Friday, May 11, 2012

Sara's Birthday weekend

It's not every day you have a birthday. And then it's not every day you turn a quarter of a centuary! This past weekend we celebrated Sara's first quarter. Our celebrations were especially sweet as she has come such a long way since her terrible accident just a few short months ago. She is still doing rehab twice a week and has gone back to work for a few hours a day three days a week. Soon she will have driving lessons to get her driving 'feet' back. She's not allowed to drive until she passes all the tests that the TAC requires. Every week she gets stronger.

She wanted a farm birthday. Beds were made, shopping for food was done and party preparations were put into full swing. In her honor, the leaves of the vine along the house clung onto their branches to create a stunning display. Well, that's what I'm saying anyway, as it's a few days later now and most of the leaves are on the ground forming a red carpet of their own.

As I sit here and write the notes for today's blog, I'm tapping away at my computer, stopping every now and then to look out of the window.  It's a cool morning. There are king parrots and rainbow lorrikeets doing their busy thing in the crab apple trees just in front of me. I said to Frans, 'oh, look the mist is drifting past the window'. He said: "no Dear, it's the smoke from the fire". Duh. The fire has been going for the past week. The weather has turned cold. Frans is still on his wood gathering mission. Burning a fire is a labour intestive excersize! The wood has to be gathered. And Frans is doing the gathering! The wood we burn is from trees that have fallen down in storms and from old age. We are going to be planting our own stand of trees specifically for wood burning.

It's a birthday. So that means I get to string the bunting along the driveway fence again. Sara and I sewed about 50 meters of bunting for Frans' 50th. It's great to give it another 'airing' before it falls apart completely! The sun and rain and wind does a fine job of fading and shredding the cotton fabric.

Since Sara was little, her birthday dinner has been a South African Potjie. It's a firm family favourite. It's a 'special event' meal and we bring out the pot for all sorts of celebrtions. It's a meal that works best in winter, as it's essentially a hearty stew. Frans built a fire pit alongside the old shed so that we could enjoy the view as we cooked. As long as it doesn't rain, then I'm sure we'll be enjoying the fires over winter. Marshmellows, red wine.... you get the picture.

But back to the Potjie... for those who don't know what is inside that black cast iron pot, here's our favourite recipe:

1. Slaughter a sheep. Preferably one from the paddock next door so you know where it comes from!
2. Prepare the meat. Get your friend Janelle to carefully remove all the unwanted fat (yes, organically grown sheep are lovely and fat! They get to feast on lovely green pastures) and cut up approximately 3kgs of shoulder and leg.
3. Peel vegies. Potatoes, onions and beans. Lots of them. That pot has to be FULL!
4. Light the fire early in the afternoon so that the coals are just right. Hang about the fire. Chat. Sip bubbles.
5. Heat the pot and brown the meat. Then carefully layer the vegies on top of the meat. First the potatoes, then the beans, then the onions.
6. Cook slowly. Around 4 hours, or 4 drinks.
7. Pour over the secret marinade. Sprinkle a few generous handfulls of cheese on top. Simmer for a few more minutes until there is a lovely thick gravy at the bottom of the pot.
8. Serve with delicious polenta (the Italian way) made by Doris.

Enjoying the fire: Stephen, his Dad, Crochie, Sara and Johnny

As the afternoon gets cooler, chairs move closer to the fire...

It was Sara's actual birthday the day before the potjie. So we had cake when she and Stephen arrived from Melbourne. I made a version of carrot cake, with pineapple and sweet potato. Rustic looking don't you say?!

Sara lit her birth candle on her birthday. The inscription on the candle is one that Frans' Dad painted on every child and grandchilds' candle. Unfortunately Papa passed away just before Sara was born, so Frans' brother Hans took over the Dutch tradition of painting the family birth candles. The inscription reads :"I am what I am for others". Sara has burned her candle often. Looks like she'll need a backup!


Farm birds!
Galah's and a Bower bird near the shed.

Frans has spent weeks clearing beneath the old cyprus pine trees. He has created a perfect spot for storing more firewood. In the past week or so he has started making new stacks. What a beautiful sight!

Sara's friend Katie and her boyfriend (Katie's that is) Johnny came for the weekend too. Before going home to the city, the youngsters did some harvesting of their own in the vegie garden. Johnny is a chef in Melbourne, and Stephen loves to cook. Got to love a man in the kitchen!

Sara, Stephen, Katie and Johnny.

And look! My garlic is sprouting! I've ordered more to plant in June. This is the early stuff. I'm super excited and pleased!

And today I'm going to leave you with a pic of Nala, the farm dog! She's become used to the chooks and ducks. Sort of...
She's becoming stiffer in her old age. Getting up in the morning is a struggle. She spends most of the day asleep in front of the fire. It's a dog's life!

1 comment:

  1. Ami, I just love catching up with you!!! you've got such a wonderful blog. Nala is looking ever so cute, even though age is showing(she's a little greyer)she still cute!!