Welcome to my blog, these are the ramblings and musings of an (upper) middle aged biker and if you enjoy braais, (barbeques) beers and motorbikes then hopefully you will enjoy what Janet and I do; we do lots of braais, we drink lots of beer and we tour South Africa on our motorbike, which at the moment is a BMW R1200RT. Join us, read about what we do and please leave us your comments.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturday braai, Sunday pot and wonderful bread

My sister Loretta and my brother in law Mike arrived late on Friday and what better way to welcome them than with a braai on Saturday and a pot on Sunday? For the braai I decided to have some crunchy Pork tasties as the starter and lamb ribs with venison wors (sausage) for the main course.
I had bought some nice thick cut pork rashers and after salting the rinds I placed them on the grid over good hot coals, just a minute or two on each side to brown.
Once they have a bit of colour I find a good log to balance them against so that I can get the rinds to crackle.
You must be careful not to leave them too long so as not to burn the rinds, just get them to start crisping and then lay them back on the grid to brown nicely, sprinkle with Aromat and a bit of garlic flakes and when they are nicely browned cut then into bite size pieces, sprinkle with salt to taste and place them in front of your guests. A lovely crunchy appetiser!
This has always gone down well at my braais and is a personal favourite, while my family were all crunching on the pork I got the lamb ribs onto the grid.
Just look at this lovely slab of Karoo lamb rib! You can marinate ribs in all sorts of things, and sometimes I do but it is also nice to just have the pure lamb flavour and on this occasion I just laid them bone side down and let them cook for a bit.
Once they were browning I turned them over onto the skin side and started cooking that side, left it to brown and turned them again. I did this a couple of times until the bone side and the skin side were pretty well done and then sliced them up along the bones. I then placed the individual ribs back onto the grid to finish and sprinkled them with Aromat, lemon pepper and Rosemary and in the meantime put the venison sausage, which was pretty thin, onto the grid. Janet had by this stage prepared a lovely potato dish using cheese and a brown onion soup powder which was delicious. (Let me know if you want the recipe!)
Here is our meal plated up with fresh tomatoes and avocado, actually rather good! Just look at the crunchy top on that potato!
Okay so Sunday was a lamb potjie (remember Poy-key?) As I have posted many times about this I will not go into it again save to mention that it was a very lekker pot, and as usual quite different from all of the others! Here you see all of my ingredients laid out alongside my trusty old pot, man I'm in my element here!
Here it is at the "Okay guys, food's ready!" stage where I stand back and let the mob in and it was a good pot, but what set it aside this time was the bread that my sister made, damn that was good and you have to try it;
It's called "Scone Braai Bread" and it is the sort of thing that you just want to carry on eating;
one quarter lb of butter
half tsp crushed garlic (can be a bit more if you like garlic!)
2 tsps brown onion soup powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
Melt the butter and mix all the ingredients together and pour into a bread pan or oven dish.
Next part; two and a half cups of flour
four tsps baking powder
half tsp salt
two cups milk
two cups grated cheese
mix all of those ingredients together into a sloppy paste and drop tablespoonfuls into the butter mix, (like dumplings) to fill the pan then bake at 180 degrees until it all firms up and goes a light brown colour. The idea is that it forms a scone like mass which can be broken into portions.
Let me tell you this was delicious, there was not a scrap left and if you try it I would really be interested in your comments, please tell me how it turned out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

National Braai Day

Friday was a public holiday here in South Africa; Heritage Day, or rather as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu - fondly known as "The Arch" suggested, it should be "National Braai Day" because braaiing is a major part of the South African heritage and he loves a braai. This has been adopted enthusiastically and when you drive anywhere on National Braai Day you will see the smoke from hundreds of braai fires, whether in backyards or on the beaches guys will be standing around the fire with favourite beverage in hand eagerly braaiing chops, boerewors, ribs and chicken. All will be engaged in earnest conversation solving all of the world's major problems.
There's nothing to beat a cold beverage and a hot fire to get a bunch of guys into a happy mood. For this braai I decided to do my marinated rump steak for starters, the marinade is just olive oil, aromat, garlic flakes, black pepper and mustard. I let it sit for about an hour and then slap it on the grid with some good flame.
When it is still quite rare I take it off and let it rest for a minute or two and then slice it up, sprinkle with salt to taste and pass it around, this one always goes down well. If anyone likes their steak ruined their slices can always be put back on the grid to cook for a bit longer.
The next course was pork loin chops with butternut, pretty straight forward I just put the butternut with butter and black pepper into tinfoil and put on top of the coals while we were eating the steak. I kept turning it to evenly distribute the heat and when it was feeling soft I put it on the grid while I braaiied the chops.
I salt the rinds and balance the chops up against a block of wood to get them crispy, then just finish them off making sure that they are well done before serving. Janet made a delicious creamy potato dish to complement the meat and butternut.
We had a nice relaxed lunch, we don't usually need an official day to have a braai but I am sure that nine out of ten South African families were braaiing on Friday. We will be braaiing again over the weekend because my sister and brother-in-law are coming to stay and they love a braai, any excuse to burn some meat suits me too.
I'm on leave for a week so I'm also hoping to get out on the bike a bit, watch this space!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Braai and scooters

"Sunday mornin' coming down" - the bloody rain that is! "The beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more for dessert." (Thanks to one of my favourite artists, Kris Kristofferson for those words.) No riding today, it's just too miserable and I haven't even had a chance to wash the big red machine after last weekend's wonderful ride. Today is just going to be a stay at home and watch movies day. Janet is roasting a rolled loin of lamb for lunch, smells good already!
During the past week we were home early from work and it was one of those calm and warm evenings that we often get at this time of the year so I decided to do a braai.
First I prepared my vegetables; thinly sliced potatoes and butternut with chunks of courgettes, I placed them all on a large sheet of tinfoil (shiny side inside) and sprinkled liberally with olive oil, aromat, ground black pepper and mixed herbs and then sealed the package well.
As soon as I lit my fire I placed the parcel on the grid, I kept raking coals under it and rotated it often to distribute the heat evenly. The parcel was on the heat at least half an hour before I put the chickens on the grid. It is also best to carefully turn it upside down on the grid after a while to really distribute the heat evenly, try not to tear the tinfoil.
Next I "spatch-cocked" two whole baby chickens (the bigger one was mine!) and rubbed them well with peri-peri oil, sprinkled with aromat, garlic flakes and herbs and placed them over the coals. Chicken needs to be turned over often to ensure even and thorough cooking without burning, not many people like their chicken medium rare, we certainly don't!
This was dinner, the vegetables are similar to vegetables roasted in the oven but they have a much better, sweeter flavour when braaiied in tinfoil. Really enjoyable with a couple of glasses of cold Sauvignon Blanc.
And now for something completely different; Dick sent me these photographs and I have said in an earlier post that I am not a fan of scooters, but you really have to admire the work that went into these and the sheer artistry involved;Just look at the size of the saddle on this beauty, you could sleep on that!

Amazing paint job!
All lit up.
Another amazing paint job, and really stretched out!
Another really stretched scooter with a fabulous paint job.
Cool rider!
Amazing work has gone into all of these machines, incredible!
Stay on two wheels friends - in two weeks, on 2nd October we have the first "Ink and Iron Show" in Capetown, this has been going on in Jo'burg for a couple of years and they have decided to bring it down to the Cape so there is something for us to look forward to and I will tell you all about it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fantastic Eendekuil weekend

Janet arrived back from Durban just before 4pm on Friday and we managed to get out on the road just before 5pm, she had time for a beer (I offered her a cup of coffee!) and to pack her pannier case and we headed out. Don't you just love a biker chick?
It was a lovely ride, there was a bit of a strong wind to start with, but we soon rode away from it and it took us just over an hour to do the 133kms to the Eendekuil Hotel and that was in spite of the 64km stretch from Velddrif to Piketburg which we had to do at 100kmh because it is such a bad road. Actually it was because of that stretch that it took so long to do only 133kms!
The sun had dropped down over the mountains as we roared into the parking area at the hotel, it was getting slightly chilly as we joined Dick and Janet who had already established themselves on the veranda and it didn't take us long to get a beer and get ourselves into a relaxed state.
We had a couple of drinks, met up with another biker; Rick who was on a KTM 990 Adventure who joined us for the evening. It was during dinner that Rick learned that I was carrying 25 fresh oysters in my top case and he decided that he was going to tag along with us the next day, in fact his exact words were "I'm going to keep that red BMW in my sight all day!"
We had a very pleasant evening although everyone went to bed a lot earlier than I did, I should have had Frank with me - but then again, maybe not! After a really good breakfast on Saturday Dick and Rick rushed off to Clanwilliam along the N7, at first I was keeping up with them but then I slowed down and said to Janet; "They are going too fast, I want to just cruise and look at the scenery." she was happy, that was exactly what she wanted to do so I dropped our speed and we sat relaxed in the early morning sunshine and enjoyed a relatively slow 74kms and met up with our friends at a service station just outside of the town.
From there we rode together (after Janet had managed to score some cardboard cups from one of the takeaway shops) up to the "Pakhuis Pass", this is one of the most amazingly picturesque areas that I have ever seen. The last time we had rode along there the road had been tar for only about ten kilometres out of the town so we had turned back with no idea how wonderful the area is, it had previously only been accessible to the 4x4 drivers and off road bikers, now it has been opened up to us road riders as well and what an spectacular ride it is! The rock formations are unbelievable!
We stopped in a shady area and considered opening the oysters then but we could see the road stretched out ahead in the valley and decided we just had to carry on to the end, maybe there would be a better spot! There wasn't but the ride was fantastic,
It was worth it just to ride to the end of the tar road, about 30kms further and then turn around and ride back.
All the time it was getting hotter but we didn't notice, the new tar stretch was fantastic and there was no traffic, just a few other off road bikes travelling through from Calvinia to Clanwilliam.
By then we had decided to return to our shady spot to open the oysters and drink some of the wine, Rick was still hot on our heels!
I couldn't get enough of the absolutely amazing scenery, Janet did a great job with the photos, I think she volunteered because she was worried that I was going to try my usual method of engaging the cruise control and taking pictures with one hand on that winding road!
We soon got back to our original shady spot overlooking the valley and pulled off for a break, it was about eleven o'clock, time for a snack and something cool to drink.
Here you can see Rick on the KTM just in front of me, he couldn't believe that he had met up with someone carrying a bag of fresh oysters in the middle of the bush!
We sat in the shade on a mountain eating fresh oysters and drinking dry white wine out of the cardboard cups which Janet had managed to acquire and thinking "What the hell could be better than this?" Rick was saying things like; "Never in my wildest dreams................!" as he slurped another fresh oyster.
Later that evening, after a couple of beers at the "West Coast Hacienda" where I had a nice chat with the owner; Marius, and a good ride back to Eendekuil it was time for dinner. Chicken and lamb, rice and vegetables.
and I could go back as many times as I wanted! I did. That meal was for the unbelievable price of R50, about 7USD or 4,5GBP, in fact the whole weekend; two nights accommodation, two dinners and two breakfasts and all of our booze (which was quite a lot!) cost us less than R1,000! A real bargain. Dick and I had quite a good party that night, we found out how to work the disco set up and the two of us sat listening to music and talking crap........it's a guy thing! After another good breakfast the next morning we were ready and raring to go.
We rode towards Piketberg, and then just outside of the town we took the road that leads up to "Bo-Piketburg", an incredibly winding, narrow road that climbs steeply up the mountain to a lush farming area where proteas grow wild alongside the road and farms are nestled in the unbelievably beautiful folds in the multi-hued countryside. We followed the narrow, winding ribbon of tar through the freshly scented farmlands, revelling in the sheer beauty of the area. We were travelling at about 30kmh waiting for the tar to end but wanting to carry on until it did in case we missed another enchanting vista.
All too soon that road did come to an end, at a farm gate and we stopped for a break. It was sublime, a beautiful day in a spectacular area and reluctantly we decided that it was time to head back.
We retraced our path back to the pass and soon we were looking down over the town of Piketburg, a spectacular pass and a wonderful ride and we still had more than an hour to go!
The BMW and the KTM head off down the mountain pass.
I couldn't resist another photo on the road home, this time Janet wasn't sleeping! Dick was behing me and we still hadn't managed to shake off Rick on the KTM! It's amazing what a bag of oysters will do!
We said our "Goodbyes" outside of the town and split up, Janet and I went to one of the local hotels on the beach for an ABF (Absolute Bloody Final) before heading home, it had been a wonderful weekend.
I now really want to go back to the hauntingly beautiful "Pakhuis Pass", I want to park the motorbike and wander amongst those magical and mystical rock formations, then I want to go back up to "Bo-Piketberg" and take another of those winding farm roads to its eventual farm gate and take lots of photographs to show you how beautiful our area is. We will do this very soon, watch this space!
I really recommend the Eendekuil Hotel to you Capetown bikers, R180 bed and breakfast! You can't beat that and Magda rides a pink R1200GS!