Sheikh up your lunchbox

My uncle, a mere 6 years older than me, teaches at a University in H’ail in Saudi. This is really fitting…. Not because his name is Sabib, but because he has a really dry sense of humour. Okay his name is not Sabib. Let’s call him Baron. Saudi is not an easy place for a wine connoisseur who enjoys a perfectly paired glass of fermented grape with every meal, so he makes up for the ‘dry’ months on each visit back home in SA. (Note to self: include all ‘dry’ references in book titled “Kak Puns” – not to be confused with Sister Charlene Poggenpoel’s hospital drama series “Kak Panne”).

After Baron’s last visit to SA he went back to Saudi with a biltong drier. So, a different kind of dry red altogether then. I’m not sure that the purchase of a special drier was necessary though……. Uhm…. It’s Saudi…. Can’t you just hang a piece of rump on your balcony? As long as it’s not camel meat. Baron did send a pic of a camel steak shortly after his arrival in Saudi just over a year ago, and said that after smelling the raw meat he would never be brave enough to eat it, cooked or not. It looked like a big wet red chair cushion. They should cut it in the shape of a hand with the pointed finger and use them at camel races like the Yanks use those gigantic foam fingers at baseball games. I love red meat, but camels are for kiddies’ farmyard rides and that’s it.

Baron believes he has now perfected the biltong recipe, and Sir is very excited that we might have a relative who’s becoming a Biltong Sheikh in Saudi. Now, now… he’s just a biltong Baron from Sefrica. He’s also suggested making food and wine pairing recommendations for all the recipes I am putting together now and which I eventually intend sharing on my blog as well, and I think it’s a splendid fucking idea because I am rather clueless and likely to recommend something that ends up tasting like a chick’s pee.

Enough babbling now. Today I’m sharing one of Sir’s favourite lunch dishes. He says it gives him a different kind of energy, he feels great when he eats it. Like he needs anymore energy. He has plenty at any given time. On a couple of mornings last week I was unable to get out of bed. Not because I was tired! First Sir built some ridiculous tower of ornaments in front of the TV and I mumbled that he was a lunatic. He came charging out of the bathroom and tackled me to the bed, holding me down with arms, knees and legs, and he refused to let me go until I shouted “SIR IS CUTE!!!!”. He did this a few times. On Wednesday I wore a black and white striped top, and again was wrestled to the bed, then Sir jumped up on the bed and put his foot on me, because I looked like a zebra crossing. It usually takes a while to get ready for work in the morning because if he’s not hiding one shoe, he’s flinging my panties at the ceiling fan to see where they’ll land. Does this sound like a man who needs more fucking energy?!!

This is adapted from a recipe from my friend Ho………..

Sir’s Chickpea Salad


1 Tin Chickpeas (drained, obviously)

Handful of Cherry Tomatoes (halved)

4 Red Spring Onions (or half a red onion, thinly sliced)

50 – 70g Danish Feta

Juice of one lemon

70ml Olive Oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Really complicated. Read instructions twice so you don’t fuck it up.

Mix it all together, and eat. I usually separate the main ingredients so Sir can assemble it at the last minute later in the day, to prevent the Feta from going all mushy.

    

Okay you might want to be a goodie-goodie and cook chickpeas from scratch. Good for you you little over-achiever you!!! Google it. And ag shame if you’re doing it because it is so much cheaper than tinned chickpeas, use plain old vine tomatoes from your own veggie patch, skip the Danish Feta and use Tussers instead, gooi a dash of sunflower oil instead of Olive oil and steal a lemon from your elderly neighbour’s garden for the juice. If you’re in Saudi the lemon will probably be dry. Finally, you can sprinkle on the sachet of black pepper you bagged from Steers six months ago.

Why, Let’s do scones

Calling on engineers, scientists, electricians, beauticians and greedy cellular shitproviders to answer the questions I ponder when I’m rubbing butter into flour to make a fresh batch of scones….

  • Why does yoghurt hiss and spit at me whenever I open a tub?
  • Why do Joburg traffic lights slip into a coma whenever more than five drops of rain fall, but perpetually wet and rainy London’s traffic lights have a different work ethic?
  • Why don’t cellular shitproviders sink some of their obscene profits into upgrading infrastructure so that more than 10 people can make calls at any given time….. eh? Seriously, surprise us with one day free of “Call Failed / No Service / Network Busy”.
  • Why didn’t anybody buy Gill Marcus some eyeliner and lipstick for Xmas? Seriously Gilly, the lovely shade of red in the rims of your eyes should be on your lippies and a little dash of eyeliner and mascara would do you the world of good. It’s not like we expect you to wax your balls but FFS please make an effort with the face that is so frequently in the public eye! If you’re the ‘organic’ type who likes to roll your own tampons out of pine tree bark I’m sure you can find some natural tree-sap lippie in alluring shades like Binnepoespink or Roadkill Red? Just…. Please tannie, ‘cos you scare the shit out of me.

That’s enough to ponder for one batch of scones.

So…. Scones. I’m talking about the homemade kind. Crusty on the outside, melt-in-the-mouth light and fluffy on the inside. Not the strange yellow blocks of weirdness they try to pass off as scones at far too many coffee shops. You know the kind that they reheat in a microwave, that weigh slightly more than your handbag and taste like dampened flour and baking soda? Yes those that stick to the roof of your mouth and are impossible to get out from between your teeth and cheeks if morsels find their way in there. Gross.

I remember trying every scone recipe I came across, trying to bake the perfect scone but always ending up feeling mildly / very / what-a-total-waste of ingredients disappointed…., until I found THE ONE. I have been using this recipe for more than 15 years, and it’s worth sharing! I am trying to work out the best way to record my recipes to post here on my blog. First doing it in PowerPoint and then copying across does not seem to be ideal.

  • 240g Cake flour
  • 1 Large egg
  • 15ml Baking powder
  • 125ml Milk
  • 2ml Salt
  • 25ml Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • Preheat oven to 220°C.
  • Sift together all the dry ingredients except the sugar.
  • Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips which are hopefully clean. If not, lick them clean first. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. DON’T rub too much. Yourself yes. Scone dough no.
  • Lightly beat the milk, egg and sugar together and then cut into the crumbly mix using a blunt knife. (Leave 1 teaspoon of the wet mix to brush the tops of the scones before baking).
  • Don’t overmanipulate the dough, cut and mix with a knife until all the ingredients are just incorporated.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press or roll it out to 2cm thick. No need for a ruler, 2 average fingers are an adequate measure. Horizontally of course. If using a gorilla’s fingers it’s best to measure to 1 finger and not 2.
  • Cut out scones to desired size using scone cutters, or cookie cutters, or a knife, or a cup , and place on a greased baking tray. You can dust the tray with flour if you wish. It helps if the tray is ugly. Be a rebel and eat a piece of the raw leftover dough cutoffs and hope your eggs are fresh and salmonella-free.
  • Brush the tops with a bit of egg and milk wash. Just the tops, otherwise your scones end up looking like crooked slinkies. Pisa Scones. Sometimes they’re all premenstrual and just rise awkwardly like they had polio at some stage anyway.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Serve warm with jam and whipped cream.