Queen Bee


What do you do when you have a glut of eggs and granadillas (passion fruit)? You phone a friend to come and help you make granadilla curd, that’s what. So when Judy arrived at the farm for the long weekend she knew, kind of, what she was in for. She even brought some lemons with her and her employer’s family recipe for lemon curd. What we didn’t anticipate was just how much of an egg fest the weekend would turn into. I finally mastered the art of poaching eggs properly; Peter, not to be outdone, produced a meal of delicious baked bean omelettes; we made luscious mayonnaise; and with the leftover egg whites, we rustled up some chewy-centred meringues. Neither Judy nor I have made curd or mayonnaise before and after tasting the real deal I don’t think I shall ever be tempted to buy shop-bought again.


in the background is one of my granadilla vines

lemon and granadilla curd

lemon and granadilla curd

tea for two

tea for two

homemade mayonnaise

homemade mayonnaise

a perfectly poached egg

a perfectly poached egg

Despite all this culinary activity, we still found time to watch a thought- provoking documentary called Queen of the Sun, which was showing at a film festival in Howick.

QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? is a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis from Taggart Siegel, director of THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN. Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva. Together they reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.


I noticed that one of the contributors to the movie was a Michael Pollan. I’m always tickled when I come across examples of names somehow suiting their owners. I’m not sure whether names can play a significant role in determining aspects of the occupation or character of a person (nominative determinism) or whether it is simply a coincidental aptronym. Whatever the reason I do find it interesting that one comes across this phenomenon quite often. My favourite is an article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology written by A. J. Splatt and D. Weedon (Wikipedia).

But I digress.

After the movie, Judy commented on how well our garden flourishes with all the bees and other little critters that live in it. We have visited gardens here in Midlands that are beautifully maintained but actually quite sterile because of the use of pesticides and herbicides to control bugs and weeds. It seems that having a pristine garden can cost it its soul. A local nurseryman once showed me a hedge that he had planted in his garden using the indigenous Leucosidea sericea (umTshitshi in Zulu). Usually when we plant a hedge we tend to go for neater, exotic shrubs and shy away from the wilder indigenous plants. His hedge was alive with birds and bugs – a heaving, thriving and living entity. Living here in the country has taught me that gardening should be in balance with nature. Applying any form of poison harms the nunus, which in turn harms the birds and chameleons and skinks and frogs and so on.

 When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

John Muir (21 April 1838 – 24 December 1914) a Scottish born American environmentalist, naturalist, traveler, writer, and scientist.

I’ve accepted that my garden will never be immaculate – leaves will always be chewed, there will be dead flower heads, the roses will have black spot,  every autumn the caterpillars of the acraea horta butterfly will decimate my halleria lucida hedge and wild plants will continue to pop up all over the show. And that’s the way I like it.


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4 Responses to Queen Bee

  1. Adam Rice says:

    Just for reference..Jenny loves lemon curd and I love grandillas, so I hope there will be a little left in a fortnight. Apropos funny names, my driving instructor was Molly Miles, Pam’s head of department at Maritzburg whenshe was doing her Nursing degree was Prof P. Brain, and there is firm of Solicitors in Leamington spa called Wright Hassal. Not to mention Human & Pitt the funeral directors

    • Cathy says:

      There will definitely be some left for you as Peter and I are on a strict diet of no sugar and no carbs until you get here! Fancy someone giving their child the name P. Brain – hope he wasn’t one.

  2. Mike says:

    L’uovo in camicia sembra incredibile. Si prega di spiegare il tuo segreto.

    • Cathy says:

      In italiano – non è possibile, ma in englese, va bene! I thought you would like the poached egg! I followed the instructions on p88 of The Real Meal Revolution – Tim Noakes et al (which we bought on your recommendation). An interesting book – not sure that a diet of no carbs is sustainable but we are enjoying the recipes and the benefits of cutting down on wheat. The instructions are simple enough, I think the secret to mastering this method is confidence. We have so many eggs that if we waste some it doesn’t matter – they just get fed back to the chickens.

      Bring a pot of water to a light simmer. Swirl the water to create a medium-strength circular current (I used a balloon whisk which worked well). Break each egg into a small bowl and tip them, one by one, into the heart of the whirlpool. Allow them to poach for about three to four minutes or until soft (I did 3 eggs at a time for 4 minutes and they were perfect). Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs and dab them with a dry cloth or paper towel before serving.

      By the way, I love the image of eggs in blousy, white cotton shirts, very apt.

      P.S Thanks Mike for pointing out that the recipe calls for a dash of vinegar in the water. This is to bind the egg whites – I only added a teaspoon.

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