October has always been an odd month, and one with which I have a love-hate relationship. When I lived in Johannesburg it was characterised by a tension that was hard to describe but which was usually attributed to the dryness of the air and the seemingly interminable wait for the first rain. Rain up there comes, usually, in the form of spectacular, short and sharp thunderstorms. A business trip had me experiencing exactly that: an unseasonal heatwave, exhaustion and no thunderstorm.
Living in the Western Cape, a Mediterranean climate, we rarely have the joy of a thunderstorm at the end of a hot day. Boy, sometimes I wish we did. No more so than this week when we had two days of heat which is normally a feature of February: Tuesday was 37°C (98°) and Wednesday 38°C (100°F) on our shady verandah.
Our outside shower was put to good use.
In addition to the bloomin’ heat, October is also the bloomin’ month for beautiful flowers, wind and hayfever (adult onset so very much resented and very ungracefully dealt with). This year, for some reason, the flowers in our garden have been magnificent.
We have had a wall of Iceberg roses which a villager enviously described as “revolting”.
They are equally beautiful, gracing the veranda.
Another feature of late spring is that the local fowls produce a surfeit of eggs and as many readers know, I have a penchant for eggs. My mother introduced me to my first duck egg. I must have been about five and I’ve never forgotten either the flavour or its colour – the most beautiful, pale, almost iridescent blue.
One of the village smallholders has ducks and had some of their eggs for sale. Well, I was possibly her best customer. I wasn’t disappointed. Beautiful blue and white eggs. Huge, orange yolks. Perfect for boiling.
And for poaching, which is what I did for our supper on that really, hot day last week, with a salad (and boiled potatoes in their jackets for The Husband), and served with a simple dressing of yoghurt, a little mayonnaise and chopped fresh onion leaves.
There are a few secrets to poaching eggs (successfully):
- bring the water to a rolling boil with a good glug of vinegar in it (it helps to keep the white from spreading all over the show)
- break the eggs into cups or ramekin dishes and dispense them into the boiling water from there (it’s also a good way to rescue eggs with broken yolks and identify less fresh eggs – the fresher the better – keep the less fresh eggs for other dishes like quiches)
- give the water a gentle swirl before you add the eggs, one by one. Four is my max at a time (and I use the trusty wok…)
- don’t be frightened of handling poached eggs – they don’t break as easily as you think, once the white has set
- remove them from the pan and drain them on a clean dish cloth (I don’t use paper towel – it tends to get soggy and break up: eggs with paper bits on them are not very appetising) before plating – this way you don’t have poached eggs floating in water, or drowned, soggy toast, for that matter
Along with the end of October came the end of one of the most difficult and stressful projects I’ve worked on in more than two decades of self-employment.
Bloomin’ wonderful, that, along with other bloomin’ wonderful (really) events of this October.
© Fiona’s Favourites 2015