There have been a lot of changes made to my lifestyle since I moved to the farm two years ago. Some have been deliberate, some have been forced on me and some have just evolved as I’ve adapted to a different way of life in the country. The most difficult adjustment was, of course, learning to live on my own a lot of the time, but once I got over the whole “empty nest” thing that became a lot easier to deal with. In fact it has actually had quite a positive outcome in that it’s forced me to take more responsibility for, and reassess, how I live my life.
It struck me recently how very different our town house is to our country house, especially the kitchens. A few years ago we renovated our Durban kitchen, turning it into a lovely, light and airy room. It’s uncluttered and gleaming with white cupboard doors and black granite counter tops.
The farm kitchen however was constructed on a budget that can only be described as miniscule by comparison. It’s half the size, rather dark, very cluttered and, dare I say, a bit dingy (and there are no cupboard doors).
But I love this kitchen, it really is the heart (as in the engine) of the house and it is, at long last, starting to reflect a country way of life. Bottles and jars of preserved home-grown produce are starting to replace shop-bought items in the pantry and I’m beginning to concoct meals using whatever fresh fruit and veg I have on hand.
Yesterday I picked a batch of gooseberries (about 800 g) but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them once they had been dehusked and washed. I have made gooseberry jam before but I wanted to use them as a dessert, so I decided to make a gooseberry sauce.
I heated 200g sugar, 1T Crème de Cassis and 1 T water in a saucepan, stirring it until the sugar dissolved. I added the gooseberries and brought them to the boil. The gooseberries produced quite a bit of liquid, so I drained some off before puréeing the gooseberries in the blender. The sauce was delicious but what does one do with a gooseberry sauce? I landed up making decadent vanilla ice-cream (with condensed milk) and we had that topped with the sauce as dessert.
For dinner, I fried 2 pieces of fresh fish which I had bought from Bartho’s fish shop in “the village” (as the locals somewhat romantically call the Nottingham Road CBD) and served them with stir-fried veggies and baby potatoes from the allotment and a home-made Thai dressing, using the strained leftover gooseberry liquid instead of sugar syrup. All in all, it was a very good meal, even if I say so myself!
I’m actually ashamed when I think of all the money I used to spend on food when I lived in Durban. I seemed to be forever grocery shopping; the fridge, freezer and pantry were always stocked full of food and so much went to waste. I’ve learned now to keep it simple, less is more when it comes to meals, and it helps that food really does taste better in the country.
I guess the “keep it simple” and “less is more” philosophy now applies to other aspects of my life as well. As a result, everything seems to have slowed down and there’s time to:
observe weather patterns and seasonal changes, and value the wisdom of trees, the strength of the wind, the majesty of mountains, and the serenity of flowing water
(from 1001 Ways to Live in the Moment by Barbara Ann Kipfer)
Kipfer also writes:
We live in acquisitive times; it’s easy to fall into the trap of always wanting “more” – money, free time, success, power. Ask yourself, “When will I have enough?” Let go of insatiable desires, and replace them with appreciation for the things you have. Recognize that there’s very little else you truly need.
Sometimes, easier said than done!