Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

Archive for Food

Another weekend

…bites the dust. And, man, things are getting very laid back, holiday-ey and festive. And somehow, the Christmas spirit I had seems to be evaporating, I must have peaked too early! Damnit! Anyway, there has been a change of plan for our week, and y’all know I’m not one for last minute plan changes, but sometimes one must roll with these things, so now I will be hosting Charlie’s family at ours on the 25th for Christmas lunch. I am seriously compromising on my way of doing things though, but with 2 days notice, it’s all I can do, but I am sure all will be good anyway.

Salmon mousse and an antipasti platter for starter, marinated fillet on the braai for mains, with sides and a trifle for dessert. Not quite the feast I usually plan, but it will be tasty anyway. And on Christmas Eve, just a small supper for the 3 of us and my dad.

Yesterday we visited a friend of mine out at a neighbouring seaside village, she leaves for New Zealand next week, her family have threatened emigration for a long time, and it has finally happened now. SAC and I have know each other since we were 5, and she was Thandi’s pre school teacher, I could not have chosen a better one, I delivered her boys, and I think Thandi may just have stolen her youngest’s heart… It was an emotional day bidding her farewell, and it has brought home to me just how tough it is going to be to say ‘Tot siens’ to Charlie. At least it is just until seeing again and not good bye. Flip, this is turning into a tough season…


The weekend what was

…what was just lovely! I got to relax, bake and cook, and run and ride and chill. I liked it! A lot! Some photo highlights..

 watching the pantomime on Saturday afternoon with JL, visiting from CT

Russian food prepared for a feast yesterday. I am still groaning!

 the inside of that cake. Yum! Napoleon cake.

a bike ride with my girl. Slaying some beasts.

Running with my buddy!

pretty flowers that has bloomed after the rains

and blue bottles after the winds…

special photo shoot before Charles goes.

She’ll kill me for this one day, but finding selfies on my phone… priceless.

Thanksgiving after being inspired by an early Thanksgiving dinner we went to 2 weeks ago, we decided to host our own Thanksgiving dinner last night. I throughly enjoyed it! But, can you believe it, I forgot to take a single photo, but isn’t that a sign of good times too? My phone was away, we laughed and told stories and I was thankful for my friends!

Decor was simple – a big arrangement of orange and yellow flowers on an orange runner. Lots of candles too. I loved setting the table – it made my heart happy!

On the menu was a ginger glazed gammon served with blue cheese mash, sweet potato bake, and roasted sprouts. Corn bread and a green salad on the side. Dessert was a dark chocolate bourbon pecan pie, yum. I was so chilled, I had cheese and chocolates that I forgot to take out, so I guess there will be cheese boards for suppers this weekend, with ham sandwiches!

I love the idea of a time to take stock of all we are blessed with and to be thankful. Friends, food, a roof over our heads. And then to be grateful for highlights in our year. Maybe that’s not the original intention of American Thanksgiving, but it was mine.

I am extremely grateful that I have a body that has done this –

carried me 1159km, through 2 pairs of running shoes. 150 days of a minumum of 5km a day.


…is it really Tuesday already? Where did the weekend and Monday go? Flip!

Oh well, I do know where the weekend went – I ran and I cooked! I was happy. yesterday was just a crazy day at work, so I was not so happy! So I prepared my first Russian feast this weekend. I have been so inspired by the food I ate in Russia! The only thing is that it requires some forethought and planning, but since I was not on call, I had some time to do both!

So I started with the prep work for a borsch. Borsch is a soup, coloured the most delightful maroon colour by the addition of beetroot. I started my soup by poaching some shin and roasting some beetroot. Then it was to work on a honey cake (medovik) which requires assembly and resting for 24 hours. And then it was making pelmeni (dumplings/ravioli). Over 200 were filled and folded by Charlie and I!

In Sunday it was time to pull it all together, Borodinskiy bread dough was made and left to prove, the borsch was finished – preparing all the other veggies and producing that gorgeous pink soup. (It is not a beetroot heavy flavor, definitely more of a veggie soup with a deep color!) The bread was baked, the pelmeni boiled, and the (Birdie-modified-creme-fraiche-mixed-with-cream) smettana prepared for the eating. And then it was time to feast!

the Borsch in evolution.

Thandi decorates the beautiful table. pelmeni filled with a beef and pork mince mix, served with dill and smettana. Borodinskiy bread. The color was a bit pale, but the taste was perfect! the Medovik. It needed a touch more icing, but was delicious!

The feast was delicious and so worth the work! I really enjoyed it and learnt a few tricks while I was busy, which I will modify next time. Yumaroo!

Russia 2019, part 1

So, all overseas trips start with the flight; we flew Alitalia, which was ok, but they screwed up our seat bookings, so we were not able to sit together, Charles got a seat across the aisle from me, and I sat next to Thandi, which would have been fine, except there was one of those inconsiderates in front of me, who pushed her seat all the way back as soon as she could and I was completely squished for the entire flight. I think I maybe caught about half an hour of sleep… We landed in Rome, which is a pleasant airport, while we waited for our next flight to Moscow, this one was to be on Aeroflot. Can I just say that I think this was the best flight I’ve ever been on, for one, they made a huge fuss of Thandi, and she got an activity bag, and secondly we were served our meal with real metal cutlery! Wow! Our friend, MB fetched us from the airport once we landed and before we knew it we were safely at our friends’ home in Rosinka, an international compound. TJ had prepped supper and had wine open and waiting for us! After a delicious dinner, we collapsed into bed, ready for our holiday to start!


Our friends have been living in Moscow for over a year now, and TJ has embraced ex pat living, and as a family they have explored the city and surrounds extensively, so we were blessed to have our own tour guide. I think this entire experience would have been overwhelming without someone who knew how the metro worked and spoke a little of the language to show us around. TJ also had some good insider tips and tricks, really helpful!

Our first excursion took us into the city, where we started our tour at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This church was destroyed in the revolution, and the plan was for a skyscraper to be built on its site, however, the failed to materialise, so a public pool was constructed. After the fall of the USSR, this church was reconstructed. It is beautiful, with a high colonnade from which you can view the city. We were blown away that it was completed in 1997, yet looks like it could have stood there for centuries.

views from the upper walkway around the cathedral towers.

From here, we walked along the Moscva river towards the Kremlin, and we then meandered through the Alexander gardens, running alongside it. And then we turned a corner, headed up a little cobbled street and all of a sudden, we were there, Red Square! With its iconic views of the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, the GUM, and the historic museum, I had to pinch myself a few times.

St Basil’s remains arguably the most recognisable building of Moscow, with its colourful, onion domed towers. It actually represents the amalgamation of 9 small chapels, each with its own tower. I had always wondered about the shape of the domes on Russian Orthodox churches, assuming some Islamic influence, but learnt that they were shaped to look like a flame on a candle. The colours on St Basil’s domes were only added in the 1800’s.

As we started shivering, we decided to head towards the GUM, an enormous shopping mall, filled with all the fanciest and grandest of stores. I mean, how many malls these days have historic toilets, where its costs  200 rubles to spend a penny? An indulgent expense, but we did feel super fancy having a wee! The mall is also known for their ice cream (I know, go figure, its winter for 8 months of the year there, but the Russians love their ice cream!) and we treated Thandi to one – blueberry, delicious!

Lunch was in a traditional Russian restaurant, Varenichnaya, it is staged to recall all the Soviet quirks – the fabric on the chairs was the fabric used to cover couches in soviet homes, all sorts of old propaganda posters and newspaper clippings, we had a good giggle! We also had our first traditional meal of pelmeni – Russian dumplings, served with smetana (sour cream, but nothing like you’ve ever seen in South Africa) – totally delicious! A very pleasant surprise, I really did not realise I would be embarking on a foodie journey!

We meandered home, and then made our way to an Ice Hockey game – Moscow’s top team Dynamo was playing St Petersburg. Wow, that was fun, despite not understanding a word of the commentary, the game was fast paced and very exciting! Unfortunately Dynamo lost, much to the home crowds disappointment. (And the stadium was freezing! I guess being ice hockey, it had to be, but flip, we were glad to have beanies and gloves!)

A busy day 1!


We took this day a little easier, just a little. A slightly later start as we headed off to Crocus Mall for the marathon registration – a simple, straight forward exercise, I handed in my medical certificate which said I was just mad enough to run a marathon, and then I collected my number and my T shirt. The expo was pretty cool, lots of cool stuff, but I was interested to see how pricey running kit is there. Apparently this is because of the high taxes on imports from the States, my sauconys were priced on a sale at about 30% more than what I get them for here at home…

Anyway, I bought a few goodies, and moved along to a neighbouring centre where Thandi could go ice skating. For her, I suspect this is the highlight of the holiday! Since she has inline roller-skates, she was able to get going on the ice quite easily, it was awesome to watch her! (I also envisage many trips to our neighbouring city, so she can have a go there, no rink in our city!)

After that we headed home, so that Thandi could spend some time with Charlotte’s (Charlotte is TJ and MB’s daughter, she’s 2 years older than Thandi and is just like a big sister to her) class – they have something called Golden hour on a Friday afternoon, and get to do some non academic activities, which on this day involved outside play. She LOVED that! Meeting some of Charlotte’s friends and getting to see how her school works.

Dinner that night saw us go to a Georgian restaurant, Vysota 5642, it was super! Georgian food, to quote a fellow blogger, Nyamazela, is the BEST food. From katchapuri to shashlik to Khinkali, yum! This spot authenticity rating went up dramatically when some fairly obvious body guards walked in, (dark suits, heavy set with ear pieces), checked out the surrounds, and the escorted their charges in – older grumpy, very wealthy looking men, who were spirited away to a private dining room to conduct their ‘business’. We left at the same time as them, and when a body guard beckoned me over I couldn’t decide whether I should hit the ground or put my hands up- turns out, he only wanted to return Thandi’s dropped glove to us, phew! Crisis averted! Anyway, the meal was delicious and we wondered the city, enjoying the festival of lights, where a lighting and effects show was projected onto the exterior of the Bolshoi building – impressive! As we got too cold to enjoy things, we headed into the metro to head home, bed was calling!


Khinkali – yummy dumplings

The light show projected into the Bolshoi – impressive!


…so last night went off well!

Starters was a garlic, ginger noodle soup with bok choi. This was so easy and so tasty! Loved it! And I will definitely have a crack at it again. Mains was Hainanese Chicken rice, which is just sooooo delicious and simple, I could eat it weekly! First you poach a chicken in stock which is flavoured with ginger and spring onions, You then plunge your chicken into ice water, and then massage some sesame oil lovingly into the chicken skin. Then you prepare some  jasmine rice, using that same stock; and then you make sauces – a soya sauce based one, one with spring onions and ginger and a fiery chilli sauce. All so yum. And for dessert I made a matcha chiffon cake with a pomegranate icing, which I really enjoyed. So light and delicate in flavour.



…I am tired of being a Moaning Myrtle, so until further notice, assume things with Pops are as before. He’s grumpy, resistant and angry, and irrational. But physically fine

The weekend was fine, one baby on Friday evening, one in the early hours of Sunday morning, so not too awful. We had supper with friends on Friday (delicious tuna fillets seared on the break with a divine asian salsa), and on Sunday Thandi (with some help from her sous chefs, aka Mom and Dad) made chicken curry and rotis for lunch. It was delicious! A real triumph! I am so pleased she is learning about cooking and loves being in the kitchen, long may it last! And all praise to Lou, the PA who taught her how to make it.

 (I was worried about the rotis, wasn’t sure they would work out as well as were hoped, they were perfect, better than I have done in the past!)