Jambalaya Juggle


There were certain things about Sunday Suppers that were always a juggle: the kitchen arrangements, for starters.  It’s an open plan space and in large part occupied by the stove and other appliances.  Working surfaces are limited, so I have to be super organised.  To begin with, there was a lot of juggling which, with practise and better organisation, became a lot easier.  Like ensuring I’ve got all the bits out and don’t have to go thundering around the house to fish out dessert dishes or ice bowls or…  It doesn’t really matter as long as didn’t have to make like a duck, diving for food in a pond when guests were enjoying supper.

Jambalya recipe


JambalayaDifferent seasons also presented juggles of a different kind.  Each week’s menu needed to suit carnivores, vegetarians and increasingly, vegans.  Somehow, somehow, in summer this is easier to do.  Not that I am complaining.  I enjoy(ed) the challenge and I enjoy discovering dishes that are sufficiently versatile that they can accommodate a range of dietary requirements.  One of these is the humble jambalaya.

A couple of years ago, I had a short stint doing street food type suppers for a friend of mine who had a little wine bar in the village.  When winter approached, the type of fare had to shift from a boerewors roll (a type of hot dog) to something that might be a little more substantial and which would stay hot.  For various reasons I canned the idea of stir fry (I don’t have the equipment and when the wind howls – as it does – the gas flame just blows out).  Similarly, paella and risotto went the same way, but for different reasons, but my research – which was focused on the vegetarians – threw up a Jambalaya recipe.


I had only ever heard or read about Jambalaya in novels set in Louisiana or New Orleans.  The word had certain appeal.  I liked the basic ingredients – onions, peppers, butternut squash – and, of course – herbs and spices including chilies.  I had found a one-size-would-fit-all dish:  with the addition of slices of chorizo or similar some cooked chicken or shrimp, I had found the solution.

That first attempt was a hit.  I came home without as much as a grain of rice.  I have since looked a little more into the origin of the dish and, like the bredie* I wrote about a while ago, it’s a great example of the fusion of foods from different cultures, and reflecting the history of Louisiana:

Jambalaya has its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of Spain, West Africa and France, especially in the Spanish dish paella (native to Valencia), West African dish jollof and the French dish known as jambalaia (native to Provence). Other seasoned rice-based dishes from other cuisines include pilafrisotto and Hoppin’ John. (Source)

I have, since making that the first time, made adjustments, some necessitated by my own preferences and others simply because of what may (or may not be available).  One of the key changes is to replace the herbs with McGregor Herbes de Provence and to roast the butternut to add later and/or to use it as a garnish.  A third change, for vegetarians, has been to add chickpeas (plain or spiced – recipe to follow in time) or lentils.

So, without further ado, here is my basic jambalaya:

Basic, slow cooked Jambalaya

meat or vegetarian proteins added later

Serves 8

The quantities are such that the basic dish, once prepared can be split into two, making it easy to do both meat and vegan meals at the same time.  It’s also done in a slow cooker which is not just easy, but really encourages great flavour development.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 sweet bell peppers (all colours, chopped)
1 chilli (de-seeded if you don’t like heat) and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ bunch soup celery, finely chopped
1 tin peeled, chopped tomatoes or 2 – 3 fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 – 2 fresh or dried chillies, chopped
2 cups rice
2 cups vegetable stock
25g (sachet) tomato puree
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp McGregor Herbes de Provence
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Jabalaya recipe steps

For vegans

1 tin of lentils or chickpeas or other spicy vegan substitute

For carnivores

1 large chorizo sausage and/or left-over bits of cooked chicken or frozen mixed seafood

What to do

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, andJambalaya and peas celery to oil.
  2. Cook onions until they begin to soften, about three minutes then add in garlic, chilli and tomatoes. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and rice. Cook rice in mixture for 1-2 minutes before adding liquids.
  4. Finally, add remaining ingredients.
  5. Once combined, pour into the slow cooker and set to low.
  6. Do not disturb for 3 – 4 hours, but watch the liquid. Once it’s all been absorbed, open the lid and stir.  If the rice is not cooked, add more liquid and replace the lid and allow to cook until the rice is soft.
  7. At this point, add your choice of additional ingredients, replace the lid and allow these to cook/heat through.

Serving suggestion

Serve with roasted vegetables like butternut, cauliflower and broccoli or a side salad to make a hearty, complete meal.

Jambalaya serving suggestion

Download the recipe

A while ago, I decided (for my own convenience and yours, to create downloadable versions of the recipes I dream up. You’ll get the full jambalaya recipe here.

Post script

This is another of those posts that I’m finding and fixing.  Brings back memories of a very different time.  It seems so long ago, but it isn’t really.  Just eighteen months.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script
If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised appplications.

    • From WordPress, I use the Exxp WordPress plugin. If this rocks your socks, click here or on on the image below to sign up.

    • Join Hive using this link and then join us in the Silver Bloggers’ community by clicking on the logo.
Original artwork: @artywink
    • I also share my occasional Instagram posts to the crypto blockchain using the new, and really nifty phone app, Dapplr. On your phone, click here or on the icon, and give it a go.

A burger’s a burger, or is it?

broad bean

I associate burgers with quick food.  They are, if one gets them “done”.  They’re not if they’re home made from scratch.  I make both meat and plant-based burgers.  One has to go a long way to find a good vegan or vegetarian patty.  Especially at a restaurant:  I’ve had some really memorable (for all the wrong reasons) ones.  The first vegetarian was – going on 34 years ago – in a burger joint in Johannesburg.  Instead of a slab of rubber, it was a huge, juicy black mushroom.  That joint went on to become one of the biggest local burger franchises in the country, and which last time I had one of their burgers, still set the bar for me.

But, I digress, as usual.

Garden Loot

We do eat meat, and as I keep on saying, The Husband is an avowed carnivore.  That said, he does enjoy his greens vegetables and, over the last nearly twenty years that we’ve shared a life, he’s had to endure many a meat-free meal.  Initially, it was with great reluctance and surprised relish.  Now, he’s less reluctant, but I do get very skew looks when I introduce something new to the repertoire.

So it was with these burgers.

This year, thanks to good rain and regularly watering the garden, we’ve had a surfeit of garden loot.

One spring afternoon’s harvest

The first pickings are young, tender and sweet.  As the season progresses, and the crops mature, they’re less so.  Also, as one picks, it’s easy to miss pods so some do get a trifle long in the tooth.  Not one to let much go to waste, I always look for ways of better dealing with “tougher” beans and peas. Let’s also be honest, one does need some variety when there are just the two of you and what feels like a year’s supply of, well, whatever.

That’s not always the case with broad (fava) beans – the season is short – and besides enjoying them as they are, they’re really versatile.  Anyhow, since I wrote that, some six years ago, we’ve moved to eating more meatfree meals.  On a Monday, at least, we’ve joined the  Meat Free Monday movement and often the meal is entirely plant-based.

I really do enjoy searching out new recipes and ways of doing things.  So it was with these burgers. If not the accompaniments.

The broad bean crop was coming to an end and beans were coming in thick and fast.

Five litres of broad beans

A while before, I’d been looking for not just things to do with beans and came across this burger recipe.  At the time, what a waste of broad beans, I thought.  Not so, when the beans got somewhat bigger and more chalky.  I admit, too, that there’s something about getting your mouth around a burger and messing all over one’s hands, face and just generally, that’s rather satisfying!

So, I gave them a go:

Broad bean burgers

These burger patties have a chickpea base with the broad beans added in towards the end of the process.  The flavours – mint, coriander, cumin and harissa – are southern Mediterranean and middle eastern – and delicious.  So much so that when I made these the first time, The Husband had a second helping and declared that they could become a regular part of the repertoire, expressing regret (again) that the season for broad beans is so shortlived!

The first time we ate them was on flatbreads which we folded over the patty.

We agreed that the simple leaf dressing of olive oil and lemon juice and the yoghurt dressing was nothing short of heavenly.  His –

You can do these again!

Is all the confirmation I needed.  So I have, and the next time – with equal enjoyment, I served them with my home made, brown sourdough rolls.

If you’d also like to make these, download the recipe here.

Before I go

I have blogpals in different parts of South Africa and the world.  Three, in particular, encourage and inspire me as I continue to experiment in my kitchen – and especially with plant-based food.  Katie (@plantstoplanks) in Atlanta, a personal trainer and nutrition coach, whose WordPress site is full useful information, and The Kitchen Fairy (@thekitchenfairy) in Canada, who shares cooking videos via YouTube and Instagram. Much closer to home, is Lizelle (@lizelle) in Durban.  Thank you all for your encouragement and inspiration to grow my repertoir and confound The Husband’s taste buds!

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

Looking for that gift for someone who has everything? Shop with Pearli in my developing Redbubble shop

And then there’s more:

  • If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:
    • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I plan to add them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
    • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts because of this.
  • If you’re interested in a soft entry into the world of crypto currency and monetising WordPress blog, use the fantastic plugin to post directly to the Hive blockchain. Click on the image below to sign up –
Image: @traciyork
  • I also share my occasional instagram posts to the crypto blockchain using the new, and really nifty phone app, Dapplr. On your phone, click the icon below, and give it a go.

In yet another aspect of my life –

English writing, research and online tutoring services

writing – emails and reports, academic and white papers
formal grammar, spelling and punctuation
more information here

Veg-ing out

wpid-20140730_200027-1.jpgI have flirted with vegetarianism on and off for about thirty years, particularly when I lived alone – which I have done, not unhappily, on and off, until I finally settled down with Tom.   One of the first, if not the first, recipe book I bought, was the A – Z of Vegetarian Cooking in South Africa.  And two of our favourite quiche fillings (leek & onion, and spinach & feta) are based on recipes from this book.  I do confess that I work very hard at not thinking about the journey that meat must take to reach my kitchen.

Consequently, entertaining friends who are vegetarian is fun! Well, I think so, anyway.  For some, it’s a challenge, so I thought I’d share with you what I did when our neighbours joined us for a long overdue dinner, a few weeks ago.

It was a Friday evening and Fridays are my day in the kitchen, preparing for the market.  This particular Friday, I was really in the mode, so it was in for a penny, in for a pound.  The broccoli was ready to pick and we had ripe gooseberries, so there were two ready ingredients.

That said, it was cold and miserable and had the makings of becoming even more so, and what is more warming than cottage pie, I thought.   So, instead of the beef mince, I used beautiful green lentils, soaked and cooked, that were added to sautéd onions and mushrooms.  This was seasoned with chopped garlic, some tomato paste, a twig of fresh rosemary and a good glug of red wine.  A lesson I learned, and which I had forgotten, was that it’s really easy to let this mixture dry out – watch it and add water and/or vegetable stock so that it stays nice and moist as the flavours develop.  Transferred to an oven proof dish, this was topped with a potato and butternut mash, dotted with knobs of butter and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes to half an hour.  The butter is what gives you the crispy, caremelised crust on the cottage pie which was served with a garden salad.

100_2974 100_3150So, we started our dinner with broccoli soup, made with the first picking, and discovered to my delight, that not only does Ant enjoy soup,  but particularly loves creamy ones.

For dessert, we had a gooseberry tart with jam I had made earlier in the day.

No meal is complete without wine.  We don’t really do the wine-pairing thing.  Although we do take the menu into consideration, we choose what we like, and what we think our guests will like.  As usual, we chose beautiful wines from our valley:  Tanagra‘s Heavenly Chaos (isn’t that a wonderful name for a wine?), a lovely red blend, which is beautifully different every year, and Springfield’s Life from Stone, one of my favourite Sauvignon Blanc wines.

Pat and Ant, it was fun – we’ll do it again! 100_3151

Eating to live and living to eat?

I enjoy preparing and eating food.  I lost my sweet tooth a long time ago, although I do enjoy the odd dessert from time to time. 100_3048 My preference is for uncomplicated meals which, in old fashioned language, would have been known as “balanced”.  Although not vegetarian, I prefer not to eat meat every day, eating quite a few vegetarian meals – often with eggs and cheese.

Over the last few weeks I have heard and read much about converts to the Banting diet, and similarly also heard what the detractors are saying about it.  Also, over the past few months, I have made certain choices about my own eating habits:  in mid-January, I decided to try to do without bread and potatoes.  During the week.

I know from previous efforts at diets that they are deadly:  for personal harmony and for the weekly menu, particularly if it’s not just me that’s to be considered.  So, I decided that those were the only two things that I would change – and only for me.  I continued having my evening tipple and cooking dinner in exactly the same way as I always had.  Lunches, for me, are salads which include either lots of cheese or cold chicken and, sometimes quiche or soup (there is always a protein, and with most tasty protein, there is fat).  As time has progressed, I have found myself avoiding other starches, 100_3046particularly rice and commercial pasta.  I make my own pasta, and as I’ve mentioned before, that has had an impact on the quantity we eat per serving, so I’m still eating that.  Also, when we entertain, I still make and keep our guests company with dessert, and the menu choices are not influenced by my particular proclivities.

Since I’ve been thinking consciously about these choices, and as more and more people are Banting, I have realised that for some, their conversion to a particular eating regime has become an all or nothing affair.  Similarly, I am astounded, respect but fail to understand, people who go on diets that make them feel as though they are living in hell.  Each to their own.

So, my “almost-no-carb-journey” has been a relatively easy one because I’ve not cut it completely.  I have taken on board, with great relief, that full cream milk and butter are ok.  (Tom has never approved of low fat anything…)  I have long rejected margarine because of the way it was made, and what it consists of (and it tastes horrid).  A few years ago, on examining the contents of yoghurt, come to the conclusion that Greek yoghurt was better for one than the low fat options that are full of sugar and starch stabilisers!

And then, there’s more:  Having stuck to my choices, I no longer get hungry and consequently am not eating as much.  I am happy 100_2530to stop eating when I am satisfied.  I thought that I would find it difficult to stick to this when I was travelling;  it hasn’t been.  It’s easy to “lose the chips” and order a burger without the bun.

And what has all of this meant in terms of my own well-being?  I have certainly lost weight – my friends and my clothes are telling me so.  I don’t have a scale, so I couldn’t tell you how much.  I feel better in myself and have more energy.  And best of all, because I do still get to enjoy a slice of toast and Bovril or pizza, and my glass(es) of wine, I really don’t miss the bread and potato.

So, I do eat to live, and I live to (cook and) eat!