The title Jayne Mansfield turned down

Today’s fascinating. but utterly useless, food fact –

On 19 April 1933 Jayne Mansfield was born. American beauty contest winner, stage and screen actress. Supposedly the only title she ever turned down was ‘Miss Roquefort Cheese,’ because she believed it “just didn’t sound right.” 

Blue cheese.png

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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

A book of biographies of one hundred inspirational women beautifully illustrated bye sixty different artists from around the world, three of the illustrations by two South African artists.

The writers and artists are all women.  The work is meant to empower young girls to think beyond princesses who need rescuing and to become strong, independent achievers.

This book inspires me to pick out out some of the women for discussion on my blog independently of the book, which is probably just the type of reaction the authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, want.

The very, very brief biographies include the first woman Pharoah, Hatshepsut, and the very last Pharoah, Cleopatra.  It includes queens (Catherine the Great, Elizabeth 1 and Nanny of the Maroons)), politicians (Evita Peron), warriors, scientists, dancers, musicians, sports stars and more.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about these women, especially the ones I didn’t know about before this book.- like Queen Nanny of the Maroons).

On each facing page where the woman is illustrated is a quote by her.  Everyone of these its its own masterpiece.

The book itself is being widely talked about and highly recommended.  I add my voice to those praising this book. My only complaint is that it is being marketed exclusively at girls.  There are many young men who could be inspired by these women too, and be made aware that women can and should be achievers as well.

I understand there is a second edition in the offing, and am looking forward to that one.


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.jpg


  • Title:  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
  • Authors:  Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
  • Publisher::  Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Year:  2017
  • Format:  Hardcover
  • Recommended Selling Price: R385.00
  • ISBN:  978 0 1419 8600 5


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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon’s first novel, Everything Everything, is about a “bubble girl” – a young woman, Maddie, who is basically allergic to everything.  She lives in her own little sterile world and, miraculously, finds love with a neighbour, Ollie.  Is this a disaster in the making?
Billed as a book for young adults, this proved to be an interesting read for not so young adults too.  I read it through in one sitting, finding the conclusion as compelling as any thriller.
A movie is to be made of the book soon.
Everything Everything
  • Title:  Everything, Everything
  • Author:  Nicola Yoon
  • Publisher:  Corgi, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Year: 2015
  • Format:  Paperback
  • Recommended Selling Price:  R180.00
  • ISBN 9780552574235


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The world’s oldest soup recipe …

Today’s interesting, but utterly useless food fact:

The world’s oldest recipe for soup is approximately 6000 years old.  It apparently calls for hippopotamus, sparrows, vegetables, lentils and spices.

I couldn’t find a source for this information, even though I looked.  (If any of my librarian friends can help, it would be appreciated).

I’m sure humans have been making soup ever since we invented a container in which to make it.

It is certainly approaching soup season in the southern hemisphere, and I will eat a fair amount of it, admittedly without hippopotamus or sparrow meat.  And it will be cooked on my gas stove, not an open fire.  But other than that, the old “recipe” for using what one has will do.



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Patron Saint of Coffee house owners and keepers

Today’s fascinating, but utterly useless, food fact –

16 April is the Feast of Saint Drogo, patron of coffee house owners and keepers.

Saint Drogo

Saint Drogo

Actually, Saint Drogo’s lifestoy offers no clue how he got to be the patron saint of coffee house owners and keepers.

His mother died during his birth so this Flemish saint felt a great deal of guilt.  Apparently he could bilocate (be in two places at once) and he went on a lot of pilgrimages to Rome, and during one of these he picked up a disease that made him deformed to such an extent that he frightened people.

He spent the rest of his life (another forty years) in an anchorage – a little hut attached to a church from which he never emerged – drinking only barley water and the Holy Eucharist.


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Taste the Little Karoo, by Beate Joubert

Sometimes a recipe book just speaks to me of someone specific – Taste the Little Karoo is evocative of a friend of mine who owns a holiday home in the Little Karoo and who is a fantastic cook.  The book reminds me of old fashioned kitchens with their pantries filled with preserves of all kinds.  It is also, however, very much in touch with the latest Mediterranean inspired food trends.

The author writes from her farm, Joubert-Tradauw, and from her deli, Alfesco Deli and Wine Cellar all near Barrydale.  .

The defining feature of this  book is probably its photography.  Photographers Sean Calitz, Matthys van Lill and Andries Joubert bring a rich variety of pictures both food and landscape to the book.

She starts with Tapas, or “boere tapas” as she calls it.  The Creme Fraiche tartlets with figs and thyme looked delicious, as did the chickpea, cottage cheese and spring onion balls, but it was the easy oven-baked frittata that drove me into the kitchen to play with my food.  As Joubert suggests, I used her recipe as inspiration rather than ingredient for ingredient.

Joubert moves on to comfort food and it is no surprise that breads, including roosterkoek and vetkoek feature predominantly in this section, together with soups,  This is followed by a section entitled “Fresh” which looks at salads and light meals.

The section entitled “Gatherings” starts with a recipe for bobotie with a fruit compote. Joubert makes use of two ripe bananas as part of the recipe.  It all looks very good and I’m, like many other South Africans of my generation, quite fussy about bobotie.  The recipe in this section which most intrigued me was Trinchado beef bredie. It uses less cream than the average trinchado recipe and Joubert’s suggestion to pair it with port induced some enthusiastic mouth watering reactions.

The next section is entitled “On the coals” and includes braais and potjies. Koftas, livers (the famous South African “skilpadjies”), mutton rib, pork chops and pork belly all had me hungry. Potjies are not my thing to make, but I enjoy eating them.  One can, of course, adapt potjies to indoor cooking as well without any serious loss of flavour.

The sweet section has Gradma Rina’s creamy orange sago pudding (just in time for winter here) and one of my favourites, french crepes with orange sauce.  The French chocolate coffee cake with green figs looks sinfully delicious. Macadamia, pecan nut and cranberry nougat sounds wonderful,and koeksisters are included.

The final section is called “Something extra” and it features chutneys, pastries, cream sauce, pitas, pesto and more.

Joubert gives one the impression that she is a skilled and gracious hostess and one longs to visit.

Some of my readers like to know what I plan to do with a recipe book.  Sometimes they live in my kitchen, or at least on a bookshelf in my home.  This one will be given to the friend of whom Taste the Little Karoo so strongly reminds me.  I’ve already set up arrangements to pop in for tea.  It is a book that deserves to be used by someone who will lovingly recreate these recipes, adapting them yet again to his personal taste.

Taste the Little Karoo is a beautiful book with some truly interesting takes on traditional South African cuisine.

Also Available in Afrikaans as Proe die Klein-Karoo.

Taste the Little Karoo - Beate Joubert - HR_0.jpg
  • Title:  Taste the Little Karoo
  • Author:  Beate Joubert
  • Photographers:  Sean Calitz, Matthys van Lill and Andries Joubert
  • Publisher:  Stryik Lifestyle, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Year:  (This edition) August 2016
  • Format:  Paperback
  • Recommended Selling Price:  R300.00
  • ISBN 9781432307943
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Today’s Grand Cru – Landskroon Shiraz 2013

Cru is “a vineyard or group of vineyards, especially one of recognized quality”. It is a French wine term which is traditionally translated as “growth”, as it was originally the past participle of the verb “croitre”.

At the recent Chef’s Table Luncheon of the InterContinental Hotel Johannesburg at OR Tambo we were offered a choice of wines with our main course  White or red.  I had both. The red was a Landskroon Shiraz, 2013.

Landskroon Entrance.jpg

Paired with Chicken Ballotin stuff with pistachio nuts, chorizo and a medallion of chicken, smokey pork belly lardons accompanied by autumn vegetables, Pomme William and rich chicken jus.

My feeling was that the white was better with the food, but that the shiraz made for a fine after lunch drink.  I’m very fond of shiraz and this is a delightful one.  I don’t know the Landskroon Wine Estate but I look forward to exploring more of their wines in the future.


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