Rotten Bananas

  Recipe: Banana Bread I have searched for a specific memory of banana bread, but there are none. There is a general memory – like a thread through my life – of bananas disappearing and banana bread appearing and being devoured. Banana Bread is, of course, not something you PLAN to make. It is something…

A tale of a biscuit

Recipe: Renate’s biscuits This is a tale of biscuits, but it takes us down various memory paths, so you must concentrate. My father had a friend called Francois Naude, who was an artist but was also in advertising. My dad was a bit older than him, and I think had almost mentored him from when…

Comfort dip

Recipe: avocado dip On Mother’s Day, if your mother is dead, you will always feel a little bit sad. We weren’t actually that big into Mother’s Day in my childhood home – something I now regret – and my mother’s mother actually died on Mother’s Day, so my mom wasn’t the biggest fan of the…

Hot stuff

The thing that I haven’t told you about yet is the terrible, crippling impediment that my mother had in her cooking life: my father. My father was “allergic” to foods so numerous that to list them would take hours. Some were genuine allergies (like cucumbers. . . although I suspect this may have been the…

The First Oxtail of Winter

My mother loved traditions, and she loved seasonal cooking.  She loved celebrating “The First [insert food type] of [insert season]”.  And she was strict about it! The first time I ate a hot cross bun before Good Friday I was in my twenties and I felt so rebellious! When the cold weather starts, it’s time…

What grown ups cook

Recipe: Roast chicken and veg When I was little, and my friend Susan and I played house, Susan was always pretend roasting pretend chickens. For her, it was the epitome of grown up behaviour. Maybe she was right, because the first thing that my mother formally taught me to cook, when I was about 9,…

THAT chocolate cake

Recipe: Janet’s Mother’s Chocolate Cake If it’s celebration time in our house, our friends know that they can expect my chocolate cake. But “my” chocolate cake isn’t really mine, and like most of the things that I cook, it has a story. Probably the biggest influence on my mother’s cooking life was her best friend…

Easter/Pesach/Pagan

Recipe: Mayonnaise My mother’s parents were not practicing Jews and they celebrated none of the Jewish holidays. But they also didn’t celebrate the Christian holidays. My father’s parents were atheists and from what I gathered, only celebrated St Nicholas Day which is a Dutch thing and involves St Nicholas (Santa) bringing children presents and a…

Cooking in the deep end

Recipe: Joyce’s Chops The first time that I learnt what cooking for a family every single day was like was when I was 16. My mother had a hysterectomy – which back then was a bigger operation than it is now – and it got infected. She was flat on her back for six weeks,…

Childhood tasks

From when I was three, my mom worked. But she arranged it so that she got home quite early in the afternoon, and a lot of the time that we spent together involved me helping her with the things that she loved to do – gardening (as we are doing in the main photo) and…

A hungry playdate

Recipes: salad dressing; deep fried chips. When I was about 9, a little girl that we will call Emma befriended me. Her name was not Emma, we’re just calling her that. Now Emma was the child of a very well-known Johannesburg business woman, who at that time was just starting to become really successful. Emma’s…

My grandmother’s knees did not cook

I learnt to cook at my mother’s knee, but my mother did not learn to cook at her mother’s knee. (She is pictured here ON her mother’s knee.) My mother’s mother – Lilian “Lali” Kahn Klein – was one of 7 children born to Latvian immigrants Ida and Ludwig Kahn. Ludwig was a plumber (and…