Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Easy Berry Cheesecake

My middle daughter, who is a medical doctor, has no cooking or chef training besides those that she grew up with in our house. Amongst her delicious cooking skills, she does a beautiful and very popular berry cheesecake, which she recently demonstrated to two chefs. It is a very easy recipe made in three parts and is always a winner.

For the base:
1 packet of Coconut biscuits ('Tennis biscuits' in South Africa)
1/2 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin mixed in a bit of boiling water

Crush the biscuits and add the butter and gelatin mixture. Push the mixture into a round baking pan or a round cake glass bowl. Put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

For the cheesecake section:
2 tins of sweetened condensed milk
2 tubs (250g) cream cheese or smooth cottage cheese
1/2 cup of lemon juice
Mix together in mixing bowl.
3 teaspoons powdered gelatin in boiling water

Add a bit of the condensed milk-cheese mixture to the gelatin and mix thoroughly. Then add this into the mixing bowl and mix. Pour the mixture over the cookies and butter base. Refrigerate for 2 hours until set.

For the berry top:
2 tins of berries or strawberries
Drain the juice from the berries in the tin and add gelatin mixture (2
teaspoons gelatin in boiling water) to the juice.
Pour this over the cake that has set over a big spoon. Then add the berries
and refrigerate again for 2 hours.

If the cake was prepared in a lined baking pan one can just remove it from the pan carefully and place on a cake plate. Alternatively it can be prepared and left in a beautiful glass cake bowl.

This recipe was always the most popular at family functions, school functions and more. The recipe will be carried over from Mamma Lalla to each generation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

My apologies for not continuing with my blog.  My knee that has given me problems from end of November is still not healed.
I have been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition.  The key symptom of CRPS is continuous, intense pain out of proportion to the severity of the injury, which gets worse rather than better over time. CRPS most often affects one of the arms, legs, hands, or feet.  Often the pain spreads to include the entire arm or leg.  Typical features include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling.  Doctors aren’t sure what causes CRPS.  In some cases the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in sustaining the pain.  Another theory is that CRPS is caused by a triggering of the immune response, which leads to the characteristic inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area.

Something strange to me and medication is effecting my concentration.
Will be back soon. Regards

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I have been going through family photos and decided to do a few blogs on camping holidays that we have done in Africa.  I will add to these camping recipes as eating is a big part of our camping holidays and we don't believe in frozen instant camping foods - meals are all planned in detail and you will be suprised what we come up with.

Before I start I would like to mention that I have started a seperate blog with c
ake decorating photos, tips and recipes -www.mammalallacakes.blogspot.com/ .

The first trip that I would like to share with you is one of the last trips we did - namely to the Khutse Game Reserve which is situated in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana.  This is a very remote game reserve with only a few undeveloped camping sites.  

There is so much to show that I will have to do it in a few blogs.

Some info re the reserve:



This private reserve in the southern Kalahari and part of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was established to conserve and protect the smaller salt pans of the Kalahari. Its flat, endless plains of shrub and grass which anchor the restless sands of the semi-arid desert attract large herds of various antelope, these in turn attract endangered predators such as cheetah and wild dog. During the wet season, after a good rainfall, up to 150 different species of bird can be spotted near the pans. 


  • The Kalahari region is vast and unchanging, but by no means uninteresting. Other than the Khutse Reserve

  • You will find the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Mabuasehuba. 

  • This dry harsh land used to be home to the indigenous people of Botswana - the San or Bushman. They have left us many reminders of that forgotten time and an experienced guide can teach you their way of life and culture and how they adapted to the environment in which they lived. 


  • Game Viewing  Game viewing in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Khutse Game Reserve is the prime game viewing areas in Botswana during the wet season. A variety of antelope, such as springbok, gemsbok as well as zebra and wildebeest are most commonly seen in the park, there are also cheetah, lion, black-backed jackal and brown-hyena to be seen in some parts of the park. In the Khutse Reserve, the wet season brings

     over 150 different species of birds to the pans. 

  • Historic Trails: Bushmen remnants are everywhere to be found in this region which will teach you their way of life and culture and give you a few tips on how to survive in this harsh, remote environment.

  • 4 x 4'ing: Venture into the 4x4 paradise of Africa, comparable to the desert of Namibia and the tough trails of South Africa. This harsh, untamed land will make any 4x4 enthusiasts heart race. Be sure to know where you are going and pack enough supplies and fuel to last your journey. Its a mean, inhospitable and uninhabited land out there.


As there are no accommodation establishments in the Kalahari region, you have to get back to nature and camp out in the open. It is recommended that you travel this area with an experienced guide and be sure to find out what and how much supplies you need.

All supplies need to be taken with - water, petrol, food, camping equipment, everything. Thus quite an expedition.   There are only a few undeveloped camping sites in the park.  We only saw two other vehicles in the park in the 5 days that we spend there. My son and his wife went some months before us and they were the only people in the reserve for about a week. 

My husband and I went with two old friends and their daughter with her husband. The six of us went in two cars.  It is advisable to always travel with two cars.

This is the entrance to the Khutse Game Reserve.

Herewith a video clip of the condition of the road to our camping site.  It takes a few hours to travel to the camping site.

At last our camping spot which is situated next to a large pan. We set up camp as we arrived there.

In the centre we had our tent with an add-on large tent which we used as our dining area. Our friends slept in a trailer on the left side with a tent on top and the other two in a camping trailer on the right side.  The men also decided that we can't have a camp without our national flag.

The only ablutions is the bucket shower - for this we had to bring with our own water and to have hot water for the shower we warmed it by putting the water in special black bags and leaving it in the sun during the day.

There is also a long-drop toilet. Both these do not have a roof, only the wooden pole enclosure.

More photos to follow next time.  Regards.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Last week Wednesday was again family dinner evening - the first family dinner again at our home after my knee operation. 

I made a butternut soup and decided to share it with you as this is in my meaning the best butternut soup that I have tasted.  I found the recipe recently in a magazine - it is the recipe of a chef, Quinton Van Rensburg,  who is the resident chef at Samara Karoo Lodge in the Cape Province in South Africa. I made an adjustment by adding cream and then he serves it with a spinach salad on the soup which I have not yet tried.

Butternut soup 

25 g unsalted butter
1 onion - finely chopped
10 ml coriander - roasted and finely minced
700 g butternut - cut in small cubes
1,5 litre chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
salt to taste
freshly grinded black pepper to taste
125 ml fresh cream

Melt butter in a large pot.
Add onions and fry for 5 minutes until soft 
Add coriander and butternut and fry for 2 minutes
Add chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to boiling point and cook for 15 minutes until soft 
Blend soup in a blender until smooth.  
Put into pot again and heat again.  Take off stove and add cream and stir through.
Serve with a swirl of cream.

Delicious hot or cold.

We all love lasagne and I have my own lasagne recipe that I have always used,  but after tasting Jamie Oliver's lasagne at his Italian Restaurant I decided to try his baked lasagne recipe ............ what a difference.  Defnitely worth trying as the taste is out of this world!  Recipe can be found on his website : http://www.jamieoliver.com
Please just don't make the same mistake I made - by the time I put the lasagne together in the dish, I was so exhausted and with so much pain in my knee that I clean forgot about the most important part namely the lasagne sheets.  But .......... even without the sheets it was very tasty. The small leftover was served on toast the following day and was very good.  I will defnitely use the meatportion of the recipe when making savoury mince in future.

The lasagne was served with a green salad, gemsquash and cooked corn (the corn is specifically for the grand children who loves corn).

For dessert I made fresh peaches cooked in a vanilla syrup and served with ice cream.  


8 fresh peaches - halved and peeled
750 ml water
75 ml honey
45ml sugar
1 vanilla pod
50g pistacio nuts - chopped

Bring to boil the water, honey, sugar and vanilla pod.
Simmer for 5 minutes covered with a lid.
Add the peaches and simmer until soft - about 10-15 minutes.
Put peaches in a glass dish.
Boil syrup until thick and half the volume.
Cool down.  Can be left in fridge overnight as it tastes even better after a day.
Serve with ice cream and chopped nuts.

Thanks for stoping by on my blog.  Until next time - hope you have a blessed week. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009


"Potjiekos"(poy-kee-kos) (directly translated as pot food) is a traditional stew made in South African in black three-legged cast iron pots on open-fires in the outdoors.  

(The above beautiful photo found on a South African lodge website - www.bonlati.co.za)

Making "potjiekos" come from long ago, from the veld, from the times of the Great Trek in South Africa.  Even in those times it became a unique culinary art using whatever was available whilst in the veld and far from civilisation.  It is a meal in a pot.  

Ingredients: Anything goes.  Traditionally a variation of potjies, such as : venison, poultry, seafood, lamb, beef, green bean, pumpkin, tomato, quince etc, etc, etc.  No rules, no specific ingredients, but up to the "potjie"-chef to prepare the best, most unusual and the most tasty result.

Today it has become a traditional outdoor social event - never made on your own, but made together with friends and family and never in a hurry.  "Potjiekos" is an event of being together, laughing together - trying out new recipes, competing with each other to see who can make the best ever "potjie".  A truly South African culinary event. 

A "potjie" or a few "potjies" of all sizes and shapes are always part of any 4x4 adventure, camping adventure of holiday or when going on a bush holiday. In these pots main meals are prepared, breads baked, deserts made, traditional "mieliepap" made ( a porridge made from maize), breakfast made, actually anything you can think of.  I remember my husband complaining on one of our first trips to the bush about this heavy pot that we have to take with - at the end of the holiday it was number one on his list for future outdoor adventures.  
Even my UK son-in-law bought a "potjie" for them during their last visit to South Africa - and went home with a recipe book as well. Waiting for the UK summer to hear about their "potjiekos" meals!

Pots are available in many sizes - all depending on the amount of people you have to feed. 

In a previous blog pictures were included of the "potjies" without legs - flat bottomed, which is usually used for baking bread.

"Potjiekos" competitions is big in South Africa and annually many competitions are held at festivals, school bazaars or at camping resorts during the popular holiday periods. Every family are sure that their recipe is the best!!
I also had quite an experience some years ago at a school "potjiekos"-competition.  My lamb "potjiekos" recipe I believed was the best ever - all my friends and family believed that my "potjie" will win.  My son and elder daughter decided to enter as well, but only with a very small pot.  They asked for my recipe and believing that they will never be able to prepare a better meal than me, I gave them the recipe.. and guess what happened??  They won and I had to be satisfied with second price!

There are many recipes and quite a few recipe books, but usually the recipes are traditional family recipes passed on from one generation to the other and usually each generation changes the recipes a bit and try to improve on the recipes.  

My special recipe: - LAMB POTJIEKOS with DUMPLINGS.
(Serves : 6 - 8)

1,7 kg Lamb shanks or combination of lamb shanks and lamb neck
2 large onions - sliced
1 green pepper - chopped
2 tomatoes - peeled and finely chopped
250g peeled small baby carrots
250g fresh button mushrooms
250g fresh green beans - sliced / broccoli / baby marrows sliced
700 g baby potatoes (do not peel)
2x large potatoes - peeled and cubed

350ml white wine mixed with equal portion of water

2 teaspoons fresh origanum 
salt and pepper to taste
3 bay leaves
Crushed garlic to taste

2 cups of cooked rice

Size 3 or 4 potjie
A few bricks to lift the potjie

Hints for the best ever potjie:  
- a big warm fire
- a good bottle of South African wine for those preparing the potjie - a good potjie can take quite a few hours to prepare
- cast iron maximum temperature mitts - to handle the warm lid
- wooden spoon
- very good family or friends 

Prepare a big very warm fire.  
At first the pot will stand with it's legs  directly in the fire with lots of coals underneath to warm up the pot.  
Have a small extra fire on one side - these coals will be needed once the cooking starts.  Actually a good idea to have a small extra fire going all the time.
Warm the pot with only olive oil in the bottom of the pot until very warm.
Brown the meat in the oil. 
Add the onions,  green peppers and garlic - stir with wooden spoon.
Add the herbs and spices.
Add the tomatoes.
Now the big secret - add the 2x large potatoes which has peeled and cubed - these potatoes will provide a nice thick sauce.
Another secret - now the half of the fluids namely the wine/water mixture can be added ....... very little fluids at a time and preferably SLOWLY pouring it on the side of the pot over the wooden spoon- main secret, never allow the pot to cool down.  Add slowly and and this stage you can still stir the mixture.  Put the lid on the pot.
Lift the pot by putting the legs on bricks and take out some of the coals.
The pot must now only simmer.  Stir now and then to ensure that it does not burn at the bottom.  "Potjiekos"-experts will always listen to the pot - it must  cook slowly and softly!! Add extra coals if needed.
After about two hours of a few glasses of good wine, a lot of stories and jokes - time to test the meat.  The meat need to be soft and tender.
Next step:
Place the pot again directly in the open fire and add more coals.
Add the rest of the wine/water mixture in the same manner as above - slowly without cooling down the pot.
Put the wooden spoon away - from here on you are not allowed to put the spoon into the pot again. NB! No stirring allowed again until serving the "potjiekos".
Place the rest of the vegetables in layers on the meat mixture in the pot. Whole unpeeled baby potatoes at the bottom, then the baby carrots , green vegetables and last the mushrooms.  
Ensure that there is enough fluids in the pot to cover the vegetables. If not add fluids in the same manner as above.  Put the lid on the pot.
Lift the pot again onto bricks and ensure that it cooks slowly.
Cook for about another hour until the vegetables are done.

At this stage the "potjie" is ready to be served.  It is usually served with rice.

I prefer to first add dumplings to my dish.

Dumplings recipe:

3 cups self-raising flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
120 ml butter / margarine
+/- 250 ml cold water or mixture of equal parts of cold water and milk

Sift dry ingredients together
Rub butter/ margarine with fingers into the mixture 
Add water slowly into the mixture - "cutting" the water into the mixture with a pastry blender.

Put spoon fulls of the mixture on top of the "potjiekos". Ensure that there is enough sauce in the pot otherwise add more fluids in the same manner as before. 
Put the lid on and cook for another 1/2 hour without lifting the lid.

ENJOY this unusual and very tasty meal.

Regards from me until next time!!

 (Mr L - I can't wait for you to try out my "potjiekos" recipe next summer !!)

For more recipes and ideas herewith a few books available - there are naturally many more books on this subject and also many recipes on the internet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


My special little granddaughter went to Grade 0 today - poor mom was in tears and very worried as little one looked so happy at home and so unsure at her little table in the classroom.

But all turned out very well and she is very happy to go back to school tomorrow. Her little brother also wanted to go to big school, but at the end was happy with a nametag around his neck and going to nursery school on his own. 
I can still remember all the first days at school of my own kids and the emotions involved that day - now all grown up and all doing very well, plus the advantage of beautiful and very special grandchildren for me!!  So to all moms - it is sad, but ............ part of life and your rewards later in life will be very special.

Found this poem for all moms who had to send their little ones to school for the first time:

by Gregory K.

I don’t know the teacher.
I sure hope she’s nice.
But what if she’s mean with a heart cold as ice???
What about bullies? 
There might be a bunch.
And what a disaster if I mess up lunch!
I don’t like that playground:
The slide hits the sky!
And now here at drop-off, I can’t say “goodbye.”
My stomach is queasy.
My stress can’t be greater...
But then a voice calms me,
“Bye, Mom! See ya later!”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What a wonderful daughter

I am really blessed with a wonderful daughter.  To blog on behalf of her mother!! 
I am preparing a blog with more photos of my visit to the UK and then another to share a traditional SA recipe namely "potjiekos" - my son-in-law mentioned that a South African shop in their area advertised "potjiekos" in the UK. 
I am much better after my knee op and trying to cope with crutches and trying not to be too much in  a hurry as I am known to be always busy and always too much in a hurry.
Mamma Lalla