Friday, November 25, 2011

Chef Lumka's New House

Lumka is now just around the corner from me and we have taken full advantage of being neighbours in my last weeks left in South Africa.  I am proud to say I was there the very first day she moved into her garden cottage and have now spent many nights learning new recipes to bring home (with perhaps some ingredient substitutes!).
I know you are all sick of hearing about umvubo or umphokoqo with amasi (the coarse mealie meal with sour milk) but I love it so much and still consider it a major challenge to make.  So Lumka gave me what is now my final lesson in preparing it and I'm proud to say I've made it twice, by myself, since!

Showing off the new appliances

Adding the White Stair super maize meal
Getting my exercise

The final product - amathambo and dumplings

The most recent recipe is dumplings and amathambo. It was a cold and wet day when Lumka called to say we were making dumplings with meat soup and our hunt began for a bag of bones from the butcher. All they had was the leftovers for dogs, which we passed on, but we finally found some lamb bones. They weren't exactly what Lumka was looking for, but we had to improvise after apparently everyone else in East London wanted to make amathambo.
First, we rinsed the meat and let it simmer on the stove with some salt.  Then, with the big bag of raw dough that we bought, Lumka flattened four large circles of dough which we placed on top of the bubbling meat.  You let that sit for a while and the steam from the meat cooking slowly cooks the bread through and through.  Once the bread is nice and soft and steaming, you remove it and add spices, onions, and vegetables and let it all cook together.  Finally, to serve, you place the bread back in the pot to heat it up and have your big dumpling with the big pieces of soft meat.  It was a big hit!
Stewing lamb

Fresh lamb bones

Beginnings of the dumplings

Listening carefully to all cooking advice

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Professional Conference Crasher?

I have had a crash course in the world of conferences and workshops.  If you blindfold me, I could easily navigate a registration table, a breakaway commission, and most importantly, a buffet table. 

In the last week, I visited Mthatha to assist the Centre for Rural Development with the initial workshop for their Centre for Creative Industries.  After nearly getting stranded in Mthatha (what's new?), we drove back to East London for two simultaneous events: the 2nd Annual Eastern Cape Cooperative Indaba through the University of Fort Hare and a conference on Informal Housing through the Department of Human Settlements.  In both events, I assisted Prof Luswazi on her presentations and speaking engagements.  The beginning of this week saw me assisting the Centre for Learning and Teaching Development at their 3rd Annual eLearning Conference.  It is an interesting opportunity to hear presentations from experts in their field, especially on issues that may not come up often in Canada. 

As a consequence of my conference hopping, I have more logoed pens and notepads than I will ever need, a computer bag, a mini hotplate which you plug into your computer to keep a mug of tea warm (I kid you not), and an extra 15 pounds.  With 3 hot meals and 2 full teas per day, I consumed enough food to feed a family of four for a month.  You go to bed totally bloated and vowing to never touch a piece of food again and that tomorrow you will eat like a reasonable human being and yet somehow, you wake up hungry and wondering what will be served at the next meal.

A Birthday Party, Photo Shoot, and Chance to Wear $7 Shoes

With Sinalo and Zintle, pre-party
The beginning of the sandwich prep
I was forced to pose like this!
Finally got a smile

The birthday girl
It takes a village to raise a child and apparently to also plan and execute a giant birthday party. On Saturday (after earlier weeks of assisting with other preparations), Angela and I woke up bright and early to help out with Sis Lusanda's 30th birthday party. A few of the church mamas had cancelled last minute, so we were happy to help with the preparation of a 3 course meal for 130 people. Including peeling 3 industrial sized bags of carrots, buttering and filling 25 loaves of bread to for huge sandwich platters, and finally dishing out 130 heaping plates of homemade food.

After a full morning on our feet, we got dressed up (we were both happy for an excuse) and made our way back to the party. I am proud to say that we knew to show up an hour and a half late which was perfect timing because the birthday girl showed up about 30 minutes later, which gave us just enough time for a photo shoot with Sis Ghana's daughters.

As per usual, a full program of speeches and songs in between, with a heavily religious tone. But it was still a party with people dressed to the nines and lasted late into the night.  The food was great and it was nice to feel that we had contributed to the evening.

The highlight of the night was the birthday cake with icing dyed so darkly and beautifully blue that it stained everyone's tongues, lips, and teeths. Even the old pastor was sticking his tongue out to the laughter of everyone at his table. 

Canadians enjoying the fruits of their labour

An excellent hostess

Serving one of many platters

Our Sis Ghana