Here's my beef

Gaborone Game Reserve

We took a leisurely drive through Gaborone Game Reserve this past weekend.
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All our friends who go on amazing (and $$$$) safaris scoff at the Gaborone Game Reserve, but for us, it was our first "real" game drive and first chance to see African wildlife in a natural setting. It is right here in the middle of town so no long drive with Nile to some remote location,  and the price was right (about US $5).

Of course, my camera died about 10 min. in, so I didn't get photos of the flock of ostrich, the Vervet monkeys or the ZEBRAS!!!! But I will next time, and trust me there will be a next time -- it was a fun little drive and so close to home. They also have picnic/bbq areas which looked like fun.

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We saw a lot of families of warthogs. They are so ugly/adorable. I kept thinking of the little guy in the Lion King!
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Is that an OSTRICH in the road?!
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Next time I'll go back and bring the good camera -- and I'll make sure it's charged!

Life Runs Amok!

Life Happens...

Saturday Night Howie and I got home from our 9 day trip away in Arizona..Our !8 year old son had looked after things..All the animals were fine..Bizzy the new mummy Goat is now able to share 1 cup of her milk with us per day...and that will increase as the needs of Clover and Blossom increase..so that when they begin to wean off..I will continue to take the same amount they were taking so that her milk does not decrease as their demand goes down.  Bizzy and I are both new to this..she is a new mom and new to having someone milk her..and I am new to milking..but we are getting there!

Yesterday I weeded 3 rows of beans..it took me all day..as I had fallen in the Driveway Sunday Morning and was very stiff..but I manage to get the tasks assigned to myself done..if a little slowly!  Some of the bean plants did not come..so as I weeded I replanted some seed in the bald spots.

Howie noticed when we got home..that one of our hens was missing..it is not hard to miss her as she is the only black chicken..we found her in the hay loft sitting on a nest of 15 eggs!!! 



She had decided to move out of the hen pen and into the hayloft to try and hatch out some eggs..she does NOT like being moved off the nest..or to much attention paid to her..We have decided to allow her the right to try and hatch out her eggs...Broody chickens this day in age are not easy to find..so we want to encourage her as much as ppossible..if however she has not hatched by mid June..we will have to remove her from the nest.  I hope for her sake she gets a few chicks..the rooster was put in the freezer two weeks ago..so some of her eggs should still be fertile. We will keep you posted!
In the mean time I am preparing for a busy summer of gardening, canning and workshops!
Our two other adult goats..the young buck and the older doe are both going to be dispatched and made into chops and sausages...the buck cannot be used to breed the two little does as he is their sire..and the older doe did not breed..so in the freezer they go! We don't raise pork..so this is a good opportunity to make some Bratwurst and breakfast sausages!  Bizzy along with daughter clover and blossom will be bred next fall ( 2012) and by June 2013, we  will have 3 milking goats..this will hopefully see to all our milk, butter ( once I have the cream separator) yogurt and cheese needs!!  In the mean time we will be content with what Bizzy shares!  Hope you enjoy the little video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQuwiZ9QxU8

Cheers!

An Update
Licorice has stopped laying and is now sitting on her eggs full time!

Defying Gravity

I can run 10+ minutes without stopping!  I have proven to myself and can do this!  I was talking to my friend who has run a marathon and a triathlon and telling her I was up to 9 minutes, and she said that if I can run 9 minutes then I could run the whole 5k being that my system has built up it’s endurance.  Just her telling me that gave me courage and I went out and did an hour run in sets of 10 minutes and the last run being 14 minutes.  It ended up being 4.4 miles.  That is amazing that my body can do that... that my mind can tell my body I can do that!!  Just  3 weeks ago I could barely run 1 minute!
I feel like Elphaba in “Wicked” when she sings “Defying Gravity”!  I so relate to this:
Something has changed within me - Something is not the same 
I'm through with playing by the rules, Of someone else's game 
Too late for second-guessing, Too late to go back to sleep 
It's time to trust my instincts - Close my eyes: and leap! 
It's time to try Defying gravity 
I think I'll try Defying gravity 
And you can't pull me down! ...
I'm through accepting limits ‘'cause someone says they're so 
Some things I cannot change But till I try, I'll never know! 
Too long I've been afraid of Losing love I guess I've lost 
Well, if that's love It comes at much too high a cost! 
I'd sooner buy Defying gravity 
Kiss me goodbye I'm defying gravity 
And you can't pull me down

Everything I do that is new feels like I’ve conquered my old self!  It feels like I’ve taken my limits off.  It feels like I am defying gravity and refuse to be pulled down by old limits.
Here is a new case in point:  
I totally screwed up my eating this weekend by BINGING on sugar.  I made brownies Saturday night and a double batch of sugar cookies Sunday and helped myself to Way Too Many (I don’t want to even list the number).  I even had my daughter hide the cookies from me sunday night or I would have finished them all!  I felt guilty and bloated and disgusted with myself.  
While I ate these sugar bombs... I enjoyed them and felt like I “deserved” them and that all my good efforts would counteract this indiscretion.  I was lonely and feeling sorry for myself.  I wanted and deserved to be comforted.  I rationalized my eating.  It doesn’t end there... this morning, I convinced my daughter to let me have just a few more.  At first she would NOT let me (good girl), but then my other daughter defended me and and told her to give them to me and then they did.  And I ate another like 10 cookies.  Drat!!  Then I felt guilty again.  Thankfully, my son finished those blasted cookies off, now the temptation is GONE.
So as I was driving my kids to swimming today, I was feeling defeated somewhat and wondering how often this is going to happen... when I just thought: 

This doesn’t define me!  This doesn’t have to “happen” anymore!  I choose for myself!  I will say how my story will go.  I don’t care what the statistics are... I am the captain of my boat!  
And I realized that in these “temptation” situations, I did NOT turn to prayer for help.  
So I am NOT defeated.  I am wiser!  I will NOT have boxes of brownies in my house from now on... or cookies.  I will keep temptation far from me and remember to ask for the Lord’s help Daily or hourly if needed.  I refuse to beat myself up and give in to self-loathing thoughts again (no more calling myself horrible names!)  I’m through accepting limits!  I WILL defy gravity.  Who’s with me?
BTW - Saturday night (after the brownies), I went to the gym and ran/walked a 5K in 46 minutes!!  WOO HOO!  So I have this last week to build up to hopefully running the whole 5K on Saturday.  Brent comes home this week, and my oldest graduates... so much fun stuff going on.  AND we’re hoping to hear that one of the houses we have offers on will be accepted this week.  Hoping and praying and DEFYING GRAVITY!!  
How will YOU defy Gravity? 

Meet the New Guy!

We have a new member of the family!
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Two weekends ago we adopted a dog from the Botswana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

He joins Bolu, our toy poodle, and Ellie, our blind-in-one-eye cat, as a family pet. However, he also has a job: security alarm and personal intimidator.

You see, around here everyone has high walls, electric fences and remote-controlled iron gates. We have a stationary neighborhood security crew and our contract roaming security guards.

But we noticed that everyone has at least one big dog and one little dog. They bark if you get near the fence or ring the bell. The little one is noisy and the big one is scary.

Well, we had the noisy one. And we started to think that it would probably be good if we had a scary one, too. Or at least one with the intimidation factors of a bellowing bark and the size to match.
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We went to the BSPCA and found our man. He looks like most local dogs here, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. He is about 5-7 years old and is the sweetest, calmest and gentlest dog I have ever owned. He does not jump up, he is not nervously excitable, he is careful around Nile and has no reaction to the cat.

He is just perfect for us and has finally settled in and lets out a bellowing bark if anyone gets near the fence. He is exactly what we were looking for! He seems used to the gate routine and doesn't try to go out when it opens.
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The other night a delivery guy came to the gate and Neil walked out to it with me, holding onto the dog's collar just for the look. The guy whistled and said "You are bringing lions with you, too?!"

We still haven't named him, any suggestions?

I Was Getting Tired Of Those Moths ...

Some people have rats' nests, others have moths' nests. Look no further to finally rid yourself of those nasty winged pests!

We're running an "End of Moth Special"!

At the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency-esque named "Smart Lady Hair Salon." Because it's not so much about intelligence, but about looking smart (i.e. sharp, for those who don't speak British English)!
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WILD BABOONS!!!!

Whizzing down the highway to the farmer's market, Neil said, "Look, there are some baboons!" We had already passed them and I was like, "OH MY GOSH, TURN AROUND, TURN AROUND!" He did, and I was able to get some pics. CRAZY.

This was over by Kgale Hill, where I have heard they live, and where I have subsequently NOT wanted to go. Baboons scare me, and rightfully so, they are huge and aggressive.

But from afar, this little family was really cute -- a mom, dad and baby. They were waiting on the side of the road to cross, and when they had the all clear, they crossed, with the dad bringing up the rear.
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You can just make out the baby's head above the grass as he rode on his mommy's back. Very sweet.

Bug Eyes

Random connection between two photos taken the same day.
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The No. 1 Ladies' Opera House

Have you read the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series by Alexander McCall Smith?

If not, I recommend it; it's a fun read (and HBO series if you prefer visuals!) and is based right here in Gaborone, Botswana. It will give you a good taste for the culture here.

We stopped by the No. 1 Ladies' Opera House for the farmers' market this past weekend. Some of our friends were selling homemade cilantro-mint salsa (awesome!!!), some other friends were selling pork chops to promote their "piggery" (pig farm), and other friends of ours had a booth selling their fine art photography. We mised Ms. Farmer this week, but she'll be there next time.
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Nile would still be going up and down the stairs if I hadn't removed her. So cute the way babies look at other babies, too.
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At the top of the stairs, the view of the stage. And some lovely young ladies sharing a bit of gossip.
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I kind of enjoy how now, as a mom with a baby, I am "invisible" to high school through college age girls and can follow my baby up the stairs and into their conversation space without them stopping or moving on. Great and not so great from an anthropological perspective! I can't really engage in participant observation, but I can be accepted to watch safely from just outside the circle under the socially neutral guise of "mother with baby."
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I like the cowhide pillows, a nice local touch. And the enamel tea kettle/cup/spoon chandelier!!!

This venue took me back to days of my childhood and youth, attending the Bluemont Fair. If you are in the D.C. area in September, I highly recommend you and your family and friends attend the fair.  It's a WONDERFUL hometown, family event, lots of handmade crafts, Civil War-era antiques, music, food, etc.
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Mom, doesn't this make you think of looking out from the Community Center or the Store? This just really reminded me of that atmosphere. A taste of home on another continent.

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Roads and Buildings in Gaborone

So this is what this place looks like.

Molepolole (MOH-lay-po-LOH-lay) Rd., looking toward the Gov't Enclave where some gov't offices and embassies are located.
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This was yesterday, the cones are there because the road was closed apparently due to an oil spill on the overpass ...

We're going left anyway, (remember, we're driving on the "wrong" side of the road), where we approach the new "Central Business District," or CBD, an area with a lot of new office construction going up.
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These buildings are right down from The Square office park (below). The Square has a Fego (South African chain) cafe in the open area, which has OK food, but not excellent.
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The building and atmosphere are quite nice though, and across from it is a very nice shopping center with SquareMart grocery. SquareMart is owned by Muslims, so they don't sell alcohol or pork, among other things. Most everything is Halal.

CUBA 8th-15th May



Okay, well I aint up for writing a laborious account of everything I did here, there's plenty of trip reports from Cuba on the net and to be honest I spent perhaps only 40% of my time birding... the other 60% was spent drinking, eating, sun bathing, perving and doing other touristy kinda things. We stayed at the magnificent 5 star Playa Pesquero resort on the Guardalavaca coast in the Holguin Province which after the c9hr flight was thankfully only an hours coach ride from Holguin Airport.
I spent perhaps 80% of my time on the resort and managed a nice haul of species, many from the ground floor balcony of the room I was staying in and very often accompanied by a soothing ice-cold beer (the temp rarely fell below 34 degrees). We took a few excursions doing the aforementioned tourist bits and one pinnacle birding trip to a nearby national park. In total I recorded just 43 species of which only 9 were seen 'away' from the resort. 35 of the birds were lifers for me of which 6 were endemic to Cuba (of the 22 - 28 in the country - I found it difficult to find a definitive list of endemics as things are being split/lumped all the time).

Below is the full list of species I notched up, in the order I saw them. The endemics are capitalised & the 9 birds seen away from Playa Pesquero have an * following their name. I'll upload a few images to another post later.

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Cattle Egret
  3. Northern Mockingbird
  4. Red-legged Thrush
  5. CUBAN BLACKBIRD
  6. House Sparrow
  7. Grey Kingbird
  8. Yellow Faced Grassquit
  9. Stripe-headed Tanager (Western Spindalis)
  10. American Redstart
  11. Yellow Warbler
  12. Mourning Dove
  13. Smooth-billed Ani
  14. Spotted Sandpiper
  15. Great Lizard Cuckoo
  16. Tawny Shouldered Blackbird
  17. Great Antillean Grackle
  18. Clapper Rail
  19. Black-necked Stilts
  20. Lesser Yellowlegs
  21. Green Heron
  22. Antillean Nighthawk
  23. White-winged Dove
  24. Common Yellowthroat
  25. Snowy Egret
  26. Black-whiskered Vireo
  27. Great (white) Egret*
  28. American Kestrel*
  29. Cuban Emerald
  30. Loggerhead Kingbird
  31. La Sagra's Flycatcher
  32. Common Ground Dove
  33. Tricolored Heron
  34. ORIENTE WARBLER
  35. Shiney Cowbird
  36. CUBAN GREEN WOODPECKER*
  37. Red-legged Honeycreeper*
  38. Zenaida Dove*
  39. CUBAN PYGMY OWL*
  40. CUBAN TODY*
  41. Royal Tern*
  42. CUBAN MARTIN*
  43. (Ruddy) Turnstone



A few notes - late April/early May



29th April - Lincs -
Tetney Lock - 7 Dotterel, 3 Yellow Wags & 1 Little Egret.
Rosper Road Pools, Killingholme - Collared Pratincole.
Hatfield Moors - 9 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Arctic Tern, Yellow Wag, Oystercatcher & Buzzard.



30th April - Derbys/Notts -
Ogston Res - 4 LRP, 2 Common Sand, 2 Dunlin & 1 Oystercatcher.
Hoveringham - 1 Black Tern (Sailing Pit), 2 Yellow Wags, Oystercatchers.

1st May - N.Yorks -
Filey - No sign of Woodchat Shrike. Guillimots, Razorbills, Puffin, Gannets, Shags, Purple Sands.

2nd May - Notts -
Lound - Chainbridge - 1 Wood Sand, 1 male Pintail, 1 male Wigeon, 2 LRP, 2 Cuckoo & 1 Common Sand.
Lound - Neatholme Lane area - 5+ Garden Warblers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 male Garganey, 2 Greenshank, Swifts (my first of the year!), Dunlin & 3 LRP.

7th May - Notts -
KMR - 2 Common Sands, 2 LRP, Common Tern & Swifts.

Right, that's that lot done. Now to think about writing some shit on Cuba!!

Nile Coloring

April 10, 2011.

This was Nile's first time ever coloring.

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Making Waffles

I made waffles in the "other" kitchen. Yes, our house has two kitchens. This one is in the guest wing of the house. See Mom -- and any other visitors -- we're READY for you!!!!

Our TV is in the adjacent guest wing living room, so we watched a movie on the couch while I cooked (and sampled!). The waffles were for a pot luck event the next day. Let me just say that Hungry Jack is right when they say to serve them fresh, they were kind of mealy the next day.

It was our first time breaking out the Belgian waffle maker that we got as a wedding gift from our friends Patrick and Kastle! Thanks, guys!!!! Even if it took us three years to finally use it, it's awesome!

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Roses: Blossoms and Thorns

There are lots of things you could say about this.

My humble submission:

Do you see the rose for its beautiful blossom?

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Or for the thorns below?
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Really, I'm wondering. When it comes to an actual rose, I see the bloom. Neil sees the thorns. With metaphorical roses, I think we see things the other way around.

50 Cent

This guy works at TradeWorld. He saw Neil with our camera and asked him to take his picture. This pose was his choosing. I have noticed that most Batswana are very serious in pictures.

He said he goes by the name "50 Cent." He was very interested in getting a copy of this photo; I saw him on a subsequent trip to TradeWorld and he asked when I might bring by the photo ... I need to get this thing printed. I wonder how many photos of himself 50 Cent has.

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April Picnic at Glasshouse Mountains

(Continuing with the previously unfinished posts, here's another. This one is from April when my parents were visiting.)

While Nano and Grandpap were in Brisbane we decided to take them to our new favourite place - the Glasshouse Mountains - for a picnic.Due to a mishap when exiting the highway we became separated, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology (GPS navigator system which gave us the wrong road name, which we then passed on to our lost counterparts) we managed to make what should have been a relatively easy fix into a tediously drawn-out drama. While HB, Possum, Dragon, Kitcat and I were waiting for Nano and Grandpap (who had Teddy, Mousie and Ducky in their car) to find the lookout picnic area, Possum asked me to take photos of her with the Glasshouse Mountains in the background. These are some of the best shots.Nano and Grandpap were taking a long time to catch up us so, thanks to another wonder of modern technology (mobile phone), we were able to talk and arrange to meet at a certain location so they could follow me back to the picnic ground.

Kitcat had wanted to bring her new bottle of bubble mix on the picnic, but HB said he didn't want it in the car. How was it, then, that I managed to take this photo of HB through a flotilla of shimmering bubbles?It seems that Nano had brought the bubbles along in her car, so no wonder Kitcat had been waiting for her to arrive with great impatience. Kitcat stood up in the lookout rotunda and blew bubbles down onto anyone and everyone in the vicinity.She didn't even want to stop blowing bubbles when I tried to get a nice group photo of the Half-dozen with their grandparents.It was a lovely warm day, not too hot and certainly not too cold, and I noticed that HB was taking lots and lots of photos of the bush ..... until I realised that he was actually photographing dragonflies! Nearly every spindly branch-tip was occupied by a dragonfly. These are some of the shots I got .... I decided not to include the ones where the dragonfly in focus had decided to change position just as I clicked the shutter, resulting in many pictures of what seemed to be dismembered dragonfly legs, wings or tail.While HB and I enjoyed the area by taking photos, Nano, Ducky and Mousie went for a little walk through the bush and Teddy and Kitcat made some new friends with the other picnicking families. Grandpap reclined on the picnic mat to have a rest while taking in the beautiful scenery. But what do you think Possum and Dragon did? The beauty of creation and the love of family surrounded them but, yes, they chose to play with their ipods.

Roy Eldridge - Rockin' Chair (7/2/41)

According to Connie Crothers, this was Lennie Tristano's favorite Roy Eldridge solo.



Recipes from My Sister Abroad...

Dal Recipe







4 to 6 ounces of red lentils


chopped fresh parsley (dried parsley will do)


an onion, peeled and chopped however you like, to be added to the lentils


another onion, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-rings, to be browned later


a carrot or two, sliced into rounds


two or three potatoes, peeled and quartered


any other vegetable you feel like adding, e. g. frozen peas


1 lemon, to be squeezed later (use a lime if you can get one, but take care that no pips get into the mix)


8 to 10 ounces of white basmati rice (you can use brown basmati if you like)






Spices for Dal






quarter teaspoonful of ground turmeric


whole fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into rounds about an eight of an inch thick


several cloves (not bulbs!) of garlic, peeled, but left whole


parsley, fresh or dried, chopped


salt, about half a teaspoon, DO NOT ADD till the lentils have been cooking for at least half an hour


ground black pepper


the freshly-squeezed lemon-juice or lime-juice






Spices for the tarka (which you fry in hot oil and add to the dal just before serving)






1/4 tsp. of powdered asafoetida


half teaspoon whole cumin seed


2 teaspoons of whole black mustard seeds


4 black pepper corns


1 bay leaf


two or three whole dried red chilli peppers (the long, pointy ones)






Preparation






Wash the rice thoroughly under running water, then soak it in about two and a half pints of water, to which you add a teaspoonful of salt, and stir with your hand. Cover it so no light gets in, and set it aside for about 40 minutes.






Now measure out the lentils and wash them in cold water, thoroughly.






Then place lentils in a largish saucepan covering the lentils with enough cold water, so the water level is about an inch or so above the lentils.






Bring the lentils to the boil, skimming off the froth and scum produced during this process with a spoon (you will not be able to remove it all, but get most of it).






You can always spoon off or pour off water if you’ve added too much to start with, but you can’t add water to the dal once it has boiled, as this will make it taste thin and watery – so it’s best to use more water than you think you need (the lentils will absorb quite a lot as they soften and cook).






Then add the turmeric, garlic, ginger and parsley, and the vegetables you are using (I have used broccoli and red peppers recently, because that was all we had), turn the heat down to a slow simmer, and cover (or partly cover) the pot. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over, or stick on the bottom.






While the Dal is simmering we can drain and cook the rice.






Basmati Rice






You will need a medium-sized saucepan, preferably heavy-bottomed, and with a close-fitting lid, or a lid that can have a weight placed on it during the cooking.






Drain the rice, get the pan hot (but not so hot that the butter burns when you put it in!), and drop in a knob of butter (about the size of a walnut). Swirl it round the pan as it sizzles and melts.






Then throw in the drained basmati rice, and stir it rapidly with a wooden spoon or spatula over a high heat for about a minute. Make sure you have just under a pint of cold water standing by to add to the pan. It goes in with a big hot whoosh, and you can then add a teaspoonful of salt, and stir. Bring to the boil, stir again, and reduce heat to very low indeed, and cover. Check after 20 minutes, and stir once, and cover again. It will be ready in another ten to twenty minutes.






While the rice is cooking, you return to the dal, which by now may need stirring every so often, to stop it from getting too thick at the bottom of the pot.






If the lentils have got all soft and fluffy, and the potatoes are cooked, it’s time to squeeze the lemon. Add salt to the dal, then the lemon-juice. Stir and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes more, covered.






The Tarka






Meanwhile, get the spices lined up for the tarka. You can use more or less any whole spices, such as cardamom, cloves, a few fenugreek seeds if you like.






Heat about two tablespoons of vegetable oil (sunflower oil is good) in a small pan or frying-pan till hot. Add the onion half-rings, and stir till they are brown, then remove them and set them aside in a bowl. If the oil is still hot enough, add the asafoetida powder – the oil must be hot enough to make the asafoetida sizzle. Then, in quick succession, add the other whole spices. They will expand and darken, and go pop all over the place! You uncover the dal, and tip the oil and spices into the dal, being very careful to tip away from you, or you could get hot oil splash in your face.






Stir the spices and oil into the dal, turn off the heat, and cover.






Serve the rice, spoon or ladle the dal over it, add some crispy fried onions, and eat.






An extra squeeze of lemon-juice on the dal is nice, if you have any left.






Avoid biting into the slices of ginger in the dal, unless you want to (they can look like potatoes). Avoid biting into the whole red chilli peppers, unless you want to! They can be mistaken for browned onions, so you can remove them (and the ginger) from the dal by hand before serving, if you are eating with persons of a nervous disposition, such as children. It helps if you can remember how many slices of ginger you put in, and the same for the whole chillies.

Cheers!

Competition Time! Decorate the Half and Half Logo!

We thought now would be a great time for the first Half and Half competition. Decorate the logo in your own style, adding your own unique twist. Work on your design by hand or digitally- the choice is yours. Multiple submissions from the same creative/s are welcome. Show us what you've got guys- a select number of the chosen designs will be part of the exhibition this summer...and the winning design will receive a goodie bag. Deadline is the same as the exhibition- June 30th, so get scribbling ;)!

Mokolodi Backpackers

We went to our friend Hendrik's place, the local hostel he owns called Mokolodi Backpackers.

It's a beautiful place with all kinds of animals. I think Neil and I may just head out there for an overnight to get away and enjoy the peace and quiet outside of town!

Here is (L-R) Ted, Hendrik, Joanne. Also two of Hendrik's dogs and a gaggle/flock/? of Guinea fowl.
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This hen had adopted a Guinea fowl chick. It was SO CUTE to see the little chick running along side the hen, and the hen act so protectively toward the baby chick.
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Another chicken, this one quite tame.
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These succulents were so pretty. And yes, that is a giraffe skull on the wall.

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A lone bunny.
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A Guinea fowl and a big, ugly pet pig! Hendrik has had to put sticker bushes around some of his flower beds because the pig digs huge holes searching for food, and will tear up the plantings.
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