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 he was very young. Francois was a talented cartoonist, and my guest loo has three of his “cat” drawings hanging in it.
Francois, in the time before I was born, was married to a potter called Jenny. When they got divorced, my parents uncharacteristically stayed friends with both of them.
Jenny went on to have an interesting time of things. She met a man called Sam, and together they worked on a pig farm in Stellenbosch where we had a fabulous holiday looking after baby piglets (and a dog ate my Monchichi toy, causing terrible trauma). I could probably write a story about that holiday alone. I don’t know what happened to Sam, but next thing Jenny was working on a chicken farm and had a new car. That holiday was less memorable, but the new car made an impression. My parents were ones to buy 4th hand falling apart wrecks for cash. Jenny was Paying Off a New Car. When it was Paid Off she planned to get a new one and start again. It was revolutionary. My dad and I were fascinated.
This picture of Jenny is around that time:
Then Jenny went to the States where she hiked the Appalachian Trail (I don’t know what she did with the New Car), and blogged about it before blogging was a common thing – and it was fascinating and you should really read about this trail (Bill Bryson has a book about it). Anyhow, Jenny then met a man on the trail, who she married and they lived in a trailer and started eating only raw food. What we didn’t know was that she was only eating raw food because she’s felt a lump in her breast and was having a bad case of cancer-denialism (which is a real thing and quite scary but also fascinating). She died of breast cancer.
But the story of the biscuits happens before the raw food period of her life, when she was on holiday in Johannesburg and came to visit. For some reason, she brought a friend called Renate with her. And for some reason, Renate brought biscuits.
And that is why I have a recipe called “Renate’s Biscuits” even though I have no actual memory of this Renate. The biscuits are very delicious, although when I was a teenager I was less appreciative. My mother told me to hang onto the recipe because I would grow to appreciate such an easy, delicious biscuit. And she was right (as usual). In fact, it is so delicious that I am just going to double the recipe for you because the original made a very silly amount.
400g brown sugar
200g mixed nuts
200g raisins, sultanas or cake mix
450g self-raising flour
Heat oven to 180.
Melt butter and then add ingredients one after each other, stirring after each addition.
Push mixture into baking tin:
Bake for 30 mins.
Cut while warm (but not too hot as they need to dry out a bit)
They are melting and buttery and known around here as “Dad’s favourite biscuits”. They don’t last long.