Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
These chocolate peanut butter balls are made with only 5 ingredients and take 5 min to make. Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes and pop them in your mouth or serve with ice-cream. So easy a 5-year-old could do it!
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- Some coconut to roll it in
Mix peanut butter and coconut milk in a bowl.
Add the cocoa and stir in.
Add the icing sugar, one spoon at a time, and stir.
Add a bit more or less icing sugar, as needed. It should be a soft paste that you can shape into little balls.
Roll in desiccated coconut and place on wax paper. Alternatively you can roll it in crushed nuts, smarties or cookie crumbs.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, and serve.
It is hard to give exact measurements because the consistency of different kinds of peanut butter, and even coconut milk are often very different, but if you adjust the icing sugar, it is easy to get it right.
Our normal mischief-mood made us deliberately turn right when we kind of had it all planned to go left, and instead of heading to Stellenbosch, we found ourselves on Sir Lowry’s Pass. It was the weekend of Elgin Open Gardens, and on the spur of the moment, we thought we’d check it out.
We managed to pass Peregrine Farm Stall without stopping for stuff we could not refuse and got to an open garden. Or a closed garden. Well, it was open if you paid. It was a toss-up… Spend the time in an open, not so tranquil garden between a whole crowd of people, or go on to a wine farm. I say toss-up, but it was really a no-brainer and no coin was tossed as we unanimously declared that no closed garden had ever stopped us, so there was no point really.
It was busy! Everywhere. So we kept driving and eventually got to Botrivier. I love this little village in the Overberg! Some years ago friends of mine arranged with the Botrivier Hotel that we could camp on their lawn for New Year’s. That was during one of the weirdest times of my life, so I remember it very vividly. I was, how can I put it, between homes? Yip, let’s go with that. I was between homes at the time, working at the Spur in Gordon’s Bay because I couldn’t find a job in the film industry after moving to Cape Town. To avoid spending time at what passed as home then, and also because I was doing whatever it took to keep going, I worked double shifts almost every day. That means I started before 7 am and finished around 11 pm and spent nearly all that time on my feet. I was completely exhausted!
So on the 31st of December, I took a tent and a sleeping bag and drove to Botrivier. It was a great, relaxed afternoon with friends under the trees on the cool lawns of the hotel with a bar dating back to 1890. For our New Year’s Dinner, we went to the Shuntin Shed for pizzas. The restaurant is in the old station building, right between the tracks. Long ago, in the 80’s I think, the Afrikaans series Nommer Asseblief was filmed in this charming town with a rich history of trade and transport.
After eating my pizza and enjoying some wine, the weeks of double shifts kicked in and I could hardly keep my eyes open. I decided to get some fresh air to wake up. Then I decided to get something from my tent. I crawled in and thought, just for a minute I am going to lie down on the cool, soft sleeping bag…
Around 3 am I woke up in an almost sleepy town. Only the real die-hard party people were still around, too few of them to even make a decent noise. I had slept through the midnight countdown, the New Year’s wishes, the cheers and the music, on nothing but a sleeping bag on the grass under the tent. It was pure bliss! I went right back to sleep for more pure bliss.
In the morning I paid back my dinner debt to my friends who had paid it when I didn’t return, and gracefully – I hope – accepted their teasing about my disappearance and fading on a party.
A year or two later I worked for a boss lady from hell who made me make a YouTube video about Botrivier one Saturday afternoon. It was going to be the big launch of a project, and because she decided, around Thursday afternoon, the launch would be that Saturday, it was going to be that Saturday. We had about 10 min of footage of a valley near Botrivier, filmed with a handheld camera from the car. Oh, and some interesting shots of a graveyard that had to be dug up to accommodate her housing project. So, basically, it was a Youtube video for a non-existent audience, produced in an impossible time-frame, with non-existent footage, about a non-existing business that wanted to build a non-existent housing development on a piece of land they didn’t own. Near Botrivier. At least the town exists! I told her it was not really possible to make a video with what we had and she said she was sure I’d come up with something.
I worked like crazy through the Friday, and everybody who has ever edited a video will understand how time-consuming it is. Even more so when you have nothing to put in this video. So, by closing time on Friday, I reiterated that I could not make a video in the given time. With a dramatic sigh and stern face I was told that I would have to come back to work on Saturday then.
That Saturday I sat in her cold lounge finishing the video with some free, and some not so free, nor legal, generic still photographs I found on Google. The big launch of the big project was to… *cue drumroll*… click the upload button on Youtube. About 5 minutes later YouTube declared the upload completed. Yay! The big project that could not wait, was launched with fireworks and fanfare. Or no, wait… none of that. No champagne, no cake. Not even a beer. But hey! All those people who were invited could now see the movie! Of course, they were friends of the boss, rather than confirmed, or even potential, investors. Both of them! Unfortunately, they were out doing Saturday things, but politely though vaguely, said they’d watch the video sometime in the coming week.
Now, two years later, I see the video has actually been viewed 143 times. Wow. That is impressive, considering the development still does not exist and the movie was made with no footage.
But to get back to my story, Bev and I were near Botrivier, and I remembered, from my extensive research for the big launch, that there was a wine farm with a B. Not Beaumont. Well, that too, but that is the obvious one, but there was another one I could not remember the name of.
We were driving along, and then we saw the B. Barton Wines. They were open, and they had wine. Some pretty good wine too! After the wine tasting, lemon picking in the vineyards (shhh, don’t tell) and climbing around on their tractor, we went to the Botrivier Hotel to watch the All Blacks making mincemeat of the Boks. We ended the day with a stroll through the old town. There are many geraniums growing near the historic station. Pink, red, dark pink, purple; all kinds of beautiful geraniums. And that garden is open. I have Botrivier Geraniums planted all around my shack now…
Spinach and Lentil Salad
A vegetarian dish with layered flavours to be enjoyed with a full-bodied wine like Chardonnay or a Cabernet Franc Blend.
- 500 g Spinach or baby spinach
- Half cup/tin Cooked lentils
- 2 Ripe tomatoes
- 2 medium Potatoes
- 2 Onions cut into ring, and quartered
- 1 large clove of garlic chopped, but not crushed
- Cheddar cheese (or feta, if you prefer)
- Crushed, dried chillies
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the dressing
- Extra olive oil for sauteeing.
- Salt and course black pepper.
Boil the lentils for about 20 min, until cooked but still al dente. Drain, and let cool.
Sprinkle cumin and crushed chilies over the onions, and fry until brown and almost crispy. When they are nearly ready, add the garlic, and fry briefly, until brown too. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Rinse the spinach well, and cut up into chunks, if you are using swiss chard etc. Baby spinach can be used whole. Heat a little bit of olive oil well in a frying pan and add the spinach. Baby spinach just need a quick stir in the pan until it is wilted. Swiss chard will take a bit longer.
As soon as it is wilted, add 50 ml of water, and let it cook off. When the spinach is soft and all the water is gone, add a bit more olive oil. Coat the spinach well, and saute for a minute or two. Add salt to taste. (I used a delicious olive salt from Riebeeck Kasteel!) Remove and let it cool down.
Rinse and dry the potatoes and pierce with a knife with a knife. Microwave on full power for 4 min. (2 min per potato) Test with a knife to see if they are cooked. Let cool, peel and cut into cubes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Cut the tomatoes and cheddar cheese into cubes.
Combine all the ingredients, mix lightly and dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy as a side salad or a main dish.
The styrofoam box of fish and chips was hot in my hands as I looked for a place to sit. Not the fancy fish and chips you buy at branded franchise outlets in malls, but the huge portions of fried snoek and real slap chips that swim in salt and vinegar, that you find at old-style Take Aways with Coca-Cola signboards. I sat down on a bench at a table next to a woman and a small child and started eating the steaming chips, careful not to burn but too hungry to wait for it to cool down.
I sat quietly among the shoppers walking past, and other people eating piles of chips and chattering away at their tables. The little girl, who was probably not yet two years old, pulled at my jacket with a tiny hand.
”No, don’t…” the mother said.
”Its okay,” I said. The little girl was too small for her age, and I didn’t want to think about why, because we know…
“Can I give her a chip?” I asked.
“Yes, thank you.”
I took one of the cooler ones at the side of the box and held it out to the child. She stuffed it into her mouth with a smile. I pushed the box to the middle of the table and told them to have some. We ate together.
I looked at the stick-thin woman with the torn clothes. She looked like someone who was waiting. Physically waiting, but maybe also waiting on another level, as if she knew something had to change but didn’t know how.
“Thank you,” she said shyly. “I looked in the bin but there was nothing.”
I didn’t really know what to say. I went with, “Eat enough, there is plenty here.”
”I am waiting for my aunty,” she said, looking around. “She should have been here by now.”
I still had nothing to say. The little girl was also quiet, helping herself to handfuls of slap chips.
“I sleep there, just down the road,” the mother said, and looked away, ashamed.
“By the bridge?” I asked and she nodded.
“It must be very hard. The nights are getting colder now.”
She nodded again and started to say something, stopped, and then decided to say it anyway.
“She is going to stay with my aunty,” she says, tilting her head toward the child. “While I go to form. I must sort out my life. Get a job…”
“Form?” I asked.
“Where people go to get rid of the… uhm… dagga and stuff in their bodies, and get well again.”
“Ah, rehab,” I said. “Do you guys call it form?”
She nodded. Embarrassed again, but then suddenly, just sad.
“Yes, form. I have to. I love her too much to carry on like this.”
I looked at them. A child, oblivious to everything but the food on the table. So used to the only life she knows that she thinks that is how life should be. A broken young woman, ashamed, despondent.
“Tik?” I asked. It is the relatively cheap drug of choice here in the Cape and it doesn’t take much guessing to know.
She looked into my eyes, looking for judgment and unkindness that wasn’t there.
“Uh-huh,” she said, barely loud enough for me to hear.
“Yes, that is something one shouldn’t start…” I stated it as a fact, not a judgment.
“I don’t know why I started. I was stupid.”
“And tik is hard to stop…” I said.
“The only way is to get away from the friends and the people doing it,” she agreed with a nod while taking more potato chips.
“They are not your friends,” I said, gently. “Friends don’t drag you down. And most of all, they don’t keep you down. You are just used to them, they are not your friends. But you know that.”
She nodded. “It’s true.”
We sat in silence for a while. She looked around again, worried as time ticked on.
“I wonder where my Aunty is.”
I got my stuff together and got up to leave.
“You two must eat the rest of that,” I said, moving the box to their side of the table.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“Work hard at it,” I told her. “It is very difficult, but you can do it if you want to. Do it for your child, and for yourself. Just… hang in and… ”
Tears welled up in her eyes and she looked down, biting her lip.
I touched her bony shoulder. “ I can see you want to, and you know what? You can. I am a stranger and I don’t know you, but I can see that about you. You can do it because your child is important to you.”
She silently wiped her tears and nodded again. I honestly don’t know if I really meant what I said, because of the darkness in myself at that time. In a way, I think I did mean it because that was what she needed to hear and what I needed to say. Maybe we saw each other’s darkness and therefore, words about light, somewhere, somehow just needed to be thought out, formed, said and heard. Perhaps I said these words to myself as much as I said it to her and believed it – or not – as much as I could at that moment, at that time in my life.
When I came out of the bank and walk past again, 10 minutes later, an older woman, presumably the Aunty, was there with them. She had the child in her arms and the girl and the mother were both crying.
I often wonder about them. For many, they would probably just be three more people with a story that is the same for thousands of people. Like just about everyone else I am cynical about people and about life, but these people touched me that day. We had lunch together. We talked, and it was real. Something in me that does not really exist any more hopes for a good ending to their story. Or a good beginning for them. A twist in the tale. I desperately need to believe in twists right now and it is harder than ever before.
I learned to make this amazing, yet simple, Filipino chicken dish when I lived in Singapore. For the South African palette, I sometimes tone it down slightly with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and white vinegar. You don't have to though; you can also use either one of the two, depending on what you prefer.
- 6 Chicken pieces such as drumsticks
- Oil for frying
- 2 to 3 bay leafs
- Chopped garlic – lots!
- Coarse black pepper – lots!
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the sauce, mix together in a cup:
- 50 ml soya sauce
- 50 ml Vinegar I use white vinegar and balsamic together
- Fill the cup with water.
Fry the chicken until it is nice and brown.
Add all the spices and garlic while it is frying, and sprinkle the sugar over the chicken.
No need for salt, the soya sauce is salty enough.
Add the cup of liquid and cook slowly until the chicken is tenderly cooked and the sauce is thick and sticky. Add more water while it cooks, if needed.
Serve with rice.
Read the story behind this recipe here
There are a lot of stinging nettles in the Cape Town area and many other areas in the country. Most people are probably not aware that they are not only edible, but delicious and very nutritious. Once you cook them they lose their sting within 30 seconds. They are available at organic health shops, or you can just pick them yourself if you know how to identify the plant. Be sure to use thick gardening gloves, or pick them with tongs, because they don’t call them stinging nettles for nothing! Those little buggers pack a sting that keeps burning for what feels like a long time. If you do happen to get stung, rub on some aloe vera or an anti-allergy cream like Allergex. Put the nettles in a bowl with cold water to clean them well before cooking. Drain, and (with gloves on) pull the leaves off or chop the whole stem up if they are still young and soft.
- 1 Kg stewing beef
- 1 Large onion
- 2 Cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup of packed nettles
- 2 to 3 Tomatoes peeled and chopped.
- 2 Medium potatoes peeled and cut into cubes.
- 500 g of a fresh vegetable mix of your choice. Choose from:
- Green beans
- 2 Tablespoons curry masala
- 1 Teaspoon garam masala
- 1 Small cinnamon stick
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 Teaspoon fresh turmeric very finely chopped
- or a levelled teaspoon of turmeric powder
- ¼ Teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ Teaspoon ground coriander
- Chilies or chilli powder if you like it hot
- 1 Star aniseed
Brown the meat in some oil.
Add the onions ad fry until they start turning brown.
Add all the spices and fry briefly to release the favour.
Add garlic and chopped tomatoes.
Add enough water to cover the meat, and bring to a boil. Stir often.
Slowly simmer for an hour, stirring now and then.
Add the potatoes, vegetable mix and nettles, and a bit of water if needed.
Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the veggies are cooked and the sauce is thickening.
Serve with rice or mieliepap.