so much easier, even my bag felt lighter. I had even managed to work out how to put it on without help - much to the relief of the guys!

This was big daddy of the entire hike. We covered about 35km, mainly because the going underfoot was so much better than previous days, to the extent that it was the day that we finished feeling a lot fresher than the previous days.

We went past the grave of a German Soldier, who had been killed in a battle with the Nama people of Southern Namibia, way back when there was a strong German military presence.

Norman took a big fall in the river, so he had to use the washing line that night to dry his "delicates" on the make shift washing line.

Dinner was pasta with a tomato and salami dish which went down a treat. We even had some chocolate pudding, which I found really lifted my spirits, because I could not help feeling a little sad knowing that tomorrow this would all end.

Monday, 22 June 2009

A Girl in a Canyon - Part 5

So, as you can see, the first 2 days left me emotionally and physically drained. I was still getting used to "wild living" and pushing my body to limits I didn't know I could reach.

We decided on day 4 that we needed to get an earlier start in the morning - which is not that easy, because it is still dark until about 7am, and as I have explained, dark is dark in the canyon and you have walk carefully.

Having had a great sleep, I woke up full of the joys of spring - except for the pains in places, you don't even know are places. Packing up and having a quick breakfast and coffee is not a 5 minute job and never took us less than an hour, no matter how quickly we thought we were working.

We set out from our camp site, which was at the 20km mark (approximately). I could not believe we had been hiking for 2 days and had only covered 20 kms, we still had another 60 kms to go! Keith was not worried, because he had read that the first 2½ days were the slowest, because of the rough terrain.

We quickly got into the routine of hiking for an hour and stopping for 10 minutes to rest. The views were spectacular and as fore casted much easier. By lunch time we were going at a good pace and covering long distances. I found a second wind, and set the pace, together with Anthony. I even managed to forget how heavy my bag was and the bleeding hips.

We stopped that night on beautiful stretch of sandy beach next to the river. Once again the boys spent an hour collecting fire wood. We sat around that night, marveling at the beauty of the night sky. My spirits were high and I knew now that I could do anything and I had managed to over come huge personal obstacles.

Looking for firewood is a big job - here's Jason setting out again.

Keith was suffering with terrible blisters on his toes. We still have not worked out exactly why he got the blisters, as you know our boots were well walked in and he had never had a minute's trouble before. I think it shows just how hard the terrain is there.

Just to show you how we had to adapt to cooking, this is me sitting in the kitchen preparing supper!
"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A Girl in a Canyon - Part 4

I must apologize for the delay in posting, I have been waiting for some photographs. I now have them so here goes...

Day two ended with a bang for me, falling into the river, head first with only my camera to break my fall, left me in low spirits. I was tired and wet and my camera was broken. Given the choice of carrying on or a hot bath and a warm comfortable bed - would have been a no brainer!

But there was no choice and so I just carried on.

I woke up on day three with a bruised knee and every muscle in my body was sore. I could hardly walk to the nearest rock, I didn't know how I was going to make it through the next day's hiking.The going was very slow, the boulders and river crossings were hard and I found myself at the back of the group - eating worms. My bag was cutting into my hips and I had huge red welts. It took every ounce of will power to put one foot in front of another.

The beauty of the canyon was the only thing that made me feel better and the thought of stopping that night. We also saw wild horses, which were so beautiful.

We past Palm Springs, where the hot water bubbles up to the surface. The water is so hot as it bubbles out you can't even touch it. We did not stop there, as I was scared if I put my bag down I would be able to getting going again. You can't camp at the springs as the smell of the sulphur is over powering!
We carried on for about another hour past the springs before setting up camp.Because we stopped a little earlier, about 4pm, I was able to steal 10 minutes to have a bath in the river. Nothing like a little soap and cold water make you feel half human.

I made a stew with biltong and lentils served with rice and pot-bread. It went down a treat and everyone went to bed with a nice full tummy.

Each night we sat around the fire for hours, talking and watching "bush TV". Those evenings were one of the highlights of our hike. You realize just how much we miss out in normal life because of all the distractions, there we sat and actually had to talk - no phones, newspapers or TVs. We couldn't talk about current affairs, because we didn't know what was going on in the outside world.

That night it rained and the wind blew gale force, it reminded me of home. Lucky for me, Norman had a one man tent which he put up for me and I managed to have my first full night's sleep! I told you he was a Godsend!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Mark Twain

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A Girl in a Canyon - Part 3

So we made it through the first night. Sleeping under the stars is an experience of a life time, something everyone should try at least once. The sun rises at about 7am (South African time), an event in itself. We all crawled out from our sleeping bags, every muscle hurt, and started to break up camp. This took us no less than an 1½ hours, and by 9am we were on the track.

The first day was very difficult for 2 of our party. My sister-in-law , Gwen suffers from vertigo and this was making her hike very hard. The terrain is rough and there is a lot of boulders to cross. You have to be very sure footed, as one mistake can cause a nasty tumble.

After stopping at 10.00, we waited until 11.45 for Colin and Gwen to catch up. At this rate, we realized that it would take them about 2 weeks to complete the hike, so it was decided that they would turn around and hike back out the entrance. It was very sad to see them go, and this was a very emotional decision, which was not taken lightly.

After they left, the speed increased considerably. We stopped for lunch at about 2 o'clock. Cooking in the canyon is not easy. Finding a flat surface which is relatively sand free for the cooker and then unpacking everything to get to what needs cooking takes time.

Here's me making lunch, as you can see the kitchen is best described as rustic.

We did speed up, but still only managed to cover 7kms that day. We made camp just after the Vespa, which had been wrecked and then placed on a rock as a type of monument. From what I gather, 2 Italians had tried to take the scooter down the canyon, with disastrous results .

We had to cross the river to camp that night, and this was when I discovered that packing my "short legs" was not a good idea. I broke the golden rule of trying to cross on my own - it ended with me falling face first into the river. I banged my knee and my cheek - but that was nothing compared to the injury to my pride.

I was the luckiest girl in the canyon though and had 4 of the best guys looking after me. I am all for "girl power", but without those men, I would never have made the end. Every night they would hike another hour just to find enough fire wood, not to mention wash all the dishes. They carried all the heavy stuff and still had enough strength and patience to help me across the river (about 26 times)!

Here is a typical night camp. You will see the kitchen with the main bedroom leading straight off it.

This is for my 4 heroes - Thanks guys you really did stand tall!

I have a hero
I found 4 heroes by the end of the hike
He had to be strong
And he had to be fast
And he had to be fresh from the fight !
I needed a hero
I held out for a hero ’til the morning light and
There was
always someone reaching back for me
And they sure were larger than life!

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would knew that there was always

someone, somewhere
Watching out for me.

Adapted from Bonnie Tyler : Holding Out for a Hero

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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