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Soul Stew

After weeks – no, months – of what can only be described as a health hardship, I’d taken ill. My body was falling apart. From a nagging cough to undiagnosed aches and pains as well as a battered and bruised heart, it was time to fix things from the inside.


What I needed was warmth and wellness. A hearty stew was the only way to go. Rich red meat, vitamins in the form of vegetables and a glass of ravishing red wine all rallied together to make me better.


Beef Stew with Red Wine


15ml coconut oil
500g beef shin, bone-in, cut into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 cloves of giant garlic, sliced
50g of streaky bacon, diced
½ a punnet of baby porcini mushrooms
500ml chicken stock
50g tomato paste
150ml chopped tomatoes
1 cup of red wine

Take your favourite, well-seasoned heavy base casserole pot and give it a hug. A good stew has to start with some love.

Heat the oil until glistening. While you’re waiting for your oil to come to the party, season the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat as well as the bones in the oil. Once browned, place the meat on a plate and set aside.

Take the bacon and let it dance in the coconut oil. Render the fat so that it can envelop and kiss the upcoming Mirepoix.


Once the bacon fat has been rendered, invite the onion, carrot and celery into the pot. Let them get to know each other for about five minutes before spicing things up with the garlic. After a few more minutes, add the tomato paste and stir so that the flavours don’t all stick to the base of the pan.

Right now there are wafts of savoury goodness filling the kitchen. Breathe it in and let it warm your lungs.

Add a little red wine to the pot to keep things moving.

It’s time to reintroduce the meat. To ease the transition (it was cold out there!), add the stock, tomatoes and the rest of the red wine to the pot at the same time. Don’t feel precious about the amount of wine – use your best judgment.

So all the nervous introductions are done, everyone’s mingling… it’s now time to put the lid on, turn down the heat and let the flavours, love and wellness brew for about an hour.

After a while on the couch or at the dinner table, follow the intoxicating smells back into the kitchen. Open the pot and have a taste. Add whatever you feel is missing – some salt, a dash more wine, if things are looking dry add a bit of water. Add the mushrooms, put the lid back on, make sure the heat is nice and low, and let it simmer for another two hours.

Once you can’t contain your hunger anymore, add some handfuls of baby spinach, give it a good stir and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve on warm plates with crusty, buttered bread or cauliflower mash and garnish with a little cheese.


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It’s Thanksgiving in America tomorrow. Although we don’t celebrate this holiday, I think it’s as nice a sentiment as Braai Day is here. There’s nothing trivial about getting together and giving thanks for well, being together. And if you happen to swallow a turkey and a pumpkin in the process, so be it.

Big ups for the little things that make these times special.

For a long time I’ve had this terrible affliction. When others do well/get lucky/have fun, I’ve always seen it as something I don’t have. Therefore there must be something wrong with me. What makes person X so darn special huh, and where can I get me summa that?

I’m rather ashamed of my childish attitude to other’s good fortune. My mom always taught me not to laugh at the misfortune of others, but in the process I forgot how to celebrate their triumphs.

In order to remedy this “disease”, I will proclaim all that I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for:

My boyfriend
He’s what I always wanted, and I’m so glad he’s still here five Christmases later.

My job
I consume media for a living. Coincidentally, that’s what I do on the weekends too. Funny that.

My love of food
While my hips expand and my arteries clog a little more this festive season, I’m thankful that I can do something wonderful like cook Christmas lunch for my family and be blissfully happy throughout the process. Let’s hope they’re as “blissfully happy” with the results. Holding thumbs for no burnt offerings this year.

Just the food
I’m so grateful that we have food to cook. So many people don’t have food to cook.

Family: old, new and gone
The crazies, the over-protective ones and the cute ones. Whatever they are, they’re mine, and it feels nice to say I have them.

The return of O’Gradys
Thank you Simba. Thank you so very very much for the greatest chip ever. Thank you for only making two flavours so that I can never decide which is my favourite.




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Coq au Vin

If Julia Child could Master the Art of French Cooking, so can I! I have discovered, however, that you do indeed need that je ne sais quoi and savoir faire to turn this simple chicken stew into something très magnifique!

The heart-mending Coq Au Vin

the piece de resistance?

While I wasn’t particularly sure of my stock of said french terms, what I did have was a magnificent blog to trawl and a boyfriend to impress. I diligently printed out The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Coq au Vin, only to arrive home without it. Grr. Luckily my stash of Fresh Living mags had a recipe in there somewhere. So I amalgamated the text with my rather good memory to make my own version of the stew. As long as there’s red wine and chicken, how wrong can you really go? Just remember to leave some red wine for in case it turns out kak… then you can drown your sloppy sorrows.

I’ve had some sorrows to drown lately. Danny moved out about three weeks ago.

We had a big fight and now I don’t know how to put us back together again. I don’t cook anymore. You know that I really just cook to impress him. Cooking for one is so flippin’ sad I’m scared I’ll drip snot en trane into the pot if I attempt it. So when he told me he was coming to visit on Saturday I took the opportunity to get back into the kitchen and hopefully back into his heart as well.

The Pioneer Woman serves her Coq au Vin with pasta. Traditionally I’d imagine rice to go well with chicken. I chose creamy, buttery mashed potatoes as my secret weapon in this fight for his heart.

Coq au Vin pour mon Coeur

For the chicken:
8 free range chicken pieces, or one whole free range chicken you cut up yourself using your anger and frustration
1 onion, roughly chopped
8-10 small carrots, chopped
4 rashers of bacon (preferably fatty bacon), chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of flour
1 punnet of mushrooms, sliced in half
1 bottle of red wine – half for the pot, half for you
3cm slice of butter from a 500g brick
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1-2 cups of chicken or beef stock

For the potatoes:
4 medium potatoes, preferably the really yellow, organic ones, peeled and chopped small
1 tbs butter
75ml milk
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper


Pre-heat your oven to about 170ºC.

Melt half the butter in a warmed up pan. Fry the bacon to ‘render the fat’ (thanks for that term Pioneer Woman). Once the bacon is not oinking anymore, remove it from the pan and set aside.

Dust the chicken pieces with flour and fry in the pan with the butter and bacon fat until browned. Put it to one side.

Fry the onions, carrots and parsley in the pan until soft. Put these together with the chicken and bacon in a casserole dish. Add the chicken stock and wine until everything is covered and it’s decidedly purple in colour.

Put this in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Peel your potatoes and chop them up small or else they’ll take forever to cook.

Now put the rest of the butter in another pan (not the same one you used for the chicken) and fry the mushrooms. The reason for the extra dishes is that your mushrooms could end up full of black speckles from the bacon and chicken frying.

Take the casserole dish out of the oven and add the fried mushrooms. Close the dish again and pop it back in the oven for another 40 minutes.

Cook your potatoes until soft, but not too soft. I like quite stiff, chunky mash, especially with a saucy dish like this. Once done, mash with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

Take the casserole out of the oven and remember to turn it off. Scoop some of the sauce into the mushroom pan and heat it up with a bit of Maizena mixture to thicken it.

Serve with more chopped parsley. Don’t put too much of the sauce on the mash as it might go soggy.

Then watch his heart melt…

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